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Environment Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Bonamici Bill to Address Health of Oceans and Estuaries

February 28, 2019
Press Release
Legislation would help coastal communities cope with ocean and coastal acidification


WASHINGTON, DC [02/28/19] – The Environment Subcommittee of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a legislative hearing on Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act.


The hearing, titled “Sea Change: Impacts of Climate Change on Our Oceans and Coasts,” included a witness from the Pacific Northwest: Margaret Pilaro, Executive Director of the Pacific Coast Shellfish Growers Association. Pilaro testified about how climate change leads to ocean acidification, threatening the shellfish industry in Oregon and Washington.


“The economic vitality of coastal states like Oregon depends on the health of our oceans, and greenhouse gas emissions and climate change are changing ocean chemistry,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Ocean acidification and coastal acidification make it difficult for shellfish and other marine organisms to build their shells and skeletal structures. Oregon’s shellfish industry and researchers at Oregon State University have collaborated on ocean acidification mitigation strategies that have helped the shellfish industry survive. Their research shows what is possible when we invest in science and research to help coastal communities adapt to climate change.


“After years of inaction, Congress is finally working to address climate change. I introduced the bipartisan COAST Research Act to help strengthen research on coastal and ocean acidification so coastal communities can better prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change. I look forward to working with my colleagues on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee to pass this legislation quickly. This research is critical to the health of our oceans and our planet.”


“Shellfish aquaculture produces nearly $300 million in annual sales and employs thousands of people in mainly rural, economically depressed counties,” said Margaret Pilaro, Executive Director of the West Coast Shellfish Growers Association. “In 2007, two of the three largest shellfish hatcheries along the West Coast witnessed 70-85 percent mortality of oyster larvae because of acidifying water. Now we realize that the ocean’s ability to store carbon dioxide is impacting the species that live within it and the people who depend on those species. We need the federal government to rise to the challenge of climate change and increase research into ocean health issues that affect our economies.”


A video of Bonamici’s questions during the hearing can be found here.


The COAST Research Act will reauthorize the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act and strengthen federal investments in research and monitoring to help coastal communities better understand and cope with the effects of environmental stressors on our oceans and estuaries. You can find a copy of the bill text here and a summary here.


As Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, Bonamici has been a leader on protecting the health of our oceans. Bonamici crafted the legislation with input from Ocean Conservancy, Restore America’s Estuaries, researchers at Oregon State University, Oregon Coordinating Council on Ocean Acidification and Hypoxia, and the Lower Columbia Estuary Partnership. The bill has also been endorsed by the Natural Resources Defense Council, IOOS Association, Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and the Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems.