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Obama Administration Refuses to Allow Public More Time to Weigh-in on President Obama’s Plan to Zone the Oceans

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 28, 2012 - House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (WA-04) today received notice from the Obama Administration that they will not agree to his request for a 90-day extension of the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation plan.

“President Obama issued an Executive Order imposing a new bureaucracy to zone the oceans that threatens to deter new economic investment, suppress job creation, restrict even recreational fishing, block energy development, and stretch far from the shore to affect farmers and inland communities. Given the high economic stakes, the vast amounts of new red-tape set to be unrolled, and the fact that some 15 agencies spent over two years devising this scheme, it’s unreasonable that the Obama Administration won’t allow the American people more than just 75 days to review and comment on it. This refusal to allow a thorough and open review of the plan to carry-out the President’s Executive Order is another example of the Obama Administration prioritizing their job-destroying agenda over the livelihoods of Americans from coast to coast,” said Chairman Hastings.

Despite several hearings and additional requests for more information, the Administration continues to refuse to tell Congress what programs they are cutting to provide the money to fund this new bureaucracy. The Administration has also failed to comply with requests for information regarding funding and staffing to implement the National Ocean Policy and a copy of any budget planning memoranda, drafts, and other guidance related to the development or implementation of the National Ocean Policy that was provided to federal agencies or departments for developing their FY 2013 and FY 2014 budget proposals.

In the hopes that more time might allow the Administration to provide budget information as well as provide more time for affected stakeholder groups to comment on the overall plan, Chairman Hastings first requested a 90-day extension in a letter sent to the co-chairs of President Obama’s National Ocean Council on February 23, 2012. This request was refused and only an additional 30 days were provided. A follow-up letter was sent on March 20, 2012 to once again request that the public comment period on the draft National Ocean Policy Implementation Plan be extended for a full 90 days.

The deadline for this information was March 26, 2012.

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