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Feb 8, 2019

US House panel resumes focus on climate change, warming oceans

Climate change is hitting the lobster industry in two ways, Beth Casoni, the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association’s executive director, told the US House of Representatives’ Natural Resources Committee’s Water, Oceans and Wildlife – or WOW -- panel on Thursday. The Gulf of Maine is warming at a faster pace than 99% of other bodies of water and, by 2050, could lose 62% of its lobsters as a result, she said. Meanwhile, ocean acidification is making it harder for juvenile lobsters to grow shells, leaving them open to predators and disease. “These threats from climate change are intensified by the other challenges lobstermen are facing,” said Casoni, one of seven witnesses at the two-hour hearing. “We do not have the luxury of looking at any one of these impacts on its own – all of them collectively are causing declines in the resource, hurting our bottom line, and our communities. The event on Thursday was the second hearing called by the Natural Resources Committee on climate change since Democrats took control of the lower chamber in the 2018 election. The day before representative Raul Grijalva, the Arizona Democrat who now chairs the main committee, held a more general discussion. This after a decade of no hearings on the subject by the committee or any of its panels, a period of time during which the committee's agenda was heavily dominated by the Republican majority, according to a Democratic staffer. The stark political contrast was not missed by Carol Browner, the Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator from 1993 until 2001, under president Bill Clinton, and the second witness on the panel. She focused her criticism on the recently completed 115th Congress, however. “With a new Congress comes a new opportunity to lead and a new opportunity to act. The eyes of the world are on the United States,” said Browner, now a senior counselor at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a Washington, D.C.-based global strategy firm. “For the past two years, this country has abdicated is leadership in the global community, especially with regard to solving climate change, the most serious environmental and economic challenge of our time.” “The scientists are issuing the warnings. We are running out of time. You could be our greatest hope to reverse the curve of inaction and instead find the solutions that will determine our economic and environmental future.”  Read the article.

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