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house Bill H.R. 988

Should the Feds Fund a Two-Year Study on Ocean Acidification?

Argument in favor

Ocean acidification is a major threat to estuaries in both the U.S. and worldwide. Understanding this phenomenon is urgent, as its impacts are already being seen in numerous places. The federal government should fund a long-term study to understand this threat to America’s waterways, fisheries, and coastal communities.

Leslie's Opinion
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06/05/2019
As long as the studies are done by actual scientists
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Isaac's Opinion
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06/05/2019
Only government has the resources to put towards a mega project like addressing climate change
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06/05/2019
Learning more about and thus saving the oceans is critical to human survival.
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Argument opposed

The federal government already funds ocean acidification research through the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FORAM). Additionally, there are numerous research efforts on ocean acidification underway by industry, universities and other organizations. Given this, there’s no need for the federal government to spend money on its own new study.

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06/05/2019
There is no constitutional authority for the federal government bureaucrats to be involved in this in any way at all. The federal government can only legally do the few things that the constitution explicitly authorizes. End. Of. Story.
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NoHedges's Opinion
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06/05/2019
I would prefer H.R. 1237: COAST Research Act of 2019 - to amend the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 to establish an Ocean Acidification Advisory Board, to expand and improve the research on Ocean Acidification and Coastal Acidification, to establish and maintain a data archive system for Ocean Acidification data and Coastal Acidification data, and for other purposes- to NEAR 2019 HR 1237 bill is more goal directed and builds on the previous success from the Obama years, whereas the NEAR 2019 legislation does not. Besides, I have no trust in the Republican party to respect truth, facts, or even science anymore. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr1237
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eliyak's Opinion
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06/05/2019
Environmental organizations should fund this.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation
  • The house has not voted
      house Committees
      Environment
      Water, Oceans, and Wildlife
      Committee on Natural Resources
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
    IntroducedFebruary 6th, 2019

What is House Bill H.R. 988?

This bill — the National Estuaries and Acidification Research (NEAR) Act of 2019 — would direct the Secretary of Commerce to make appropriate arrangements with the Ocean Studies Board of the National Agencies to conduct a two-year study examining ocean acidification and other environmental stressors’ impact on estuarine environments.

The study would: 1) examine the existing science of ocean acidification in estuarine environments; 2) examine the challenges to studying ocean acidification and ocean acidification interactions with other environmental stressors in estuarine environments; 3) provide recommendations for improving future research on ocean acidification in estuarine environments; and 4) identify pathways for applying science in management and mitigation decisions relating to ocean acidification in estuarine environments.

Specifically, the study would investigate:

  • The behavior of the carbonate system within estuarine environments;
  • The carbonate system’s interactions with other biotic and abiotic characteristics of estuarine ecosystems;
  • How environmental and anthropogenic changes or disturbances could affect abiotic and biotic processes in estuaries;
  • How estuarine biotic and abiotic processes will be affected by predicted environmental changes;
  • The current state of data collection, interpretation, storage and retrieval and observational infrastructure of abiotic and biotic parameters in estuarine ecosystems;
  • The gaps in current understandings of the socioeconomic and health impacts of ocean acidification in estuaries;
  • Future directions for scientific research; and
  • Pathways for applying science in management and mitigation decisions.

Impact

Estuaries; ocean acidification; ocean acidification research; Ocean Studies Board of the National Agencies; and the Secretary of Commerce.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 988

$1.00 Million
The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $1 million over the period 2019-2029.

More Information

In-Depth: Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), one of three co-chairs of the House Estuaries Caucus, reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to fight coastal acidification and help affected estuaries. After this bill passed the House Science Committee, he said:

“Because estuaries are places where fresh water mixes with salt water from the oceans, preserving the delicate balance of nature is necessary but can also be challenging. This critical legislation will help protect our estuaries by ensuring that we continue to study and monitor the effects of coastal acidification.”

The Ocean Conservancy expressed its support for this bill last Congress. In a press release, the director of its Ocean Acidification Program, Sarah Cooley, said:

“Healthy estuaries are a critical economic and recreational driver in coastal communities across the country. Estuaries contribute $320 billion to our nation’s GDP through transportation, recreation, tourism and other port activities and provide habitat for more than 75% of commercially caught fish in the United States. Ten years of federal investment in ocean acidification research has shown that acidification hurts tourism, recreational fishing, and coastal communities that depend on these healthy marine ecosystems. However, because acidification often interacts with other coastal processes, like runoff, erosion, and upwelled water from the ocean, it is difficult to measure its individual impact in estuarine environments. [This bill is] an important step forward in improving how we can adjust our policy framework to deal with these challenges and better protect our nation’s estuaries.”

In a press release after this bill’s reintroduction this Congress, Cooley said:

“Healthy communities go hand-in-hand with healthy estuaries. Ocean acidification poses a threat to the jobs and livelihoods, cultures and ways of life of America’s coastal residents, from the Pacific Northwest’s shellfish industry to Florida’s coral reef tourism. In introducing this important legislation, Representatives Bill Posey, Brian Mast, and Suzanne Bonamici have taken an important step forward in helping coastal communities deal with these challenges and better protect our nation’s estuaries. Ocean Conservancy thanks them for working across the aisle in championing this bill and protecting the estuaries that people depend on for food, jobs, and recreation.”

More generally, Cooley wrote a post in support of Congressional action on ocean acidification on the Ocean Conservancy’s blog:

“While we are beginning to see coordinated, ocean-focused action on climate change occurring at the local, regional and even international levels—there is much more work to be done at the federal level to help our communities prepare for the impacts of climate change. Join me in urging Congress to fund ocean acidification and ocean change research. Federal research funding can help deepen our scientific understanding of this problem and enable us to respond in order to protect thousands of jobs. Impacts of ocean change on communities across the country, both on the coast and inland, were of particular interest for the Environment Subcommittee when I testified last week… We must not shy away from the opportunity to continue American leadership on ocean science and technology, combining that history of excellence with a forward-looking vision to steward the main resource that makes life on Earth possible: our ocean.”

This bill passed the House Natural Resources Committee with the support of seven bipartisan cosponsors, including four Republicans and three Democrats, in the current Congress. Last Congress, it had seven bipartisan cosponsors, including four Democrats and three Republicans, and didn’t receive a committee vote.


Of Note: As noted in Section 2 of this bill, Congress has found that ocean acidification affects human health, natural resources, and environmental, economic, and recreational coastline usage. In testimony to the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on Environment on February 27, 2019, Dr. Sarah Cooley, Director of the Ocean Acidification Program at the Ocean Conservancy, noted the magnitude of the threat ocean acidification poses:

“Ocean acidification is an invisible but growing threat to the world’s oceans. Time-series measurements show clearly that the dissolved carbon dioxide concentration of surface ocean water is rising at the same pace as atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations (Figure 1). When carbon dioxide dissolves in water, carbonic acid is created, which is gradually lowering the pH of seawater and altering other chemical balances important for marine life. We are already seeing the effects of ocean acidification. In the mid-2000s, widespread death of larval shellfish at hatcheries in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States alerted the aquaculture industry to a major region-wide problem. In partnership with federal and university researchers, the industry identified the problem as ocean acidification caused by fossil fuel emissions dissolved in Pacific Ocean water that upwelled to the surface decades earlier than previously anticipated… Since then, laboratory studies… have shown that ocean acidification has an array of effects on marine species, and the effects are difficult to generalize. Global studies have determined with high confidence that increasing atmospheric carbon dioxide causes ocean acidification, and that acidification decreases the calcification rate of many organisms with hard shells and skeletons. Corals grow more slowly under acidification and are less able to recover from breakage or loss from heat-driven bleaching or disease. Many animals that sustain lucrative fisheries, such as oysters and crabs like Dungeness, red King, and Tanner crabs, are more sensitive at earlier life stages, and acidification causes them to grow more slowly and allows fewer to survive to adulthood. Ocean acidification changes the behavior of some fishes and sharks, impairing their ability to find prey or avoid predators. Some models suggest acidification will generally reduce fish biomass and catch. [O]cean acidification can stimulate growth and primary production in seagrasses and some phytoplankton. Although increased plankton growth can provide benefits to marine ecosystems, some fast growing species can out-compete others and cause harmful algal blooms. Emerging evidence suggests that harmful algal blooms could become more frequent or toxic in response to acidification. While it is unclear exactly how ocean acidification’s impacts will propagate through ocean ecosystems and food webs, there is no question that complex interactions will occur among ocean acidification and other stressors… Overall, ocean acidification may disrupt important benefits that ocean systems and resources provide to human communities. Coral reef-associated fisheries and tourism are at risk, as well as coastal communities protected from storm waves by corals. Some studies suggest ocean acidification will alter the market qualities of fishery harvests.”

In a study published in the scientific journal “Global Change Biology,” researchers found that increasing ocean acidification is altering the scientific makeup of mussel shells along the West Coast. In a news release, study leader Stephanie McCoy, assistant professor of biological science at Florida State University, said that “significant changes” in how mussels product their shells “can be tied to a shifting ocean chemistry.”

In her Congressional testimony, Dr. Cooley also observed that there are many existing efforts to understand ocean acidification already underway, including a federally-funded coordinated response by U.S. federal agencies that Congress initiated in 2009 with the passage of the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act (FORAM). Under FORAM, U.S. federal scientific agencies coordinate their efforts to understand, track and address ocean acidification and the federal government funds laboratory studies in this area. In addition to this effort, Dr. Cooley also noted the development of “an active community” dedicated to identifying, testing and sharing opportunities to act on ocean acidification which includes industry (e.g., shellfish hatchery owners), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), university and federal researchers, resource managers and more.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang

(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / JodiJacobson)

AKA

NEAR Act of 2019

Official Title

To provide for a study by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academies of Science examining the impact of ocean acidification and other stressors in estuarine environments.

    As long as the studies are done by actual scientists
    Like (21)
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    No just no. Cut spending.
    Like (9)
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    Only government has the resources to put towards a mega project like addressing climate change
    Like (13)
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    Fund the research.
    Like (10)
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    We should certainly study it. However, if our politicians find out that the culprit is the polluting corporations that fund their campaigns, they’ll probably end up pushing the findings under the rug.
    Like (9)
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    Although it may seem unimportant, its crucial to understand the environment around us to make informed decisions when critical moments arise
    Like (9)
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    Learning more about and thus saving the oceans is critical to human survival.
    Like (9)
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    Things are changing. The more we know about the changes, the better we can know how to fix things.
    Like (8)
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    There is no constitutional authority for the federal government bureaucrats to be involved in this in any way at all. The federal government can only legally do the few things that the constitution explicitly authorizes. End. Of. Story.
    Like (8)
    Follow
    Share
    I would prefer H.R. 1237: COAST Research Act of 2019 - to amend the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2009 to establish an Ocean Acidification Advisory Board, to expand and improve the research on Ocean Acidification and Coastal Acidification, to establish and maintain a data archive system for Ocean Acidification data and Coastal Acidification data, and for other purposes- to NEAR 2019 HR 1237 bill is more goal directed and builds on the previous success from the Obama years, whereas the NEAR 2019 legislation does not. Besides, I have no trust in the Republican party to respect truth, facts, or even science anymore. https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/116/hr1237
    Like (6)
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    I just got back from Mahahual, Mexico, several hours south of Cancun on the Caribbean Ocean. They are experiencing 60 tons/day of black seaweed (“sargasso”) coming onshore, turning all those pristine white beaches into stinky rotting compost piles. It’s having a major impact on local businesses. Most of the Caribbean is dealing with the same problem. This is an early result of the ocean being out of balance—acidification combined with fertilizer pollution from agricultural. This is just one side small effect of climate change. Let’s study this issue, yes!
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    We need to be on the frontlines of know changes occurring due to climate change if we want to preserve the earth as we know it.
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    Yes, only after Robert Mueller pays back the $25 million he wasted on the fake Trump investigation!
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    Our environment is changing rapidly and it is not good. Our oceans are some of the most important environments out there which must be researched and investigated on in order to protect them along with their wildlife. Carbon emissions are on the rise which caused not only global warming, but adds carbon into the ocean. I support this bill as we need to protect these bodies of water and stop them from being harmed!
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    Environmental organizations should fund this.
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    Climate change and the underlying science is real. Oceans are the life blood of our finite fragile planet and the major factor driving climate change which effects global watershed resources, food supplies as well as all human, animal and plant life. Sure there are other studies. Gathering these and new studies in a Congressionally sponsored program will help to focus resources on those areas where we take actions to protect food supplies and the planet’s biosphere; Hopefully to begin recovery from the damage already done.
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    I know it’s inconvenient but the actions of humans are changing our environment. Let’s be adults and deal with it.
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    We’re causing the problem let’s fix it
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    Stop pretending this isn’t a thing that we should’ve already done because we acknowledge science, and our increasingly tenuous position.
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    This deals with estuaries only if you read the actual bill and does not study Ocean acidification as a whole, only in the limited scope of how it affects estuaries. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s just this bill is very limited in scope and there is little money attached to it. I feel it might be more useful to combine this bill with the other bill out of Oregon regarding Ocean Acidification as what affects the Oceans will affect the estuaries but I understand that the Florida Senator must be under tremendous pressure to do something for his constituents and I’ll take something to deal with Climate Crisis and save a few manatees as opposed to nothing. Now David, I’ve never claimed to be a whizz at the new math but when an investigation costs 25 million and it brings in 48 million in taxes and asset forfeiture that’s a -23 million owed.
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