U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Oceans Caucus, participated in a roundtable discussion on Wednesday on ideas for managing our changing oceans, specifically ocean acidification, rising sea levels, and extreme weather. The meeting was hosted by the Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee and featured eight leaders from the private sector, government, and educational institutions including, Dr. Chris Sommerfield, Associate Professor of Oceanography, University of Delaware College of Earth, Ocean, and Environment.
The roundtable highlighted the economic impacts facing local industries and communities and discussed infrastructure and other measures needed to monitor, mitigate, and adapt to these changing conditions. Issues discussed during today's meeting include the impacts of Superstorm Sandy and the likelihood of similar extreme storms damaging coastal communities, as well as the importance of protecting coral reefs from increasing ocean temperatures and acidification.
"Changes to our world's climate are having adverse effects on our oceans and coastal communities," Senator Coons said. "Water is rising across our seaboard. In Delaware, the state with the lowest mean elevation of any state in the United States, makes it susceptible to sea level rise and erosion of land. We must come together across all sectors to reverse this damage and prevent further destruction to our planet. I thank Dr. Sommerfield for joining us today and sharing his research on sedimentary processes of our estuaries, coasts, and oceans."
Dr. Sommerfield discussed the importance of protecting our marshes, because of the critical role they play in protecting communities against storms, filtering pollutants from waterways, providing recreational benefits and absorbing carbon from the atmosphere in Delaware and coastal states.
The discussion comes on the heels of a floor speech Senator Coons gave on Monday calling for action to address the adverse effects of climate change in Delaware and around the country.
The Senate Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee is dedicated to fostering dialogue between Senate Democrats and community leaders from across the nation. The Steering Committee hosts regular meetings each year 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.