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Marine Sanctuaries: The Secret Report the White House Doesn’t Want You to Read
By Pete Stauffer
It's a simple choice, really. Do we want our National Marine Sanctuaries to be used for recreation, education, fishing and ecological protection? Or do we want to hand these ocean gems over the oil and gas industry so they can expand offshore drilling off our coasts?
For the past six months, the federal administration has been studying this very question. Following the Trump administration's Executive Order: The America First Energy Strategy, the Department of Commerce began a review of five National Marine Sanctuaries (including all four off California's coast) and six Marine Monuments to determine if these sites might be exploited for energy development. As part of the process, they invited the public to share their thoughts on the matter. The input received was unequivocal: don't mess with our sanctuaries!
According to an analysis by the Marine Conservation Institute, roughly 99 percent of public comments collected at regulations.gov expressed support for maintaining Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments as they currently exist. In all, nearly 100,000 citizens spoke out on the issue, demonstrating broad and diverse support for sanctuaries including Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, Cordell Bank and the Greater Farallones. Moreover, seven coastal counties in California, from Ventura to Humboldt, passed resolutions affirming local government support for Sanctuaries.
This brings us to the secret report. On Oct. 25, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross submitted his recommendations to President Trump on National Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments based on the agency's review of the issue. The only problem? No one from the public is allowed to read it. Yes, that's right. Despite a review process ostensibly based on public input, the administration's plans for our National Marine Sanctuaries are being kept a secret.
One might assume that no action will be taken against Marine Sanctuaries, based on the overwhelming public support expressed. Yet, given the recent news that protections for National Monuments will be scaled back by the administration, following similar (and equally overwhelming) public sentiment expressed, it's clear that the risk is very real. Add the fact that the report is being kept under wraps, and the urgency of the matter becomes even more clear.
That's why people who value Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments need to speak out and contact their members of Congress. While the administration may be intent on opening Sanctuaries and Monuments to oil and gas development, our federal representatives can fight back to protect these designations. Please pick up the phone and call your representatives today! Find your member's phone numbers here: Senate and House.
The Surfrider Foundation is proud to be part of a national coalition working to defend our country's Marine Sanctuaries and Monuments from attacks by the current administration. We will continue to fight to protect these special places, including Marine Sanctuaries off California and the Northeast Canyons & Seamounts Marine Monument, whose designations our members worked so hard to support.
Visit our "Save our Marine Sanctuaries" campaign page.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jason Bittel
It's that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.