Obama’s executive order was issued in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. It calls for the development of a coastal and marine spatial plan for using oceans based on conservation and preserving the ecosystem, and requires policymakers to identify areas “most suitable for various types or classes of activities.”
Republicans have blasted the executive order as another federal government overreach that will end up hurting U.S. job creation.
“The National Ocean Policy has a potential to create yet another set of standards and/or approvals that could unnecessarily impose significant impacts on homebuilders, private landowners and other businesses while providing minimal — minimal — effects,” Rep. Steve Southerland (R-Fla.) argued last week on the House floor.
It was unclear as of early Monday afternoon whether Senate Democrats would allow either amendment to come up, although Democrats can be expected to oppose the language.
On Monday, several groups that support the executive order called on Senate appropriators to reject the GOP language.
“Comprehensive ocean planning is a process that brings together all users of the ocean including energy, fishing, and shipping industries, government and tribal representatives and the public to make informed and coordinated decisions about how to sustainably use the ocean using authorities and processes authorized under existing law,” the groups wrote in a letter. “This process begins by mapping out the ocean resources and uses and, together with stakeholder and public input, helps to identify areas that are appropriate for various current and future uses.”
Chris Mann of the Pew Environment Group, which signed the letter to senators, argued that the executive order should not be seen as controversial.
“It’s hard to understand what’s so threatening about a process that brings all interests together to plan for future uses of the ocean, but in these tough budget times perhaps the effort should be concentrated in regions of the country where a more comprehensive approach to ocean management is desired,” he said. “We hope the Senate will ensure that funding for ocean planning and management is available where it is wanted and needed.”
Also signing the letter were the Conservation Law Foundation, Natural Resources Defense Council, Nature Conservancy, Ocean Conservancy, Restore America’s Estuaries and World Wildlife Fund.