Ocean Currents » epa http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Tue, 25 Apr 2017 13:47:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 A NOAA Budget that Cuts to the Bone http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/04/a-noaa-budget-that-cuts-to-the-bone/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/04/a-noaa-budget-that-cuts-to-the-bone/#comments Sat, 04 Mar 2017 19:28:10 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13822

UPDATED: This blog was updated with new information on March 16, 2017

Early morning on March 16, 2017, the Trump Administration released its proposed budget—often called the skinny budget—that alarmingly confirms what The Washington Post reported about the devastating cuts for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Today, we learned that the budget for the Department of Commerce, which houses NOAA, would be cut by $1.5 billion. While the proposal lacks some specifics about NOAA’s budget, it makes clear that at least $250 million in grants and programs that support coastal and marine management, research, and education including Sea Grant would be zeroed out. The administration recognizes that these programs primarily benefit local stakeholder, industry and state– and they are cutting it out anyway.

Based on what we already know, NOAA faces a massive overall cut of $990 million to their operating budget. Cuts on this scale aren’t just “trimming the fat” to make the agency more efficient. They’re cutting straight to the bone.

It’s worth closely examining the proposed cuts, because they provide valuable information on how the Trump administration views our ocean and coasts—and the people that rely on them. If the proposed budget is approved by Congress, here are just a few examples of what could disappear:

  • The forecasting system in place to alert the over two million coastal Lake Erie residents of algal toxins in drinking water.
  • The Sea Grant College program would be completely eliminated, shuttering our nation’s highly-respected network of 33 university Sea Grant programs that help local businesses, communities and states leverage local university experts to find practical solutions to tough, on-the-ground ocean, coastal and Great Lakes challenges.
  • Coastal resilience and monitoring.
    • Rapid Response marine debris plan for the Gulf of Mexico region.
    • Oil spill studies, providing critically important information on how oil and ice interact if there is an oil spill in the Arctic.

The numbers reported by the Washington Post are not final and will likely change. But this snapshot into the administration’s plans is deeply, deeply unsettling.

What’s at Stake

The scope of responsibilities that NOAA carries is truly astonishing. America relies on the team of world-class professionals and scientists at NOAA to do essential work ranging from the bottom of the ocean all the way up to the reaches of space. It’s NOAA who is responsible for exploring and protecting the depths of our ocean. It’s NOAA who manages America’s fisheries. It’s NOAA who protects endangered marine mammals and other ocean wildlife. It’s NOAA who gives your local meteorologist the data they need to do their jobs and give you your local nightly weather forecast. It’s NOAA who forecasts and tracks hurricanes. And it’s NOAA who even predicts “space weather” to forecast solar storms that could disrupt our nation’s critical satellites, including GPS services that we all rely on every day. That’s right—NOAA even has a role in keeping the GPS on your phone up and running.

The services that NOAA provides aren’t theoretical. They’re very, very real. And they’re in your hands, on your television, and on your dinner-plate virtually every day. You don’t see a NOAA logo pop up each time NOAA touches your life, but NOAA is there—whether you’re aware of it or not:

Here are just a few more examples of NOAA’s work that Americans rely on every day:

  • NOAA’s National Fisheries Management Service oversees our nation’s fisheries and seafood sector, a $214 billion dollar industry. Fishermen rely on information from NOAA to make the most informed decisions on where to fish, how to fish and when to fish.
  • The Marine Debris Program keeps trash off our coastlines, supports partnerships and research to prevent more from going into our ocean and tackles the global threat of plastic pollution.
  • NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management provides states with the support to protect 61,000 miles of ocean and Great Lakes coastline.
  • Our Regional Coastal Resilience Grants support regional collaborations of states, tribes, local communities and public/private partnerships to address coastal vulnerability and risk—a program that received 30 times more requests for help than they could accommodate
  • NOAA’s Protected Resources works to slow, halt and reverse the population decline of endangered species, with a focus on Hawaiian monk seals, southern resident killer whales, white abalone, Cook Inlet beluga whales, Atlantic salmon, Pacific leatherback turtles, Sacramento River winter-run Chinook and Central California Coast Coho.
  • NOAA’s Climate Research advances the understanding and projecting the future impacts of climate change on fish stocks
  • The Sea Grant programs located in every U.S. coastal and Great Lakes state, Lake Champlain, Puerto Rico and Guam train the next generation of ocean and coastal experts and provide on the ground support in communities on issues like sustainable fisheries and workforce development.
  • NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research includes vital programs such as the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Office of Ocean Exploration and Research and the Ocean Acidification Program.

What it all means.

As a nation of fishers, sailors and entrepreneurs that built much of its fortune out on the water and still relies on a thriving ocean that supports an economic engine worth $359 billion, we should be worried.

As a nation of farmers, growers and gardeners that relies on accurate weather patterns and predictions, we should be concerned.

As a nation seeking to grow and striving to prosper, we need to recognize that this proposal, along with the EPA cuts leaked earlier this week, is a worrisome sign that the Trump Administration may be planning a full-scale retreat from supporting the lives, livelihoods and safety of millions of hardworking people in America’s ocean, coastal and Great Lakes communities.

It’s important to remember, though, that even if that is the Trump Administration’s vision—and I truly hope that it isn’t—the President doesn’t get to make these decisions single-handedly. Congress also has a say. And so do the rest of us.

The time to speak up is now.

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Trump’s New Executive Order Risks Coastal Communities http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/01/trumps-new-executive-order-risks-coastal-communities/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/03/01/trumps-new-executive-order-risks-coastal-communities/#comments Wed, 01 Mar 2017 17:36:14 +0000 Amy Trice http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13810

Amy is a stream ecologist who, before working at Ocean Conservancy, conducted research focusing on small stream food webs and the predator and prey dynamics of salamanders. Amy has conducted research in Chile working with the government on invasive beavers and water quality issues as well as nutrient effects on small streams in the southeastern U.S. She also spent several years working on Waters of the United States as part of the Clean Water Act. Her work at Ocean Conservancy currently focuses on ensuring ocean planning is a coordinated, science-based policy to balance all ocean uses.

Yesterday, President Trump signed an executive order that would start rolling back a rule under the Clean Water Act known as Waters of the United States (WOTUS). This rule enhances the health of our streams, rivers and ocean, supporting local communities and their desire for clean drinking water as well as fishable streams and estuaries.  I have spent much of my life working on streams and water quality issues, I’m concerned this executive order will compromise local ecosystems and the clean drinking water Americans value and need.

Our rivers provide drinking water for two-thirds of all Americans—yet the recent action by the Trump administration seeks to rollback protections for keeping these very waters clean. Following Supreme Court rulings in 2001and 2006, ambiguity on the types of water bodies protected under the Clean Water Act left agencies tasked with managing and permitting the use of these waterbodies with little clarity. This ambiguity led to a failure to protect small streams and wetlands that are vital to safeguarding communities from flooding. Since the Court decisions, both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers have worked to follow the law, despite the confusing circumstances.

Removing this confusion so that the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers could fill statutory obligations and do their jobs is exactly why the WOTUS rule was needed. Agencies like the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers need clarity on how to interpret the law to ensure clean water is not only suitable for drinking but also supports coastal communities, estuaries and eventually our ocean.

The WOTUS rule was finalized in 2015, offering a clear definition of what waterways are protected and managed under the Clean Water Act. Thanks to this rule, the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers can ensure consistency in managing wetlands, rivers and streams while improving community health and giving industry more consistency so they can make informed decisions. Overall, this rule ensures the protection of streams and rivers that provide drinking water to 117 million Americans.

Despite these clear benefits, President Trump’s executive order will begin the process of rolling back this important rule. The order requires the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers to review the rule and recommend whether it should be revised or rescinded. I’m worried that this is a step towards signaling the administration’s openness to revoking critical safeguards that protect Americans’ health and our environment.

Before WOTUS was enacted, the EPA and Army Corps met with over 400 stakeholders and received more than one million public comments that they took into consideration to ensure the rule was in the best interests of Americans. I hope the Trump administration, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers talk with coastal communities about their clean water needs to fully understand the impacts this rollback could have on our rivers, estuaries, and ocean. Now is the time for coastal communities to stand up and make your voices heard on the clean water needs of your local community.

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It’s Time to Have a New Conversation About the EPA http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/17/its-time-to-have-a-new-conversation-about-the-epa/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/02/17/its-time-to-have-a-new-conversation-about-the-epa/#comments Fri, 17 Feb 2017 22:28:12 +0000 Jeff Watters http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13758

Despite grave concerns from all corners about his ability to lead an agency that protects the health and quality of life of Americans, Scott Pruitt is the new administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

His nomination raised red flags from concerned citizens to worried coastal businesses. His past track record had given us at Ocean Conservancy plenty of cause for concern, made even more acute during his confirmation hearing by his lack of understanding of fundamental threats to Americans’ health and the quality of our communities. Consider his dance around the issue of ocean acidification. He refused to acknowledge carbon emissions’ impact on our coastal communities, despite the millions of dollars it has cost oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest.

But Pruitt’s confirmation isn’t where the story ends. In fact, this is where it begins.

Because all of us, regardless of our political affiliations, value clean air and clean water. Thanks to the very same agency that Pruitt has sought to discredit and dismantle, we expect and assume we will have clean air and water. As former EPA administrator Bill Ruckelshaus reminded us in a recent interview, the EPA could easily have been called the Public Health Protection Agency.

Now is the time for a new conversation.

We have an opportunity to go back to basics, and to throw out the partisanship. A Republican president created the EPA. The landmark Clean Air Act was passed with overwhelming support from both parties. The Clean Water Act passed Congress with veto-proof majorities.  Today, America’s EPA helps each one of us, every single day, by ensuing that our air and water is clean and safe.

Now it’s our turn to step up and make sure the EPA can continue to protect Americans and our environment.

This is about healthy coastal communities. This is about our families. This is about all Americans’ right to clean air and clean water.  The time for this conversation is now.

If we see any effort by Pruitt to undermine the protections that keep us safe and healthy, we will fight. We are here to hold Pruitt accountable.

From my perspective, Scott Pruitt is now beholden to all 318 million of us that call this nation home.

That’s a powerful place to start. 

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Urgent: Trump Can’t Ignore the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/31/urgent-trump-cant-ignore-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2017/01/31/urgent-trump-cant-ignore-the-ocean/#comments Tue, 31 Jan 2017 15:31:04 +0000 Sarah Cooley http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=13688

I’m a scientist, and I’ve dedicated my life to finding solutions that help people and coastal communities. It may sound complicated, but really, it’s simple—if you add carbon emissions to seawater, the ocean turns more acidic. I’ve visited with shellfish growers and coastal businesses across the country, and I’ve seen firsthand the impacts of acidification.

So you can imagine my surprise, when Scott Pruitt—the nominee for the head of the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency)—was asked directly by Senators about ocean acidification, he wasn’t even willing to admit that ocean acidification is happening.

This week, the Senate is expected to vote on Mr. Pruitt for the head of the EPA. We want Senators to vote NO and OPPOSE Pruitt based on his unwillingness to admit that ocean acidification is really happening.

I can’t sit back and watch politics harm our coastal communities. We gave Scott Pruitt a chance, we listened to what he had to say at his confirmation hearings and his answers on ocean acidification are a total deal-breaker. Ocean acidification is happening. Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest nearly went bankrupt as a result. Lobstermen in Maine are concerned enough about acidification that they have traveled to Washington, D.C. to urge Congress to support important research that will tell them how lobster might be impacted.

As a scientist who has been studying the impacts of ocean acidification for 11 years, I can tell you the truth: ocean acidity has increased 30% since the Industrial Revolution!

This means that shellfish could become scarce on people’s dinner plates—and hard to come by for hungry ocean wildlife.

The EPA’s mission is to protect our health and the environment. But, how can they do that if the head of the agency ignores proven impacts to coastal communities?

Ocean acidification is real! Please join me in taking action today by contacting your Senators.

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Reducing Carbon Pollution is Good News for the Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/03/reducing-carbon-pollution-is-good-news-for-the-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2015/08/03/reducing-carbon-pollution-is-good-news-for-the-ocean/#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:46:32 +0000 Julia Roberson http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=10602

© 2013 Rick Friedman/Ocean Conservancy All Rights Reserved

You might have heard the news today that the Obama Administration released its final version of a rule called the Clean Power Plan. Years in the making, this rule from the Environmental Protection Agency aims to reduce emissions from power plants – the biggest emitters of carbon pollution – by 32 percent from 2005 levels by 2030. We hear a lot about how carbon pollution causes our planet’s atmosphere to warm, and as a result, droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather events, are becoming more frequent, dangerous and costly to Americans and many others around the world. But what does carbon pollution mean for the ocean?

Actually, it means a lot. The ocean absorbs about 25 percent of the carbon pollution we put into the atmosphere. As a result, the ocean is roughly 30 percent more acidic now than it was prior to the Industrial Revolution. Shellfish growers in the Pacific Northwest lost up to 80 percent of their oyster larvae (baby oysters) due to acidification in 2006-2008 and some growers nearly declared bankruptcy.

But ocean acidification isn’t the only threat our coastal communities face from carbon pollution. It is also causing the ocean to get warmer – sounds like a good thing, right? But a warmer ocean means some fish and crustaceans are shifting their range. The Gulf of Maine is warming faster than anywhere on earth; lobstermen in Maine and New England are starting to see their catch move north. In Maine alone, the seafood industry is worth an estimated $1 billion dollars and critically important to coastal communities. This begs the question: What will happen to those fishermen and communities as the ocean continues to change?

Many coastal communities are doing what they can to address these threats at the local and state level. States like Washington, Oregon, California, Maine and Maryland are looking at reducing local coastal pollution that can end up in the ocean and make acidification worse. In Maine, local groups are working with fishermen to diversify their catch as the ocean changes. But more must be done to reduce emissions. For the sake of our coastal communities and the millions of Americans who depend on a healthy ocean, the Clean Power Plan is a very good thing.

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Tell the EPA You Support Cutting Carbon Emissions http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/10/16/tell-the-epa-you-support-cutting-carbon-emissions/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 17:50:22 +0000 Guest Blogger http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=9341

This blog post was written by Benoit Eudeline, the hatchery research manager at Taylor Shellfish Farms. 

Here at the Taylor Shellfish Hatchery in Washington State, we are facing real threats to our business and our livelihood.

Ocean acidification, largely caused by carbon pollution, can damage shell-building animals, like oysters, clams and mussels. Given the changes we’re seeing in the ocean, it will be increasingly difficult for these organisms to build healthy shells, and will ultimately impact their ability to survive.

We are taking action here in Washington State, but we must do more – for everyone who relies on the ocean.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed an action that would cut power plants’ carbon emissions—emissions that are changing the very nature of our ocean. We need your help to tell the EPA that we must take these steps to cut emissions now. Fishermen, shellfish farmers, and coastal communities who depend on a healthy ocean will suffer if we don’t respond now.

We all know power plants emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere. What most people don’t know is that around 30% of all carbon emissions are absorbed by the ocean. This makes life difficult for oysters because as the water becomes more acidic, it is deprived of the chemical building blocks that oysters and other shellfish need to grow their shells and survive.

I, along with my children, my friends and my neighbors living here in Northwest Washington State, want to continue working on the water and preserving our culture, our ocean, and our way of life for a long, long time.

Click here to tell the EPA that you support their efforts to cut carbon emissions on behalf of the ocean. 

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EPA Helps Address Ocean Acidification http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2014/06/02/epa-helps-address-ocean-acidification/#comments Tue, 03 Jun 2014 01:04:46 +0000 Ryan Ono http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=8428

Photo: Misti Weathersby

Today, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy announced that the agency is proposing new rules to dramatically reduce carbon dioxide emissions from existing power plants. The new rules, which the EPA is calling their “Clean Power Plan,” would reduce carbon emission from existing power plants by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, an amount equal to the pollution emitted by more than 150 million cars. But what does all of this mean for the ocean? Many people may not realize it, but by proposing the Clean Power Plan, the United States took a significant step towards addressing ocean acidification. Reducing carbon pollution from power plants means there will be less carbon pollution in the atmosphere. And less carbon pollution in the atmosphere means less carbon pollution that is absorbed by the ocean, turning it more acidic.

Many marine species and the coastal communities dependent upon them are at risk of being harmed by the large amount of carbon pollution that has already been absorbed by the ocean. Oyster growers in the Pacific Northwest have already experienced major business losses due to increasingly acidic water. Scientists are worried about how lobsters, crabs and squid will respond to a more acidic ocean. A reduction in US carbon emissions from power plants is a much-needed step towards addressing ocean acidification on a larger scale.

We applaud the efforts of the EPA, the Obama administration, and the many other industry and community groups that have helped to create this proposed rule.  There is a long way to go, but this is a great step to address the root cause of ocean acidification.

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