President Donald Trump has thrown out a policy devised by his predecessor for protecting U.S. oceans and the Great Lakes, replacing it with a new approach that emphasizes use of the waters to promote economic growth.
Trump revoked an executive order issued by President Barack Obama in 2010 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Obama said the spill — which killed 11 workers and spewed millions of gallons of crude — underscored the vulnerability of marine environments. He established a council to promote conservation and sustainable use of the waters.
In his order this week, Trump said he was “rolling back excessive bureaucracy created by the previous administration,” saying the Obama council included 27 departments and agencies and over 20 committees, subcommittees and working groups.
Environmental protection downplayed
The president said he was creating a smaller Ocean Policy Committee while eliminating “duplicative'' regional planning bodies created under Obama.
Trump’s order downplays environmental protection, saying it would ensure that regulations and management decisions don’t get in the way of responsible use by industries that “employ millions of Americans, advance ocean science and technology, feed the American people, transport American goods, expand recreational opportunities and enhance America’s energy security.”
The order drew praise from a group representing offshore energy producers and criticism from environmentalists.
“In another attempt to reverse progress made under President Obama, the Trump administration is recklessly tossing aside responsible ocean management and stewardship,” said Arian Rubio of the League of Conservation Voters.
Grijalva demands hearing
Jack Belcher of the pro-industry National Ocean Policy Coalition said the new approach would remove “a significant cloud of uncertainty” for marine industries.
U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop, a Republican and chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, said Trump’s approach would “help the health of our oceans and ensure local communities impacted by ocean policy have a seat at the table.”
But Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva, an Arizona Democrat and ranking member of the committee, demanded a hearing and accused Trump of “unilaterally throwing out” years of conservation work.