Zoning the ocean
President Barack Obama has an ambitious plan for Washington bureaucrats to take command of the oceans—and with it control over much of the nation’s energy, fisheries, even recreation in a move described by lawmakers as the ultimate power grab to zone the seas.
The massive undertaking also includes control over key inland waterways and rivers that reach hundreds of miles upstream, and began with little fanfare when Obama signed an executive order in 2010 to protect the aquatic environment.
“This one to me could be the sleeping power grab that Americans will wake up to one day and wonder what the heck hit them,” said Rep. Bill Flores (R –Texas).
“This is pure administrative fiat,” said Sen. David Vitter (R –La.). “It’s very troubling.”
“This is purely a unilateral administrative action with no real congressional input or oversight,” Vitter said. “I think it clearly threatens to have a big impact on a lot of industry, starting with energy, oil and gas, and fishing.”
But in his zeal to curb sea sprawl, lawmakers say the president’s executive order also gives Washington officialdom unprecedented reach to control land use as well. >>>
The ocean policy has been a sleeper issue with very little media coverage, but now that it is starting to affect industries such as gas and oil production, lawmakers say congressional hearings are needed to take a broader look at its impact and consider public input from all of the stakeholders, not just environmentalists.
“This has largely been completely under the radar,” Vitter said. “And that is exactly the way the administration and their environmental allies want to do it—announce the administrative fiat is complete and that we have this new way of life that nobody knew was coming.”
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Obama’s Ocean Policy Initiative: Washington’s latest power grab
State and local officials, hoping to have some input on zoning decisions affecting their jurisdictions, will soon find that the deck has been stacked against them. To cite but one glaring example: both the Commerce Department and NOAA are represented on the National Ocean Council. But NOAA is a division of the Commerce Department. So the feds get two votes for the price of one.
What the administration in effect is putting in place is an alternative power structure that circumvents existing state and local decision making bodies and replaces them with made-in-Washington zoning. All of this is taking place without the consent of Congress, without the consent of the governors, and, most important of all, without the consent of the governed.