The Strengthening the Economy with Critical Untapped Resources to Expand (SECURE) American Energy Act (H.R. 4239) was discussed in a hearing by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The next day, it was marked up by the full committee, passing along a nearly party line vote (19-14).
The Senate Commerce, Science, & Transportation Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing on the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; P.L 109-479) reauthorization on Tuesday titled “Reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act: Fisheries Science.” The MSA, the nation’s primary law to regulate commercial and recreational fisheries, has enabled rebuilding of numerous U.S. fish stocks and decreased overfishing. Over the last 41 years, science-based management has played an increasingly important role, which should continue with this reauthorization.
The House Natural Resources Committee held a markup on Wednesday to consider the National Monument Creation and Protection Act (H.R. 3990) and a resolution concerning the Interior Department’s review of the Antiquities Act (H.Res. 555). The National Monument Creation and Protection Act, which passed out of committee along a party line vote (23-17) would eliminate the president’s ability to designate marine monuments and would require consent from Congress to protect large terrestrial areas. H.Res. 555, which failed along the same vote margin, would have asked Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to provide Congress with more information about his recent report that would significantly reduce the size of at least four national monuments.
House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on a discussion draft of the Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act (ASTRO Act) (draft bill). Why It Matters - Drilling for oil in the ocean has an impact on our economy and environment. Outer continental shelf (OCS) drilling has been banned in certain areas for several reasons, including disruption to tourism, threats to ecosystems and species, noise pollution, and risk of oil spills. Determining where OCS lease sales can occur involves rigorous assessment. This bill would open all areas of the ocean to drilling, eliminate the president’s ability to designate marine national monuments, and give OCS lease sales authority to the secretary of interior instead of relying solely on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) five-year plan.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) has moved to remove Endangered Species Act protections from Pacific Walruses, citing their ability to adapt and persist during changes in their climate and environment. "The Pacific walrus population has persisted through past climate change events however, the ability of the Pacific walrus population to adapt to ...
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a hearing to address four federal fisheries management bills. Two would reauthorize the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA; PL 109-479) – the Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act (H.R. 200) and the Strengthening Fishing Communities through Improving Science, Increasing Flexibility, and Modernizing Fisheries Management Act (a discussion draft that has not been introduced).
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a hearing to consider four presidential nominees subject to Senate confirmation, including Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet (Ret.) to be deputy administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”
Only 31 years ago, fleets from foreign countries could fish as close as 12 nautical miles to the United States shoreline. Fish populations were severely depleted, impacting livelihoods for fishers and threatening biodiversity. As a result, Congress passed the bipartisan Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA). This law extends U.S. jurisdiction to 200 nautical miles, uses science-based management to rebuild stocks and prevent overfishing, and ensures an economically sustainable yield via quotas and annual catch limits. The 1976 law created eight regional fishery management councils and has been updated twice, once in 1996 and again in 2007. Thanks to these efforts, U.S. fish populations are rebuilding, and now, 90 percent of fisheries fall below their annual catch limits. Last week, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held a hearing to discuss areas for improvement to consider upon reauthorization. Both sides of the aisle praised the successes of the law and conceded need for change but had different ideas for what those alterations might be.
House Appropriators Advance Interior and Energy-Water Appropriations Bills – With National Ocean Policy Riders
President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the National Ocean Policy (NOP), is designed to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ecosystems and resources of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; to enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies; to preserve maritime heritage; to support sustainable uses and access; and to coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic, with Democrats lauding its science-based decision making, benefits to stakeholders, economic growth, and sustainable development and Republicans considering it as executive overreach and a vehicle for new regulations.
Hardly anyone would play Russian roulette with a one-in-six chance of fatality. Representative Don Beyer (VA-8) drew this analogy at a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, wondering why the United States would take a gamble on climate action when 97 percent of climate scientists agree the climate is changing. At the roundtable hosted by Ranking Member of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Eddie Bernice Johnson (TX-30), scientists and climate policy experts discussed the scientific basis for climate action and the international ramifications of climate policies.
Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.