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Pingree’s Bill to Support Coastal Communities Dealing with Ocean Acidification Passes House

Washington, June 5, 2019

Today Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (ME-01)’s bipartisan legislation to support coastal communities grappling with climate change-related ocean acidification unanimously passed the House of Representatives. Pingree’s bill, HR. 1716, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, would direct federal officials to work with state and local experts to study ocean acidity and deliver a public report on the socioeconomic impact of ocean acidification on coastal communities.

“For years, Congress has sat on the sidelines in the face of a climate emergency. Instead of trying to understand the issue through scientific research, many were trying to make sure we didn’t talk about the problem at all,” said Pingree. “I’m so proud to see the House’s unequivocal, unanimous support for my ocean acidification bill today. It goes to show that it’s not controversial to study the changes happening to our oceans—in order to take action, we have to understand what we’re dealing with. This bill will ensure that state and federal officials as well as local coastal communities can better prepare for the changing acidity of our oceans. Today, science stands, and the House is moving forward to help coastal communities and industries to understand coming challenges from climate change.”

To watch or download Pingree’s floor speech on her bill’s passage, click here.

"Keeping Maine’s oceans healthy is one of the most important things we can do for the future of our state and our economy. That's why I cosponsored the bipartisan Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act.  This legislation will help protect Maine’s ocean environment and address the effects of climate change, taking important steps to ensure a successful future for our lobstermen and fishermen, draw tourists and new residents to our state, and protect the Maine way of life for coastal communities,” said Congressman Jared Golden (ME-02).

“Ocean acidification is not just an issue facing Alaska’s waters – it is a world-wide problem. Sadly, its effects are magnified in the Arctic. Alaskans rely on healthy oceans for our economic wellbeing, and it is critical that we tackle this urgent issue head on. I am proud to work with my friends on both sides of the aisle to ensure our most vulnerable marine regions and coastal communities are able to better prepare for the effects of ocean acidification,” said Congressman Don Young (AK-At Large).

“Our community in Southwest Florida relies on the health of our water for our tourism-based economy. The livelihoods of our charter boat captains, hotels, restaurants and more are all tied to the well-being of our marine environment. It is vital that we study the impact that ocean acidification is having on coastal communities like ours. I cosponsored the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act so that we can plan and adapt to the changes that ocean acidification is creating, in Southwest Florida and around the United States.” said Congressman Francis Rooney (FL-19).

“Ocean acidification is a global phenomenon caused by the climate crisis. We must strengthen our understanding of the socioeconomic effects of ocean acidification on a range of geographically diverse coastal communities. As Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus, I thank Congresswoman Pingree for her continued leadership on protecting the health of our oceans and improving research that will benefit her community and many others,” said Congresswoman Bonamici (OR-01).

Pingree’s bipartisan bill now moves on to the Senate where it was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. If it is passed by the Senate, the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act, would require National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

(NOAA) to analyze the impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities and work with states like Maine that have already begun conducting research. Under Pingree’s legislation, the Secretary of Commerce would be required to conduct studies to identify which communities are most dependent on ocean resources and how acidification would affect them if valuable industries like the lobster fishery were impacted.

Ocean acidification is linked to an increase in carbon dioxide levels because our oceans partially absorb the greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Since the start of the Industrial Revolution, our oceans have become 30 percent more acidic which has created challenging growing conditions for shelled organisms and sea creatures. Pingree has introduced legislation to study ocean acidification several times during her congressional tenure, but when she was in the Democratic minority the issue did not advance. The House Committee on Science reported her bill out of committee on May 1 in a unanimous, bipartisan vote.

Pingree's bill is cosponsored by Rep. Francis Rooney, (R-Fla.), Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.), Rep. Peter T. King (R-NY), and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.), Rep. Jared F. Golden (D-Maine), Rep. Charlie Christ (D-Fla.), Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), Rep. Jenniffer Gonzalez-Colon (D-Puerto Rico), Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-Calif.), Rep Jennifer Wexton (D-Va)., Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), Rep. James P. McGovern (D-Mass.), Rep. Michael Waltz (R-Fla.), Rep. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Calif.), Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas).

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