July 29, 2010
The CLEAR Act stretches far beyond the Gulf oil spill and offshore drilling by creating Regional Coordination Councils to implement marine spatial planning or “ocean zoning.” This could lock-up large portions of the ocean to fishing, energy production and other recreational activities. The mandatory zoning of oceans could deal a further significant blow to the Gulf region’s economy that is heavily dependent on offshore energy production, the seafood industry and ocean recreation.
However, the reach of this regulatory authority could expand far beyond the ocean and actually impact activities far inland. Because ocean zoning stresses the need to protect the ocean as well as the coastal areas, it could regulate any inland activities that may affect the marine ecosystem health – such as farming, timber, mining or other types of energy development – and especially those activities that are near, or may impact, waterways that drain into the ocean.
This vague new regulatory authority is just one of many provisions in the CLEAR Act that could lead to thousands of job losses across the country – energy jobs, fishing jobs, manufacturing jobs, farming jobs and many more jobs that may impact waterways that lead into the ocean.
“The elaborate federal bureaucracy that this bill imposes over the ocean is conceived specifically to clamp down on economic activity,” said Ranking Member Doc Hastings.
“Federal zoning of the ocean will directly impact the livelihoods of countless Americans both on the water and onshore. Even recreational fishermen and the millions of dollars of economic impact they inject into coastal communities could be targeted under these marine spatial plans. The tentacles of this controlling federal process will even be able to stretch inland to farms and communities hundreds of miles from the sea. This scheme can only add to the economic pain in the Gulf.”
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