NPCA sent the following position to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee ahead of a hearing scheduled for November 17th, 2020.
H.R. 8632 – Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act: NPCA strongly supports this legislation, which harnesses the power of oceans to provide solutions to the climate crisis. Rising temperatures, melting glaciers, flooding, shoreline erosion, sea-level rise, extreme storms, coral bleaching and more are impacting America’s national parks today, altering iconic landscapes, ecological processes, cultural resources, infrastructure assets and recreational opportunities.
NPCA supports H.R. 8632 and the accompanying ocean-related bills being marked up that provide important steps to protect and restore the ecological integrity and resiliency of coastal national parks, where natural landscapes and historical and cultural structures are on the front lines of climate change impacts. This legislation will:
• Substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
o NPCA recognizes that H.R. 8632 calls for reducing greenhouse gas emissions by advocating for stricter emissions standards of vessels, increasing appropriately sited renewable energy sources and energy efficiency such as offshore wind energy, and preventing the expansion of offshore oil exploration and drilling.
• Protect the ocean’s natural ability to store carbon and mitigate climate change, by conserving and restoring coastal “blue carbon” ecosystems, including mangroves, seagrass beds, and salt marshes.
o NPCA prioritizes restoring “blue carbon” ecosystems such as Everglades National Park, Indiana Dunes National Park, and Gateway National Recreation Area, and recognizes this legislation advances policies that enhance the ecological health of parks by restoring wetlands, mangroves, and living shorelines to better withstand the worsening impacts of sea level rise and more intense storms. Specifically, H.R. 7387 sponsored by Rep. Mucarsel-Powell, which is part of H.R. 8632, establishes a $3B trust fund for shovel-ready, coastal resiliency projects.
• Implement adaptation strategies to increase ocean protection resiliency to the unavoidable impacts of climate change. This includes strongly protecting at least 30% of the ocean in areas where marine wildlife can thrive, as well as promoting sustainable fisheries management, pollution reduction, ocean habitat restoration, and ocean planning.
o NPCA supports the goal of 30x30 and the creation of a 30x30 task force to focus on potential oceanic areas that deserve protection, building on the legacy of Presidents Bush and Obama to establish marine national monuments through the Antiquities Act to improve the health of national parks and the wildlife they support, particularly in sensitive habitats such as coral reefs which harbor the highest diversity of any ecosystem. For example, at Dry Tortugas and Channel Islands National Parks, scientists have found that marine reserves are contributing to bigger and more abundant sea life within protected areas.