Ecosystems provide environmental benefits, sequester atmospheric carbon
Senate Oceans Caucus Co-Chairs U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) reintroduced the Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act, legislation focused on the conservation, restoration and understanding of coastal blue carbon ecosystems.
Blue carbon ecosystems, which include mangroves, intertidal marshes, seagrass beds and kelp forests, provide a buffer against coastal erosion caused by storms or waves, improve water quality and serve as a buffer against coastal erosion caused by storms or waves. habitat for juvenile fish while removing carbon from the ocean and atmosphere. The Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act addresses the need to better understand how these ecosystems help mitigate climate change and its impacts, and how we can better leverage this capacity in the future.
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âBlue carbon ecosystems have great potential to help mitigate the impacts of climate change in Alaska and elsewhere. By protecting our shores from coastal erosion, storing incredible amounts of carbon and helping to combat ocean acidification, these ecosystems are an important asset in our efforts to protect the planet â, said Senator Murkowski. âSignificant research is underway in Alaska to better understand the potential for carbon storage in kelp forests and wetlands, and this bill will strengthen our ability to better understand how to protect them. “
Listen to Senator Murkowski’s quote here.
âFrom Rhode Island to Alaska, our oceans are in trouble. Coastal wetlands which are the first line of defense against climate change are rapidly disappearing â, Senator Whitehouse said. “Our bipartisan bill would help preserve the intertidal marshes, mangroves, seagrass beds and kelp forests that provide a natural buffer to rising seas and absorb large amounts of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.”
The blue carbon law for our planet:
- Establish an interagency coastal blue carbon working group, as part of the National Science and Technology Council subcommittee on ocean science and technology, to guide the overall initiatives of the bill. The interagency working group would be chaired by the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
- Request the interagency working group to coordinate the development and maintenance of a national map of coastal blue carbon ecosystems and their characteristics, including the potential for carbon sequestration and net greenhouse gas reductions; establish restoration priorities for these ecosystems and assess the obstacles to their restoration; develop a national strategy to study the effects of climate change and human and environmental stressors on coastal blue carbon sequestration rates; and secure the continuity and use of all related data assets.
- Require the interagency working group to submit a report to Congress summarizing federally funded research, monitoring, conservation and restoration activities in coastal blue carbon ecosystems.
- Require the interagency working group to create and review every five years a strategic plan for federal investments in basic research, development, monitoring and long-term management of demonstration and deployment of coastal blue carbon projects .
- Request the NOAA Administrator to partner with state, local and tribal governments and coastal stakeholders to develop pilot programs to restore degraded blue carbon coastal ecosystems in locations geographically, socio-economically and ecologically where restoration could provide significant ecosystem, social, coastal protection and carbon sequestration benefits.
- Request the Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution to plan for the long-term use and incorporation of global and national data assets into the Coastal Carbon Data Clearinghouse, an existing repository of coastal carbon data hosted by the Smithsonian’s Environmental Research Center.
- Request the administrator of NOAA to enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences to assess the effects and existing technologies for carbon dioxide storage in the deep sea environment; methods and technologies for removing dissolved carbon dioxide from the ocean; and the feasibility of using coastal macroalgae cultivation and sustainable wetland management and restoration for carbon sequestration.
- Authorize the allocation of $ 15 million to the administrator of NOAA for each of fiscal years 2022 to 2026 to support his initiatives.
The Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act does not give the president or any member of the administration new authority to remove federal lands or waters.