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House Passes Bonamici Bill to Help Protect Health of Ocean, Estuaries from Climate Crisis

May 18, 2021
Press Release
Congresswoman Oversaw Debate of Ocean Climate Action Bills

WASHINGTON, DC [5/18/21] – Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) managed debate and applauded the House vote to pass her bipartisan Coastal and Ocean Acidification and Threats (COAST) Research Act, which will help coastal communities adapt to the climate crisis by expanding scientific research and monitoring of ocean and coastal acidification.

“The climate crisis is causing unprecedented changes to our ocean and estuaries, with long-lasting effects on our fisheries and coastal communities,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Without intervention, ocean acidification is projected to become more intense and increasingly common, especially on the Pacific Coast. We must support vulnerable communities, industries, and resource managers by strengthening research on how they can best adapt to and mitigate ocean and coastal acidification. By passing the bipartisan COAST Research Act, we are taking an important step forward. I will keep working with my colleagues on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis to implement bold, science-based, comprehensive policies to reduce emissions and advance ocean climate action.”

Bonamici managed debate and spoke on the House Floor in support of the COAST Research Act. Video of her remarks can be found here.

Today the House passed an additional bipartisan climate bill that Bonamici co-led, the National Estuaries and Acidification Research (NEAR) Act. The NEAR Act will strengthen research on coastal acidification in estuaries and direct the National Academies to provide recommendations to improve future research and management decisions. Video of her remarks on the NEAR Act can be found here.

"Estuaries throughout the US have been critically important components of our ecosystems, they have historically provided food, jobs, cultural connections, and invaluable ecosystem services,” said George Waldbusser, Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. “The COAST Research Act and National Estuaries and Acidification Research Act are long overdue acknowledgements of the threat these systems face in light due to acidification. Both laws will help scientists, managers, and stakeholders fully understanding the impacts of acidification on the economies and ecosystems and how best to deploy resources to ensure healthy and sustainable estuaries for future generations. Congresswoman Bonamici's unwavering focus on ocean acidification and its impacts on Oregon's and the nation's estuarine resources has been vital to moving this bill to law; I for one am grateful for such a strong voice in DC for understanding and protecting our oceans."

“The passage of the COAST and NEAR Acts is great news for coastal communities adapting to the rising impacts of ocean acidification, and to research scientists striving to quantify the magnitude and timing of these impacts,” said Burke Hales, Professor in the College of Earth, Ocean, and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University. “Our coastal oceans and estuaries are critically important ecosystems supporting national fisheries and aquaculture, but have historically been overlooked for the purposes of detailed and high accuracy monitoring of the factors driving Ocean Acidification. These acts will support the continued development of stakeholder-accessible monitoring systems and data products in these important and impacted systems."

The COAST Research Act, which Bonamici introduced with Representatives Don Young, Chellie Pingree, and Bill Posey to help confront the challenges of ocean and coastal acidification, will:

  • Strengthen investments in ocean acidification and coastal acidification research and monitoring in the context of other environmental stressors.
  • Recognize the effects of ocean acidification on estuaries and integrate research, monitoring, and adaptation strategies for coastal acidification. 
  • Increase our understanding of the socioeconomic effects of ocean acidification and coastal acidification. 
  • Establish an Advisory Board to increase coordination among stakeholders. 
  • Designate NOAA as the lead federal agency responsible for implementing the federal response to ocean acidification and coastal acidification. 
  • Create data processing, storage, and archive systems to provide for the long-term stewardship and standardization of ocean acidification data. 

Bonamici is the Co-Chair of the House Oceans Caucus and Congressional Estuary Caucus, as well as the only member from the Pacific Northwest on the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis. Last Congress, the Select Committee on the Climate Crisis wrote a comprehensive Climate Action Plan to reach net-zero emissions no later than mid-century and net-negative thereafter. The COAST Research Act and the NEAR Act unanimously passed the House in 2019 and are included in the Climate Action Plan.