The Trump administration’s “assault on our oceans” continued on Tuesday with an executive order that rescinds an Obama-era policy aimed at bolstering the health of the oceans and the Great Lakes.
“In one stroke of the pen, we have gone from hard-earned, responsible stewardship of the ocean to short-term, reckless, blind pursuit of a buck and a vote.”
—marine biologist Jane Lubchenco”Oil drillers and other industry interests are cheering,” environmental group Heal the Bay tweeted following Trump’s action.
The new executive order revokes the 2010 National Ocean Policy put in place following the Deepwater Horizon disaster and which, as Earthjustice notes, “was built on decades of science, public input, and bipartisan recommendations.”
Trump’s new order calls for “promot[ing] ocean industries” and establishes the interagency Ocean Policy Committee. The White House states that the committee “will focus on growing the ocean economy,” and says the president “is rolling back excessive bureaucracy created by the previous administration.”
More to the point, as The Hill reports, “The order encourages more drilling and other industrial uses of the oceans and Great Lakes.”
Among the critics of the new order is noted marine biologist Jane Lubchecno, a former NOAA administrator who helped create the National Ocean Policy.
“In one stroke of the pen, we have gone from hard-earned, responsible stewardship of the ocean to short-term, reckless, blind pursuit of a buck and a vote,” she tweeted.
According to NRDC senior policy analyst Alison Chase, the new order is simply “irresponsible.”
“There is no longer a requirement to work with states to provide for coordinated ocean protection and there is no longer a national policy to promote healthy ocean ecosystems,” she explained.
“We reject the administration’s false argument that federal management of the oceans prevents their productive and sustainable use,” said Jacqueline Savitz, Oceana’s chief policy officer for North America. “Strong and effective regulations lay out ‘rules of the road’ that safeguard our health, safety, and natural resources. These safeguards play an essential role in balancing the interests of private users of the oceans with the broader need for conservation of ocean resources for all Americans,” she argued.
The shift, added Miyoko Sakashita, oceans director with the Center for Biological Diversity, “makes it crystal clear that Trump views our oceans solely as a source of profits for the oil industry and other polluters. Industrializing our oceans and coastal areas is exactly what we don’t need, especially when whales, sea turtles, and other marine animals are already struggling against a long list of threats.”
Lawmakers also added to the chorus of criticism. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), for one, warned that the administration “is doing everything it can to allow another BP oil spill.”
In addition, House Democrats on the Natural Resources Committee called for a hearing on the issue. In a letter sent Tuesday to committee chairman Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), the Democrats called the new order “short-sighted” and underscored that “healthy oceans are central to the livelihoods of millions of Americans.”