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Environment

Bill Proposes Harnessing Ocean's Power To Help Reverse Climate Change

Rep. Kathy Castor of Tampa talking in front of an image of wind turbines and solar panels. Above her reads, "Solving The Climate Crisis."
Screen shot of virtual meeting
Rep. Kathy Castor, (D-FL), supports a new bill filed in Congress that aims to combat climate change.

The legislation would prohibit oil and gas leasing in all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, promote offshore wind energy and restore 30% of the nation's oceans by 2030.

Democratic representatives touted a measure this week that they say will harness the ocean to battle climate change.

The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act has a long list of initiatives, including prohibiting oil and gas leasing in all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf, promoting offshore wind energy, and restoring 30% of the nation's oceans by 2030.

Rep. Kathy Castor, (D-FL), who also chairs the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis, supports the bill.

"So this is part of the roadmap to solving the climate crisis,” she said. “We know, based upon our outreach to stakeholders and scientists all across the country, that we do not have time to waste."

key points from ocean solutions bill.jpg
The House Committee on Natural Resources

Rep. Raul Grijalva, (D-AZ), the bill's sponsor and chair of the House Committee On Natural Resources, said the coronavirus pandemic has made this a more urgent matter.

“I say that because that not only exposed the fact that we were not prepared, and that whole effort at protecting people and protecting economies was blown by this administration early on,” he said. “I think now there's a bigger focus on science and what that dictates, and that's to our favor.”

There are several bipartisan pieces of legislation in the measure that give it a good chance of passing, said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, (D-OR).

“The Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act-- that's a bipartisan bill. Water Power Research and Development Act-- also bipartisan. Coastal and Ocean Acidification Stressors and Threats (COAST) Research Act—bipartisan. The BLUE GLOBE Act-- also bipartisan,” she said.

“So there's a lot of pieces of bipartisan legislation that have been incorporated into that, and it gives me hope because… taking care of our ocean and our planet is not and should not be a partisan issue.”

The measure includes strengthening blue carbon ecosystems, like mangroves, sea grasses and salt marshes. They absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and safely store it at a rate of up to four times that of forests on land.

Harnessing the power of the ocean is an important step in the battle against climate change, Castor 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 as soon as possible,” she said.

“I'm coming to you less than 100 yards from the shores of Tampa Bay along Florida's Gulf Coast. Clean water defines our way of life here: fishing, tourism, recreation, healthy communities, are our lifeblood. But it is all at risk due to the climate crisis and environmental degradation.”