President Clinton to sign Oceans Act 2000

Aug 07, 2000 02:00 AM

The following was released by the White House:
In an event on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts, President Clinton will sign bipartisan legislation establishing a new high-level commission to recommend policies to promote the protection and sustainable use of America's oceans and coastal resources.
The Oceans Act of 2000 builds on the Administration's strong efforts to protect our nation's beaches and coasts, restore fisheries and marine mammals, strengthen coastal economies, and expand undersea exploration. The President also will call on Congress to fully fund his Lands Legacy budget for fiscal year 2001, which proposes record funding to protect our oceans and coasts.

Two years ago, President Clinton and Vice President Gore presided over the National Ocean Conference in Monterey, California, which brought together for the first time the full array of ocean interests -- from scientists and conservationists to representatives of government and industry. At the Conference, the President announced new steps to protect coral reefs and rebuild fisheries, and extended through 2012 the moratorium on offshore oil and gas leasing off most of America's coast.
This year, on Memorial Day weekend, the President signed an Executive Order to strengthen and expand the nation's network of marine protected areas -- the ocean equivalent of our national parks -- and directed the Commerce and Interior departments to develop a plan to permanently protect the rich coral reefs of the Northwest Hawaiian Islands. And in June, the President announced the launch of three undersea expeditions and directed the Commerce Secretary to develop a plan for a new era of ocean exploration.

At the Monterey Conference, the President committed to work with Congress to establish a new commission to help chart a 21st century strategy to restore and protect America's ocean resources. More than 30 years have passed since the Stratton Commission, the first such panel, issued recommendations that laid the foundation for federal oceans policy -- including the establishment of national marine sanctuaries, management of marine fisheries, and creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. But pressures on our oceans and coasts continue to mount.
Nearly half of all new development in the United States occurs along the coast. Rising demand for seafood is driving some species toward extinction. And polluted runoff causes toxic algae blooms, forces beach closures, and threatens marine life and human health.
The Oceans Act of 2000, whose chief sponsor was Senator Fritz Hollings of South Carolina, aims to meet these and other new challenges by developing broad-based recommendations to strengthen and co-ordinate federal ocean policy.

The Act to take effect by January 20, 2001:
-- Establishes a Commission on Ocean Policy with 16 members, including representatives of state and local government, academia, ocean-related industries, and the conservation and scientific communities. Members will be appointed by the President, with 12 members drawn from nominees submitted by Congress.
-- Directs the Commission to examine federal ocean policy, and environmental and economic trends affecting oceans and coasts, and within 18 months of its appointment submit recommendations to Congress and the President.
-- Directs the Commission to recommend ways to promote responsible stewardship of fisheries and other marine resources; protection of the marine environment; enhancement of marine-related commerce and transportation; expansion of human knowledge of the marine environment; cooperation among federal, state and local governments, and with the private sector; protection of life and property; and preservation of America's international leadership on ocean issues. * Directs the Commission to hold public hearings (including at least one in the Northeast, the Southeast, the Southwest, the Northwest, the Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska), release a draft report for public review, and consult with the Governors of coastal states.
-- Calls on the President, within 120 days of receiving the Commission's report, to submit proposals to Congress for the responsible use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources; and, beginning in September, 2001, to report biennially to Congress on federal ocean programs and projected funding over the coming five years.

President Clinton has secured significant new funding to rebuild marine fisheries and a four-fold increase in funding to manage and protect our national marine sanctuaries.
Through his Lands Legacy initiative, he is proposing a record $ 429 mm in fiscal year 2001, a 159 % increase, for ocean and coastal protection. This includes $ 100 mm for a new program to help coastal states address the environmental impacts of existing offshore oil and gas development; $ 159 mm to states for other programs to protect, restore, and revitalise coastal areas; $ 100 mm to help states and tribes restore Pacific Northwest salmon; $ 35 mm to protect and expand marine sanctuaries; and $ 15 mm to protect and rebuild coral reefs.
However, budget bills approved by the House and Senate fall far short of the President's request. The President calls on Congress to fully fund these programs and his entire Lands Legacy initiative.

Source: NewsEdge Corporation via Newspage
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