Tagged: Ocean Governance

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Cabinet Updates: Boycotts, Delays, Rule Changes, and Some Bipartisan Support

After rescheduled hearings, the Senate moved forward on a number of Trump administration cabinet picks in a tumultuous week of partisan showdowns and dragged-out votes. On Wednesday, 10 empty seats at the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee confirmation hearing signaled a Democratic boycott on the nomination of Mr. Scott Pruitt to lead the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). However, Republicans advanced Mr. Pruitt’s nomination without their counterparts across the aisle by suspending committee rules that required two members of the minority party be present for the vote.

Nomination hearings for Department of Transportation and Defense secretaries reveal support for technological innovation, maritime infrastructure, and U.S. Presence in the Arctic. (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Smooth Sailing And Bipartisan Support For Transportation and Defense Secretaries

The Capitol was abuzz this week with the first nomination hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet. While many of these spurred contentious debate, Ms. Elaine Chao, nominee for secretary of the Department of Transportation and cabinet veteran of both Bush administrations (deputy transportation secretary and secretary of labor), did not face significant opposition in Wednesday’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

Six new areas have been added to the California Coastal National Monument from Santa Cruz County to Orange County. (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

Obama Adds Six Sites To California Coastal National Monument

President Obama on Thursday added six areas to the California Coastal National Monument, including a prized parcel on the Santa Cruz County coast and some small islands off the coast of Orange County. All of the sites, totaling 6,230 acres, are currently managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The monument designation adds another layer of protection by closing the areas to new development, such as gas and oil drilling.

BOEM denied six pending permits for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: International Association of Geophysical Contractors)

BOEM Denies Airgun Seismic Surveys In Atlantic From Virginia To Florida

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has denied six pending permits for airgun seismic surveys in Atlantic Ocean planning areas from Virginia to Florida, pleasing conservationists and irritating industry groups. In announcing the decision Friday, BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said there was no immediate need for such tests now that the Atlantic Program Area was removed last year from President Barack Obama’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. She said the move was also based on an “abundance of caution.” “We believe that the value of obtaining the geophysical and geological information from new airgun seismic surveys in the Atlantic does not outweigh the potential risks of those surveys’ acoustic pulse impacts on marine life,” Hopper said in a statement.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a new advisory board be established to "root out bad behavior." (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Federal Regulations And Rulemaking Process Targeted In Bills Introduced In First Days of 115th Congress

It took a matter of hours after the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3 for bills to be introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21) and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) both passed the House (along nearly party-line votes) less than 56 hours after the start of the session.

A new rule aims to protect marine mammals from becoming bycatch. (Credit: Boyd Amanda/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fishing Rule Aims To Do For All Marine Mammals What It Did For The Dolphin

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.

NOAA announced a recovery plan for Beluga whales in Alaska. (Credit: Mike Johnston/Flickr)

NOAA Releases Plan for Alaska Endangered Beluga Whales

A federal plan for the recovery of an endangered Alaska beluga whale calls for a reduction in threats of high concern while scientists try to pinpoint what has kept the population from growing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced its recovery plan for Cook Inlet beluga whales, a population listed as endangered since 2008.

(Click to enlarge) The Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan were released today. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

The Nation’s First Ocean Plans

Today, the National Ocean Council (NOC) finalized the Nation’s first ocean plans, taking a historic step toward fulfilling President Obama’s commitment to healthy ocean ecosystems and a strong, sustainable marine economy. The two regional plans, the Northeast Ocean Plan and the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Action Plan, promote the use of integrated ocean data and best practices for informed and efficient management of the Nation’s shared marine resources. This approach is designed to work across all levels of government and to advance economic, environmental, and cultural priorities within each region. In addition to years of historic collaboration among states, tribes, Federal agencies, and Fishery Management Councils, the Plans are a result of extensive participation and input from marine stakeholders representing fishing, recreation, energy, transportation, telecommunications, and many other interests.