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Congress looking for economic benefits in ocean

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Capitol Hill marks World Ocean Day every year with a week of meetings and hearings about coastal issues. KPCC’s Molly Peterson says that this year, the economic value of the ocean is front and center.

Molly Peterson: Marine sanctuaries, and the ways air pollution influences the sea’s changing chemistry, are two discussion topics for Capitol Hill Ocean Week. It’s the ninth year that Congress has devoted this time for experts, scientists, and policymakers to meet with congressional leaders. Linwood Pendleton studies the economic value of California’s shoreline. He says lawmakers, and laws, still have trouble figuring out how to treat the coast as an economic resource.

Linwood Pendleton: The ocean produces so many values that we can’t really get a handle on it and that’s because the ocean is really a form of infrastructure. It’s like our highway system, or a bridge. It’s really hard to value a bridge.

Peterson: Pendleton’s one of dozens of advocates in Washington for Ocean Week, which is sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA Chief Jane Lubchenco says the goal this year is to find ways the ocean can boost the U.S. economy.