Several mostly good public lands conservation bills have been introduced in the 115th Congress (2017–18) but languish in committee, unable to get a vote on the floor of the House or the Senate.Read More
Marine National Monuments
For economic, environmental, and societal reasons equally applicable to today’s and future generations, the United States should eschew any new offshore oil and gas exploitation and continue its progress toward a fossil fuel–free sustainable energy economy a decade or two earlier than it otherwise would.Read More
The Trump administration is proposing to open up vast areas of the United States Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to leasing for oil and gas, far larger than the area made available under the Obama administration.Read More
Abstaining from mineral development offshore is the only way to protect the marine environment and the renewable resources that depend upon it.Read More
The originations of 25 of our 59 national parks, totaling 39.6 million acres, were first seeded by the establishment of a presidentially proclaimed national monument. Fourteen of these monumental 25 were established from more than one national monument proclamation, in that were expanded by later presidents.Read More
Marine protected areas (MPAs) in the United States exist to preserve our nation’s marine resources for this and future generations. About 26 percent of US marine waters are protected in some kind of MPA, defined ... as “any area of the marine environment that has been reserved by federal, state, territorial, tribal, or local laws or regulations to provide lasting protection for part or all of the natural and cultural resources therein.” A few MPAs known as marine reserves or no-take MPAs (amounting to about 3 percent of US waters) do not allow hunting, fishing, or collecting. The purpose of these no-take MPAs, which include marine national monuments, is to sustain fisheries and allow ecosystems to recover from environmental stressors.Read More
National Marine Sanctuaries have been established to protect shipwrecks, whales, coral reefs, and other things marinely spectacular. “Sanctuary” is generally a misnomer, though, in that NMSs are not true sanctuaries from all extractive uses. Most NMSs were established by the secretary of commerce in the process mandated in the NMSA. Surviving this process means that most NMSs come out the other end of the bureaucratic meat grinder as compromised. While oil and gas exploitation is generally banned (sometimes NOAA doesn’t do so, but Congress always steps in and does so ban), other extractive uses are often not.Read More
Public comments are being taken on the regulations.gov website until May 26, 2017, for Bears Ears National Monument and until July 10, 2017, for all the other national moments on the Trump hit list. Register your opinion by clicking the “Comment Now!” button. You have my permission to be frank, blunt, terse, profane, and/or eloquent.Read More
President Trump signed an executive order on April 26, 2017, that directs Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke to review sixty-two of the last three presidents’ national monument proclamations, dating back to 1996. The review will result in a final report in four months that “shall include recommendations, Presidential actions, legislative proposals, or other actions consistent with law.”
The administration is interested in either totally abolishing, reducing in size, and/or weakening the protections for national monuments. Those prerogatives belong to Congress. If Trump tries, he’ll get a multitude of tweets saying, “See you in court!”Read More
There is no question that an Act of Congress can eliminate, shrink, or weaken a national monument proclaimed by a president pursuant to authority granted by Congress. What Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away. The property clause of the U.S. Constitution (Article 4, Section 3, Clause 2) ensures that. Yet in fifty-five Congresses over the past 110 years, Congress has rarely acted to eliminate, reduce, or weaken a national monument proclamation by a president.Read More
With President-elect Trump having won the Electoral College and the Republicans being in the majority of both houses of the coming 115th (2017-2018) Congress, the public lands conservation community is going to be on defense like never before.
It was either the Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) or the Manassa Mauler, William Harrison "Jack" Dempsey (1895–1983) who famously said that the best defense is a good offense. The conservation community needs to be for good things while we are opposing bad things.
Though we’ve burned through one-sixth of the current century, Congress has yet to enact any sweeping and bold public lands conservation legislation in the new millennium. There’s still time though, and a crying need.
You may be questioning my grip on reality at this moment, given the recent election. While I am quite cognizant of the dark times that await us, I’m equally aware that it often takes several Congresses (two-year terms) to enact sweeping and bold legislation into law....
There is no time like the present to begin to change political reality.
On August 25, 2016, President Obama proclaimed an expansion of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by 375,278,034 acres, making it the largest marine reserve in the world at 493,759,275 acres (~1.3-million nautical miles). (The name is pronounced Pa-pa-hah-now-mo-koo-ah-keh-ah and derives from an ancient Hawaiian creation story.)
Until relatively recently, no president had applied the Antiquities Act of 1906 to any large amount of salt water. A few national monuments include seawater associated with islands and adjacent lands, but no national monument had been proclaimed that included a lot of ocean.
The opportunity for U.S. seascape-scale conservation exists thanks to the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which came into force in 1994. Though the United States has yet to sign it, our country nonetheless views the treaty as settled international law, which recognizes a United States Exclusive Economic Zone (USEEZ) that extends up to 200 nautical (230.2 statute) miles (nm) off the 13,000-mile coastline of the United States.Read More