• White House Response to Public Comments in the Formulation of the National Ocean Policy Draft Implementation Plan

    The White House has released its responses to public comments on the national ocean policy

    In mid-2011, the National Ocean Council released for public comment outlines for nine Strategic Action Plans that provided an initial view on how Federal agencies might address the nine priority objectives highlighted in the National Ocean Policy. The outlines, by design, were draft products that served as an early and valuable point in the Implementation Plan development process for focusing public and stakeholder input.

  • Draft U.S. Ocean Policy Plan Precedes Proposal to Move NOAA to Interior Department (From the American Geophysical Union)

    Eos, Vol. 93, No. 4, 24 January 2012
    The Obama administration’s ambitious
    plan to protect oceans was released on
    12 January, just 1 day prior to the administration’s
    apparently unrelated announcement
    of a proposed governmental reorganization
    that would move the National Oceanic and
    Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from
    the Department of Commerce to the Department
    of the Interior. The proposed NOAA
    move is part of a larger administration proposal
    to consolidate six federal agencies
    that are focused on business and trade into
    one department. The action is contingent
    upon congressional approval.
    The proposal to move NOAA to the Interior
    department has prompted a variety of
    reactions, with some considering it common
    sense to group agencies dealing with natural
    resources in the same department. Others
    have charged that the proposed move
    could blunt NOAA’s leading role in protecting
    oceans, among other concerns.
    The draft National Ocean Policy Implementation
    Plan, issued by the White House’s
    National Ocean Council, provides a framework
    for more than 2 dozen federal agencies
    and offices involved with oceans to
    work together on a plan to implement the
    National Ocean Policy. President Barack
    Obama established that policy—formally
    known as the National Policy for the Stewardship
    of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the
    Great Lakes—through a 19 July 2010 executive
    order. An earlier 2004 report by the U.S.
    Commission on Ocean Policy had received
    bipartisan support.
    The draft plan, which lays out nine priority
    objectives along with more than
    50 action items and nearly 300 significant
    milestones with timetables, has a strong
    focus on science and the need for increased
    observations. The objectives include adopting
    ecosystem-based management “as a
    foundational principle” for ocean management.
    For the objective on informing decisions
    and increasing understanding to
    improve management and policy decisions,
    action items include advancing fundamental
    scientific knowledge through exploration
    and research, and providing data and tools
    to support science-based decision making
    and ecosystem-based management.
    Among the action items for an objective
    on observations, mapping, and infrastructure
    are improving remote sensing systems
    and further implementing the U.S. Integrated
    Ocean Observing System (IOOS). Other
    objectives call for improved coordination
    and support for ocean management issues,
    establishing and implementing an integrated
    ecosystem protection and restoration strategy,
    strengthening resiliency and adaptation
    to climate change and ocean acidification,
    enhancing water quality and implementing
    sustainable practices on land, addressing
    environmental stewardship needs in the Arctic
    Ocean, and implementing comprehensive
    coastal and marine spatial planning and
    The draft plan notes that it creates no new
    regulations, attempts to leverage existing
    federal agency resources, and was prepared
    in light of expected federal budgets for the
    next several years.
    “For the first time in the history of this
    country, we have a national policy that pertains
    to the 70% of the planet that we call
    the oceans. We never had that before,” Jerry
    Miller, assistant director for ocean sciences
    at the White House Office of Science and
    Technology Policy (OSTP), told Eos. Miller
    said that while the National Ocean Council
    has a long-term vision for managing oceans,
    “this document is intended to be the sort of
    boots on the ground, [to] get on with business
    in the foreseeable future here in a realistic
    fashion with budget levels that we can
    reasonably expect.”
    Both Miller and Steve Fetter, who oversees
    OSTP’s environment and energy division,
    said the concept of science-based decision
    making and having the necessary data are
    fundamental to the plan. Fetter told Eos that
    the main message in the plan is “the commitment
    to using the best available scientific
    information and analysis to inform all of our
    policies and programs regarding the oceans
    and the coasts.” Fetter added that “everything
    else [in the plan] is in support of that.”
    Reaction to the Draft Implementation Plan
    The draft plan has received a generally
    favorable response. Former NOAA administrator
    Conrad Lautenbacher told Eos that
    he is pleased to see the release of the draft
    plan and “look[s] forward even more to the
    application of resources to the goals outlined.
    In particular, the importance of an
    Earth observing system stands out as a prerequisite
    to realize just about every part of
    the plan.” Lautenbacher said he supports
    additional resources for fulfilling IOOS goals
    as a critical system within the Global Earth
    Observation System of Systems.
    Margaret Leinen, chair of the Ocean
    Research Advisory Panel, which provides
    guidance to the U.S. government about
    ocean research, told Eos the plan “is important
    because it will provide both guidance
    and prioritization to all federal agencies
    and programs that are involved with ocean
    affairs. For the research community, this
    plan is intended to provide clear guidance
    on the types of research most needed by the
    federal government.”
    Antonio Busalacchi, director of the Earth
    System Science Interdisciplinary Center
    (ESSIC) at the University of Maryland, College
    Park, cited as the most important
    aspects of the report a call for coordination
    among agencies focused on oceans,
    a regional approach to implementing policies
    that recognizes that “one size doesn’t
    fit all,” and a recognition of the importance
    of observations for research and for operational
    Environmental groups applauded the
    plan. Jeff Watters, senior manager of government
    relations with the Ocean Conservancy,
    told Eos that although he “would clearly love
    to see more federal dollars going toward
    ocean conservation issues,” he recognizes
    that the purpose of this particular plan is not
    to be a giant conservation wish list. “This
    [plan] is about management of the agencies
    and management of resources,” he said, “to
    make sure we are going about ocean management
    and ocean research in a smart and
    targeted way that is frankly more effective
    and more efficient.”
    Staci Lewis, senior policy manager with the
    Consortium for Ocean Leadership, said she is
    looking for the final plan to strike a balance
    between tight budgetary times and proceeding
    with a number of key action items. “Hopefully,
    they are able to translate these [plan]
    milestones into tangible results while keeping
    the budgetary issues in mind,” she said.
    Support for the draft plan was not universal,
    however. National Ocean Industries
    Association president Randall Luthi said in
    a statement that “the use of Coastal Marine
    Spatial Planning may very well be a multilayered
    bureaucratic solution seeking a problem
    that doesn’t exist. Our industry has been
    successfully operating for decades, without
    major conflict, guided by the planning
    already inherent in the 5-year offshore leasing
    process mandated under the Outer Continental
    Shelf Lands Act.” U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings
    (R-Wash.) charged that the plan would
    help the administration move forward with
    “imposing new mandatory ‘ocean zoning.’”
    Hastings said the plan “isn’t about protecting
    the ocean; it’s about expanding power and
    government control over Americans’ lives.”
    Hastings’s comments “reflect politics at its
    rawest,” said Morgan Gopnik, former senior
    advisor to the U.S. Commission on Ocean
    Policy. She said Hastings’s charges about
    expanding power and government control
    are neither accurate nor relevant to the
    plan. “There is nothing radical about these
    proposals; they are common sense. The
    new policy will make ocean management
    more efficient and less [Washington] D.C.-
    centric, with lots of input from state, local,
    and tribal authorities.” Miller at OSTP added
    that coastal and marine spatial planning “is
    not ocean zoning, it’s ocean planning” that
    Draft U.S. Ocean Policy Plan Precedes Proposal
    to Move NOAA to Interior Department
    PAGES 43–44
    Eos, Vol. 93, No. 4, 24 January 2012
    brings together a broad spectrum of stakeholders
    in a collaborative planning process.
    NOAA’s Proposed Move
    During a 13 January briefing, Jeff Zients
    of the White House Office of Management
    and Budget said that all of NOAA would be
    moved to the Interior department under the
    administration proposal. “As part of the specific
    proposal that would be developed once
    we have consolidation authority, the appropriate
    integration of NOAA into the Interior
    department would be carefully worked
    Sarah Chasis, director of the Natural
    Resources Defense Council’s Ocean Initiative,
    said the proposed move for NOAA was
    “a side issue” in the proposed reorganization,
    with the principal focus being on business
    and trade agencies. Chasis told Eos that
    while the draft implementation plan is a positive
    and important step forward for ocean
    stewardship, the proposal to move NOAA
    to Interior is troubling. She said NOAA currently
    plays an important role in checks and
    balances with Interior, which has responsibility
    for extractive offshore oil and gas
    activities. “Making sure that [NOAA is] free
    to weigh in in a way that’s not squelched or
    unduly influenced by the extraction goals of
    [Interior] is really important,” she said, adding,
    “We need to focus on implementing the
    National Ocean Policy plan. There are so
    many important things to be done, and reorganization
    takes a lot of time and effort and
    diverts from policy and implementation.”
    Jeb Berman, director of government relations
    with the National Marine Sanctuary
    Foundation, said NOAA was “blindsided” by
    the reorganization announcement and had
    not been informed about it until the prior
    evening. Berman told Eos that moving the
    entire agency to Interior “creates so much
    bureaucratic headache and would require
    NOAA to take its eye off the ball for a significant
    period of time. And even though
    they’ve fixed some of the oil/gas problems
    recently at [Interior], it’s still the agency
    that’s directed to lease expeditiously.” He
    added, “Now, if some pieces of NOAA were
    integrated into existing resource management
    functions at [Interior], that could
    potentially make sense.”
    Busalacchi of ESSIC said he is withholding
    judgment for now regarding the proposed
    move. “On the plus side in terms
    of management of ecosystems, it seems
    to make sense. Similarly with climate services,
    over the past 1.5 years NOAA and
    [Interior] have had many discussions
    regarding interagency coordination pertaining
    to climate, impacts, information,
    and services. However, when it comes
    to the operational prediction and observation
    components of NOAA, it would
    appear these represent significant new
    mandates for [Interior].”
    Former NOAA administrator Lautenbacher
    commented, “I think it is premature
    to assume that NOAA will be transferred to
    Interior. There are certainly other options
    which many have proposed over the years.
    The president’s announcement on Friday
    asks Congress to reinstate presidential
    authority to make organizational changes
    within the executive branch, an authority
    which ended in the Reagan era. The
    example of how such authority might be
    used centered on the consolidation of six
    current disparate organizations that affect
    trade and the economy. I certainly agree
    that bringing together these various structures
    would be a logical and useful undertaking.
    And I do believe that streamlining
    executive branch organizational structure,
    if done properly, could be highly advantageous
    to improving the efficiency and effectiveness
    of government.”
    He added, though, “At this point, it is pure
    speculation as to what the effect would be
    on the current Commerce department lineup
    and, in particular, NOAA. I do continue
    to support strongly the enactment of an
    organic act for NOAA no matter what happens
    in the future. As to the proper home
    for NOAA in a future government reorganization,
    I would have to see the details and
    overall context of the change before I could
    make a determination as to [its] value and
    my support for such a change. Remember,
    there is a long way to go before any of this
    potential reorganization activity can even
    begin to be formulated and seriously proposed,
    let alone actually happening.”
    Miller of OSTP noted, “We don’t anticipate
    any impact [from the proposed NOAA
    move] on the implementation plan.” As Eos
    went to press, NOAA had not made any public
    comments regarding the proposed reorganization,
    despite attempts by Eos to solicit
    agency comments.
    For more information about the draft
    National Ocean Policy Implementation
    Plan, see http:// www .whitehouse
    .gov/ administration/
    eop/ oceans/
    The public comment
    period is open through 27 February 2012.
    —Randy Showstack, Staff Writer

  • National Ocean Council inches forward with marine spatial planning agenda (Seafood.com News)

    SEAFOOD.COM NEWS [Environment and Energy Daily]

    by Allison Winter, E&E reporter Jan 13, 2012 – The Obama administration today released a new draft “action plan” that directs agencies across the federal government to work together on ocean planning and conservation.

  • White House Releases Oceans Plan To Streamline Coastal, Marine Permitting

    From: Bureau of National Affairs

    By Amena H. Saiyid

    The White House released a draft implementation plan Jan. 12 that would establish nine regional committees by 2015 to develop plans for streamlining the permitting processes for use of marine and land areas along the nation’s oceans and Great Lakes.

    The plan contains dozens of milestones dealing with coastal wetlands, water quality, invasive species, climate change, and hypoxia for various agencies.

    The National Ocean Council’s plan would implement the National Ocean Policy set forth in July 2010 by President Obama with Executive Order No. 13,547 (137 DEN A-13, 7/20/10).

  • OIRA Watch

    Some two dozen legislative proposals to improve the regulatory process are under consideration by the Congress.  Nonetheless, the immediate relief needed for job creation can come though OIRA.

    Accordingly  we have launched an interactive public docket (IPD), OIRA Watch,  aimed at demonstrating the need for OIRA to act on particular issues of interest.

    The impact of any “Watch” site is heavily depending upon the credibility of its sponsor; please view CRE’s credentials, giving particular attention to the information contained in this link.

  • CRE Submits Comment to BOEM

    The CRE submitted comments on the Draft Programmatic EIS published by BOEM on the 5 year plans for the OCS oil and gas leasing.   The CRE recommended to BOEM that:  (1) BOEM should encourage the use of PAMGUARD as part of the protected species observer program; (2) the final PEIS should reflect the conclusion that seismic does not adversely affect marine mammals under current BOEM regulations; (3) any new seismic regulations issued by BOEM will require a new proposed Information Collection Request (ICR); and (4) Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning violates the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA) and, accordingly, the primary emphasis of the Final PEIS should be on oil and gas leasing.

  • 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting–Session on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning

    Please see below on information regarding the 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting and a Session on Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning. More information is available here




    Barry Costa-Pierce
    University of Rhode Island, Rhode Island Sea Grant

    DATE: 2/22/2012

    Please click on the title of an abstract to view the complete abstract.

    Poster Presentations
    Location: Poster/Exhibit Hall