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Denny H.
Democrat WA 10

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  • Commemorating the 1-Year Anniversary of Superstorm Sandy

    by Representative Denny Heck

    Posted on 2013-10-29

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    HECK of Washington. Thank you, sir. Thank you for the privilege to be able to add my voice to this also.

    As a member of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition, I stand here today as well to recognize the 1-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy and remember all those whose lives were lost and all those left behind who are in the process of continuing to rebuild their lives from that destruction--not just in the months ahead but, undoubtedly, in the years ahead. Our Nation must--it can, it will, and it should--stand with those families and businesses as they undertake that task all along the Atlantic coast as they seek to recover.

    I actually come from about as far away from that in the continental United States as possible. I am from Washington State, and so the district that I have the honor to represent was not directly affected by Superstorm Sandy. However, my district has begun to feel the very real effects of climate change.

    Science has shown that climate change is driving an ongoing decrease in seawater pH. Scientists refer to that as ``ocean acidification.'' You might ask, How does that happen? Truthfully, with all due respect to my colleague from New Jersey, you don't have to be a ``Jeopardy!'' champion to get this. In fact, you only need be exposed to a junior high- or senior high-level biology or chemistry course.

    It only stands to reason that as more and more carbon is emitted into the atmosphere, not all of it goes into the atmosphere, but, in fact, a goodly portion of it is absorbed by what covers approximately three- fourths of our little globe's surface, namely the ocean. And that carbon being absorbed into the ocean does, in fact, affect the pH level.

    So ocean acidification, in turn, affects marine life in a lot of different ways; but the effect that I am the most familiar with is the damage that it causes to shellfish, including the shellfish grown at farms in my districts, specifically in Mason County. Indeed, I am proud to tell that you the largest shellfish farm in America, Taylor Shellfish Farms, is located, along with many others, in the 10th Congressional District of Washington State.

    The acidity in the water--the direct result of carbon emitted into atmosphere absorbed by the ocean--makes it difficult for the shellfish to grow and harden their shells. Frankly, it decreases survival rates. It makes it harder to raise shellfish.

    More than 3,200 people in our State--a lot of them in my district-- are employed directly or indirectly in the shellfish industry and by growers. The estimated total economic contribution is well over a quarter-billion dollars. But that entire industry is threatened by ocean acidification resulting from climate change. It is totally threatened by this.

    I have said here on this floor and elsewhere many times that a healthy economy is completely dependent and requires a healthy environment. The effect of climate change on Washington State's shellfish industry is but one of the clearest examples of that fact.

    Washington State has a climate change adaptation strategy that we are working on with our regional neighbors--and, I might add, with some degree of progress. But without the involvement at the Federal level and with the Federal Government, our plan isn't going to be successful. The reason: this is a global problem that will require global action; and global action [[Page H6879]] is only going to occur if the United States leads, which it has so often in the past.

    And so, sir, on this occasion, the 1-year anniversary of Superstorm Sandy, I also commit to better protecting the district I represent, our Nation, and the planet from the devastating effects of climate change. We have been waiting long enough. The science is in, and it is time to act.

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