Republican Congressman Francis Rooney and Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Mucarsel-Powell have teamed up this week to introduce a proposal that would have the U.S. Commerce Department “issue regulations prohibiting the use of sunscreen containing oxybenzone or octinoxate in a National Marine Sanctuary in which coral is present, and for other purposes.”
On Monday, the bill, which Rooney introduced, was sent to the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee.
Freshman Congresswoman Mucarsel-Powell cosponsored the bill that would ban “the human use of oxybenzone and octinoxate near coral reefs in National Marine Sanctuary System including the Great Florida Reef Found off the coast of the Florida Keys.”
Furthermore, Mucarsel-Powell detailed that “health coral reefs are essential to a sustainable future, but they are also incredibly fragile.” She explained that “taking small steps, like preventing harmful chemicals from reaching coral reefs, can help ensure future generations can enjoy our beautiful ecosystems and protect tourism.” Moreover, she cited her own experience with working for the Coral Restoration Foundation, and she asserted that “defending our precious coral, the species that live in and around them, and the environmental and economic benefits they provide is a necessity, and I’m glad we’re able to work on this on a bipartisan basis.”
Rooney, who’s faced criticism this past week for not being conservative enough, described that “these chemicals are killing our coral reefs, which are vital to the marine ecosystem here in Florida and around the world.” His office posited that “coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment, including about 4,000 species of fish, 800 species of hard corals and hundreds of other species.” So, Rooney explained that in knowing that “reefs play a major role in preventing shore erosion” and they’re also beneficial in protecting the coastal wetlands, “their preservation is a key component of our tourism-based economy.”