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A win for assessing acids poisoning the Atlantic Ocean

An aerial shot of Fire Island.

An aerial shot of Fire Island. Credit: Doug Kuntz

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did the right thing in signing legislation that will create a state task force to study ocean acidification.

It’s an important issue for Long Island. As seawater absorbs increasing levels of carbon dioxide created by climate change, it becomes more acidic. That decimated the shellfish industry in the Pacific Northwest nearly a decade ago. Ocean acidification also harms coral reefs, but its effects on the East Coast have not been studied. Nailing down the science should help our own struggling shellfish industry.

The follow-through is critical. The task force must meet its Dec. 31, 2018, deadline for a report on impacts, suggested adaptations and regulatory changes.

Sounds like a long way off? Perhaps state officials were thinking the same about another piece of climate change-related legislation — a 2014 law requiring the state to adopt projections of sea-level rise to help agencies and municipalities evaluate storm-surge and flooding risks when they assess projects. But state officials missed last month’s deadline to produce the numbers.

Now they must restart the clock on requirements like public comment. And more time passes without this vital information being available.

Until someone acts on it, well-intentioned legislation isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.