Senator Murkowski, worried for coastal communities, is trying to assess ocean acidification

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - Our coastlines could be in harm’s way. Not because of a storm or a tidal wave, but because of ocean acidification. Carbon dioxide emissions are changing the chemistry of our oceans which could have a negative impact on coastlines and economies. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) is looking for answers to this growing problem. She says we need to find out how vulnerable our communities are.

Sen. Murkowski (R-AK) says she wants to find out just how vulnerable her coastal communities are.

“What is happening with ocean acidification is important to me as an Alaskan. Really it should be important to every one of us,” said Murkowski.

Murkowski introduced legislation that calls for the U.S. Department of Commerce to conduct assessments and file reports every few years. She says they are already seeing effects on crab fisheries in Alaska. Some crab shells are taking longer to develop or grow softer than normal. Ocean acidification can alter ecosystems and the economies relying on them.

“70 percent of planet earth is ocean. We’re not here...we are not here without healthy oceans,” said Murkowski.

While we may not be here without healthy oceans, experts say humans can determine their health.

“This is all about making sure we understand the risk, understand the threat, so we can potentially develop solutions for the future,” said Jeff Watters from the Ocean Conservancy.

He says C02 emissions are responsible for ocean acidification, and now coastal communities need to be prepared for the consequences. He says getting them information they need will allow them to make necessary changes.

“If you know that a looming threat is going to be devastating to your industry, you may pivot towards wanting to diversify your local economy,” said Watters.

Murkowski’s legislation is sitting in committee with four cosponsors signed on.