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Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions
July 2012

Considering "Coastal Carbon" in Existing U.S. Federal Statutes and Policies

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Considering "Coastal Carbon" in Existing U.S. Federal Statutes and Policies
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Many federal statutes and policies specifically require that impacts on ecosystem services be considered in policy implementation. Some federal policies directly include the economic value of certain ecosystem services in estimates of economic impact. Yet, we are unaware of a single federal statute, regulation, or policy that accounts directly for the carbon held in coastal habitats. Explicitly accounting for coastal carbon could change the outcome of federal policy actions for variety of federal statutes and policies, including the National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and others. These statutes and policies allow for agency discretion in deciding which ecosystem services to include when considering alternative policies, plans, actions, and even assessments of the economic costs of damages to coastal ecosystems. Coastal carbon is an ecosystem service that could be included.