Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), Coastal States Organization (CSO), Association of National Estuary Programs (ANEP), and the National Estuarine Research Reserve Association (NERRA) submitted a joint letter to Congress supporting the blue carbon provisions in H.R. 4521, the America COMPETES Act.
The America Creating Opportunities for Manufacturing, Pre-Eminence in Technology, and Economic Strength (COMPETES) Act of 2022 strengthens the innovation economy, which is foundational for fostering economic growth, addressing social challenges, mitigating climate change, and restoring ecosystem health – including coastal blue carbon ecosystems.
An investment in blue carbon ecosystems results in many important benefits to a community, including carbon storage (aka climate mitigation), improved water quality, critical marine habitat, and storm and flood mitigation. Blue carbon ecosystems can trap and store carbon for decades or event centuries, however that carbon can be re-released if the wetland is drained or degraded. A full inventory and assessment of blue carbon areas is essential to ensuring protection and restoration of these critical resources.
Specifically, the organizations support the below provisions of this legislation:
- SEC. 71002 NATIONAL ACADEMIES ASSESSMENT OF OCEANIC BLUE CARBON (Blue Carbon for our Planet Act)
Directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to enter into an agreement with the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine to conduct a comprehensive assessment of oceanic and coastal blue carbon resources so that we can better understand the extent of these resources, and design science-based policies to protect them.
- SEC. 71105. SHOVEL-READY RESTORATION GRANTS FOR COASTLINES AND FISHERIES
Establishes a grant program to provide funding and technical assistance to eligible entities for purposes of carrying out projects that benefit coastal ecosystems, including blue carbon ecosystems.
- TITLE XVIII–BLUE CARBON FOR OUR PLANET; SEC. 71801 – 71806
This section underscores the need for continued research and data management regarding blue carbon ecosystems, and ongoing financial support for coastal conservation and restoration projects, particularly in our under-served communities that are the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change and sea level rise.
The America Competes Act, introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson, has more than 100 cosponsors and passed the House of Representatives on February 4th. A companion Bill is awaiting passage in the Senate.