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Source: United States House of Representatives – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (Northern Mariana Islands)

As islanders, our culture teaches us to respect the ocean, if we want the ocean to continue caring for us. Today that lesson is one for the whole world. Because the ocean is vital to any serious proposal to tackle the global climate emergency we all face. A healthy ocean absorbs nearly a third of the carbon dioxide released when we burn fossil fuels and contributes significantly to reducing the concentration of heat in the atmosphere. So Tuesday, Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva, Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Chair Kathy Castor, other Democratic Members and I introduced landmark legislation, the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act, to stop the ongoing damage to our oceans and advance ocean-based climate solutions. H.R. 8632 would help the Marianas and other frontline coastal communities become more resilient, reduce our carbon emissions, and slow global warming. The bill’s goal is to protect 30 percent of our ocean by 2030, and provides for the conservation and restoration of ocean and coastal habitats and marine mammal and fish populations. The bill treats the Marianas just like a state with respect to funding, but also has a special section to help insular areas meet the climate challenge. Insular areas are provided with technical assistance for coastal management and climate change planning, mitigation, and adaptation. There is a special climate change research grant program for insular areas; improved weather data collection, forecasting, and support services; and new coral reef research and conservation grants. The new Democratic bill we have introduced also waives cost-share requirements for federal; disaster relief funds, a goal identified by the Marianas Fiscal Response Summit in April.