GAO: Feds should do more to stop ocean acidification

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling out federal agencies for not implementing part of a 2009 law meant to reduce ocean acidification.

The GAO said a federal task force has outlined a plan to increase the government’s understanding of ocean acidification, a process caused by carbon dioxide that harms marine life and shores, along with how the government could respond.

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But agencies, led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), haven’t implemented other key parts of the law, like estimating budget requirements for the research and monitoring plan, the GAO said.

“Until greater clarity is provided on the entity responsible for coordinating the next steps in the federal response to ocean acidification, completing important actions, such as implementing the research and monitoring plan, will be difficult,” the report concluded.

GAO said ocean acidification is worsening because the ocean absorbs about 30 percent of carbon dioxide emissions, making the water more acidic. It can hurt commercial fishing, tourism and other parts of the economy.

The Center for Biological Diversity said the findings were troubling.

“While it’s vital that we study ocean acidification, what the GAO report points out is that it isn’t enough,” Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director for the group, said in a statement.

She said agencies like NOAA and the Environmental Protection Agency have major roles to play in fighting acidification.

“They need to get out of their huddle now and take bold action to stop acidification,” Sakashita said.