Cantwell Presses NOAA Nominee on Ocean Acidification Funding

By Bellamy Pailthorp

Concern about ocean acidification was in the spotlight during a confirmation hearing for the next head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Washington Senator Maria Cantwell grilled the nominee, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, about proposed cuts to a monitoring program. 

Special sensors mounted on NOAA buoys help growers anticipate upwelling of acidic water and protect their stocks. Sullivan said she would continue support for the program “within the resources available.” Cantwell pressed her to fund it based on urgency.

Cantwell says Washington’s shellfish industry employs more than 3,000 people and contributes $270-million to the state’s economy each year. And it produces nearly 90% of the west coast’s annual harvest.

Cantwell also pressed the nominee to prioritize funding for a robust forecasting system, to better prepare coastal communities for extreme weather. Sullivan is currently the Acting Administrator of NOAA.

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