On November 19, 2021, 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 conserving, restoring, and understanding coastal blue carbon ecosystems.
Blue carbon ecosystems—which include mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrasses, and kelp forests—provide a buffer from storm- or wave-driven coastal erosion, improve water quality, and serve as habitat for juvenile fish while also removing carbon from the ocean and atmosphere.
“Blue carbon ecosystems have great potential to help mitigate the impacts of climate change in Alaska and elsewhere. By protecting our shorelines from coastal erosion, storing incredible amounts of carbon, and helping to address ocean acidification, these ecosystems are a significant asset in our efforts to protect the planet,” said Senator Murkowski.
“Important research is taking place 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 safeguard them,” she added.
The Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act addresses the need to more fully comprehend how these ecosystems help to mitigate climate change and its impacts, and how we can better leverage that capacity in the future.
The bill states that the Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology of the National Science and Technology Council shall establish an interagency working group, to be known as the Interagency Working Group on Coastal Blue Carbon.
Membership would include senior representatives from:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Science Foundation; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the United States Geological Survey; the United States Fish and Wildlife Service; the National Park Service; the Bureau of Indian Affairs; the Smithsonian Institution; the Army Corps of Engineers; the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Energy; the Department of Defense; the Department of State; the Department of Transportation; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Council on Environmental Quality.