Tagged: Coastal Management

DOI Secretary Zinke may explore offshore drilling in the Arctic. (Credit: BBC)

Does “Balanced” Proposed Interior Budget Tip Scale Towards Oil And Gas?

Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.

This is an example of an off-bottom oyster culture technique used today in New England. (Credit: NOAA)

Sea Grant Supports A Culture Of Success

Imagine a trip to the Chesapeake Bay without feasting on their iconic oysters. In recent years, wild oyster populations have been devastated by factors both manmade and natural. Although wild-caught oysters face restoration issues, aquaculture (which is essentially seafood farming) is a growing industry providing shellfish to the market. After success in the Chesapeake region, entrepreneurs around the country have jumped on board over the past three decades to begin their own aquaculture businesses raising oysters, fish, and even seaweed.

Geoscience plays a critical role in seaport infrastructure.

We’d Face A Rocky Road Without Geoscience

When most people enter a hiking trail with several days’ worth of food, they’re at the start of a camping adventure. For residents of Big Sur, California, they’re making one of many weekly trips back from the grocery store. Four months ago, a mudslide collapsed a bridge, making the small hiking path the only access to the outside world for much of Big Sur.

For NFIP policyholders, premiums rose after Superstorm Sandy. (Wikipedia)

A Stormy Debate Ensues Over Flood Insurance Reauthorization

After a recent series of severe storms over several years resulted in $24.6 billion of debt, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) could be improved before reauthorization. They disagreed, however, on how to make that happen.

Coast Guardsmen use a flat-bottom boat to assist residents during severe flooding around Baton Rouge, LA on Aug. 14, 2016. (Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Giles/Coast Guard)

Coast Guard And FEMA Bills On The Move

While most eyes last week were on news from the White House – the president’s budget request – Congress was still at work moving bills of its own. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed two bipartisan bills – the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2518) and the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2548).

Mr. Ross highlighted the role of fisheries in the trade deficit. (Credit: PROVirginia Sea Grant/ Flickr)

“Difficult Decisions Needed To Be Made”

Those watching Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross testify before the House Appropriations Committee, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on the president’s budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 may at times have been able to anticipate his answers. As the secretary fielded questions from worried Democrats regarding agencies and programs the White House proposed to eliminate or to drastically cut, his responses remained consistent. Whether answering queries about the elimination of the Sea Grant Program, the Minority Business Development Agency, or the Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program, Secretary Ross was unwavering in his answer that tradeoffs had to be made to fund the administration’s priorities, “and with the big increases in defense and military and national security, cuts have to be made somewhere.”

Homes in Tuckerton, New Jersey, were flooded after Hurricane Sandy made landfall on October 29, 2012. (Credit: U.S. Coast Guard via Getty Images)

Designing Infrastructure For Tomorrow’s Coasts

Even elementary students know a D+ is barely above failing. Unfortunately, that is the grade the American Society of Civil Engineers gave to U.S. infrastructure this year. This indicates our roads and highways and drinking and wastewater systems are in trouble, particularly along coastlines where they face rising seas, storm surges, and extreme weather events. Senators Tom Carper (DE, Ranking Member on Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works) and Sheldon Whitehouse (RI, Co-Chair of Senate Oceans Caucus) understand these threats well in their home states, and on an appropriately stormy day, they hosted a roundtable with coastal experts to discuss these issues and the aid and mitigation role the federal government can play.

A number of new bills introduced in this Congress were of relevance to the ocean science community. One relates to ocean acification research.(Credit: NOAA)

New Congress Means New Legislation

In a scene more appropriate for a college laboratory than the Capitol building (lab safety protocols aside), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) measured pH on the Senate floor during an ocean acidification demonstration. The act...

The House Agriculture Committee passed a bill that deregulates pesticides near waterways. (Credit: Shannon Bond/USEPA/Flickr)

Pest Regulations

It’s likely that the downstream impact of chemicals is not the first thing on a farmer’s mind while battling dangerous pests. But the fact remains that chemicals applied on land do work their way into our nation’s waterways. The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture approved two bills including one that would simplify the approval and application of pesticides.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee agrees infrastructure Improvements are Necessary, Looks for funding. (Credit: NOAA)

Infrastructure, A Rare Topic Of Bipartisanship

“When the word ‘infrastructure’ comes up, most people think of steel and concrete, bridges and ports,” began the testimony of Mr. Anthony Pratt (President, American Shore and Beach Preservation Association) to the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. He continued, “But I`m here to talk about water and coastal infrastructure that is just as critical to the American economy and creates (and protects) just as many jobs, but does so with sand and sediment, roots and grass.”