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Ocean Currents

Holding Strong for Our Ocean

The Trump administration just repealed the National Ocean Policy. Here's what comes next...

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To mark National Ocean Month this June, the Trump administration continues to roll back critical pieces of policy that keep our ocean healthy and working.

I’m particularly dismayed at his decision to repeal the historic National Ocean Policy (NOP) today.

This common-sense plan was good for the economy, jobs, local communities, national security and the environment. Signed by President Obama in 2010, and based on recommendations from the 2004 U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy appointed by President Bush, this visionary strategy laid the foundation for integrated ocean management across all levels of government, tribes and coastal communities. For the first time, we had an ocean agenda that placed a premium on collaboration and supported conservation and sustainable use. Over the years, we’ve seen how it yielded real results for our ocean.

President Trump replaced it with a new executive order entitled “Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States.” 

While it retains some pieces of the policy to benefit the blue economy, what we’ve lost is the balance required to manage the ocean as an integrated and interdependent system.

It retains four key components for ocean management that were foundations of ocean planning: regional ocean partnerships, publically accessible regional ocean data portals, improved coordination across federal agencies and leadership at the highest levels. I do not doubt that industry leaders and states in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic who spoke up strongly in favor of measures like ocean planning made a positive impact on the administration’s decision.

For over 10 years, we’ve advocated for smart ocean plans that benefit coastal communities and businesses that rely on the ocean. We’re glad that some of this important work has been embraced by the president, and we will continue to hold the administration accountable for delivering on the new executive order.

The president’s decision comes against a backdrop of other attacks by this administration on our ocean. Here are four of the most concerning examples, which have been followed by unprecedented pushback from concerned citizens and members like you:

  • 2018 began with a Trump administration proposal to open more than 97% of U.S. waters to offshore oil and gas leasing. Over 18,000 of you have expressed your opposition to opening the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic to new oil and gas development. We know that this fight is going to be long, and we’re going to need you every step of the way.
  • In February, President Trump proposed–again–over $1 billion in cuts at the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including a $273 million slash to grants and programs that support critical work like hurricane recovery, marine debris research and climate adaptation programs in states and local communities. And yet, despite the administration’s proposal, Congress has heard that you value NOAA and has rejected some of the most illogical cuts–thank you.
  • In May, the Trump administration put spill prevention and oil rig safety in jeopardy as it pushed for changes to safety measures implemented after the Deepwater Horizon tragedy. The Well Control and Blowout Preventer rule was the result of six years of research, analysis and stakeholder consultation. It was put in place after a tragedy that cost 11 men their lives and resulted in an estimated 210 million gallons of oil and 1.8 million gallons of chemical dispersants dumped into the Gulf of Mexico. The administration is taking public comments on this proposal until July 10, 2018. Now is the time to let the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement know that the real bottom line is the safety of Americans and the health of our ocean. Please take action now.
  • And last month, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt unveiled new regulations on “strengthening transparency in regulatory science,” which would exclude science based on confidential data–like health studies–from environmental rulemaking at the EPA unless that private information is made public. The proposed rule would greatly limit the data and models that the EPA would rely upon when setting health standards. That wouldn’t just be a loophole–it would be a legal requirement for the EPA to ignore the best available science.

Making your voice heard on key policy issues is vitally important. And there are other things you can do during National Ocean Month that will make a difference to our ocean. Let’s remember our commitment to the ocean is not just in June, it’s every month.

  • Download our free CleanSwell app, which is available for both iOS and Android. Trash and plastic in our ocean is a huge and growing problem, and every piece of trash picked up off our beaches makes a difference. This summer, use CleanSwell to track the items you pick up, the weight of the trash you collect and keep a record of your cleanup efforts. And every single item is uploaded to our global ocean database, which is an invaluable resource for researchers working to solve the ocean trash problem.
  • We still need your help to protect the Arctic, Pacific and Atlantic from risky oil & gas drilling, and to protect the safety rules put in place after the Deepwater Horizon disaster. You can help prevent this from happening by taking action now.

In spite of the threats, we are making progress, we are making a difference, we are pushing back against risky proposals that threaten our ocean and coastal communities. And every day, we can take action that helps the ocean.

Together, we are a force for our ocean.

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