Planning the Ocean
The House of Representatives and Executive Branch disagree on the federal role for marine natural resource policies. Doc Hastings Chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources and lists the new bureaucratic layers established by the new “National Oceans Policy” created by Executive Order 13547 in 2010:
… the Executive Order creates: 10 National Policies; a 27-member National Ocean Council; an 18-member Governance Coordinating Committee; and 9 Regional Planning Bodies. This has led to an additional: 9 National Priority Objectives; 9 Strategic Action Plans; 7 National Goals for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning; and 12 Guiding Principles for Coastal Marine Spatial Planning to be created. (Source)
The House website complains:
Without clear statutory authority, the policy sets up a new level of federal bureaucracy with control over the way inland, ocean and coastal activities are managed. This has the potential to inflict damage across a spectrum of sectors including agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and natural gas, renewable energy, and marine commerce, among others.
For students researching and debating federal ocean policy, there are a number of issues involved. Policy debaters are used to “fiat power” allowing them to advocate their proposed reforms without having to debate the process of getting bills through Congress.
The Administration’s “National Ocean Policy” was similarly created by fiat, that is, by an Executive Order. This means the Legislative Branch was bypassed. The Executive Branch believes it already has executive power from past legislation establishing and expanding the powers over oceans and the Great Lakes region.
Consider the language used to describe the goals of the National Ocean Policy on page 1 of the draft implementation plan:
For the first time in our Nation’s history, the National Ocean Policy provides the framework for all Federal agencies to work together to pursue these goals with cohesive actions across the Federal Government, and for engaging State, Tribal, and local authorities, regional governance structures, non-governmental organizations, the public, and the private sector. Fishing, energy, transportation, recreation, security, and other uses will be considered collectively and managed comprehensively and collaboratively. (Source.)
The opening quote above from the House Committee on Natural Resources outlines the new federal organizations to be established for the planning process to create the “framework for all Federal agencies” to “work together.”
Advocates for the National Ocean Policy note that it doesn’t create new regulations and should allow for ways to streamline and coordinate current regulations.
it’s a roadmap to increase regulatory and management efficiencies through more effective coordination among the 20+ federal agencies that share a piece of the management pie. (National Oceans Policy Is About Streamlining, Jan. 21, 2013 Source.)
New policies that claim to speed and streamline regulatory processes still have basic disagreements to deal with:
The National Ocean Policy focuses on efforts to streamline regulatory and permit processes to facilitate management and use of our natural resources. Interestingly, some of the primary concerns about the policy come from some industry stakeholders who are fearful that it will lead to increases in bureaucracy and added layers of regulation that will slow down the permit process and tighten already restricted access to valuable natural resources, a process they already deem too slow. (Source.)
Oceans are vast, but still limited and scarce. The actual people who use oceans for “[f]ishing, energy, transportation, recreation” can and do come into conflict. Environmental organizations that lobby to block the Keystone pipeline for oil from Canada also wish to block and reduce oil extraction from coastal waters. Commercial fishing companies and processors compete with sports fishing companies and the tourism industry that supports sport fishing.
How will all these uses, “and other uses…be considered collectively and managed comprehensively and collaboratively”? Who will have the most influence in this collective consideration process?