A tide of information on politics, environment, and ocean issues

News and information from Washington, DC

musings following the President’s SOTU address

with one comment

For those of us who track coastal issues it is notable, but not surprising, that not one mention was made to the oceans, with the exception of opening new areas of the OCS to devlopment.  Specifically, President Obama said “It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development.”

Any mention of other ocean or coastal issues?  Nope.  Nothing.  Not a peep.

Nothing about the continued downward spiral of many of our estuarine and ocean species which when they go, they take a piece of the national economy with them.

Nothing about the demise of corals – “the rain forests of the sea,” the link of an acidifying ocean to their continued demise, or the fact that this same ocean acidification is already harming parts of our shellfish industries.

Nothing about fixing the impediments to the blue-green industries who want to develop new ways to create power from wind and currents, but who spend their technology development money in other countries because there are so many impediments to ocean technology development here.

Is President Obama out of touch with public and the cry of millions to address the needs of our oceans and coasts?

He is not.  Not because there are no problems that need fixing, but rather because there are not millions of people calling for significant attention to be paid to this topic area.  The ocean community is far too quiet for political representatives to pay these topics the attention they deserve based on the substance of the issues and their importance to the health of our nation.

We are to blame for our lack of political relevance. Granted, some of us are in disagreement on what to do, thereby canceling out each others voices. But more importantly far too many are simply silent. Examine the public input into the work of the Ocean Policy Task Force.  Where are the multitude of voices of the many business interests whose viability requires that we do a better job of managing our oceans and coasts?  Far too few are even aware that the President called for policy recommendations so that he can issue our nation’s first national ocean policy.  We need to get significantly more engaged in our government.  Businesses, environmentalists, academics – all of us need to get back into the process of developing, and more importantly executing, effective coastal and ocean policies.

The broader community seems to have already given up on the idea of significant reform.  For example, the calls for an ocean czar, an accountable representative of the President who would be the focal point for ocean issues, are lately all but silent.  Senator Cantwell and a few of her colleagues have shown their annoyance at the lack of an accountable leader being established within the Administration, but more disturbingly, those of us who our government is supposed to represent – the public – have all but rolled over and decided that yet another matrixed approach to governing, which few in DC will understand or participate in, and yet fewer yet outside of DC will interact with as decisions are made, is just fine.

Perhaps we have gone into winter hibernation and with the warmth of spring we will wake up, once again attend one environmental event or another on a beach or along a river, and get inspired enough to get involved in the process.

But at that time it will likely be too late.  The President’s staff will have already set up the new org charts, determined their priorities, and be far to vested in their own ideas to revisit the idea of significant change. This is what happens when there is a vacuum of public input.

It is time for a broad community to get involved, speak directly to the President and call for more attention to be paid to oceans, coasts and the issues surrounding them.  We need a bigger tent if we are to make the headway we need.  So if you are in the ocean and coastal field, do what you can to invite others into the discussion.  Invite those with whom you agree.  Invite your opponents.  Invite as many people as you can so that when we get to the end of the process of setting a national policy that the process is both informed and has legitimacy.

And lets not wait until the next State of the Union to take stock of how we are doing.

Advertisements

Written by Will Nuckols

January 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm

One Response

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. So well written, heartfelt, honest

    CJP

    January 28, 2010 at 9:35 am


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: