Article

Ocean zoning

Well, it took nearly seven years, but the federal government is finally poised to implement a comprehensive ocean management plan. When the developers of Cape Wind staked a claim in the middle of Nantucket Sound, it became painfully obvious that the nation lacked an effective marine regulatory process that included local and regional stakeholders.

Well, it took nearly seven years, but the federal government is finally poised to implement a comprehensive ocean management plan.

When the developers of Cape Wind staked a claim in the middle of Nantucket Sound, it became painfully obvious that the nation lacked an effective marine regulatory process that included local and regional stakeholders.

As far back as February 2003, we urged the federal government to establish a zoning plan for the ocean, much like towns zone public and private land for residential, commercial and industrial uses.

"The first step in this process should be the identification of appropriate offshore areas for commercial development and the protection of other areas," we wrote in 2003. "State and federal governments should immediately zone coastal and ocean tracts for the offshore wind industry. Just as a power plant would be inappropriate on the Cape Cod National Seashore, a wind farm is inappropriate on Nantucket Sound."

Today, several months after President Obama formed an ocean task force made up of two dozen top-level administration officials, the nation is on the cusp of implementing a national ocean policy that includes a framework for... more [truncated due to possible copyright]  

Well, it took nearly seven years, but the federal government is finally poised to implement a comprehensive ocean management plan.

When the developers of Cape Wind staked a claim in the middle of Nantucket Sound, it became painfully obvious that the nation lacked an effective marine regulatory process that included local and regional stakeholders.

As far back as February 2003, we urged the federal government to establish a zoning plan for the ocean, much like towns zone public and private land for residential, commercial and industrial uses.

"The first step in this process should be the identification of appropriate offshore areas for commercial development and the protection of other areas," we wrote in 2003. "State and federal governments should immediately zone coastal and ocean tracts for the offshore wind industry. Just as a power plant would be inappropriate on the Cape Cod National Seashore, a wind farm is inappropriate on Nantucket Sound."

Today, several months after President Obama formed an ocean task force made up of two dozen top-level administration officials, the nation is on the cusp of implementing a national ocean policy that includes a framework for marine planning.

"The framework is intended to guide our ocean plans and allow for a bottom-up approach," said Nancy Sutley, chairwoman of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Bottom-up are the key words. In the Cape Wind fiasco, locals had no control over the siting of the industrial plant.

Sarah Chasis, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Obama's plan represents a landmark environmental initiative.

"Like a Clean Air Act or a Clean Water Act - bedrock environmental laws that radically improved the way we protect and manage these resources - President Obama is in the process of creating a landmark national healthy oceans policy and plan of action for our seas," she said.

Unfortunately, the plan comes too late for Cape Cod and the Islands as such projects as Cape Wind are grandfathered.

Nevertheless, Chasis says the plan "lays out a vision and recommends the adoption of a national policy that highlights the need to protect, maintain and restore ocean, coasts and Great Lakes ecosystems - something this country has never had."

For example, the plan proposes a high-level National Ocean Council co-chaired by the president's Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. It also calls on the new council to develop strategic action plans (within 6 to 12 months) to address priority issues, such as regional ecosystem protection.

"Right now, our oceans, coasts and Great Lakes are governed by more than 140 laws and 20 different agencies, each with different goals and often conflicting mandates," Chasis said. "We cannot continue to let chaos manage the way we rule our seas - this policy will help restore order."

Chaos has ruled the Cape Wind process and the nation has suffered. Because there was no federal ocean management plan in place, the government was forced to set up an ad-hoc review process for Cape Wind that has poorly served the developer and those most affected by the project.

"Developing this policy is especially critical now as our country moves forward in developing the clean, renewable energy off our coasts for the 21st century," Chasis said. "A policy like this can help the government make sure it's protecting ocean resources while moving forward with such development, making sure it's done right from the start."


Source: http://www.capecodonline.co...

DEC 22 2009
https://www.windaction.org/posts/23740-ocean-zoning
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