The House Natural Resources Committee will likely approve legislation Wednesday that would name 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean and thousands of miles of coastline after the late President Ronald Reagan.
Rep. Darrell Issa’s (R-Calif.) legislation would rename the country’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which generally extends from three miles to 200 miles offshore, as the Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone.
The late Reagan, a Californian like Issa, established the EEZ with a 1983 presidential proclamation that declared the nation’s sovereign rights for exploring, exploiting and conserving offshore resources, including energy.
Issa has introduced the bill multiple times in past sessions of Congress.
Under the proposal, references to the EEZ in U.S. laws, regulations, maps and other documents would carry Reagan’s name.
Issa, in prepared testimony for a congressional hearing on the bill in 2012, said it would be a fitting recognition of the late president.
“President Reagan appreciated that America is blessed with an abundance of natural resources and understood that to remain competitive and to promote strong economic growth, we need to effectively develop and responsibly make use of our natural wealth,” Issa said.
In 2012 an Interior Department official said the agency had no position on the legislation.
The U.S. has the largest EEZ in the world, spanning more than 13,000 miles of coastline and containing 3.4 million square nautical miles of ocean, according to Interior Department testimony on the legislation last year.
It’s larger than the combined land area of all 50 states. The EEZ includes waters off U.S. states, and adjacent to other areas, such as Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands.