Trump Focuses on Economic Growth, Rolls Back Obama-Era Ocean Policies

June 20, 2018 Updated: June 20, 2018

On June 19, President Donald Trump issued an executive order that formally overhauls America’s ocean policies by putting the focus on the economic growth of coastal communities and ocean industries.

The order replaces a 2010 Obama-era ocean management policy that had created the “overly bureaucratic” National Ocean Council and nine regional planning bodies, the White House said. The previous council included 27 departments and agencies, and more than 20 committees, subcommittees, and working groups.

“NOIA [The National Ocean Industries Association] welcomes today’s Executive Order addressing policy for the nation’s oceans, particularly as it addresses the previous administration’s National Ocean Policy and its Marine Spatial Planning initiative, which caused consternation, uncertainty, and concern for the offshore energy industry and other ocean stakeholders,” NOIA President Randall Luthi said in a statement.

The Trump administration will also create a new Ocean Policy Committee that it says will “streamline federal coordination.” The committee will be co-chaired by the Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

“From sea to shining sea, Americans benefit from the ocean’s bounty—from the industries it supports and the jobs it creates,” Trump said in a statement.

The ocean economy is a sizeable sector. In 2015 alone, it contributed $320 billion to U.S. gross domestic product and supported 3.2 million jobs, according to the White House.

The president said the order “recognizes and supports” federal participation in regional ocean partnerships “to the extent appropriate and consistent with national security interests and statutory authorities.”

Ocean industries in the United States employ millions of workers that contribute to the American economy. The executive mentions national defense and domestic energy production as priorities.

“Domestic energy production from Federal waters strengthens the Nation’s security and reduces reliance on imported energy,” the order reads. “Our Armed Forces protect our national interests in the ocean and along the Nation’s coasts. Goods and materials that support our economy and quality of life flow through maritime commerce.”


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