Throughout the presidential campaign America's environment and climate crisis have gone un-noted and ignored, as has our largest wilderness frontier that is also a major driver of our economy, our public seas. America's ocean waters that provide recreation, transportation, trade, energy, protein and security got mentioned only in the context of offshore oil drilling and the Navy's fleet size.
However, 60 Ocean Leaders in conservation, exploration, science and business including four members of the Cousteau family have called on President Obama and Governor Romney to explain what they plan to do if elected or re-elected to protect the Blue in our red, white and blue. For the content of that letter please go here.
The letter's signatories got a response from the Obama campaign in mid-September but by late October had not received an expected response from the Romney campaign. However several of the Governor's positions can be ascertained based on his public record.
The statement from President Obama's Campaign reads:
"President Obama is committed to ensuring that our nation's vast natural resources are used responsibly, and that we maintain healthy oceans and coasts. By establishing a National Ocean Policy, he made it a priority of the federal government to ensure a proactive approach to improving the conservation of the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.
"President Obama is directing additional funding to Gulf Coast restoration to further bring back the fisheries and coastal ecosystems which are still recovering in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon spill. He kicked off the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the largest investment in the Great Lakes in two decades, which is targeting ecological problems such as invasive species, toxic hot spots, and pollution runoff. And his administration is cleaning up the Chesapeake Bay, establishing a "pollution diet" for the Bay that will help restore the natural habitat for fish and other wildlife. They have also invested over $1.4 billion in Everglades' restoration, helping restore tens of thousands of acres which will serve as a sanctuary for native Florida plants and wildlife. And under President Obama, we have created or enhanced more than 540 public coastal recreation areas, protected more than 54,000 acres of coastlines and restored over 5,200 acres of coastal habitat. The administration is also investing more in monitoring our fishing stock in coastal areas in order to have the most accurate data possible on the health of our fisheries. These are significant steps that are helping us improve the health of our oceans and build more robust fisheries."
Governor Romney has also spoken about his approach to America's ocean waters first as Governor of Massachusetts and more recently as candidate for President.
As Governor of Massachusetts Mitt Romney pioneered legislation making it the first state in the nation to put in place a comprehensive statewide planning process to assess new projects proposed for state ocean waters. He noted the critical need to safeguard the state's coastal waters from unregulated new uses, noting significant gaps in state and federal authority to permit offshore uses and lease open space. "The only way to protect our beautiful ocean environment is with comprehensive ocean zoning reform," he said. He created an ocean management task force in 2003 comprised of a broad range of stakeholders, including environmental groups, regulators and the fishing industry.
In the 2012 Presidential campaign Mitt Romney has called for more state input and control over oil & gas energy leasing in federal outer continental shelf (OCS) waters. He has pledged to "establish the most robust five-year offshore lease plan in history, that opens new areas for resource development -- including off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas -- and sets minimum production targets to increase accountability."
You can tweet President Obama to thank him for what he's done and remind him of his commitment to implement a national ocean policy based on the Massachusetts model in his second term.
Or you can tweet Mitt Romney and ask him if he is still committed to ocean protection as he was as governor of Massachusetts or, if elected, will he only look to the oceans as a source of oil and gas?