Having the right people in leadership is critical, and few things make that point better than a comparison of the Natural Resources Committee under Chairman Nick Rahall (D-WV) versus what it was under former chair Richard Pombo. Whereas Pombo did everything he could to strip the earth bare with no concern for the future, Mr. Rahall emphasizes ecosystem and worker safety while ensuring that short-term decisions are made with long-term sustainability in mind. His Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources 'CLEAR' Act (H.R. 3534) is a great example.
The CLEAR Act improves the way we manage and protect our oceans, by setting up regional planning groups and charging them to use the best available science along with coastal and marine spatial planning to ensure the protection and maintenance of marine ecosystem health. It establishes the nation's first ocean conservation fund, which has the potential to direct hundreds of millions annually for ocean conservation projects.
One can only imagine what a CLEAR Act would have looked like with Richard Pombo as its author…
Mr. Rahall's interests in ocean conservation go beyond the milestone provisions of the CLEAR Act. As he states in his Committee's Agenda for the 111th Congress,
"Healthy oceans are key not only to our survival but also to our quality of life; without healthy oceans we are ecologically and economically diminished."
In keeping with this sentiment, Chairman Rahall's Committee has blocked several attempts to weaken the Magnuson-Stevens Act (regulating U.S. fisheries), and instead, strengthened it by introducing a bill to close a loophole currently allowing the brutal practice of shark finning to occur in U.S. waters. This bill (H.R. 81) passed the House and is ready for Floor action in the Senate. They also worked smoothly with the Science and Technology Committee to move the Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control bill, which passed earlier this year.
Congressman Rahall has leveraged his leadership of the Natural Resources Committee to improve the health of our oceans, and we are proud to endorse him for re-election in 2010.
For the oceans,
The Ocean Champions Team
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