D.C. lawmakers introduce ‘Oceans Solutions Bill’

Reps. Raul M. Grijalva and Kathy Castor hope legislation will address the effects of climate change and reform federal ocean management.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—A group of legislators in the House of Representatives have sponsored a bill aiming to address the effects of climate change on the ocean. The proposal also aims to reform federal ocean management “to better account for climate mitigation,” according to a statement released by one of the bill’s lead sponsors.

Reps. Raul M. Grijalva, D-Arizona, and Kathy Castor, D-Florida, cosponsored the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, Oct. 20, as part of an attempt to “tackle” the climate crisis.

“This landmark legislation … [would] address the ocean impacts of climate change and reform federal ocean management to better account for climate mitigation,” Grijalva said in a statement.

The legislation, according to Grijalva, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, increase carbon storage in blue carbon ecosystems, promote coastal resiliency and adaptation, improve ocean protection, support climate-ready fisheries, tackle ocean health challenges and restore U.S. leadership in international ocean governance.

“A healthy ocean is key to fighting the climate crisis,” Grijalva said during a virtual press conference, where he and others introduced the federal legislation. “This bill provides a roadmap for ocean and coastal climate resilience, and responsibly 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,” Grijalva continued. “A healthy ocean is an environmental justice issue and we need to make sure to put protections for low income and communities of color at the front and center.”

Castor said the legislation, if approved by Congress and ultimately signed into law, would help the United States reach net-zero emissions by 2050. The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act would also address offshore drilling, she said.

“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. 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,” Castor said. “It will unleash the incredible power of the ocean and address the threat that offshore drilling poses to America’s coastal communities.”

Grijalva, Castor and others specifically stated the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act would help the United States transition to a clean energy economy by moving away from fossil fuels.

“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 us move away from fossil fuels and protect the ocean and coastal habitats that are important to health fish, marine wildlife and coastal economies,” Grijalva said in a statement.

Climate-ready fisheries would also benefit from the proposal, according to Grijalva.

“[The bill would support] climate-ready fisheries with the development and implementation of strategies to improve the management of fisheries in a changing climate, and also helps to promote U.S. seafood sourced from environmentally and climate-friendly fisheries,” Grijalva continued in his statement.

Marine protected areas, salt marshes and mangroves would also be promoted by the legislation, if it makes it out of the House and U.S. Senate, and onto the president’s desk for signature.

A few of the bill’s co-sponsors are from California. They are Reps. Alan Lowenthal, Jared Huffman, Mike Levin and Julia Brownley.

All of the listed co-sponsors are Democrats. There is no indication yet whether the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act has bipartisan support.

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