WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation written by U.S. Representatives Brian Mast (FL-18), Bill Posey (FL-15) and Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1), called the National Estuaries and Acidification Research Act (NEAR Act), aimed at fighting coastal acidification and helping waterways like the St. Lucie Estuary, Caloosahatchee Estuary, Indian River Lagoon and Lake Worth Lagoon.  The bill was included in a package of others bills that passed by a vote of 350 to 75. 

“On the Treasure Coast and in the Palm Beaches, we’ve seen what happens when estuaries are left to die—businesses are forced to close, animals are killed and people get sick,” Rep. Mast said.  “That cannot be allowed to happen, so this legislation is critical, and it’ll go a long way toward protecting marine life and promoting healthier communities.” 

“Estuaries are some of most diverse ecosystems in the country, and because estuaries are places where freshwater mixes with salt water from the oceans, preserving this delicate balance is necessary but also challenging,” Rep. Posey said. “This critical legislation will help protect our estuaries by ensuring that we continue to study and monitor the effects of coastal acidification.” 

“By absorbing carbon dioxide and polluted runoff, our estuaries are becoming more acidic,” Rep. Bonamici said.  “Unfortunately, research has not kept pace with the needs of coastal communities to fully understand the ecological and socioeconomic consequences. This legislation will address the research gap and help preserve our nation’s estuaries.” 

The NEAR Act directs the National Academies of Science Ocean Study Board to conduct a two year study examining the science of ocean acidification and its impact on estuaries.  The goal of the NEAR Act is to create a better understanding of coastal acidification so we can better manage and mitigate its effects on our nation’s estuaries and other water bodies.