The Next Four Years: Surfrider's Plan to Protect our Coasts under a Biden PresidencyBy Pete Stauffer
Surfrider calls on the Biden administration and Congress to take bold action to protect our coasts and ocean. Please join our efforts and get involved!
The next four years promise to be the most important in the Surfrider Foundation’s 36-year history. More than ever, our coastal environment is under siege from the combined impacts of pollution, development, and climate change. Meanwhile, the onslaught of environmental rollbacks carried out by the Trump administration has left our nation’s coasts vulnerable like never before. For these reasons, Surfrider looks to the future with both anticipation and resolve.
As the Biden administration and the 117th Congress assume control in January, there is an urgent need for strong federal leadership on ocean issues. The policies of the outgoing Trump administration – from weakening clean water rules to attacking marine protected areas to reversing climate change policies – were enormously harmful to our coastal environment. Surfrider will push the Biden administration and Congress to quickly restore these environmental protections, while advocating for new laws and policies needed to protect our coasts and ocean.
Surfrider has prioritized three critical issues affecting our coasts for federal action: climate change, plastic pollution, and clean water. Surfrider will mobilize our grassroots network to participate in national campaigns that demand federal leadership from the administration and Congress and will make a real difference for our beaches and coasts. Surfrider’s network will also collaborate with groups, communities and businesses across the U.S. to grow a powerful and diverse movement that will be impossible for federal leaders to ignore.
On March 9-11th, Surfrider’s network and partners will bring our message to Washington, D.C. during our virtual 2021 Coastal Recreation Hill Day. Our chapters and clubs will meet with over 125 Senate and House offices to urge federal action on climate change, plastic pollution and clean water. Surfrider will also organize CEO Roundtables with the Biden administration and federal agencies, featuring surf and outdoor industry partners, to highlight the need to protect our nation’s ocean recreation and tourism economy, valued at $129 billion annually.
Below are Surfrider Foundation’s 3 goals for the Biden Presidency:
1) Drive Federal Action on Climate Change
Our coasts and ocean are under siege from climate change impacts including sea level rise, extreme weather events and ocean acidification. The Surfrider Foundation will push the Biden administration to aggressively implement its climate plan including rejoining the Paris Climate Agreement and transitioning the U.S. to a 100% clean energy economy by 2050. Surfrider will also work to pass strong legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help coastal communities adapt to ongoing impacts. This includes passage of the Ocean Climate Solutions Act which leverages the enormous power of the ocean to drive solutions to the climate crisis. Key elements of the bill include banning new offshore oil drilling and protecting 30% of ocean habitats by 2030 to enhance “blue carbon” storage. Surfrider will also encourage our federal leaders to pursue climate policy recommendations outlined in the House and Senate climate crisis reports that Surfrider helped shape through our advocacy. Finally, Surfrider will push the Biden administration and Congress to provide critical funding for coastal management and climate science, including NOAA programs that help states and communities plan for sea level rise and extreme weather events.
2) Stop the Flow of Plastic Pollution Into the Ocean
Plastic pollution is one of the greatest threats to the health of our ocean. To stem the tide of plastics entering the marine environment, Surfrider and our coalition partners will urge the Biden administration and Congress to take immediate action on the plastic pollution crisis. We will ask the President to demonstrate leadership through: (1) support for the federal Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act; (2) mandate the federal government to stop buying single-use plastics; (3) deny and/or strengthen permits on new plastic production facilities; (4) make the plastic industry pay for the waste they create; (5) stop exporting waste to developing countries; and (6) seek more ways to become a global leader in the fight against plastic pollution. The Break Free From Plastic Pollution Act is the first comprehensive federal proposal to address plastic pollution from production to disposal. Surfrider’s network will also continue to pass state and local plastic pollution laws and support Ocean Friendly Restaurants in efforts to move away from single-use plastic foodware. Finally, our network will engage over 30,000 volunteers in cleanup events that remove 200,000 pounds of trash from our beaches and build the grassroots movement to stop plastic pollution.
3) Protect Clean Water for All People
Water quality at our beaches is threatened by pollution, causing over 20,000 health advisories to be issued each year. The Surfrider Foundation will ensure that the Biden administration and Congress uphold the Clean Water Act through sufficient funding and enforcement of water quality regulations and programs. This includes support for critical EPA programs, such as the BEACH Grants program that protects the health of beachgoers, and the Clean Water State Revolving Fund which assists communities in upgrading and fixing their sewage infrastructure. Surfrider will also fight to restore clean water protections rolled back during the Trump administration that are necessary to protect seasonal streams and wetlands that affect water quality downstream. Surfrider will always stand ready to pursue legal strategies to resolve compliance issues when Clean Water Act violations occur. This may include filing litigation to compel polluters to comply with federal and state law if other advocacy has not achieved the desired result. Finally, Surfrider’s network will support Clean Water Act implementation through our community science testing program, the Blue Water Task Force, which monitors over 450 beaches and performs more than 6,000 water quality tests each year.
Make Your Voice Heard
The next four years represent a critical opportunity to protect our treasured ocean, waves and beaches. It has never been more important to communicate with your elected officials and join the Surfrider Foundation’s efforts to demand the federal leadership that is needed to protect our nation’s coasts and ocean.