Obama Announces Ocean Protection Plan

There's exciting news on the environment front. President Obama has issued a Presidential Memorandum that calls for the development of a national ocean policy and implementing strategies. The memorandum will establish an interagency task force that is to recommend within 90 days:

1) A national ocean, coastal and Great Lakes policy that, among other things, protects and maintains these important ecosystems.

2) A structural framework for coordinated implementation of the policy.

In addition, within 180 days the task force is to recommend a mechanism for effective marine spatial planning, which will help prevent "ocean sprawl" -- as we face more and more proposals for offshore energy and other developments in the ocean. This will help move toward a clean, renewable energy future that protects ocean ecosystems.

America needs a comprehensive national policy to protect our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes today and for future generations. President Obama has taken a critical step toward making this a reality. For example, right now, our oceans are governed by over 140 laws and 20 different agencies, each with different goals and often conflicting mandates. A national oceans policy can provide the coordinated vision we need to successfully tackle these challenges. Like a Clean Water Act for our water, or a Clean Air Act for our air - a national policy for our ocean, coasts and Great Lakes will establish a national framework for reviving these areas so vital to our environment and economy.

In 2003 and 2004, two national commissions, the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, called for the establishment of a national policy to better protect our nation's valuable ocean, coasts and Great Lakes. President Obama is showing leadership in taking important steps to develop such a policy.