It wouldn't have prevented the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, but a new national ocean policy, announced today by the White House, was welcomed by environmentalists. The policy is intended to promote oceans and great lakes that are "healthy and resilient, safe and productive."
The policy reflects a "modern outlook that doesn't mistake the oceans for wilderness, but a work zone where we need zoning," comments Chris Mann of the Pew Environment Group, who hopes the policy will increase the focus on environmental stewardship.
Former President George W. Bush created a national Committee on Ocean Policy in 2004 to improve federal coordination on the seas, but this effort largely fizzled. Mann hopes that Obama's effort will encourage agencies to take the mission more seriously.
The order creates a National Ocean Commission—co-chaired by the White House Council on Environmental Quality and the Office of Science and Technology Policy—that would try to improve coordination and planning among federal agencies and state and local governments for the many uses of the coastal zone.
"It would be naive to think a policy like this could stop oil spills," Mann says, but perhaps the better coordination and sharing of information will help make drilling safer.