House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) unveiled the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, along with House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor (D-Fla.), and original cosponsors, and supporters. This landmark legislation was introduced by more than a dozen members of the House of Representatives to address the ocean impacts of climate change and reform federal ocean management to better account for climate mitigation.
“A healthy ocean is key to fighting the climate crisis,” Grijalva said in a statement. “This bill provides a roadmap for ocean and coastal climate resilience, and uses them to curb the pollution that is intensifying the climate crisis. We must stop the ongoing damage to our oceans to protect the food, jobs, and coastlines that millions of Americans depend on.”
“The ocean is a powerful ally in the climate fight, and unleashing its potential will help us reach our goal of net-zero emissions by 2050 or earlier,” noted Castor. “The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act incorporates many of the recommendations in our Climate Crisis Action Plan, which gives Congress a roadmap for creating a healthier, more resilient, and more just America. It will unleash the incredible power of the ocean and address the threat that offshore drilling poses to America’s coastal communities, including my own community in Tampa Bay.”
Reduces Greenhouse Gas Emissions. The bill supports the transition to a clean energy economy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with ocean sectors and increasing ocean-based renewable energy; helping to move away from fossil fuels and protect the ocean and coastal habitats that are important to healthy fish, marine wildlife, and coastal economies.
Increases Carbon Storage in Blue Carbon Ecosystems. The bill recognizes the carbon storage potential and other co-benefits provided by “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves. These ecosystems absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate of up to four times that of forests on land. They also protect coastal communities by limiting the impacts of coastal erosion, flooding, and storms; all while providing habitat for marine wildlife.
Promotes Coastal Resiliency and Adaptation. This is necessary to protect the coasts and communities from the climate impacts that cannot be avoided. It authorizes investment in coastal restoration and resilience that is a win-win for the economy, frontline communities, and the environment.
Improves Ocean Protection. This is done by promoting and protecting healthy ocean systems and wildlife populations, which are better able to adapt to the effects of climate change. Marine protected areas, like protected areas on land, are a key part of protecting biodiversity while tackling climate change, which is more critical than ever due to the current biodiversity crisis.
Restores U.S. Leadership in International Ocean Governance. The bill aims to strengthen U.S. leadership in international ocean governance at a time when transboundary pressures on the ocean demand a coordinated response. These actions would both strengthen U.S. security and promote a resilient global ocean for the 21st century.
The newly introduced legislation enjoys enthusiastic support from environmental groups and ocean experts.
“Our ocean is often portrayed as a victim of climate change, but the reality is that it offers a wealth of powerful solutions to fight the climate crisis, from spurring offshore renewable energy and banning new offshore drilling, to protecting blue carbon ecosystems, and creating new marine protected areas in order to conserve 30% of the ocean by 2030,” stated Alex Taurel, Conservation Program Director for the League of Conservation Voters.
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