Environmental Protection Done Right
Environmental Protection Done Right
There are both right and wrong methods to protect the natural environment. And the Obama administration has demonstrated recently how to do it in the correct way. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently announced plans to expand two marine sanctuaries in the nation's marine reserves on the northwestern California Coast. If approved, the proposed expansion along with existing sanctuaries would jointly protect more than 33% of the state's offshore waters from drilling for oil seabed mining, as well as ocean dumps. Rep. Lynn Woolsey, D-Calif. She resigned from Congress this year, aptly said "This area is a national treasure." (1) She as well as Sen. Barbara Boxer, a co-sponsor of California Democrat was adamant for all of the last eight years seeking approval from Congress for its expansion of protection. The Obama administration is handling the issue well in various ways. It's first focussing on an area that is worthy of protection. The stretch of coastline that is in question is breathtaking and extraordinarily productive. It alternates sandy inlets with timber-backed rocky cliffs, stormy in winter , and encased in cool fog throughout the season. The sea is awash with life: fish, sea birds and marine mammals alike. Conservationists have focused their attention on bans on oil drilling along beaches, the reality is that there's probably not enough oil to be found and whatever there is can be replaced with oil that is from more tolerant regions. In the endless debates over oil exploration, we tend to forget that by developing the resource in less critical places, we can afford to protect the places disk skimmer that are the most crucial. Development onshore is more secure than offshore. Hydraulic fractures allow for much greater production from onshore sources, and every barrel that it produces in regions such as those in the New Mexico desert or the North Dakota plains is a barrel we don't need to extract from offshore sources, regardless of whether it's in the Gulf of Mexico or along the California shoreline. Conservation, done correctly, concentrates first on the places we're most likely to want to preserve. In this case the administration has clearly picked one of these places. In addition, Obama did not opt to expand the marine sanctuary areas by executive order, despite a request from the Californian congressional delegation to encourage the president to make such a move. Although such an expansion falls legal for the president but it would have led to a reflexive backlash. The Los Angeles Times reported that congressional Republicans have been warning the Obama administration against exercising its powers in this way. Instead of this, NOAA will use the standard procedure outlined by the National Marine Sanctuaries Act. The process will include public hearings which will start this month; it takes around two years to complete. Although it isn't the fastest, the process will give any person who has an objection an opportunity to speak about it. Most likely, any objections are likely to be minor and insignificant. A congressional approval is not needed. Meanwhile, no one will ever mine or drill into the seabed to the issue anyway, so coastline advocates won't suffer in those respects regardless of the length of time. When the sanctuaries are approved in the near future, which is almost sure to be, the most significant and first practical impact will be in the mundane arena of pollution control. Ships will have to strictly control their pollutants and waste while they travel through the region. Nobody will object to that. If the time does come when the nation believes there is no better spot to mine or drill for resources than this gorgeous stretch of coast, Congress can always intervene to permit the action in whatever conditions it wants. Drilling for oil isn't likely to affect the wildlife of the region. However, the day of that debate whether it will ever occur even once, is way off. The government was smart enough not to create a needless conflict, particularly in relation to an area most believe should be protected - for the marine creatures which live there and for visitors from the land who often visit.  

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