Tagged: Pollution

Marine debris from below in Hawaii. (Credit: NOAA)

Senate Navigates Growing Marine Debris Problem

Eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year – and in total, the amount already in existence outweighs each human by ten to one (approximately the same as a cow or female giraffe), according to Dr. Melissa Duhaime (Assistant Professor, University of Michigan). At a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, lawmakers explored efforts to tackle marine debris in the ocean and Great Lakes. Marine debris refers to any kind of discarded human litter, including derelict fishing equipment; sunken vessels; and trash from fabrics, metal, cardboard, or other substances, but the most abundant – and problematic – form is plastic.

Air gun array on a research vessel, used for reflection seismic profiles in the ocean (Credit: Hannes Grobe, Wiki Commons)

Expand Offshore Drilling Or Focus On Renewables?

At a House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing, as lawmakers explored the potential for offshore drilling in Alaska and the Atlantic, seismic testing was once again a controversial topic. Seismic tests are used to determine the presence and abundance of oil; registering at 120 decibels, Representative Jared Huffman (CA-2) said the blasts have “an enormous and obvious impact” on marine mammals. Witness Nikki Martin (President, International Association of Geophysical Contractors) disagreed, claiming that there is no scientific evidence showing harm to marine mammals (despite studies showing otherwise).

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.

Lake Erie, pronounced dead 40 years ago, has been dramatically cleaned due to anti-pollution laws. (Credit: Mark K./ Flickr)

Clean Water Act: Overreach or Clean Beach?

The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water continued this debate with a hearing on the implementation of the definition of “waters of the United States.”

Plastic bottles on a beach (Credit: Bo Eide/ Flickr)

Trash In The Seas Starts At Home

Marine debris is flooding our oceans at an estimated rate of eight million tons of trash annually, and its results are devastating. Scientists have observed nearly 700 different marine species that have already been negatively impacted by marine plastics, and trash could outweigh fish in the oceans by 2050.