Living Near Clean Waterways Provides Health And Wellness Benefits

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Clean Water, Policy, Watersheds

By Kris Lindhal, realtor and water enthusiast from Blaine, Minnesota

The importance of clean, vibrant water cannot be understated. The environment constitutes our home and the arteries that deliver life-sustaining elements should be treated as sacred. But many people may not realize that these resources can also have a profound impact on our everyday health and wellness. Consider these positive effects of living near a clean lake, stream, river or sea, and how you can help keep them pure.

Ocean Air Combats Free Radicals

When we are exposed to secondhand smoke, exhaust fumes and industrial pollutants, free radicals can damage the cells in your body that may lead to cancer. Spending time by large water sources such as the ocean and breathing in the negative ions associated with sea air helps the body acquire oxygen and fight off free radicals. This healthy state helps improve our cognitive powers and brings serotonin levels into balance.

Psychological Effects of Natural Waterways

Few would dispute the fact that spending time by the water has a calming effect on the mind and spirit. While the high levels of negative ions in the air helps balance out serotonin levels, the sounds of waves breaking on the shore or the trickle of a stream flowing over rocks can relieve significant stress. Like calming music sounds can have a powerful impact on everyday moods. Repetitive sounds, such as the soft sounds of moving water can have a meditative effect.

How Homeowners Can Help Keep Water Clean

Legislation such as the Clean Waters Act was established to protect the environment from the harmful actions of industry. But the average home also has a significant impact on water purity. In addition to reducing our carbon footprint at home, consider these simple things homeowners can do to help protect our waterways:

Manage Hard Surfaces: Things like driveways and walkways tend to be pathways for pollutants to travel into storm drains. Use more gravel and materials that allows water to return to the Earth directly. If unavoidable, install a trench or catch area to capture water.

Watch What You Flush: Hard materials and products should never be flushed down the toilet. These pose a problem for treatments plants and can end up in waterways. Chemicals and medications should also be limited to trash disposal.

Proper Disposal: Automobiles use a variety of environmentally harmful compounds such as oil, gasoline, antifreeze and others. Home car care should be conducted with a plan to prevent spillage and collection in mind. Once these dangerous chemicals hit the ground, they will find their way to the water table.

Environmentally Friendly Products: Switch to all-natural and environmentally friendly dish soaps, laundry detergents and other products that routinely find their way down the drain. When purchasing items to keep your home clean and fresh, consider adopting a philosophy of do no harm in your daily life.

 

 

Stand Up for Our Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Advocacy, Policy, Take Action

By Jacob Villalobos, a trained Colorado Ocean Coalition Ocean Ranger

We all eat. We all breathe. We require water to live, and we are all subject to the effects of the weather and climate. No matter where you may be in this world, the ocean makes all of our lives possible. In our day to day lives, it can be easy to carry on without considering the natural processes that allow us to sustain our economies, enable our cultures, and plan for future generations. It can be difficult to comprehend the many connections we have to the ocean, especially if you live away from the coasts. But nonetheless, we are all critically dependent on a healthy, functioning ocean. And a healthy ocean requires an informed, mobilized public ready to protect it.

President Donald Trump has signed an executive order that would allow for the expansion of oil and gas exploration along US coastlines, a move that would endanger a host of marine sanctuaries along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, American Samoa, and Hawaii. The “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” aims to allow fossil fuel companies to expand their reach into regions of the American coast and beyond that were recently set aside for conservation by the Obama administration. In doing so, the future of 11 protected areas may be in jeopardy, as the Trump administration will begin to review the policy behind each sanctuary to either limit or abolish their protected status and weaken their protective capabilities.

President Barack Obama invoked a provision in the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act of 1953 to permanently ban the development of offshore drilling practices along large portions of the Atlantic and Alaskan coasts, an unprecedented act that would ensure his environmental legacy following the Paris Climate Accord and the designation of numerous American monuments and reserves, both on land and sea. In continuing his quest to dismantle the Obama legacy, President Trump has promised to revitalize the fossil fuel industry by crippling numerous environmental regulations he claims are harmful to the economy. Despite the downward trend in oil and gas prices and the continued rise of renewable energy, President Trump is adamant that the revival of American prominence on the world stage lies in our continued reliance on an outdated and dangerous energy system. He has said, “Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless new jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy independent.”

National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Monuments are both types of marine protected areas (MPAs). The primary difference between the two is the process by which they are designated and the laws under which they are established. More broadly, marine protected areas are regions of seas, oceans, estuaries, and lake and river systems that are designated as limited or no use areas for the purpose of conserving biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources.

This is a centuries old idea that received modern revision during the 1950s and 1960s as fish stocks and marine resources began to plummet under the weight of industrial pressures. Using the Antiquities Act of 1906, a statute enacted by President Theodore Roosevelt, President Obama protected over 550 million acres of land and sea, and more than doubled the existing size of MPAs in the US, including the massive Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, one of the largest marine protected areas in the world.

The Trump Administration, through the Department of Commerce, has announced a 30 day public comment period on the review of National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments Designated or Expanded since April 28, 2007. This review opens up our nation’s underwater treasures to the threat of oil and gas exploration and development and the myriad dangers that come with this – seismic airgun blasting, oil spills, and an increase in the greenhouse gases that are warming our planet with devastating impacts on our ocean.

As citizens of inland America, it is essential that we be aware of the importance of marine protected areas, not only for their aesthetic value, but for their ability to revitalize and sustain natural resources that are critical to the wellbeing of our ourselves, our economy, and the generations that will come after us. Our communal waste, be it plastics, agricultural runoff, or industrial pollution, inevitably finds it way into the ocean, as we have seen in dramatic fashion with the rise of massive garbage patches and vast dead zones where little life can thrive. Our food and transportation choices impact marine food webs, creating emissions that are absorbed by the seas, increasing ocean acidity and and temperature and contributing to the melting of the planet’s ice sheets. Although we may live our lives hundreds or thousands of miles from a coastline, our actions and our knowledge of the collective impact of humanity on the ocean will nonetheless have an effect on its long term functionality and resilience.

Putting America first means protecting its natural treasures for all Americans, not exploiting their resources for short term gain for a very select few. It means keeping an eye on future generations and actively preparing a world for them that is as rich and beautiful for them as it has been for us. It means recognizing the true economic potential that lies in maintaining the oceans as they are, not in exploiting the combustible refuse of an ancient world that no longer exists. It means disseminating knowledge, founded in sound science, that opens our eyes to the true complexity of the seas, creating a community of inclusivity where all people identify with their many connections to the ocean. With the continued rise of denialism and rhetoric aimed at discrediting scientists and the realities of the dire state of this beautiful blue planet, the power of our communal voice has never been so important.

Take Action!
The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has written a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross in opposition to revoking or weakening any of the designations or expansions of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments that are under review. Please add your name today and/or submit a comment to the Federal Register on why protecting these areas is important to you.

Blue Vision Summit: Hill Day

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Uncategorized

By Kaiya Whitehead

A key component of the Blue Vision Summit in Washington D.C. is Hill Day where participants talk to their federal Senators and Representatives. The Inland Ocean Coalition showed up in force with a delegation of fourteen. The group consisted of Colorado residents as well as chapter leads and members from around the country and a resident of Canada. As an inland delegation, we began the day on the Senatorial side of the Capitol and ended the day in the House buildings.

We met with staff members from the following offices: Cory Gardner (R-CO), John McCain (R-AZ), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Scott Tipton (R-CO), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ed Perlmutter (D-CO), Dana DeGette (D-CO), and Doug Lamborne (R-CO). The meeting agenda’s varied based on the audience, but in general, we discussed: plastic pollution, offshore oil drilling, joining the Ocean Caucus, the threatened Antiquities Act and protecting National Marine Sanctuaries. We addressed specific house and senate bills depending on whether we were speaking with Senators or Representatives. With a majority of legislative aids, we covered the Save Our Seas Act, the Trash Reduction Act, and/or the proposed drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans.

The Save our Seas Act was introduced by Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK). It is a bill to reauthorize and amend the Marine Debris Act in order to promote international action to reduce marine debris and encourage the leadership to interact internationally to address plastic pollution. The examination of the Monuments under the Antiquities Act, initiated by President Trump, endangers many marine monuments: The Marianas Trench, Northeast Canyons and Seamounts, Pacific Remote Islands, Papahanaumokuakea, and Rose Atoll. The delegation asked all members of Congress with whom we spoke to vote against the de-designation of the ocean monuments.

The Trash Reduction Act is currently in the House and involves “carry-out” bags. The federal government has begun to enforce a ban on bans, taking away the ability of states to ban plastic bags. In our meetings, the delegation asked that representatives give the power back to the people and allow the decision to be made on a local level.

In specific meetings, the delegation did not discuss offshore drilling because research into previous voting records indicated that it would be pointless. With this approach, our meetings were productive, civil, and encouraging.

Senator Cory Gardner was not willing to join the Ocean Caucus, is supportive of offshore drilling, but wanted to learn more about the Save Our Seas Act, and said it had been brought to their attention before. The aid in Senator John McCain’s office took notes on the ocean caucus, may be in support of voting against offshore drilling for National Security reasons, and was interested in the Save Our Seas Act. The aid for Senator Michael Bennet listened intently, and shared our concerns, and requested that the Inland Ocean Coalition stay in touch. Senator Gary Peters from Michigan is a member of the Ocean Caucus, is co-sponsoring the Save Our Seas Act, is against offshore drilling, is interested in learning more about plastics, and is aware of the importance of inland communities in ocean conservation. With Representative Scott Tipton’s aid, the coalition focused mainly on plastics, and there was little interest; he did, however, take notes because of the bipartisan nature of the Save Our Seas Act, and suggested that the Inland Ocean Coalition begin to lobby our states for the Trash Reduction Act. Representative Jared Polis is a member of the Ocean Caucus, is against offshore drilling, was interested in creating a house version of the Save Our Seas Act, but needs a Republican to cosponsor the bill. He is an ocean advocate and an ocean champion! Representative Ed Perlmutter wants to shrink his caucus list so he will not be joining Ocean Caucus. His voting record, however, is aligned with the values of the delegation, and he requested to be kept apprised of the Inland Ocean Coalition’s actions going forward and to be a newsletter recipient. Representative Dana Dugette is completely aligned with the values of the Inland Ocean Coalition and wants to join the Ocean Caucus. The last meeting of the day was with a legislative aid of Representative Doug Lamborn. The delegation only discussed plastics and preserving the monuments currently under review. We had a productive discussion regarding how to incentivize people to reduce their plastic bag use. The aid was more aligned with offering rewards for bringing one’s own bag, rather than penalizing plastic bag use in the form of a tax. He was also in support of reevaluating the preservation of monuments.

Overall it was a fun, informative, and energizing day. Given the current political climate, it is even more important that coalitions like ours stand up and make sure we are heard. It was a great reminder that the United States is a democracy and individuals matter. The ocean is rising, but so are we.

Blue Vision Summit

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Blue Vision Summit, Uncategorized

By Christine Evans

Fourteen members of the Inland Ocean Coalition attended the Blue Vision Summit in Washington, DC, from May 8-11. The biennial Summit brings together ocean conservation leaders and advocates from around the world. The key areas of the action agenda for the 2017 Summit were:

  • Putting an end to offshore drilling by 2030
  • Ridding the ocean of plastic and other forms of pollution
  • Building coastal resiliency through smart ecosystem-based planning

The Summit included the largest Healthy Ocean Hill Day in US history, with over 150 people participating from 25 states.

The Summit opened with a screening of Chasing Coral on Monday night, followed by a day of panels on Tuesday. Panels included topics like stopping offshore oil drilling, engaging corporations in solutions to plastic pollution, the future of fish and fishing, the inland ocean movement, marine protected areas, ocean acidification and the blue economy.

Sylvia Earle giving part of the keynote address.

Blue Vision Summit Panels 

Sylvia Earle was among those to give the keynote address, which was followed by an opening plenary entitled “Ocean Strategy Under Trump,” featuring Ralph Nader and three other panelists. Nader told the audience that politicians don’t know how to game the system when liberals and conservatives unite, and protecting our ocean and coastlines is such a unifying issue. Ocean conservation unites civic, commercial, recreational and environmental interests.

Nader also discussed how having less than 1% of the population engaged on an issue reflecting the majority opinion is enough to turn things around. If a movement has a right/left alliance and engages less than 1% of people, the movement will be successful.

Panelist John Racanelli, CEO of the National Aquarium, said that we must resist the current administration’s policies and stand up for science, while also encouraging a more collaborative conservation atmosphere, for this is “not a time for silos and competition.” Farah Obaidullah, Founder & Director of Women4Oceans, said we know what we need to do, we have the solutions, and we need to reach people everywhere. There isn’t one message or one messenger that’s going to reach everyone. She said her main message is that you don’t have to be a marine biologist or work for an organization to make a difference.

From left to right: Moderator Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ralph Nader, John Racanelli, Farah Obaidullah, and Chad Nelson.

Surfrider Foundation CEO Chad Nelsen said that he is optimistic, because our policies are popular, unlike the policies being put forward by this administration. Furthermore, people are more interested in getting active than he has ever seen. He compared resisting the policies of this administration to running a sprint and a marathon – there are the short-term issues that we must address – for instance the review of many terrestrial and marine monuments – while also not losing sight of the longer haul – like putting an end to offshore drilling and plastic pollution.

Moderator Ayana Elizabeth Johnson of Ocean Collectiv then asked each of the panelists, “What is your sprint and what is your marathon?”

Marathons included creating an urban conservation ethic as 85% of Americans now live in cities, making this movement akin to the NRA of the ocean in order to make politicians think twice before passing harmful legislation, and increasing the participation of women globally in ocean conservation in order to harness our full potential as a species. Obaidullah said she meets more women working on ocean issues, but at conferences it’s mostly men. It is women, however, who tend to think about the future more, while men are more focused on providing in the here and now. It’s not a good idea, she said, to leave out the half of the population that is most concerned about and interested in the future.

Want to get involved?

Call your members of Congress. Encourage them to do the following:

  • Vote against any bill or amendment that significantly cuts funding to NOAA and the EPA
  • Vote against any bill or amendment to expand offshore oil and gas drilling
  • Support the bi-partisan S. 756 Save Our Seas Act in the Senate
    • Introduce a House version of S. 756

Sign this letter in support of marine sanctuaries.