Trump administration replaces Obama-era ocean policy

Waves breaking along a Jersey Shore beach. (Image: Justin Auciello/for WHYY)

Waves breaking along a Jersey Shore beach. (Image: Justin Auciello/for WHYY)

The Trump administration has revoked an environmental and economic management program for the United States’ coastal ecosystems and replaced it with a program that the president says “streamlines federal coordination.”

The National Ocean Policy (NOP), created by an executive order by President Barack Obama in July 2010, established a comprehensive program to ensure the sustainability of the country’s coastal areas and the health of oceans and the Great Lakes.

According to a White House news release issued Tuesday, President Donald Trump’s repeal of the 2010 executive order was done because of “excessive bureaucracy created by the previous administration,” citing the National Ocean Council’s 27 departments and agencies.

Trump’s executive order establishes an Ocean Policy Committee that will “streamline federal coordination” and “focus on growing the ocean economy, prioritizing scientific research, coordinating resources and data sharing, and engaging with stakeholders.”

The order will also help to promote a strong ocean economy by providing regulatory certainty, according to the White House news release.

Tim Dillingham, executive director of the Highlands, New Jersey-based American Littoral Society, slammed the Trump administration’s action as not prioritizing sustainability.

“The National Ocean Policy has served as our country’s commitment to protecting our ocean ecosystems and ushering in a new era of good ocean governance,” he said. “The replacement order guts the NOP as a stewardship policy and instead, creates a policy centered on utilizing the ocean, not prioritizing its protection for sustainable use.”

Alison Chase, senior policy analyst at the Natural Resources Defense Council, echoed Dillingham’s comments.

“President Trump’s decision to revoke the 2010 National Ocean Policy is a major step backward from environmental stewardship. This announcement is part of a dangerous rollback of protections for our public lands and waters,” she said.

60 businesses and business advocacy organizations united in support of the policy revocation signed a letter to President Trump that cited the need to “ensure reasonable, transparent, multi-use, and effective ocean policies.”

In a proclamation earlier this month, Trump declared June as National Ocean Month, vowing to balance economic growth and marine ecosystem sustainability.

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