Day 1 of the New Congress Bodes Well for Oceans

For the last four years of the Bush Administration, NRDC has been on the frontlines of repeated attempts at passing a national Healthy Oceans Act.

Tuesday - the very first day of the 111th Congress and just weeks before we welcome Barack Obama to the White House - the bill was already re-introduced into the House of Representatives.

Like a Clean Air Act for our air, and a Clean Water Act for our water, we need a landmark bill to protect the health of our oceans. A law like this is one of the best solutions we have for saving them from the state of silent collapse that they are in. It provides a comprehensive vision for reviving them, and addresses our present ocean management crisis - 140 laws and 20 different agencies are currently in charge, each with diverging goals and conflicting mandates. This chaos makes it nearly impossible to provide the kind of protection we need across the board for our seas.

This bill provides a bold blueprint for the incoming administration and Congress to follow and represents the kind of real action we need to fundamentally reform the way we manage our oceans.

Of course, the reintroduction of this bill on day one of the new Congress comes on the same day as Bush's announcement that he is creating three new marine monuments.

And while I am glad Bush took that important step forward for our seas, he's given too little, too late to redeem his abysmal record on the environment. This record includes a major assault on our oceans by opening up our waters to new oil drilling off our beaches. Ironically, that same action of lifting the offshore drilling moratorium was the nail in the coffin for our last attempt at passing a Healthy Oceans Act, stalling the legislation in Congress last summer and fall.

Let's hope the 111th Congress is the lucky number for our seas, and that the Obama Administration gets on board.