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Washington Joins International Alliance To Combat Ocean Acidification

Ted S. Warren, File
AP Photo
In this June 21, 2010 file photo, Efrain Rivera uses a pitchfork to harvest Pacific oysters at low tide at a Farm owned by Taylor Shellfish Co. in Oyster Bay, near Olympia, Wash.

It’s sometimes called the evil twin of global warming. Ocean acidification happens when carbon pollution from the sky is absorbed by the water. Washington state has been a leader in addressing the issue locally. 

And now the state has joined a new international alliance to fight ocean acidification on a global scale.  

Washington state began addressing the problem of ocean acidification in earnest back in 2011, when then-Governor Christine Gregoire appointed a blue-ribbon panel on the issue. 

Credit Ted S. Warren / file / AP Photo
AP Photo
Gov. Chris Gregoire, center, prepares to sign an executive order as she sits with members of a panel she formed to address the issue of ocean acidification, Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2012, at the Seattle Aquarium in Seattle.

Its recommendationsled to the formation of a think tank at the University of Washington as well as a state-level advisory committee and an action plan to protect shellfish and fisheries that are damaged by the increased acidity of the ocean.

“And that’s a high-value industry; it's commercial, recreational and even cultural for the tribes,” said Keith Phillips, a special assistant for climate and energy policy in Governor Jay Inslee’s office.

Phillips says although Washington is leading the way for many others, who by joining the new alliance have just now pledged to create action plans to address ocean acidification, it doesn’t make sense for any one state to go it alone.

“We can shut down the system and go entirely to clean energy and not emit carbon at all, but if the rest of the world doesn’t do that, the oceans will continue to get more acidic,” Phillips said.    

The new alliance includes all the West Coast states and British Columbia as well as Chile, Nigeria, France and several Native American tribes. All have committed to five goals, such as advancing the science, reducing the causes and building sustained support to combat ocean acidification.

Bellamy Pailthorp covers the environment for KNKX with an emphasis on climate justice, human health and food sovereignty. She enjoys reporting about how we will power our future while maintaining healthy cultures and livable cities. Story tips can be sent to