Note: Elements of this proposed legislation overlap substantially with the LPDD Model Law, published Sept. 2020, Model Amendments to the Act to Prevent Pollution from Ships, which would require all ships to track and then report greenhouse gases emitted from the last port of call to the U.S. port of call, require that information to be made public, and support the development of efficiency rankings. The author of that model law, Mary Capdeville, has prepared a comparison memo of these two pieces of legislation, which is housed below. Because this legislation is subject to ongoing revisions, Ms. Capdeville’s memo is likewise subject to update as appropriate.
The proposed Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act seeks to leverage the ocean’s potential in the fight against climate change by promoting offshore renewable energy, protecting blue carbon, supporting climate-ready fisheries, expanding marine protected areas, improving ocean health, and more.
Specifically, the bill would address GHG emissions by:
- Prohibiting new oil and gas leasing in all areas of the Outer Continental Shelf.
- Setting a national goal for offshore wind energy production of 12.5 gigawatts by 2025 and 25 gigawatts by 2030, and increasing funding for R&D and strategies for the protection of wildlife.
- Requiring shipping vessels to measure and report CO2 emissions on an annual basis.
- Incentivizing increased fuel efficiency for fishing vessels.
The bill would address “blue carbon” ecosystems by:
- Supporting efforts to understand, map, protect and restore “blue carbon” ecosystems like salt marshes, sea grasses, and mangroves, which are highly effective and withdrawing and storing atmospheric carbon, with priority for projects that would protect fish and wildlife habitat and benefit lower income communities.
- Improving federal cooperation and authorizing much-needed funding for the protection and restoration of “blue carbon” habitats.
- Establishing a grant program for wetlands restoration that sequesters CO2 or reduces CO2 or methane emissions and setting a goal to restore 1.5 million acres of coastal wetlands over 10 years.
The bill would promote coastal resiliency by:
- Authorizing $3 billion to support coastal restoration projects with priority to projects that help stimulate the economy, provide jobs for workers affected by COVID-19, and assist communities of color, as well as low-income, Tribal, and rural communities.
- Supporting grants and research to advance understanding of best practices for increased coastal resiliency and adaptation.
- Requiring a coordinated Federal response to support the voluntary relocation of communities impacted by sea level rise.
The bill would promote ocean protection by:
- Setting a goal to protect at least 30% of our ocean by 2030, and creating a new federal task force to submit a plan to Congress with an inventory of existing Marine Protected Areas and new areas that deserve additional protection.
- Initiating the designation process for successful national marine sanctuary nominations.
- Increasing protections for deep sea corals by directing NOAA to designate areas in which use of bottom-tending fishing gear is prohibited under the Magnuson Stevens Act.
- Strengthening protections for marine mammals from ocean noise and vessel collisions.
The bill would promote sustainable fisheries by:
- Supporting the development of innovative tools and approaches to increase the capacity of fisheries management to adapt to climate change.
- Leveraging the Saltonstall-Kennedy fund to promote consumption of U.S. seafood products that are environmentally or climate-friendly, invasive, or from well-managed but less-known species.
- Initiating a science-based review of jurisdiction and allocation concerns for shifting fish stocks.
The bill would promote ocean health by:
- Enhancing the coordination of federal research, improving monitoring and ocean observation, and offering prizes to advance understanding of ocean acidification.
- Making harmful algal blooms eligible for federal disaster relief and emergency assistance to improve the protection of coastal communities.
The bill would promote international ocean governance by:
- Promoting international coordination and information-sharing on marine energy development, marine protected areas, and marine resource management.
- Recommending ratification of the United Convention on the Law of the Sea to further environmental, social, and economic goals regarding international fisheries management, and to improve the ability to engage in disputes over navigational rights, treaty interpretations, and military exercises in coastal areas.