Visually challenged Congress misses the ocean from the beach

In 2009, President Obama started a process that established our Nation’s first National Ocean Policy in order to protect, maintain, and restore our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes natural resources for present and future generations. Implementation of the National Ocean Policy will help our nation move toward better ocean management and protection and restoration of our ocean, coasts, islands and Great Lakes. Just when the NOP is getting up and running some Members of Congress are attempting to stop the National Ocean Policy with a backdoor attack through the FY12 Interior Appropriations Bill. The Interior Appropriations bill has already been deemed the “Worst. Bill. Ever.” for its attacks on bedrock conservation laws and the destruction it would wreak on environmental programs that keep our air breathable and our water drinkable. Now a well-oiled Texas Tea Partyer wants to take out the National Ocean Policy.

Reducing or eliminating federal funds for the development and implementation of the National Ocean Policy would be a “penny wise and pound foolish” approach to managing and sustaining our nation’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes and should be opposed. The National Ocean Policy is being implemented now with existing resources. Halting implementation of the National Ocean Policy would throw away two years worth of work, investment and commitment by state governments, commercial and industrial ocean users, universities and scientists, 25 federal agencies and departments and tens of thousands of citizens across the country.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island now have complete ocean management plans for their states’ waters. These states recognize that building a sustainable clean energy economy will bring more jobs and economic benefits that in turn will attract new businesses and help create a thriving New England. The key to building a new industry based on clean, renewable offshore wind energy turbines is a comprehensive management plan that involves current ocean users, maintains existing jobs, and is based on solid scientific data and the best information — so MA and RI created an open process to establish ocean management plans. Both of these plans are supported overwhelmingly both citizens and businesses in each state.

This is why we need a National Ocean Policy. Let’s just say Congressional leadership has been a little slow on what President George H.W. Bush called ‘The Vision Thing.” Planning for better, coordinated and more efficient management eludes Congress’ planning horizon. A backdoor attempt to stop the NOP deserves to be opposed. We are fortunate to have a number of Representatives in New England who get it, but they need friends. Please call your Member of Congress through the Capitol Hill switchboard at 202-224-3121 or find your Rep’s webpage and send an e-mail at The votes might be this evening or early tomorrow – -don’t delay!


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