Monday, March 27, 2017

Ocean Watch Weeks 8-9

Welcome to Ocean Watch; a weekly recap of federal and regional actions that impact the coastal and marine water quality and ecosystems of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean. Clean Ocean Action will aggregate and analyze these actions, and signify the impact and threat level to the Mid-Atlantic using color coding – Red is a high level threat, orange is intermediate, yellow is a caution, and green would be a positive action. While many of these actions have taken place in Washington DC, and don’t affect the mid-Atlantic directly, the direction of national energy, climate, and regulatory policy will have implications and impacts for the mid-Atlantic region.

Mid-Atlantic Ocean Watch – Week 8-9
With much of the attention given to the debate surrounding health care legislation, it was a relatively quiet two weeks on the Ocean Watch front. However, several notable actions occurred which we recap here and will continue to keep a close eye on moving forward.

  • The Proposed Federal Budget
    • With a proposed 31 percent budget cut to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 17 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) budget (including a 5 percent cut to National Marine Fisheries and National Weather Service), and 10 percent cut to the US Coast Guard, water quality and coastal protection programs and funding, including beach water quality testing, estuary and wetland protection and restoration, contaminated site cleanup, and more, are all on the chopping block.
  • On Climate
    • The Trump Administration is still expected to move on eliminating the Obama era Clean Power Plan (aimed at curbing greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants). There are several avenues to pursue this rollback including a formal rule revocation through the EPA rulemaking process, or simply not defending the rule as a lawsuit continues to wend its way through the legal process. Furthermore, the Trump Administration's stance on the Paris Climate Accord continues to be negative, with expected changes to the US' role in the accord, or even a formal withdrawal from the treaty. 
    • Keystone XL, the controversial pipeline that would transport tar sands oil from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast for export, was issued a final authorizing permit by the US State Department last week. The pipeline still needs approval from State Agencies who are vetting the pipeline's route through Nebraska.
    • Finally, in a bit of good news in the fight to prevent the worst impacts of climate change from becoming a reality, a group of Republican Congressional members, led by New Jersey Congressman Frank LoBiondo (NJ-2nd), New York Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, Florida Congressman Carlos Curbelo, and Pennsylvania Congressman Ryan Costello, have joined forces to put forth a resolution "expressing the commitment of the House of Representatives to conservative environmental stewardship" and pushing for action on climate change. The resolution requests the House of Representatives to commit to economically viable solutions that address the risks of climate change by way of “American ingenuity, innovation, and exceptionalism.” These congressional representatives should be applauded for moving beyond partisan politics, and standing up for action on Climate Change.  Note: LoBiondo cosponsored the same resolution last Congress introduced by former Congressman Chris Gibson of New York.

  • Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch
    • Judge Neil Gorsuch continues to move through the nomination process with an expected vote on his confirmation coming soon. Numerous environmental groups, including the League of Conservation Voters oppose his nomination, citing his "demonstrated hostility towards the regulatory power of federal agencies" that could "undermine the ability of the United States Environmental Protection Agency to enforce community safeguards against corporate polluters."

The executive orders and congressional actions of the last week have reinforced how vital it is that every citizen engage with their elected officials. In this day and age of instant communication, there is no excuse for not contacting your elected officials. Use the links below to find your representatives and let them know how important clean water and strong environmental protections are.

o   Federal:

§  Call your US House of Representative:

o   State Level:

§  Contact your Governor:

§  For NJ residents, contact your State Senate and Assembly Representatives:

§  For NY residents, contact your State Senate and Assembly Representatives:

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