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Ocean Champions: Political Champions for Ocean Conservation

Dear Friend,

To paraphrase rapper and fashion icon Diddy, "It's all about the Benjamins" (that are used to fund ocean conservation)! 

Specifically, as we build political power for the oceans, Ocean Champions looks for candidates in positions of influence.  This includes key committee and subcommittee chairmen and chairwomen, rising stars and, of course, powerful appropriators.  The bottom line is that merely passing good ocean bills is not enough.  They must also be funded at levels that allow them to succeed.  This last, critical step only happens if there are strong ocean advocates on the Appropriations Committee.

Thus, we are proud to announce our endorsement of Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) for reelection.  Both Senators are senior appropriators, and both serve on the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee (Senator Mikulski is the Chairwoman) that controls NOAA's budget.  Fortunately, both Senators have a strong personal connection to oceans and estuaries; Senator Leahy is an avid diver, while Senator Mikulski grew up around the Chesapeake Bay, and knows how important it is to her state's identity.  They've each tapped their connection to consistently support good ocean conservation projects.

Senator Leahy has led the support for funding the Coral Triangle Initiative, which preserves coastal, littoral and reef resources in a sensitive habitat that is rich in biodiversity.  He has also worked to address marine invasive species and received a perfect score from the League of Conservation Voters (LCV) the past two years.  Senator Leahy has also been a true champion for Lake Champlain, directing $80 million to clean up and protect the "sixth Great Lake." 

Senator Mikulski is a longtime supporter of the Chesapeake Bay Program, which works across jurisdictions to reduce bay pollution and restore water quality.  The Senator has also worked to reduce runoff into the bay by funding wastewater infrastructure projects.  The Maryland LCV recognized her dedication in 2009, presenting Senator Mikulski with its prestigious John V. Kabler award for "outstanding environmental leadership and commitment."

Both Senators have taken a leadership role in responding to the BP Gulf Oil Spill.  Senator Leahy said the spill calls for a comprehensive energy strategy driven by renewable energy.  He has urged the Obama administration to greatly expand the amount of information agencies are releasing about the spill, and recently signed onto a letter seeking to block Transocean from issuing $1 billion in dividends to its shareholders at a time when they need to cover their liabilities in the Gulf.  Senator Mikulski has asked NOAA to assess the likelihood that the spill will reach the Mid Atlantic and the Chesapeake so that appropriate mitigation steps can be taken.  She also signed onto a letter opposing Virginia's offshore drilling plans.

Both Senators are outstanding representatives for their states, and the best candidates to continue serving Vermont and Maryland.  As ocean advocates in key appropriations positions, they are also the best candidates for ocean voters.

For the oceans,

The Ocean Champions Team

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