Oceans help feed the world, provide a living for millions of people, and are home to most of the life on the planet.

NRDC works to protect our seas from pollution and exploitation. We help implement laws that allow overfished species to rebound, and we fight to protect coastal communities from offshore drilling. We work to ban destructive fishing practices, conserve ocean treasures, and improve stewardship of the world’s shared oceans, which generate trillions of dollars in economic activity.

Our Priorities

Ocean Protection

Oceans are threatened by overfishing, oil and gas drilling, mining, and other industrial activities.

Ocean Threats

Oceans are damaged every day by oil and gas drilling, pollution, and other industrial activities.

Sustainable Fishing

Populations of tuna, swordfish, and other large species have fallen by 90 percent.

Ocean Noise

The amount of noise in the ocean has doubled each decade since the 1950s.

What's at Stake

What you can do

Protect Marine Life

Urge NOAA to strengthen its plan to reduce industrial ocean noise.

10 Ways to Reduce Plastic Pollution

What you need to know about ocean acidification

Stop Trump and Pruitt’s escalated anti-environment assault

Follow these eco-friendly beach tips on your next vacation

California National Marine Sanctuary Comment Letter in Response to Executive Order 13795: America-First Offshore Energy Strategy
Letter

As part of our work to protect marine monuments and National Marine Sanctuaries from Trump Administration rollbacks, NRDC filed comments with NOAA on the Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument and on the four California marine sanctuaries, all of which are being reviewed by the Department of Commerce pursuant to the Executive Order: Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy. The comments addressed oil, gas, and mineral resources in these areas, management costs, and consultation processes followed in the designation of these areas. The comments highlighted the overwhelmingly positive economic and social benefits of the California sanctuaries. Over 53,374 actions were taken in support of the marine monuments and marine sanctuaries by NRDC’s members and online activists and 46 groups joined with NRDC in the comments on the California marine sanctuaries.

The Real Lowdown: The Trump and Congressional Republican Assault on Our Environment, Vol. 23
NRDC

Scientists warn that the world is already experiencing the effects of climate change as Trump officially withdraws from the Paris Agreement.

iStock

In his first seven months, President Trump has done just about everything imaginable to try to roll back, reduce, and ridicule actions to address climate change.

But reality—for a former reality TV star—bites.

This past week, two major scientific reports have sounded the warning bell with a fire and fury of urgency and facts that climate change is dramatically underway.

An international study led by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported that 2016 marked the third consecutive year of record-breaking temperatures for the earth—the hottest in 137 years of recordkeeping.

Just three days earlier, on August 7, the New York Times published a draft U.S. interagency climate change report showing how dire is the threat of climate change. The report, awaiting approval by the Trump administration, notes, “Many lines of evidence demonstrate that human activities, especially emissions of greenhouse (heat-trapping) gases, are primarily responsible for recent observed climate change.”

The question now is, what will Trump do? He once tweeted that climate change was a hoax cooked up by the Chinese. But how much longer can he avoid his duty to protect Americans from the the central environmental threat of our time, climate change?

Setback on HFCs

One opportunity for him to show leadership is to address heat-trapping gases called hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs. On August 8, a divided panel of U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit voted 2 to 1 to toss out a 2015 Environmental Protection Agency ban on certain HFCs. The decision scrambles an array of industries’ plans to transition to climate-friendlier alternatives to HFCs in compliance with approaching deadlines. But it may not be the last word, says David Doniger, director of the Climate & Clean Air program at NRDC.

Trump’s U.S. Environmental Protection Agency defended the HFC rules in court, so the decision is a loss for the administration as well as for the industries investing in less-damaging chemicals—not to mention the planet. The EPA could step up and continue to defend the HFC rules by seeking a rehearing. “We’re hopeful,” Doniger says, “that EPA will do the sensible thing and fight for this important rule.”

Another Hold on CPP Case

Also on August 8, the court of appeals delayed legal action on the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The court issued its second order holding litigation on the case in abeyance for 60 days. NRDC’s Doniger notes some good news in the order: Two judges on the panel wrote a concurrence that helps “underscore EPA’s legal duty to act on climate,” and the court thus far hasn’t given the EPA the indefinite abeyance it asked for.

Tell President Trump to restore America's leadership on climate change

Trump Further Isolates Himself on Climate Change

On a more discouraging note, the Trump administration gave unofficial notice to the United Nations on August 4 that the United States intends to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change “as soon as it is eligible to.” The notice also specified that President Trump is open to reengaging on more “favorable” terms. While no surprise, NRDC international experts note that “it reinforces how President Trump intends to walk America away from global leadership on climate change and further isolate ourselves from the international community.”

The U.S. cannot submit its formal intention to withdraw from the Paris Agreement—the climate pact that virtually the entire world signed on to―until November 4, 2019. And the withdrawal won’t be effective until one year later—the day after the next presidential election.

Tell Trump we won't stop fighting global climate change

Zinke Spares One Monument, but Many More Still Face the Ax

U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke announced on August 4 that he was sparing Arizona’s Grand Canyon–Parashant National Monument from Trump’s hatchet. Trump signed an executive order earlier this year calling for review of 27 national monuments created since 1996, with an eye to downsizing or eliminating some. Zinke is under an August 24 deadline to finish his review.

This week, NRDC released a comprehensive report showing that Trump’s monuments hit list threatens jobs, local economies, and the national heritage. “These breathtaking places belong to you and me,” says Rhea Suh, NRDC president. “Millions of Americans have urged the government to protect them. They are not mere pieces of real estate the Trump administration can sacrifice to industrial ruin.”

Tell Interior Secretary Zinke to stop the assault on our national monuments

All Hat and No Sage Grouse Guardian

On August 7, Zinke unveiled a new strategy that limits states from protecting the iconic sage grouse—whose population has plummeted—while allowing unrestrained access by logging, mining, and oil and gas industries, chiefly in the West.

“Secretary Zinke may ride a horse and wear a cowboy hat, but his sage grouse order shows he’s not acting in the best interest of western states or the rest of America,” says Rebecca Riley, senior attorney in NRDC’s Land & Wildlife program. “Secretary Zinke is selling out the sage grouse―and western states―to oil and gas developers.”

NRDC Poll: Americans Love Environment, Clean Energy, and Climate Solutions

Ahead of hard budget battles this fall, NRDC released a national poll on August 10 showing that a strong majority of Americans don’t want cuts to funding for environmental protection.

“This poll has an unmistakable warning,” says NRDC’s Suh. “Americans stand firmly against cutting protections for clean air, water, and lands or jeopardizing clean energy gains. They won’t support infrastructure plans that sell off community assets and reduce federal investment in public transit. And they reject opening public lands to oil and gas development.”

That’s this week’s Real Lowdown. NRDC has prepared a list of other far-ranging threats. And we’re vigilantly reporting on the administration’s assault on the environment through Trump Watch.

Trump Watch: NRDC tracks the Trump administration’s assaults on the environment.

Blog Post

Hundreds of safeguards that protect Americans are now in jeopardy and a court allows the EPA to continue putting kids at risk from a toxic pesticide.

Blog Post

The rollback of the Clean Water Rule has officially begun, a wildlife refuge is at risk from Trump’s border wall.

Blog Post

Courts put the brakes on the administration’s rollbacks while the House heads home with nothing to brag about.

Next Steps for Our Ocean Budget
Alison Chase

We recently saw approval of ocean funding packages from both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. While the future funding levels of these bills present a brighter picture than the devastation that would come from the Trump budget, we’re still a ways from securing funding for critical National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs that protect the lives, livelihoods, and way of life for the 124 million people who call our oceans and Great Lakes coasts home.

Our oceans and Great Lakes contribute hundreds of billions of dollars in goods and services to the country’s gross domestic product and employ millions of people. And use of these resources is growing rapidly—from both traditional uses like shipping, fishing, and recreation, and new industries like aquaculture and offshore renewable energy.

The good news is that both the House and Senate bills fund the following programs that Trump’s irresponsible budget marked for elimination:

The bad news is that far too many cuts remain to our crucial ocean agency. The House’s deep cuts may look good through a lens of “anything is better than nothing,” but only if we’re keeping programs alive to starve them. The reduced amounts don’t actually allow programs to function and we won’t see the benefits we rely on NOAA to provide.

For example, while the House bill includes Coastal Zone Management Grants (a step up from the Administration’s proposed elimination), it recommends a 35% cut from the 2017 budget. Without funding for coastal zone managers, we could see delays in offshore development permitting and less effective oversight and protection of our public coastal and ocean resources. The House budget also recommends eliminating Regional Coastal Resilience Grants (as did the Trump budget). These grants fund important state and local government work on ocean challenges that flow across state lines, like ocean acidification and marine debris. The Senate bill keeps both of these grant lines at the current 2017 levels.

The House bill also reinforces many of the Trump Administration’s unjustified funding cuts to climate research; the Senate bill rejects massive cuts here, instead opting for existing 2017 funding.

Turning a blind eye to climate change won’t make it go away. The more information we have today, the better able we will be to predict future climate and make smart decisions that protect Americans. NOAA’s forecasts and early warnings for natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes, and its work to buffer homes and businesses from storms and protect fish and wildlife keep us safe and our economy strong. We need to ensure that the Senate NOAA numbers, which represent the real need, become reality.

NRDC is also on high alert for harmful ocean riders, which are amendments that can negatively impact important policy on an appropriations bill. Riders have been proposed to several appropriations bills that would undermine the work happening under the National Ocean Policy, which improves coordination among the dozens of government agencies that oversee marine health and development. For example, language in the recently passed House “minibus”—a series of appropriations packages cobbled tougher under the heading of “defense” would prevent states from accessing the federal assistance they need to advance best practices on key issues, including offshore wind projects that will power our cities, sand mining to rebuild our beaches, and aquaculture that adds to coastal economies. Riders that take aim at good governance and hinder agreements hammered out over several years by states from Maine to Virginia, regional fisheries managers, tribes, and federal agencies—and with extensive industry and public involvement—won’t help us make better development decisions and have no place in Congress’ final budget bills.

The upshot is that we need to keep up the pressure. Too many people rely on healthy oceans and coasts for Congress to turn its back on funding critical programs or to anchor the funding bills with riders that will run the legislation aground.

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