Environmental Policy News

House Republicans Reject National Ocean Policy

In 2010, President Obama released Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the National Ocean Policy (NOP).

It is designed to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ecosystems and resources of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; to enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies; to preserve maritime heritage; to support sustainable uses and access; and to coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests.

The order also provides scope for “adaptive management to enhance our understanding of and capacity to respond to climate change and ocean acidification.” Six years later, Congress is still debating NOP; most recently the House Committee on Natural Resources held an oversight hearing on to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the NOP.

Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) described NOP as “essentially a business plan for the ocean that seeks to maximize the benefits for the shareholders – the American people. The policy is a win-win-win for economic growth, public safety, and environmental protection.”

Mr. Jim Lanard (Chief Executive Officer, Magellan Wind) noted his positive interactions with people implementing NOP and applauded the NOP’s “science-based decision making, conflict resolution, data sharing, proactive planning, all [of which are] leading to sustainable development.”

In ardent disagreement, Chairman Rob Bishop (UT-1) and his fellow Republicans on the dais described the NOP as “executive overreach” and were convinced that the NOP will serve as a vehicle for instituting new regulations that would be detrimental to Americans, particularly small business owners and fishers. Bob Zales (President, National Association of Charterboat Operators) and Meghan Lapp (Fisheries Liason, Seafreeze Ltd.) insisted that their opinions as stakeholders had not been taken under advisement during the creation of the NOP, and both insisted that their industries need no further regulations.

A middle ground remained elusive during the highly partisan debate that illuminated no clear pathway forward.


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