President Trump is repealing a controversial executive order drafted by former President Obama that was meant to protect the Great Lakes and the oceans bordering the United States.
In his own executive order signed late Tuesday, Trump put a new emphasis on industries that use the oceans, particularly oil and natural gas drilling, while also mentioning environmental stewardship.
“Ocean industries employ millions of Americans and support a strong national economy,” the new order states, mentioning energy production, the military, freight transportation and other industries.
“This order maintains and enhances these and other benefits to the Nation through improved public access to marine data and information, efficient interagency coordination on ocean-related matters, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other ocean stakeholders,” it states.
The order encourages more drilling and other industrial uses of the oceans and Great Lakes.
The order stands in contrast to Obama’s policy, which focused heavily on conservation and climate change. His policy was written in 2010, shortly after the deadly BP Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling explosion and 87-day oil spill.
“America’s stewardship of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes is intrinsically linked to environmental sustainability, human health and well-being, national prosperity, adaptation to climate and other environmental changes, social justice, international diplomacy, and national and homeland security,” Obama’s order stated.
It established a federal council with the responsibility to oversee various programs and decisions that could impact the oceans or Great Lakes.
That angered Republicans and industry, who are cheering Trump’s rescission.
“Today’s announcement of President Trump repealing and replacing the bureaucratic, overreaching policy created under the previous administration puts our country’s ocean policy back on the right track,” said Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee.
“President Trump’s action will help the health of our oceans and ensure local communities impacted by ocean policy have a seat at the table.”
The National Ocean Industries Association, which represents companies involving in offshore drilling and offshore wind, said Obama’s policy “caused consternation, uncertainty and concern for the offshore energy industry and other ocean stakeholders.”
“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,” Randall Luthi, the group’s president, said in a statement.
Conservation groups slammed Trump’s move, saying it puts the nation’s waterways at risk.
“With the action today eliminating the National Ocean Policy, President Trump is trying to wash his hands of responsibility for the real and urgent threats facing America’s coastal communities — namely, the impacts of climate change,” said Christy Goldfuss, senior vice president for energy and environment at the Center for American Progress.
“In the absence of a president who is willing to lead, it is now more important than ever that coastal governors, tribal leaders, state legislatures, and local communities take up the mantle of leadership and work together to defend and restore the health of America’s oceans.”