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Ocean Currents

How to Prevent a Government Shutdown, Create Jobs and Protect Our Ocean

A lot is at stake for our ocean and coastal communities and your voice matters

9330712400_ee9897f493_k
© Gaëtan Bruneteau/ Flickr CC

This is a momentous week for Congress, if they want it to be. Several deadlines are looming for our federal representatives and, if they fail to take action, the consequences will be dire. People around the country will face job furloughs. States, cities, and towns will miss out on vital opportunities to invest in critical infrastructure. Communities recovering from wildfires and hurricanes will go without needed resources. And we will continue to struggle with the harsh realities of the climate crisis.   

Congress can avert this crisis. And we can make a difference. How? Tell Congress that inaction is unacceptable and urge them to support these three critical measures in order to safeguard everyone who relies on a healthy ocean—and that is every single one of us, whether we live on the beach or hours from the shore.   

1. Congress must pass a full year of funding bills or a continuing resolution to keep our government working for us.

American Flag rests on a beach amidst hurricane debris
© Tabitha Kaylee Hawk/ Flickr CC

The end of the federal government’s fiscal year falls on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Congress has failed to pass either full-year funding bills or a continuing resolution (CR) that is essential to keep our government functioning. To be clear, the latter is a band-aid, and the responsible thing for Congress to do is to pass full-year funding bills. We know that a government shutdown has disastrous consequences. Thousands of federal employees will not be paid. Critical ocean, weather and climate data and forecasting—right in the middle of hurricane season—will be interrupted. Access to data and ongoing research will be suspended. The impact on our lives will be far-reaching.   

How you can help: Call or write to your senator and representative. Tell them that shutting down the government is irresponsible and completely preventable.  

2. Congress must pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

Port of Baltimore USA
© USDA / Bob Nichols

Earlier this summer, the Senate passed this bipartisan legislation that provides $1.2 trillion for investment in traditional infrastructure programs, including roads, highways, bridges and ports. This bill incorporates funding for many programs that help our ocean and communities along the coast, with over $2 billion for investments in ports, including funding for projects to transition us to zero-emission ports and shipping and nearly $1 billion for coastal restoration and resilience projects. The bill was widely supported by Senate Republicans, Independents and Democrats. If passed, it will jump-start the economy and create jobs. In addition, it will significantly help build back the infrastructure we all depend on to go to work, take our kids to school and enjoy the special places in our beautiful country.  

How you can help: Call or write to your representative. Tell them that they must pass the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. 

3. Congress must act on climate and pass the Build Back Better Act.

A sign sits in water, fragile area stay off trails
© Loren Chipman / Flickr CC

Climate change is the biggest threat to our planet. In the past year alone, we have seen extreme weather events like snowstorms in Texas, raging mega-wildfires in the West and super-charged hurricanes. The Build Back Better Act could provide historic funding to stem the climate crisis, restore coastal ecosystems, reduce air and water pollution, invest in clean energy and reduce plastic production, all while creating significant job opportunities. This package could possibly be the biggest investment in programs that benefit everyday Americans since Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. It must be passed to create a more sustainable future for our nation.    

How you can help: Call or write to your senator and representative. Tell them to support the Build Back Better Act to protect what you love now and for the future.   

What if Congress does not take action?

People across the country will suffer. Government services will shut down. Our already vulnerable infrastructure will continue crumbling. And we will continue to experience the catastrophic impacts from a changing climate.

  • In Florida, water quality would continue to worsen and communities facing the threat of an extreme hurricane would have to prepare for the loss of life and property with limited resources.
  • In Maine, fishing, shell fishing and lobstering communities would face losses as the ocean becomes hotter and more acidic, threatening a way of life that has sustained the area for centuries.
  • And in California, port communities would be condemned to live with extreme levels of air pollution when there is legislation on the table that could provide the resources to jump start our transition cleaner ports that emit less pollution.

Portland Head Light
© Noah B Kaplan / Flickr CC

You can make a difference. Join Ocean Conservancy in telling your representative and senator to keep our government open—and pass the bipartisan infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better Act 

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