Washington Blue Ribbon Panel Issues Report on Ocean Acidification
In the January 2013 issue of Western Water Law & Policy Reporter, Tupper Mack Wells attorney Sarah Mack takes a look at Washington’s efforts to tackle the problem of ocean acidification. The Governor’s Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, co-chaired by William Ruckelshaus and Jay Manning, released its report on November 27, 2012, entitled Ocean Acidification: From Knowledge to Action--Washington State’s Strategic Response.
Ocean acidification, which occurs when the pH of seawater is reduced for an extended period of time, could have serious consequences for Washington’s marine environment and its commercial shellfish industry. This ongoing shift in ocean chemistry is caused primarily by the ocean’s uptake of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. The report predicts that, at the current rate of global carbon dioxide emissions, by the end of this century the average acidity of the ocean surface will increase by 100 to 150 percent over pre-industrial levels. In general, the report acknowledges that ocean acidification is a global issue, and that more science and data collection are needed in order to determine the impacts and contribution from specific activities occurring in Washington. Nevertheless, former Governor Christine Gregoire called for Washington to act now to combat ocean acidification and to “lead the world” in solving this problem. The Blue Ribbon Panel’s report includes 42 action recommendations, including as-yet-undefined local land use controls and strategies for adaptation and remediation of local seawater conditions. For more information, contact Sarah Mack at firstname.lastname@example.org.