This morning, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1237, the COAST Research Act of 2019; H.R. 1716, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2019; H.R. 1921, the Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2019; and H.R. 988, the NEAR Act of 2019.
These four bills address ocean acidification, the gradual decrease in oceanic pH due primarily to the absorption of excess atmospheric carbon dioxide by seawater, by reauthorizing and updating the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act and by providing avenues to address its impacts through vulnerability assessments, prize competitions, and a National Academies study.
Acidification is occurring faster in some U.S. coastal regions as a result of local factors such as upwelling of naturally low pH water, changes in freshwater inputs, and high nutrient inputs. The activities directed by this legislation would enhance the ongoing ocean acidification work currently conducted by NOAA and other federal agencies and help address some of the knowledge gaps in this field.
“The Pacific Coast, including in my home state of Oregon, is more vulnerable to the pervasive effects of ocean acidification than other coastal regions,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). “I thank Chairwoman Johnson and Ranking Member Lucas for their support of my bipartisan COAST Research Act, which will expand scientific research and monitoring to improve our understanding of ocean and coastal acidification. These efforts will help inform vulnerable communities, industries, and coastal and ocean managers on how they can best prepare and, when possible, adapt to the effects of the climate crisis on our oceans.”
“Our recent environmental threats in the form of run-off, algal blooms, and other stressors are well known,” said Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL). “Little is known about how acidification interacts with the known threats to amplify the consequences to our estuaries. The NEAR Act will provide answers to those questions that we can integrate into our ongoing strategy to protect and restore our precious estuaries.”
“These bills collectively reauthorize and improve our government’s research and response efforts to ocean acidification,” said Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX). “The effects of ocean acidification are already showing up in our coastal communities. We need to have a much better understanding of this issue and how we can mitigate its effects to our coastal regions, and these bills put us on the right path.”
“I’m pleased the House passed our Committee’s legislation to address ocean acidification and improve the overall health and sustainability of our marine ecosystems,” said Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK). “These bills will enhance our research capacities, facilitate coordination between federal agencies, and encourage innovative solutions to ocean acidification. I appreciate my colleagues’ work on these bills and I look forward to moving them forward.”