How climate policy can mitigate extreme weather’s economic toll

By Jonathan Camuzeaux

 

This post was co-authored with Maureen Lackner

In the wake of hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Americans are coming together to support communities as they recover from the physical, emotional and economic toll after lives, possessions and livelihoods were washed away. Reestablishing daily routines, including work, school and regular commerce will take time, and for many, life may not return to what was once considered normal. But as we begin rebuilding what can be replaced, it is necessary to first gauge the scale and cost of the damage. It is also time to face the possibility that devastating weather events like Harvey and Irma may become the new normal

Harvey and Irma are among the most expensive hurricanes in U.S. history

Harvey and Irma have brought front and center the high costs of extreme weather-related disasters. While the damage is still being assessed, Harvey’s could cost as much as $200 billion, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history, surpassing Hurricane Katrina ($194 billion in 2017 USD). Estimates of Hurricane Irma’s economic damage are less certain, but the storm will likely also be among the most expensive weather-related disasters in the United States. (And we can’t forget that before reaching Florida, Irma caused damage to many Caribbean islands, which in some cases exceeded their GDP.)

While hurricanes tend to be the most dramatic, other types of severe weather also cause billions of dollars in economic damages. During the first half of 2017 alone, nine weather events including hailstorms, flooding, and tornados racked up $16 billion in damages across several states.

Climate change elevates the risk of severe weather events, and that comes at a cost

Climate change doesn’t cause hurricanes, but sea level rise and warmer temperatures make storms more destructive. Storm surges along the Texas coast where Hurricane Harvey hit are now about 7 inches higher than storm surges a few decades ago as a result of sea level rise, which can make a big difference in flooding. In addition, evaporation intensifies with warmer temperatures, which results in more moisture in the atmosphere and therefore higher rainfall amounts and flooding when storms make landfall. Warmer ocean temperatures also fuel hurricanes, making them more powerful. Hurricane Irma was a classic example of just how powerful a storm can get from increased ocean temperatures.

It is also possible that severe weather-related events overall are becoming more frequent. One recent EDF analysis shows that U.S. counties experienced, on average, a fourfold increase in the frequency of disaster level hurricanes, storms, and floods between 1997 and 2016 than in the 20 years prior. In the Southeast, this increase is even more pronounced; on average, its states experienced close to four-and-a-half times more disaster declarations over the same time period.

In the coming decades, risk of climate change-influenced severe weather will differ from region to region, but one thing is clear: if left unmitigated, the effects of climate change could come at serious economic costs, not just to those who lose homes and livelihoods, but to their insurance companies or to taxpayers. Other aspects of the economy could experience significant pain as well.

In the Southeast alone, higher sea levels resulting in higher storm surges could increase the average annualized cost of storms along the Eastern seaboard and Gulf Coast by $2-3.5 billion by 2030. In some areas, like Texas, where sea levels are rising faster than the global average, these increases even higher. Research published in Science suggests that even if storms themselves do not become more severe, direct annual economic damage could rise by 0.6 to 1.3% of state gross domestic product (GDP) for South Carolina, Louisiana, and Florida under median estimates of mean sea level rise. This translates into billions of dollars in additional economic damage every year for each of these states.

Hurricanes and severe storms pose serious risks to U.S. energy infrastructure

During Hurricane Katrina, the extent of the damages suffered by Entergy New Orleans forced the utility into bankruptcy. Hurricane Irma caused power outages in Florida that left over six million people without power.

Beyond these local impacts, these events can cause damage nationwide. Texas is home to about 30% of domestic oil and gas refining capacity, half of which was disrupted by Hurricane Harvey. This shut down 16% of the nation’s total refining capacity, spiked the average national gasoline price approximately 37 cents per gallon, and forced crude exports to drop from 749,000 to 153,000 barrels per day in the week after Harvey. As of September 10, 2017, more than two weeks after Hurricane Harvey made landfall, five Gulf Coast refineries remained closed, representing 11% of total Gulf Coast refining capacity and 5.8% of U.S. refining capacity.

The Trump administration should focus on adaptation and mitigation

In the short term, the Trump administration should maintain existing programs designed to enhance U.S. energy security and disaster response. For starters, the administration should stop dismantling EPA programs expressly designed to help communities respond to damage from storms.

In the long term, we need to build climate resilient communities and infrastructure, through efforts like wetland restoration and smart development. President Trump would also do well to listen to Miami’s Republican Mayor Tomás Regalado, and rethink his approach to climate policy. Instead of rolling back smart policies and regulations, or simply ignoring the impacts of climate change, we need to stop compounding the problem and mitigate the effects of a warmer climate through policy that sets aggressive emissions reduction targets. Such strategies will do much more than just protect our economy’s bottom line—it will help ensure the safety, security, and well-being of millions of Americans.

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Chile’s President reaffirms commitment to marine conservation

By Erica Cunningham

 

Julio Chamarro at the UN

Michelle Bachelet, the President of Chile, reaffirmed her country’s commitment to protecting the marine environment while speaking at a meeting on ocean conservation issues during the annual gathering last week of the United Nations General Assembly in New York.

“Our commitment to the prosperity and well-being of our citizens cannot be disassociated with economic growth,” she said.  “But for the same reason, we must accept, once and for all, that long-term growth is not possible, nor is it true development, without an active policy of environmental protection.”

We couldn’t agree more with the President that long term growth is not possible without the protection of the environment. We also believe that working hand in hand with fishermen is critical to building sustainable fisheries, and that economic prosperity is achievable even alongside environmental protections.

That’s why we are excited and inspired to see that President Bachelet invited Julio Chamorro, a lobster fishermen from Juan Fernandez to attend the meeting  of the UN General Assembly and present on the importance of marine protected areas and sustainable fishing.  

In Chile, EDF is engaging with local partners and fishing communities to help ensure that Chile’s fishing legacy is protected for future generations.

Chile learning network

Julio is part of a Small Scale Fisheries Learning Network we established in Chile with the goal of analyzing problems related to near-shore artisanal fisheries, and finding solutions. These networks aim to boost collective action of communities by uniting them and encouraging collaboration between participants from different backgrounds who might not otherwise have the opportunity to work together.

The Learning Network has prioritized several projects, including the prevention of illegal fishing, low-cost data collection on fishery health, including participatory processes for data collection and monitoring, as well as effective co-management of resources and supply chain management and market-access.

EDF is committed to working with our partners, like Julio, to strengthen this network over the coming years, bringing together stakeholders (both virtually and in-person) to solve problems and overcome the challenges identified for Chile’s near-shore artisanal fisheries.

Sustainable fishing clearly continues to be a priority for Chile, as they work to ensure a thriving future for their communities and fish populations.  We’re proud to see such a true and humble leader like Julio sharing his perspective and experience on the global stage to represent the hard work that Chilean fishermen are doing to ensure a bright future. Working with fishermen like Julio brings us great joy and honor. We look forward to the next transformative steps we can take together in Chile, in partnership with both fishermen and the government.

 

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Leading methane commitment from Exxon’s U.S. driller: Why it matters

By Ben Ratner

The degree to which the oil and gas industry can be trusted to play a constructive role in a low carbon future depends in no small measure on whether and how it reduces climate pollution today. That’s why company insiders, investors, and policy makers should take careful note of the sensible and innovative commitments announced by XTO Energy, the ExxonMobil subsidiary that leads the United States in natural gas production.

The industry’s many outside stakeholders both in the U.S. and around the world are increasingly calling for emission reductions and greater commitment to cleaner production. Companies that heed those calls, and advance new technologies, will be much better positioned to answer society demands for responsibility.

Political Pendulum

Unfortunately, the current picture for much of the rest of the industry is less bright. Oil and gas trade associations—of which companies like Chevron, BP, ExxonMobil and many others are members—have  egged on a Trump administration ideologically bent on eliminating national methane safeguards.

Even as company-level leadership like XTO’s will likely increase confidence in that company’s responsibility, industry support and acquiescence on Trump environmental rollbacks undermines confidence in the responsibility of the silent masses of thousands of operators who have not yet stepped up. Indeed, many in the industry are already concerned that overreach will carry a price when the political pendulum swings back the other direction.

So even as the Trump administration and lowest elements in industry pursue a deregulatory agenda that simply goes way too far, XTO has committed to reducing its methane emissions in the United States, through a set of tangible actions that move the company well beyond compliance.

Commitments to Implementation and Innovation

Elements of the XTO commitment include phasing out a known type of intentionally venting devices in existing facilities; enhancing construction standards to install zero emitting devices at new facilities with electricity access; and undertaking leak detection and repair in existing facilities not already subject to regulations.

XTO will also partner with methane mitigation companies to innovate new, lower-emitting technologies for remote sites that lack electrification. And, ExxonMobil will continue its work with the Stanford Natural Gas Initiative, including the company’s new commitment to serve as a technical advisor on the Stanford/EDF Mobile Monitoring Challenge.

Most importantly for industry, regulators, and the courts, XTO’s actions reinforce the technical and financial feasibility of reducing oil and gas methane emissions, which cast a long shadow over claims that natural gas can play a credible role in the transition to a low carbon energy economy.

Looking Ahead

Of course, any company with the carbon footprint of XTO can and should always do more to address its emissions. We will look for robust XTO disclosure that enables stakeholders to closely follow and assess the progress and results of its U.S. methane program. And we hope that XTO’s announcement is a harbinger of things to come from parent Exxon Mobil, which can expand leadership in support of global methane emission reduction goals, and flaring reduction.

It is too soon to know whether others in the U.S. oil and gas industry will follow suit with strong operational commitments and a more balanced, pragmatic approach to federal and state methane policy.

But we do know that America’s largest driller is raising the bar for methane emission reductions in its onshore operations.

The question now is who will follow?

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Ready to jumpstart your company’s chemical policy?

By Alissa Sasso

We’ve previously introduced our readers to the Chemical Footprint Project (CFP), a benchmarking survey that evaluates companies’ chemicals management practices and recognizes leaders. The CFP recently released a Model Chemicals Policy for Brands and Manufacturers, a template to help companies develop and share their chemicals policies. A chemicals policy institutionalizes a company’s commitment to safer chemicals and ensures understanding of these goals among all levels of their business, including the supply chain.


New resource from @BizNGO and @EDFBiz can help you jumpstart your chemicals policy
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The CFP Model Chemicals Policy builds directly from EDF’s own Model Chemicals Policy for Retailers of Formulated Products. This alignment is important, demonstrating a consistent library of resources for companies to use as they strive to create safer products and supply chains.

The CFP Model Chemicals Policy was developed by the BizNGO Chemical Working Group (in which EDF is an active participant). The policy includes the 4 key components that EDF thinks are important for a successful chemicals policy:

  • Improving Supply Chain Transparency
  • Cultivating Informed Consumers
  • Embedding Safer Product Design, and
  • Showing Public Commitment

The CFP Model Policy is intended for brands and manufacturers of formulated products and articles (i.e., hard products, like furniture), meaning it can be used by any business sector. Embedded in the policy template are guidance and specific examples of how other companies have crafted elements of their own policies. The CFP Model Policy also aligns directly with questions in the CFP survey, making it easier for those companies who have participated in the survey to take their chemicals management commitments public in a meaningful way.

The CFP Model Policy will help brands and manufacturers take an important next step in showing their consumers that they are committed to using safer chemicals in their products and supply chain. EDF is pleased to see a new resource that builds consensus for how a company can meaningfully share their safer chemicals journey with the public.


New model policy will help brands to demonstrate commitment to safer chemicals
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For additional information, please see our additional resources:


Alissa Sasso, Project Manager, Supply Chain, EDF + Business

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How a tech startup and nimble non-profit exposed toxic releases during the Houston flood

Bakeyah Nelson with the Air Alliance Houston checks air measurements with Entanglement Technologies’ chief science officer, Mike Armen.

By Matt Tresaugue, Manager, Houston Air Quality Media Initiative

As Hurricane Harvey bore down on the Texas coast, Tony Miller, chief executive of a Silicon Valley startup, wondered how he could help.

His company, Entanglement Technologies, can measure levels of air pollution in real time, important information for emergency responders and people living near storm-damaged refineries and chemical plants.

On Aug. 31, Miller called Elena Craft, Environmental Defense Fund’s Texas-based senior health scientist, and the two quickly came up with a plan to monitor neighborhoods near industrial facilities in and around Houston. Miller was on the road the next day.

By Sept. 4, his van equipped with sensor technology and an analyzer that provides laboratory-grade results was in a neighborhood where city officials had detected unusually high levels of harmful air pollution.

After a day of sample collections, some lasting as long as 5 minutes, the picture was clear: There was a plume of cancer-causing benzene in southeast Houston’s Manchester neighborhood, home to some 4,000 people.

Mobile lab analyzes chemicals in real time

Entanglement’s portable technology can produce a definitive analysis of hazardous chemicals to part per trillion concentrations. The company’s clients include the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Defense, oil companies and environmental consultants who need results in real time.

In Manchester, Miller’s team rapidly detected a narrow plume of benzene – roughly as wide as a city block, but invisible to the naked eye. That indicated a nearby source.

The results confirmed the City of Houston’s earlier findings. City officials had used handheld air quality monitors that detected high benzene levels a couple of days earlier, prompting them to ask Craft to start her investigation in Manchester.

The likely source was Valero Energy Corp.’s Houston refinery, which towers over small houses in the neighborhood. More than 95 percent of residents are people of color and 90 percent low-income.

Residents could smell the benzene

On Aug. 27, Valero had reported to the state that heavy rains lowered the floating roof on one of its storage tanks, releasing volatile organic compounds and 6.7 pounds of benzene. In the filing, the company said it would fix the problem by the next day.

State regulators, however, had turned off the city’s extensive network of air quality monitoring stations to protect the equipment from the heavy rains and winds. Without the monitors, there was no data showing what was really happening.

Even so, Manchester residents could tell something was wrong and complained to the city about strong odors. Benzene, a toxic, flammable chemical found in crude oil and gasoline, can cause central nervous system damage and bone marrow damage, and is carcinogenic.

Technology identifies urgent trouble spots

Our partnership with Entanglement Technologies provided the most robust monitoring of air quality in the Houston region after Harvey, exceeding the work of state and federal agencies. It showed that there is no reason to keep communities in harm’s way – or to rely on unverified industry information during a time of crisis.

The levels of benzene found in Manchester far surpassed health-based guidelines set by most other states when Miller’s team took measurements in early September. To ensure the accuracy of the findings, the company collected some samples at the same time and in the same locations as the City of Houston’s mobile monitoring unit.

The toxic pollution in Manchester was soon national news.

The technology his company uses identifies situations that must be dealt with right away, and those that can wait, “so that resources aren’t diverted unnecessarily,” Miller told reporters covering the story.

The EPA, however, waited 10 days after the first high reading to say that Valero had “significantly underestimated” its air pollution during and after Harvey. The agency is now investigating the pollution event.

Photo source: Entanglement Technologies

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How Illinois is working toward a cleaner, more equitable energy future

By EDF Blogs

By Tyler Fitch, 2017 EDF Climate Corps Fellow

EDF Climate Corps fellows are designing clean energy solutions that reduce pollution and save money across the country. And at my summer fellowship with Environmental Defense Fund’s (EDF) Midwest clean energy team as a part of the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition, I pursued ways to make clean energy benefit more than just one bottom line.

My work resulted from the Future Energy Jobs Act, a monumental piece of bipartisan legislation that aims to transform Illinois’ clean energy economy and “benefit all citizens of the State, including low-income [communities].” Those lofty goals were enshrined in law in December 2016, the result of hard work and negotiation from the Clean Jobs Coalition, a group of more than 200 environmental, business, and faith organizations dedicated to promoting clean energy in the state.

The energy landscape is changing in Illinois, and – if the Future Energy Jobs Act achieves what it set out to do – the future will be brighter for everyone. Here’s how.

From policy to action

The Future Energy Jobs Act went into effect on June 1, 2017 – my first day on the job. I’m at my most comfortable knee-deep in a financial spreadsheet, so this was my first foray into crafting clean energy policy. At EDF, it isn’t just about ensuring a project has a good return on investment; it’s about making sure those returns benefit everyone. That means moving from financial problems to human problems, and translating the goals of the legislation into effective real-world programs.

It’s about making sure those returns benefit everyone.

Turning the policy into reality lies with just two public entities. The Illinois Power Agency is tasked with designing and administering the programs, but only once it has approval from the 5 governor-appointed members of the Illinois Commerce Commission.

Throughout the design and approval process, both organizations solicit public comments, information, and proposals – and that’s where EDF and the Clean Jobs Coalition come in. We work on behalf of the environmental, business, faith, and environmental justice communities by submitting comments and making proposals that advocate for cleaner, smarter, and more equitable energy decisions.

New developments

Here are just a few of the ways the Future Energy Jobs Act will help Illinoisans and how we’re bringing them to life:

  • Community solar: Community solar allows people who can’t or don’t want to install solar panels on their roofs – like tenants – to “subscribe” to a solar project at a local church, school, or business. Illinois will have incentives to drive new community solar projects, unlocking the benefits of solar energy to the 49 percent of households who aren’t able to install systems onto their own rooftops. EDF is proposing an innovative and flexible approach that supports solar projects of all sizes and locations, and ensures all households and small businesses have access to them.
  • Job training: Renewable energy is a major engine for U.S. job creation and economic growth that continues to provide local, well-paying jobs across the country. A new utility jobs program will “establish a pool of trained [solar] installers across the state,” providing training and employment opportunities across Illinois, including to foster care alumni and citizens returning from incarceration. As a Clean Jobs Coalition member, EDF is at the table, connecting the dots between community groups and renewable energy industry leaders to train people for 21st century energy jobs.
  • Curbing local air pollution: The Illinois Power Agency is directed to “maximize the health and welfare of its residents” by reducing local air pollutants that come from burning coal, like sulfur dioxide and particulate matter. In a state where 38 percent of electricity comes from coal, increasing renewable energy will likely reduce reliance on coal-fired plants, bringing cleaner air and healthier lives to Illinoisans. EDF recommends compensating renewable energy projects for their environmental health benefits and prioritizing projects in the communities hit hardest by pollutants.

Illinois is already starting to see the Future Energy Jobs Act come to life. After a U.S. district court decision upheld the policy’s authority earlier this summer, August saw the Illinois Power Agency release their new electricity procurement plan and local utility Commonwealth Edison unveil their job training implementation plan. And there’s a lot more work ahead.

As my EDF Climate Corps fellowship and time with inspiring colleagues ends, I’m confident that the movement toward inclusive, clean energy embraces some of the best and brightest in the Midwest. I look forward to seeing how diverse stakeholders and innovative policy help Illinois justly transition toward the clean energy economy.

Photo source: Margo Kuchuris Wiseman

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Western Climate Initiative expands: Ontario to join California-Québec carbon market

By Erica Morehouse

Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, second from left, pictured in 2015 joining the Under2 Coalition, a first-of-its-kind agreement among states and provinces around the world to limit the increase in global average temperature to below 2 degrees Celsius – the warming threshold at which scientists say there will likely be catastrophic climate disruptions. Photo: Jenna Muirhead via Office of Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

This morning California, Québec, and Ontario signed a linking agreement that officially welcomes Ontario into the Western Climate Initiative (WCI) cap-and-trade market.

The announcement came after an inspiring Climate Week in New York where states, businesses, and individuals showed that despite Washington D.C going backwards, the U.S. will continue to make progress on our commitment to help avert catastrophic climate change. This linkage announcement provides a concrete example of how motivated governments can work together and accomplish more through partnership than they could apart.

Why linkage matters

The agreement will allow participants from all three locations to use carbon “allowances” issued by any of the three governments interchangeably and to hold joint carbon auctions.

This full linkage can have a number of benefits.

  1. The concrete benefits that economists often point to include “liquidity” from a larger market, meaning that if participants need to purchase or want to sell an allowance, it is easier to find a trading partner.
  2. There are also significant administrative benefits to joining an existing market and to working together, including sharing the administration of auctions.
  3. A larger market can also provide access to lower cost reduction opportunities, which lower the overall cost of compliance for the whole market, allowing governments to maintain and strengthen the ambition of their commitments.
  4. The less tangible benefits of having partners that are equally committed to addressing the challenge of climate change can’t be ignored. California may not have a willing climate partner in Washington D.C. but the state is finding the partners it needs in Québec and Ontario and together they can prove that cap and trade provides an effective model for international collaboration and a cost-effective way to keep harmful climate pollution at acceptable levels.

Choosing the right partners

To ensure any carbon market linkage is strong, partners must be carefully selected by evaluating the compatibility of each program. California, Québec, and Ontario started this process early by working together (along with several other states and provinces) in 2009 to develop best practices for establishing cap-and-trade programs.

This carbon club model is one that EDF has identified as a powerful potential driver of climate action

When full linkage is being considered, one of the most important threshold questions is how ambitious each potential partner’s cap is; the cap is the key feature of each program that ensures the environmental goals of each government are met, and a weak cap would impact all participants. Ontario, California and Québec have all cemented into law ambitious and world-leading climate targets for 2020 and 2030. Beyond that, there are some design elements which should be aligned among all programs and others that can differ and outlining these parameters is a negotiation among participants.

Ontario is demonstrating that the WCI carbon market model is an accessible one for ambitious governments to consider joining. This carbon club model is one that EDF has identified as a powerful potential driver of climate action. Hopefully other states and provinces will take Ontario’s lead. Here are some locations to watch:

  • Several Canadian provinces are actively developing cap-and-trade programs that could link with WCI one day.
  • State legislators in Oregon may have a chance to vote during their short session in early 2018 on a “cap and invest” program that is being designed with WCI linkage in mind.
  • Momentum on carbon markets is also growing elsewhere in the Americas. Mexico is in the process of developing its own national emission trading system and has expressed an interest in linking such a system with the California-Québec-Ontario market.
  • And just this past June, in the Cali Declaration, the heads of state of the Pacific Alliance countries of Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and Peru embraced the vision of a voluntary regional carbon market in agreeing to strengthen monitoring, reporting, and verification frameworks for greenhouse gas emissions.

California, Québec and Ontario are creating a model for action that is ripe for others to adopt as is or adapt as needed. This type of bottom-up partnership that matures into real and ambitious collective action is the future of international climate policy.

 

Note: More details on the linkage concepts discussed in this blog can be found in chapter 9 of the EDF co-authored report Emissions Trading in Practice: A Handbook on Design and Implementation.

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New red snapper proposals need safeguards from overfishing

By Monica Goldberg

Lawmakers in the House and Senate recently introduced legislation aimed at the perpetually contentious Gulf of Mexico red snapper fishery. Thanks to stronger conservation standards and accountability, red snapper numbers in the Gulf have tripled in the last decade and catch limits have doubled, leading to increased value for commercial fishermen and access for charter and for-hire vessels. Unfortunately, private anglers are stuck under a profoundly broken management system. Congressman Garret Graves, Senator Bill Cassidy and others on Capitol Hill propose to give the Gulf states the chance to manage this specific part of the red snapper fishery.

Credit: Florida Fish and Wildlife via flickr: https://flic.kr/p/VjyKem

We share the desire to give private anglers more flexibility and certainty in their fishing opportunities, and states are already innovating under current law, such as the LA Creel program in Louisiana. The new bills (H.R. 3588 and S. 1686) have improved significantly from similar attempts last Congress. But without further safeguards, they threaten to take us back to the failures of the past, when the fishery was severely depleted and red snapper was hard to find for seafood consumers and anglers alike.

The current proposals would give the five Gulf States authority to manage the private angler portion of the red snapper fishery in both state and federal waters; commercial and charter/for-hire fishermen would remain under federal management. But because the bills lack provisions to ensure that the private angler sector stays within its quota (after exceeding it nine of the last 12 years), the bills would jeopardize the sustainability of the fishery and undermine the commercial and charter sectors.

Current law requires federal fishery managers to keep every sector – commercial, charter and private angler – within an annual catch limit. If one group exceeds its quota, managers must make adjustments to make up for the overage and prevent it happening in the future to ensure long-term sustainability.

Under these bills, however, the five Gulf States would have exclusive power to set the season length for private anglers. It would be up to them to honor the science-based catch limits established for private anglers and make it optional to reduce season lengths if overages occurred.  Even under the current, tighter standards, overages are common.  In 2016, for example, the sector exceeded its catch limit by 1.14 million pounds, some 28 percent.  Without a mandatory backstop in the law affecting private anglers, federal authorities would have to sharply reduce commercial and charter/for-hire quotas to make up for any private angler overages.

The bills do give the Secretary of Commerce a so-called “nuclear option” to take over red snapper fishing in state and federal waters if a state undermines the overall rebuilding plan. But because interfering with a state’s newly legislated rights to manage red snapper – especially in its own waters — is such a drastic step, we agree with others who “doubt the aforementioned federal tool would be imposed.” That would leave the hard-won rebuilding of the Gulf red snapper population in short-term jeopardy. NMFS estimates that private anglers will land more than 11 million pounds of red snapper — triple their quota — under this year’s extended season that was granted by the Commerce Secretary.

The bills’ supporters have asserted that they want any new legislation to keep private angler fishing within the established quotas, and it is undoubtedly possible to amend these bills to make that intention clear in the text. This relatively simple fix would prevent the hard-won gains in this fishery from being quickly erased and ensure that red snapper can be enjoyed by all Americans.

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