National Ocean Policy Executive Order

The Environmental & Energy Law Program is tracking the environmental regulatory rollbacks of the Trump administration. Click here for the list of rules we are following.

Why It Matters

The world’s oceans sustain billions of people across the globe and are home to innumerous marine species. Healthy ocean and coastal ecosystems naturally mitigate the effects of climate change and protect communities from storms and dangerous flooding, while supporting fisheries-related industry. Yet for decades, human activity and pollution has significantly deteriorated the health of ocean and coastal areas. Following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, President Obama established the first-ever National Ocean Policy, which provided a comprehensive plan to protect and improve the ecological health and economic value of the ocean, coastal areas, and the Great Lakes. Weakening these safeguards threatens the ocean as well as the nearly 40% of Americans who live in coastal communities.

Current Status

On June 19, 2018, President Trump issued Executive Order 13840, Ocean Policy to Advance the Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States. This revokes the 2010 executive order that emphasized environmental stewardship and created the National Ocean Policy. Trump’s executive order redirects Federal ocean policy towards a focus on economic growth and national security, rather than preserving the ecological health of the ocean. The order establishes an Ocean Policy Committee and dissolves the Ocean Policy Council as well as the nine federally-supported regional ocean planning bodies established under Obama’s executive order. However, implementing guidance allows agencies to continue carrying out regional marine management plans and supporting current data portals. Executive Order 13840 also includes language supporting data collection and access as well as the use of science in decision-making. It does not decidedly state whether the Trump Administration will continue to strongly support the ongoing data sharing or how the collected data will be used.

The newly-formed Ocean Policy Committee was scheduled to meet on August 1, 2018.

Executive Order 13840 follows a series of other actions by the Trump Administration that remove important protections for US coastal waters’ ecological health and economic productivity, including weakening the rules for offshore oil and gas leasing and drilling and considering opening marine monuments to commercial fishing.

Click here learn more about the history of this rule and actions that have been taken on it by the Trump Administration.

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