This bill extends the operation of this legislation and adds reporting and public hearing requirements to the 2016 legislation which established the Ocean Acidification Task Force.
New York has unique coastal environments which support diverse wildlife and significant tourism and recreation industries. As the climate changes, these environments and the people and communities whose livelihoods depend on healthy marine fisheries, are increasingly vulnerable.
Ocean acidification in New York’s coastal waters is the result of greenhouse gas emissions in the atmosphere and pollution runoff coming from the land. In particular, a more acidic ocean environment can adversely affect coastal marine life, including shellfish, sea urchins, and corals. When these species are at risk, the entire food web also becomes jeopardized. New York, as well as numerous other places throughout the world, relies heavily on the ocean for food and jobs.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency (NOAA), since the Industrial Revolution, surface ocean waters have already become 30 percent more acidic. Estimates of future carbon dioxide levels indicate that by the end of the century, surface waters of oceans could be nearly 150 percent more acidic, which would be the highest acidity levels seen in more than 20 million years.
This bill continues to underscore the importance of the task force in focusing on the causes of and possible solutions to ocean acidification.
This bill would amend chapter 464 of the law created in 2016 in which an an Ocean Acidification Task Force was created within the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). The modifications include requiring the task force to prepare an interim report no later than December 31, 2021 and hold at least one public hearing on the interim report. The bill also requires the task force to submit a final report no later than December 31, 2022, which needs to include an assessment of public comments from any hearing. The bill amends the sunset date to 2023.