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Obama's National Ocean Council Holds S.F. 'Listening Session'
by David Gurney
Wednesday Jul 6th, 2011 1:18 PM
Created by Obama in July of 2010, the new "National Ocean Council" includes 27 federal agencies and offices. According to Luke Nashbar of NOAA's External Affairs Dept- "It's an alphabet soup of federal agencies - the Navy, U.S.G.S., N.O.A.A., the Corps of Engineers, etc. - anyone with anything to do with the ocean."

Photo of panelists at Obama's National Ocean Council meeting in San Francisco on June 30 by David Gurney.

SEE: http://noyonews.net

Obama's National Ocean Council Holds S.F. 'Listening Session'

by David Gurney

On the heels of the Fish and Game Commission's approval of the "preferred alternative" for North Coast "marine protected areas" under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) "Initiative," came the first meeting of Obama's new "National Ocean Policy. This was a "Listening Session" for federal government reps to hear from the public about reactions to a "Strategic Action Plan" to deal with the many issues facing the oceans today.

The plan, as advertised, is to apply collaborative and comprehensive planning for tribal, local, state, and federal agencies to allocate coastal and marine resources under increasing pressure from a wide variety of human uses.

Competing and overlapping interests are lining up to have their slice of the ocean pie under Obama's ocean new policy. The pristine North Coast faces a wide variety of pressures, including national security/military interests (read:the Navy), oil drilling, wind and wave energy development, ocean mining, fish farming & aquaculture, shipping, commercial fishing, aquarium takes, traditional tribal take, and scientific research endeavors - all part of the new mix of activities directly relating to the marine environment and coastal communities.

Added to these overt pressures are the over-arching threats of rising sea temperatures, ocean acidification, toxic algae blooms, and large mid-ocean trash gyres in both the Atlantic and Pacific.

The symposium ostensibly attempted to address all of these issues.

Another power-point presentation, as speakers review their lines........

Created by Obama in July of 2010, the new "National Ocean Council" includes 27 federal agencies and offices. According to Luke Nashbar of NOAA's External Affairs Dept- "It's an alphabet soup of federal agencies - the Navy, U.S.G.S., N.O.A.A., the Corps of Engineers, etc. - anyone with anything to do with the ocean."

Also included in the alphabet soup is the Minerals Management Service, (M.M.S.) - the agency responsible for granting oil and gas drilling leases on federal lands and seas. So far, it's not known whether F.E.R.C. - the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Dick Cheney's pet agency, was also at this particular event.

FERC and the MMS were engaged in turf wars over who was going to regulate offshore wave energy permits off Mendocino and Humboldt Counties in 2007

As of June 30th, the MMS has undergone a facelift and name change, trying to fix the tarnished image of an agency corrupt beyond redemption.

The MMS is now called called the "Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement." (B.O.E.M.R.E.) If that's not enough of a mouthful for you, go ahead and ask one of the Department of the Interior's former M.M.S. employees to pronounce it - "It's "Boamer," said John Romero, of the former M.M.S.

For a while, the new M.M.S. was calling itself B.O.E. (Bureau of Ocean Energy) until folks in Washington realized that B.O.E. sounded a bit too much like an oil industry acronym. It's also short for an energy industry term: "Barrels of Oil Equivalent" relating to energy use.

President Obama is quoted as saying about corruption within the MMS, after the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill:

"Over the last decade, this agency (the M.M.S.) has become emblematic of a failed philosophy that views all regulation with hostility -- a philosophy that says corporations should be allowed to play by their own rules and police themselves. At this agency, industry insiders were put in charge of industry oversight. Oil companies showered regulators with gifts and favors, and were essentially allowed to conduct their own safety inspections and write their own regulations.

When Ken Salazar became my Secretary of the Interior, one of his very first acts was to clean up the worst of the corruption at this agency. But it's now clear that the problem there ran much deeper, and the pace of reform was just too slow. And so Secretary Salazar and I are bringing in new leadership at the agency -- Michael Bromwich, who was a tough federal prosecutor and inspector general. And his charge over the next few months is to build an organization that acts as the oil industry's watchdog -- not its partner."

Obama appointed Michael Bromwich, a former Federal Prosecutor and Inspector General, to clean up the rampant corruption at the MMS. Supposedly, with the name change -"BOEMRE"- will now serve as a regulator, instead of a promoter, of offshore oil drilling and energy development.

We'll see.