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Press Releases :: June 5, 2008

Subcommittee Reviews Legislation to Research and Monitor Ocean Acidification

 

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing to review H.R. 4174, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act. Committee Members examined the current status of science on ocean acidification and research and monitoring activities focused on ocean acidification and its potential impacts on marine organisms and marine ecosystems. Ocean acidification is one of the consequences of climate change.

"What we have heard today is that the health of our oceans is at risk. We must move quickly to better understand ocean acidification and its impacts. The health of our oceans is linked to human health in many ways, and the economic well-being of coastal communities is dependent upon the health and productivity of our oceans," said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX).

"Ocean acidification poses a threat to many marine organisms and ocean ecosystems. It reduces the ability of shellfish and corals to form their shells and skeletons. It impacts the health and survival of other organisms that are part of the food chain supporting fish and marine mammals. Coral reefs and many of our fisheries are already compromised by overfishing, disease, pollution, and rising water temperatures. Ocean acidification is yet another stress that could dramatically and permanently alter our ocean environments," stated Lampson.

Ocean acidification may negatively impact many marine organisms and reduce their populations significantly. Since the United States is the third largest seafood consumer in the world, the effects of acidification of the oceans will significantly impact the lives of many Americans. Each year Americans spend roughly $60 billon on fish and shellfish. Coastal and marine commercial fishing generates as much as $30 billion per year and supports nearly 70,000 jobs.

H.R. 4174, introduced by Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME), and cosponsored by members of this Committee, Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA), Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Rep. Wayne Gilchrist (R- MD) creates the Interagency Committee on Ocean Acidification to oversee the planning, establishment, and coordination of a plan to improve the understanding of the role of increased ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and to develop adaptation techniques to effectively conserve marine ecosystems. The legislation would require the Interagency Committee on Ocean Acidification to report to the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the House Committee on Science and Technology regarding the research and progress of the federally-funded ocean acidification activities and to provide their policy recommendations every three years.

Witnesses for the hearing included:

Panel I:
 

    • Hon. Jay Inslee (D-WA), Member of Congress

Panel II:

  • Dr. Richard A. Feely, Supervisory Chemical Oceanographer, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
  • Dr. Joan Kleypas, Scientist, Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, National Center for Atmospheric Research
  • Dr. Scott Doney, Senior Scientist, Department of Marine Chemistry and Geochemistry, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
  • Dr. Ken Caldeira, Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution for Science of Washington
  • Mr. Brad Warren, Director, Productive Oceans Partnerships Program, Sustainable Fishery Partnership

For more information on this hearing including witness testimony, visit the Committee’s website.

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