U.S. President Donald Trump has this week issued an executive order on ocean policy which the White House says will roll back “excessive bureaucracy created by the previous Administration…which serve as headwinds for America’s ocean industries…which employ millions of workers and support a strong American economy.” The industry is pleased, environmentalists are not.
Trump’s executive order focuses on growing the ocean economy, however, environmental groups and media are worried that the order means less protection for the oceans, as the Obama-era Ocean policy focused on ocean conservation.
In an article this week titled: “Trump just erased an Obama-era policy to protect the oceans,” The Washington Post referred to the 2010 executive order by Barack Obama in which the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion was mentioned, adding that in his new order, Trump “does not mention the explosion that killed nearly a dozen workers and the spill of 210 million gallons of oil.”
The White House has acknowledged that the executive order was focused on the economy, as they released a comment titled “President Donald J. Trump is Promoting America’s Ocean Economy.”
According to the White House ‘Fact Sheet,” the Executive Order replaces a prior order issued in 2010 that had created “the overly bureaucratic National Ocean Council and 9 Regional Planning Bodies.”
The White House further said that the National Ocean Council included 27 departments and agencies, and over 20 committees, subcommittees, and working groups.
“The new, streamlined Ocean Policy Committee will have a Subcommittee for Science and Technology and a Subcommittee for Resource Management,” the White House said
President Trump’s Executive Order will, the White House said, eliminate “the duplicative, Federally-driven Regional Planning Bodies established by the previous Administration.”
“The Regional Planning Bodies are unnecessary, as States have already voluntarily formed Regional Ocean Partnerships. The Executive Order supports appropriate Federal engagement with Regional Ocean Partnerships, while clarifying the scope of Federal support for the Partnerships,” the White House said.
“In 2015, the ocean and Great Lakes economy contributed $320 billion to U.S. gross domestic product and supported 3.2 million jobs. The U.S. economy depends on maritime commerce to transport goods and materials,” the White House said.
Offshore Industry welcomes the move
National Ocean Industries Association NOIA President Randall Luthi has welcomed the Trump Administration’s Executive Order revoking the 2010 National Ocean Policy.
He said: “NOIA welcomes today’s Executive Order addressing policy for the nation’s oceans, particularly as it addresses the previous Administration’s National Ocean Policy and its Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) initiative, which caused consternation, uncertainty, and concern for the offshore energy industry and other ocean stakeholders.
“The offshore oil and gas industry and many others have largely viewed the MSP initiative as an uber-bureaucratic ‘solution’ to a government self-imposed problem. In addition, not all stakeholders and activities were treated equally in the zoning process. The offshore energy industry has successfully operated side by side with other ocean users, without major conflict, guided by the planning inherent in the five-year offshore national program and the leasing process mandated by the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.
“The Executive Order reverses the misguided course of the 2010 National Ocean Policy. This renewed broad vision will hopefully encourage productive partnerships, recognizing a wide variety of ocean uses, all leading to increased economic, environmental and energy security for America through job creation, economic activity, and energy development.”
Trump’s move irresponsible
In her blog, The Natural Resources Defense Council’s (NRDC) Allison Chase said the decision to revoke “our National Ocean Policy…is an irresponsible move.”
She said it”it’s a confusing world offshore.”
“Dozens of state and federal agencies – many with overlapping and sometimes conflicting responsibilities – make decisions about ocean development. We need agencies – federal and state – committed to working together. Collaborating early on, they can identify and resolve conflicts before there are problems. To promote responsible ocean growth that keeps our ocean life healthy and supports our families and businesses for multiple generations, we need more, not less, coordination.”
Offshore Energy Today Staff