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A Voice for our Ocean

MEDIA ADVISORY: House Natural Resources Committee To Hold Hearing On Climate Change And Oceans

Panel includes five women as expert witnesses

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For Thursday, February 7, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee’s Subcommittee on Water, Oceans & Wildlife will hold its first hearing on how climate change is impacting oceans and U.S. coastal communities. An all-female panel of expert witnesses has been invited by the Subcommittee Majority to speak at the hearing. (Only 16% of witnesses in House Natural Resources hearings during the 115th Congress were women.) The Subcommittee Minority has invited two witnesses.

Experts will share how climate change is changing ocean chemistry, leading to warmer seas, sea level rise and coastal flooding, with ramifications that are already hitting coastal communities, businesses such as the seafood industry, and ecosystems like coral reefs.

WHO:  Expert witness testimony given by:

  • Former EPA Administrator, Carol Browner
  • Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Beth Casoni, executive director
  • Gullah/Geechee Nation, Queen Quet, Chieftess
  • Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Deborah Bronk, president and CEO
  • New Orleans Healthy Community Services, Angela Chalk, executive director
  • University of Delaware, David Legates, professor (for the Minority)
  • The Heritage Foundation, Dr. Kevin Dayaratna (for the Minority)

WHEN:  February 7, 2:00 PM EDT

WHERE:  House Natural Resources Hearing Room, 1324 Longworth House Office Building

The event will be live-tweeted via the @OurOcean account. To follow the expert panel of the Water, Oceans &Wildlife Subcommittee, use the #WomenWOW hashtag.

MEDIA AVAILABILITY: Two of the expert witnesses will be available for in-person interviews between 1-2 pm at the hearing room: Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association, Beth Casoni, executive director; Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences, Dr. Deborah Bronk, president and CEO.

One of the expert witnesses will be available for in-person interviews after the hearing concludes: Gullah/Geechee Nation, Queen Quet, Chieftess.

Reporters interested in conducting in-person or phone interviews with these witnesses should contact one of the Ocean Conservancy contacts listed above.


Expert witnesses at the Subcommittee hearings will speak to:

  • The impacts that climate change has already had on coastal communities, cultures and livelihoods – from ocean acidification to ocean warming to sea level rise and coastal flooding.
  • The importance of Congressional climate action, and solutions that include oceans.
  • The effect of species migration due to warming seas on the U.S. lobster industry.
  • How ocean acidification and sea level rise are affecting the hundreds-year-old traditional culture of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.
  • A forecast on future climate impacts on our oceans from the perspective of an ocean climate scientist.


“Without a healthy ocean there would be no commercial lobster industry,” said Beth Casoni, executive director of the Massachusetts Lobstermen’s Association. “We no longer have the luxury of ignoring climate change and its threat to our livelihoods. We ask for action from Congress to help thousands of lobstermen and women by mitigating climate change.”

“Climate change is here, and the effect on our oceans is profound,” said Dr. Deborah Bronk, president and CEO of Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences. “Our oceans are working in overdrive taking in the excess heat generated from burning fossil fuels. As a result, the ocean’s chemistry is changing, sea levels are rising, coral reefs are dying, and the marine ecosystems coastal communities rely on are showing the effects of multiple climate change-induced stressors. Consider the ocean the world’s air purifier, but one that will break down if we don’t act to mitigate climate change to safeguard our ocean resources.”

“The science on climate change is clear, and solutions for our ocean and coastal communities are available here and now,” said Janis Searles Jones, CEO of Ocean Conservancy. “We urge Congress to move aggressive climate legislation that will ensure that coastal communities and our marine ecosystems are spared the most devastating impacts from climate change, and are able to successfully adapt to those they cannot avoid. During the appropriations process this spring, Congress must prioritize critical funding for climate research, coastal resilience, and adaptation programs.


Media Contact

Julia Roberson


Media Contact

Anne Merwin




Confronting Climate Change

Our Ocean Futures Initiative is working to understand the interactive effects of stressors like climate change and acidification on our ocean.

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