In our post about responses to Ocean Acidification, we mentioned that A it’s gaining momentum at the federal level with many Members of Congress raising awareness and securing funding for research. Here’s a summary of some of the recent pieces of legislation brought before Congress:
HR 2717: The Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2015.
Commonly referred to as the FOARAM Act, this bill was introduced by Representative Sam Farr of California, Representative Lois Capps of California, and Representative Don Young of Alaska, and has bipartisan support in the House. Originally enacted in 2009, this legislation creates the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology which coordinates federal activities on ocean acidification and establishes an interagency working group. This Subcommittee develops a strategic plan for federal ocean acidification research and monitoring that provides for the development of adaptation and mitigation strategies. It also established the Ocean Acidification Program within NOAA.
HR 2553: The Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act of 2015.
Introduced by Representative Chellie Pingree of Maine, and six other Representatives, this bill also has bipartisan support in the House. This bill requires a Coastal Community Vulnerability Assessment to be completed to, among other things, identify coastal communities that are most dependent on coastal and ocean resources that may be impacted by ocean acidification and assess the nature of those communities’ social and economic vulnerabilities.
HR 1967: The Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2015.
This bill was introduced by Representative Derek Kilmer and Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, both of Washington, and also enjoys bipartisan support in Congress. In an effort to stimulate innovation and to advance our ability to understand, research, and monitor OA impacts, this bill awards competitive prizes to those working on the challenges and impacts associated with ocean acidification.
HR 1277: The Ocean Acidification Research Partnerships Act.
Introduced by Representative Lois Capps of California, this bill requires NOAA to provide grants for collaborative research projects on ocean acidification developed and conducted through partnerships with the seafood industry and the academic community. Projects that address ecosystems and communities vulnerable to the impacts of OA, projects that demonstrate support from local stakeholders, and projects that utilize seafood industry assets as research and monitoring platforms shall be prioritized.
S. 1886: The Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act.
Introduced by Senator Rocker Wicker of Mississippi and Senator Maria Cantwell of Washington, this bill has received bipartisan support in the Senate. This bill establishes a national integrated system of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes observing system. This observing system is designed to address regional and national needs for ocean and coastal information to gather specific data on key coastal, ocean, and Great Lake variables, like ocean acidification. This bill also requires an Economic Vulnerability Report to be published which would, among other things, identify gaps in OA monitoring by public, academic, and private assets in the network of regional coastal observing systems, identify areas which have gaps in OA research, identify coastal communities, including fishing communities, that may be impacted by OA, and identify gaps in knowledge of the impacts of OA on economically or commercially important marine resources.
As there has been a growing awareness of the severity of ocean acidification in Congress, Members have been diligent in securing funding for NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program (OAP) to support research, ocean observing, adaption and mitigation measures, and outreach efforts. For Fiscal Year (FY) 2015, OAP was alotted $8.5 million and that figure grew to $10 million in FY 2016. In FY 2017, OAP requested an increase of nearly $12 million, bringing their total requested value to more than $21 million. While we remain hopeful that this generous increase will be allocated to the OAP, Congress has not yet passed the appropriations bill that deals with NOAA funding.