A Historic Win for California’s Coast and Ocean

The passage of Proposition 68 shows that voters can and will unite to preserve our future and natural resources

On Tuesday, Californians took an important step to protect our state’s coast and ocean. California has long been a leader on coastal, ocean and environmental issues, and voters showed this week that they continue to support the state’s leadership and investment in our environment. The passage of Proposition 68 showed that voters will unite to preserve our future and natural resources, and also to move towards a more just, equitable and forward-looking environmental movement.

Ocean Conservancy has a long history of working on ocean policy in California.  And we have strongly supported Proposition 68 since it was introduced in the state legislature last year. The projects that will be funded through this historic natural resource and parks bonds will help address some of the most pressing issues related to the ocean, including ocean acidification, sea level rise and protections associated with critical coastal habitat, such as the Pacific Flyway. Despite past efforts to conserve and enhance California’s natural resources, ocean and coastal waters have not always been a priority, leaving them vulnerable to pollution and climate change. Most notably, when the last natural resources bond passed over a decade ago, the component related to oceans did not focus on many of these pressing issues.

Since then problems like ocean acidification have worsened, with growing CO2 emissions fundamentally changing the chemistry of our ocean and disrupting the species and habitats that call it home. Sea level rise too has increased in intensity over the last decade, with flooding events and coastal erosion increasing in frequency and severity. Proposition 68 will allow California to more effectively implement projects that bolster its climate preparedness and resiliency, including in coastal communities.

With Prop 68’s success, over $1 billion will go to protecting local communities from flooding, with over $200 million more dedicated specifically for coastal and ocean protection, restoration and adaptation to coastal climate change. In total, $4 billion will be invested in natural resources and disaster prevention, cleaning up contaminated drinking water, increasing local water supplies, and providing safe parks for children and future generations. Prop 68 breaks new ground by ensuring disadvantaged communities that are “park poor” and vulnerable to climate change get the attention they need and deserve.

With the passage of Prop 68, we will be able to protect our coastline, increase access to our coast and beaches, protect the ocean from runoff and pollution, improve our fisheries and increase the resilience of our natural systems and our communities’ ability to adapt to climate change. Without Prop 68, this would have been much harder to do.

Prop 68 is especially ground-breaking in this focus on social justice and equity as well as its recognition of the need to address climate change. It passed with an especially broad coalition of supporters that is focused on the equitable, inclusive and sustainable implementation of Prop 68 for the long-term challenges ahead. Ocean Conservancy is immensely pleased that the voters of California recognized the value of Proposition 68 and turned out at the ballot box this week. We look forward to continuing to work with members of this regionally diverse coalition to ensure a safe, just and vibrant future for our coast, ocean and coastal communities.

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