Sunday, July 06, 2014

Lagest Marine Preserve on Earth

You no doubt heard about the proposed vast expansion of the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument that President Obama announced in 2014. It would enlarge the original area created in 2009 by George W. Bush from 87,000 sq miles to 782,000 square miles of federal waters.

This would ban fishing, energy exploration and other destructive activities in this vast area of one of the most rich and sensitive marine ecosystems.

Good idea?

Of course!

Politically complicated?

Very much so.

The Washington Post reports, "Obama announced .... he intended to expand federal protections around seven islands and atolls in the central Pacific Ocean, many environmentalists hailed the move as an important step for conservation. But the main group overseeing fishing operators in Hawaii and three U.S. territories in the region declared Monday it opposes the proposal, on the grounds that it would hurt the U.S. fishing industry."

Congress has already begun making noise about prohibiting Obama from executing this idea. Obama is using the 1906 Antiquities Act which has been used by Democratic and republican Presidents to create  national "monuments" such as this.

The fundamental problem is that commercial interests are almost always on the opposite side of issues from environmentalists and conservationists. And, the former is usually a Republican issue while Democrats tend to be more supportive of environmentalism.

That was not always the case since Teddy Roosevelt was THE most aggressive in building national parks (even while he was also a passionate hunter). President Bush was also able to make a case for the original establishment of the Pacific Island Monument since he had the backing of both Democrats and also Republicans in Congress.

That has radically changed with the rise of the Tea Party movement in the Republican party and the "Liberty Movement" which is a Libertarian/Republican wing of the party and believes in less government regulation.

White House Council on Environmental Quality spokeswoman Keri Fulton was quoted as saying "...the Administration will seek out the input of commercial and recreational fishermen, scientists, conservation experts, elected officials, and other stakeholders."

Stay tuned. 

1 comment:

Professor Steffen Schmidt and S. Paul Schmidt said...

Please share your analysis here.