Written by Jen Finn
Replacing virtually all fisheries disaster relief for Massachusetts and seven other states in the Senate's Hurricane Sandy supplemental spending bill, Republican House Rules Committee amendments feature $261 million for two highly controversial programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration unaffected by the superstorm.
One line item in the two amendment package calls for spending $150 million for "Regional Ocean Partnership grants," which fund non-government organization involvement in the National Ocean Policy's "marine spacial planning" initiative.
The other item authorizes spending $111 million on a "weather satellite data mitigation gap reserve fund."
The National Ocean Policy and marine spatial planning efforts — described by critics as "ocean zoning" — were created in 2010 by an executive order signed by President Obama; the policy has been bitterly criticized as executive overreach by Rep. Doc Hastings, the Republican chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, which has held a series of hearings on the policy.
The hearings emphasized that Congress repeatedly rejected legislation to apply marine spatial planning before it was initiated unilaterally by the White House.
The weather satellite program is troubled by the likelihood that existing satellites will reach the end of their productive lives before NOAA is able to replace them, and has been the subject of auditing criticism by the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of Commerce.
Read the full story at the Gloucester Daily Times>>
The Southeast Alaska Fishermen’s Alliance recently announced that the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation has awarded the organization a Hollings Grant to reduce whale entanglements in Alaska salmon fisheries by increasing the use of acoustic whale pingers to minimize entanglements in fishing gear.
Last week, Alaska senators Lisa Murkowski (R), Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R) asked Secretary of State John Kerry to negotiate with Canadian leaders to make sure appropriate environmental safeguards are in place for mine development in Southeast Alaska.
The congressional delegation explained the importance of this issue to Alaskans and the need for assurances that the water quality in transboundary waters between Alaska and Canada will be maintained.Read more...