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Posts Tagged ‘coasts

A policy for the U.S.’s oceans and coasts: the Obama plan vs. an empty (beach) chair?

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ANALYSIS:

Where do most of the people live in the United States?  Coastal states.  What part of America has played an indispensable role in America’s economy since colonial times? The oceans and coasts. So even with just those two reasons alone how could any politician make a run for the Presidency without taking the time to put forth careful thought about how to address our oceans and coasts and their resources which are so important to America’s well being?

empty beach chairs

EMPTY BEACH CHAIRS. Where was the Romney-Ryan campaign when they were asked about their plans for managing our oceans and coasts? Weeks after the Obama Campaign responses detailing its plans, Blue Frontier Campaign founder David Helvarg did his best to guess what Mitt Romney would do based on the Governor’s history in Massachusetts.

Barack Obama’s campaign released a statement about its intentions regarding oceans and coasts for its second term – hardly a surprise given the Obama Administration’s early commitment to establishing a national ocean policy early in the first term, but surprisingly, while they were given many weeks to match the Obama campaign with a response of their own, the Mitt Romney campaign never produced a policy statement on this important part of the nation’s public policy.

The Blue Frontier Campaign, whose mission it is to bring together the approximately 2,000 “blue groups” and agencies it says work on ocean and coastal conservation, sent an inquiry to both campaigns this fall, but only Obama’s Campaign responded. The inquiry entitled “60 Ocean Leaders call on President Obama and Governor Romney to protect the Blue in our red, white and blue” can be found at THIS LINK.

David Helvarg, author and founder of the Blue Frontier Campaign, does an admiral job working to guess what policies might Mitt Romney put forward, based on scant information from the the Governor’s policies in Massachusetts and a few blurbs from Campaign speeches. Does Mr. Helvarg get it right or do the Massachusetts policies on things like marine spatial planning (deciding what activity goes where offshore) mean little if Mr. Romney goes to D.C.? I’ll leave it to the reader to sift through those tea leaves on their own, but what is clear is that Romney’s campaign did little to make a first step into national policy area concerning our oceans and coasts when they failed completely to express an opinion at all in the 2012 race for President.

Mr. Helvarg’s Blue Frontier Campaign press release is included below in its entirely.  The Obama Campaign’s response to Mr. Helvarg’s inquiry is included in the release.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE OCTOBER 18, 2012

Contact: David Helvarg Blue Frontier Campaign (510) 778-8470 or cell (202) 491-6296

Obama and Romney speak out on America’s Ocean.

In Tuesday night’s debate America’s environment and climate crisis went unnoted as did our largest wilderness frontier and a major driver of our economy, our public seas.  America’s ocean waters that provide recreation, transportation, trade, energy, protein and security were mentioned only in the context of offshore drilling.

However, 60 Ocean Leaders in conservation, exploration, science and business have called on President Obama and Governor Romney to explain what they plan to do to protect the Blue in our red, white and blue.  For the content of that letter please go to:

http://www.bluefront.org/wordpress/?p=3865

The letter’s signatories have gotten a response from the Obama campaign but to date have not received an expected one from the Romney campaign.  However several of the Governor’s positions can be ascertained based on his public record.

Below is the statement from President Obama’s Re-election Campaign –

“President Obama is committed to ensuring that our nation’s vast natural resources are used responsibly, and that we maintain healthy oceans and coasts.  By establishing a National Ocean Policy, he made it a priority of the federal government to ensure a proactive approach to improving the conservation of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes. 

 President Obama is directing additional funding to Gulf Coast restoration to further bring back the fisheries and coastal ecosystems which are still recovering in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill.  He kicked off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, which is targeting ecological problems such as invasive species, toxic hot spots, and pollution runoff. And his administration is cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, establishing a “pollution diet” for the Bay that will help restore the natural habitat for fish and other wildlife. They have also invested over $1.4 billion in Everglades’ restoration, helping restore tens of thousands of acres which will serve as a sanctuary for native Florida plants and wildlife. And under President Obama, we have created or enhanced more than 540 public coastal recreation areas, protected more than 54,000 acres of coastlines and restored over 5,200 acres of coastal habitat. The administration is also investing more in monitoring our fishing stock in coastal areas in order to have the most accurate data possible on the health of our fisheries. These are significant steps that are helping us improve the health of our oceans and build more robust fisheries.”

 Governor Romney has also spoken about his approach to America’s ocean waters first as Governor of Massachusetts and more recently as candidate for President.

 As Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney pioneered legislation making it the first state in the nation to put in place a comprehensive statewide planning process to assess new projects proposed for state ocean waters.  He noted the critical need to safeguard the state’s coastal waters from unregulated new uses, noting significant gaps in state and federal authority to permit offshore uses and lease open space.  “The only way to protect our beautiful ocean environment is with comprehensive ocean zoning reform,” he said.  He created an ocean management task force in 2003 comprised of a broad range of stakeholders, including environmental groups, regulators and the fishing industry.  

 In the 2012 Presidential campaign Mitt Romney has called for more state input and control over oil & gas energy leasing in federal outer continental shelf (OCS) waters.  He has pledged to “establish the most robust five-year offshore lease plan in history, that opens new areas for resource development – including off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas – and sets minimum production targets to increase accountability.”

The author if this blog is a scientist by training and the owner of W.H. Nuckols Consulting, an environmental policy, government relations and strategic communications firm in Washington, DC.
A bio for Mr. Nuckols is located at www.WilliamHNuckols.com

You can follow Will Nuckols on Twitter at @enviroxpert and on Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/willnuckols/

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Written by Will Nuckols

November 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm

musings following the President’s SOTU address

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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.

Written by Will Nuckols

January 27, 2010 at 10:33 pm