On July 19th, 2010 President Obama signed Executive Order 13547
to adopt the final recommendations of the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to implement a new National Ocean Policy, which includes a mandatory Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning initiative to “zone” the oceans. In this unilateral action, he established a top-down, Washington, D.C.–based approval process that will hinder rather than promote ocean and inland activities and cost American jobs.
Without clear statutory authority, the policy sets up a new level of federal bureaucracy with control over the way inland, ocean and coastal activities are managed. This has the potential to inflict damage across a spectrum of sectors including agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and natural gas, renewable energy, and marine commerce, among others.
In early 2012, the White House released its draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan which made it clear that activities that might adversely affect the ocean or Great lakes ecosystems may also be impacted – no matter how far inland they may occur. It has also become clear that the Administration intends to either revise existing regulations or impose new regulations on activities that are permitted by the Federal government.
The Natural Resources Committee has held multiple hearings to conduct oversight and get answers to the many questions surrounding this policy. Unless significantly altered, the Obama Administration should abandon this and other burdensome, far-reaching policies and regulations that will only lead to further job loss and economic damage.
Get the Facts:
- In four separate Congresses, legislation has been introduced to implement similar far-reaching ocean policies, and to-date NO bill has passed the House or been reported out of a Committee. Despite numerous requests from the Committee, the administration has yet to cite specific statutory authority on which this policy is based.
- Rather than streamline Federal management, the policy adds layers of additional Federal bureaucracy that could significantly impact the economic and recreational uses of our oceans, ocean lands, and potentially all rivers, tributaries and lands that drain or adjoin our oceans. In total, the Executive Order creates: 10 National Policies; a 27-member National Ocean Council; an 18-member Governance Coordinating Committee; and 9 Regional Planning Bodies. This has led to an additional: 9 National Priority Objectives; 9 Strategic Action Plans; 7 National Goals for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning; and 12 Guiding Principles for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning to be created.
- Restrictive national standards, along with ocean zoning, could slow and potentially stop the permitting of activities such as commercial and recreational fishing and energy production. This will harm the economy and cost jobs.
- Although the policy is portrayed by the administration as primarily targeting Ocean related activities, recently released documents show just the opposite. The draft implement plan specifically states that the policy plans to address “the major impacts of urban and suburban development and agriculture—including forestry and animal feedlots.”
- The policy establishes a Federally-controlled system of regional planning bodies that could override local and state zoning authorities. These bodies will have broad authority to issue regulations potentially impacting all activities that occur on lands adjacent to rivers, tributaries or watersheds that eventually drain into the ocean, yet these bodies will allow no representation by the people, communities and businesses that will actually be impacted by the regulations.
- The new national standards will also create a whole new class of lawsuits that could further restrict permitting of coastal and ocean activities and create a new way to challenge state permitting decisions for activities that “might affect” the ocean environment. This initiative is poised to become a litigation nightmare.
- Over 80 national and local organizations representing agriculture, forestry, energy, fishing, boating, mining, transportation and construction wrote to Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers requesting a prohibition on funding for the implementation of the President’s National Ocean Policy.
- This new policy will affect already budget-strapped agencies such as NOAA, Department of Commerce, Department of the Interior, EPA, Department of Transportation, USDA, Homeland Security, and the Army Corps of Engineers. As Federal budgets are further reduced, it is unclear how much funding the agencies are taking from existing programs to develop and implement this new initiative.