Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee Hosts Meeting to Discuss Changing Ocean Environment


Discussed ways to monitor, mitigate, and adapt to environmental changes

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Mark Begich (AK), Chairman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) hosted a roundtable discussion today between Senate Democrats and  expert stakeholders concerned with the ongoing changes in our oceans.  The group discussed the economic impacts faced by local industries and communities due to ocean acidification, sea level rise, and the increased frequency of extreme weather events.

Leaders from the scientific community, private industry, and local government shared their experiences with tackling challenging ocean conditions to better protect the public and critical infrastructure. In the wake of Superstorm Sandy, public discussion has shifted from immediate recovery efforts to the development of long-term strategies essential to adapting to changes in our ocean environment.

“Alaskans know first-hand just how important oceans are to our communities,” Senator Begich said. “I was glad to be joined by Dr. Jeremy Mathis from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who’s doing important research on ocean acidification that will help protect Alaska’s seafood industry.  These natural resources impact not only our health and food sources, but also our local economies and good jobs for so many Alaskans.”

“The strength of America’s economy is tied to the health of our oceans, particularly in coastal states like Rhode Island,” said Senator Whitehouse.  “Today we heard from a diverse group of experts about the challenges our oceans face.  We heard how ocean acidification caused by carbon pollution threatens to erode the building blocks for sea life, like coral reefs; how sea level rise could devastate coastal states and displace millions of Americans; and how all of these changes could affect our country as a whole, not just states on the coasts.  I hope my colleagues came away from this meeting with a better understanding of the urgent need to protect our oceans, and I look forward to working with them to take meaningful action.”

As communities and businesses continue to be impacted by these environmental conditions, Senate Democrats recognize the need to develop a comprehensive strategy for monitoring, mitigation, and adaptation.  Today’s discussion served as a valuable opportunity for senators to learn from the experiences of leaders who work on these important issues every day.

Photos from today’s meeting can be found here.

About the Senate Democratic Steering & Outreach Committee

The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and community leaders from across the nation. Each year, the Steering Committee hosts meetings with advocates, policy experts, and elected officials to discuss key priorities and enlist their help in the development of the Democratic agenda in the Senate. We are committed to serving as a liaison between Senate Democratic offices and advocacy groups and intergovernmental organizations. The Steering Committee is one of three Democratic Leadership Committees in the Senate. The Steering Committee is chaired by Senator Mark Begich (AK) and vice chaired by Senator Jeanne Shaheen (NH).