House of Representatives Fails to Pass Resolution on Ocean Acidification | Oceana

House of Representatives Fails to Pass Resolution on Ocean Acidification

Press Release Date: June 9, 2010

Location: Washington, D.C.


Anna Baxter | email:
Anna Baxter



The House of Representatives allowed partisan politics to defeat a resolution addressing one of the greatest threats to our oceans — acidification.  The vote was 241-170 supporting the resolution.  However, the resolution needed a two-thirds vote to pass.


H. Res. 989, introduced by Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) and Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA), encourages the United States to adopt national policies and pursue international agreements to prevent ocean acidification and to study and address the effects of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and coastal economies.


“The passage of H. Res. 989 would have underscored to policymakers and the public that ocean acidification is an urgent issue that must be addressed now,” said Beth Lowell, Oceana Federal Policy Director.  “It’s a shame this important resolution was hijacked by partisan politics.”


Ocean acidity has increased by 30 percent since the start of the Industrial Revolution.  If current trends continue, it could rise another 100 percent by the end of this century, exceeding the highest acidity levels during the past 20 million years.  Increased ocean acidity could devastate coral reefs, shellfish populations and countless marine animals that rely on them for food and protection. 


The impacts of ocean acidification could be vast. We are already beginning to witness the impacts.  Some corals on the Great Barrier Reef have reduced their growth rates by 14 percent.  In the Pacific Northwest during 2007 and 2008, one of the region’s largest oyster hatcheries, the Whiskey Creek Shellfish Hatchery at Netarts Bay, experienced a 70 to 80 percent decrease in production. These oyster die-offs have been attributed to increased ocean acidity. Many similar examples are likely to emerge in the near future, unless we end our addiction to fossil fuels.


Ocean acidification is caused by a simple chemical reaction between seawater and carbon dioxide, which is released from combustion of fossil fuels, such as oil and gas. The same carbon dioxide emissions that contribute to climate change also drive ocean acidification.  As carbon dioxide is absorbed by oceans, it combines with seawater to form carbonic acid, increasing seawater acidity and reducing the availability of compounds that are vital to the development of marine animals’ shells and skeletons.


Oceana applauds Rep. Inslee and Rep. Markey for their dedication in addressing this important issue. We are extremely disappointed that partisan politics has prevented Congress from taking an initial step to protect our oceans from acidification.  


Oceana’s team of marine scientists, economists, lawyers and advocates win specific and concrete policy changes to reduce pollution and prevent the irreversible collapse of fish populations, marine mammals and other sea life.  Global in scope and dedicated to conservation, Oceana has campaigners based in North America, Europe, South and Central America. For more information, please visit