House Natural Resources Committee debates Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act

By Liz Plascencia

On Tuesday, June 22, 2021, the Committee on Natural Resources reintroduced the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act which centers the critical role of the ocean in combatting the climate crisis. If you missed the live legislative hearing, you can access the recording of the fully remote session below.

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act introduces a suite of coastal and ocean related bills that protect blue carbon ecosystems, promote offshore renewable energy, expand marine protected areas, and overall improve ocean health and resiliency. Included in the legislation are two popular bipartisan proposals that RAE publicly supported – the Blue Carbon for our Planet Act (Bonamici – OR) and the Blue Carbon Protection Act (Huffman – CA).

Much of the proposed legislation considers the livelihoods of coastal communities and their respective ecosystems in light of increased climatic stressors such as storm surges, coastal flooding, erosion, and sea-level rise. Moreover, the legislation offers methods for the overall reduction and sequestration of greenhouse gases through the strategic restoration, protection, and expansion of blue carbon ecosystems.

“Implementing ocean-based climate solutions can provide up to 21% of annual emissions cuts society needs to address climate change,” shared Committee Chair (D-AZ) Raul Grijalva.

Another key element of the bill focuses on achieving justice for marginalized coastal communities by fostering the creation of green and blue careers through the expansion of offshore renewable energy. Additionally, the legislation also recognizes Tribal and Indigenous expertise of ocean processes through the creation a grant program that centers local knowledge within climate research.

Finally, the Biden Administration adopted 30 x 30, which seeks to protect 30% of our ocean by 2030. The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act and the additional 13 bills align well with the Administration’s call to action for an increase in coastal and ocean protections, while considering innovative climate solutions.

Currently, the bill has garnered the support of over 135 organizations and 19 aquariums, including RAE, which highlights the incredible momentum for ocean-based climate action. Congress will have the opportunity to adopt a suite of novel ocean-based climate solutions that will protect frontline coastal communities, increase climate resilience, and restore America’s vital coastal resources.

Liz Plascencia is a Summer Fellow at Restore America’s Estuaries. She is entering her second year at the Yale School of the Environment where she is studying blue carbon and environmental justice. Liz is based in Los Angeles, CA.