Beveridge & Diamond
 
Related Practices
Related Practices

White House Increases Funding for Oceans Action Plan Implementation

Beveridge & Diamond, P.C., January 30, 2007

On January 26, 2007, the Bush Administration announced its Fiscal Year 2008 priorities for continued implementation of the U.S. Ocean Action Plan (OAP), and pledged $143 million in new funding over budget request levels to reflect its commitment to “cleaner, healthier and more productive” ocean and coastal resources.  Most of the new funding will go to the research priorities established in the OAP for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Geologic Survey (USGS).  These include developing systems for sustainable use of ocean resources and protection and restoration of marine and coastal areas, as well as ocean science programs focused on integrating domestic and international capacities for ocean observation activities and coordinating water quality monitoring and ocean/coastal mapping networks.

Among the research priorities is an effort to fully define the outer limits of the United States’ continental shelf -- areas beyond 200 miles from the U.S. coastline that meet certain geological criteria.  Full definition of the outer limits of the continental shelf  is needed in order for the U.S. to protect its rights to an estimated $1.2 trillion of ocean resources in these areas.  In addition, sea floor mapping is seen as a crucial step to fully develop the OCS alternative energy exploration and regulatory program enacted in the Energy Act of 2005, which is in an early stage of rulemaking at the Minerals Management Service.  The Administration’s priorities also include renewed efforts to put in place the necessary regulatory structure and permitting process to encourage investment in offshore aquaculture.

On the international front, the White House announcement reiterates the Administration’s support for accession to the United Nations Convention on Law of the Sea and highlights the United States’ efforts to negotiate a UN resolution to end destructive fishing practices on the high seas.  Among the new spending priorities are Gulf of Mexico and Great Lakes international and regional cooperative partnerships working to improve water quality and to protect and restore coastal and marine habitats.

The White House’s announcement includes a 100-page report detailing critical ocean and coastal research programs and needs, notably including the ability to predict severe ocean weather events and the effect of global climate change on ocean and coastal resources. In addition, a 50-page report provides an update on the Administration’s implementation of the 2004 OAP.  For more information, please contact Karen Hansen (khansen@bdlaw.com, 202-789-6056) or Russ LaMotte (rlamotte@bdlaw.com, 202-789-6080).