U.S. Representatives Brian Mast (FL-18) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01) today introduced the bipartisan Blue Carbon For Our Planet Act. The legislation is designed to capture the power of our ocean and estuaries to protect coastal blue carbon ecosystems like the St. Lucie Estuary and Indian River Lagoon.
“Blue carbon ecosystems like those all along Florida’s coastlines serve a critical purpose providing habitats for fish and oysters, protecting our shorelines and improving water quality,” Rep. Mast said. “But if we continue down the current path of mistreating our coastal ecosystems and poisoning our waterways, we are going to exponentially increase the damage and risks for future generations. Making sure we protect and restore these ecosystems is a must.”
Healthy blue carbon ecosystems, such as mangroves, tidal marshes, seagrasses and kelp forests, can remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for centuries in stems, branches, leaves, roots and soils. According to the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, the protection and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems could prevent approximately one gigaton of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere by 2050.
“The unprecedented scale of the climate crisis requires that we act immediately, and our ocean and coastal ecosystems can be part of the solution,” Rep. Bonamici said. “Blue carbon refers to the powerful ability of coastal ecosystems to sequester carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it for centuries to millennia in plants and soil. Despite their value, coastal blue carbon ecosystems are disappearing at an unsustainable rate. The bipartisan Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act will strengthen blue carbon research and support the conservation and restoration of blue carbon ecosystems so we can maximize this effective carbon sequestration tool in our fight against the climate crisis.”
The Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act would create a national map of coastal blue carbon ecosystems and their sequestration potential, study the effects of environmental stressors on rates of carbon sequestration, improve protections for existing coastal blue carbon ecosystems and restore degraded ecosystems.