As you probably already heard, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the landmark American Clean Energy and Security Act late last week. The act, which would put a cap (or limit) on carbon emissions for the first time, represents a new approach to regulating global warming pollution, one which is badly needed, to drive a shift to a clean energy economy.
In May, when the act was still up for discussion in a House committee, we told you about the implications of carbon emissions on marine life. The oceans absorb a third of the carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere, but that same service is now making the oceans sick as they become saturated and turn more acidic. Respected scientists agree that we could face a mass extinction of corals in this century if waters continue to acidify. Other animals that make shells, like lobsters, crabs and clams, will be less able to do so in acid water. The oceans, in short, will be irrevocably changed.
To those of you who answered Oceana’s request to contact the House and encourage the passage of the American Clean Energy and Security Act: Thank you.
The work is not done. The U.S. Senate must strengthen the legislation, which calls for a 17 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from 2005 levels by 2020 and an 83 percent reduction by 2050. Those emission reduction targets must be greater to benefit the oceans.
The United States has a chance to lead the world in cutting carbon dioxide emissions and protecting our oceans for future generations. You can bet that Oceana will be vigilant as this legislation proceeds. I’ll keep you posted.
Jim Simon is the acting CEO of Oceana.