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Dear Friend,

Ocean Champions plays a positive role in getting pro-ocean candidates elected to Congress. 2014 was a banner year. There are now 68 ocean champions in the House and Senate.

It is not just getting elected to Congress that matters, it is being in the right places in Congress that makes these champions so important to introducing and passing good ocean legislation.

Congressional committees have great power in determining which bills get considered and moved forward. By design, many of our ocean champions hold leadership seats on the key committees that affect our oceans.

For example, the House and Senate Appropriations Committees are two of the most powerful. Their members have jurisdiction over discretionary spending, which means they control the purse strings. Ocean champions hold more than 30% of the seats on the Senate Appropriations Committee, including, Senator Brian Schatz, from Hawaii, newly appointed to the full committee.

On the Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmospheric, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, which has jurisdiction over our oceans, coast and climate, including coastal zone management, marine fisheries and mammals, ocean policy, and NOAA, Senator Schatz will be joining long-time ocean champion Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, who is now serving as Ranking (most senior) Democrat on the full committee.

On the House side, Congressman Raul Grijalva, from Arizona, is the Ranking Member for the Committee of Natural Resources. Ocean champion Grijalva will oversee legislation about energy production and mining public lands, managing fisheries, wildlife, and oceans, and will be a leader in helping to blunt the expected onslaught of anti-environmental attacks expected to be directed against the EPA, ESA, NEPA, the MMPA and other important environmental regulations.

Congressman Jared Huffman is the Ranking Member for the newly created Natural Resources Subcommittee, Water, Power, and Oceans. This committee will oversee matters concerning America’s water resources, including fisheries management, seafood safety, protecting coastal and marine environments including marine sanctuaries, and supporting oceanographic endeavors.

As this Congress begins in two-years of legislative activity, all of us who care about and fight for our oceans can take some measure of comfort in the fact that across Congress, ensconced in key committees, and serving in important leadership slots, a robust slate of ocean champions stand ready to fight for good ocean and environmental legislation, and fight against bad ocean and environmental legislation.

For the oceans,

David Wilmot, Ph.D.
President and Co-Founder

P.S. Just as it is important who is in Congress, it is also important who isn't.  Defeating Ocean Enemy #1 Steve Southerland in November kept him from chairing the Oceans Subcommittee in the House.


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