Celebrating Policy Action

The Center for the Blue Economy does not directly advocate for policy positions, but provides research and analysis to empower decision makers.  We celebrate policy decisions where our contribution was one of many factors in these important outcomes.  Collaboration, community activism, and many individuals and organizations working tirelessly help to advance these exciting developments in environmental protection. 

The Center for the Blue Economy's Congressional District Reports Lend to Two Funding Victories: 
US Ocean Satellite Accounts and Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring

sun-over-seaJune, 2016:  The U.S. Space, Science and Technology Committee voted in June to allocate 1.5 million to NOAA’s National Ocean Service to develop a plan for Ocean Satellite Accounts (a new allocation), and 10.5 million was given towards NOAAs research and planning regarding Ocean Acidification (flat funding from the prior year).  For the first time ever, official language added to report that NOAA is encouraged to continue projects on the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM).  This decision was due in no small part to the tireless efforts of Congressman Sam Farr and his timely request that the Center for the Blue Economy create a one-page report for each member of the influential committee, demonstrating how the ocean contributes to their district's economy and employment.  Even those in the heartland could see that they have skin in the game. “The strength of our economy is directly tied to the health of our oceans,” said Rep. Farr in an article on his website. 

You’ve heard of “Ocean Satellite Accounts,” right?  No?  Well, that could be because they do not exist–yet.  This new allocation is a step toward their creation.   Market sectors such as Healthcare, Energy and Agriculture have special “satellite accounts” monitored by the US Bureau of Economics Analysis, which provide important details of those industrial sectors to more accurately estimate their values. There is no such thing for the oceans although, “the Ocean Economy in 2013 comprised a larger share of the U.S. economy than other major natural resource industries,  including farming, food products, oil and gas extraction, and forest products,” according to the National Ocean Economics Program’s “State of the U.S. Ocean and Coastal Economies, 2016 Update.   The Center for the Blue Economy has partnered with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute to help guide NOAA in the creation of the first official US Ocean Satellite Accounts.   

Learn more about this issue:

Congressman Farr, Congressional District Reports, and the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring (FOARAM) Act

Ocean Satellite Accounts--Measuring Ocean Value

oil-rig-russia-2445_1920The Obama Administration Reverses Course and Prohibits Off-Shore Oil Drilling in the South Atlantic

In early 2015, the Obama administration announced a draft five-year plan to allow offshore oil drilling in the southeastern Atlantic seaboard, in which the government would sell leases for oil and gas development in federal waters from 2017 to 2022. The decision was prompted in part by a report from oil-industry backed report by Quest Offshore Resources Inc., which claimed huge economic benefits from the drilling. Late in 2015, the Center for the Blue Economy created a study for the Southern Environmental Law Center that countered those claims. Many news stories cited the study as well as statistics from the National Ocean Economics Program in opposition to the decision. On March 15th, 2016, President Obama’s Department of the Interior released the final draft of the five-year plan, which does not allow offshore oil drilling in the southern Atlantic.  This is a huge victory for coastal communities, and the Center for the Blue Economy is proud to have indirectly been a part of the outcome.

Learn more about this issue: 

*Read the entire Center for the Blue Economy study:

The Economic Effects of Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Exploration and Development in the South Atlantic Region:  Issues and Assessment

*View some of the articles siting our work: 

"Pushed hard by opponents, Obama administration reverses, says no new drilling off SE Atlantic Coast," Daily Kos article, March 15, 2016

"In a huge win for coastal communities, Obama drops plans for Atlantic drilling," Environment America article, March 15, 2016

"Obama Administration Drops Plans for Drilling Off NC Coast," Public News Service article, March 16, 2016

 Morro-Rock-USA-CALThe Chumash National Marine Sanctuary is close to approval

In September of 2014, Dr. Judith Kildow (Director of the National Ocean Economics Program) and Dr. Jason Scorse (Director of the Center for the Blue Economy) produced a report for the Sierra Club entitled The Potential Economic Impacts of the Proposed Central Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which earned widespread local support.   If approved by NOAA, this will be the first new marine sanctuary in California in over 20 years, and would protect some of the state's most precious marine resources that fall outside of the existing sanctuary system.

Despite the criticism that the Center for the Blue Economy received by fishing interests and anti-government forces for its economic work on the proposed Chumash National Marine Sanctuary, the analysis is very conservative and likely underestimates the economic benefits to the surrounding communities. With large increases in tourism visitation rates to museums and cultural sites throughout the US, the Chumash Sanctuary has the potential to provide a large economic boon to the regional economy because of its range and diversity of coastal Native American historic sites. In addition, the Sanctuary proposal has provided an opportunity for many of the Chumash tribes to work together for a common purpose, and it has helped to energize cooperation in ways that have surprised even some of its most ardent detractors. The Center for the Blue Economy's research demonstrated that the Sanctuary is a low-risk/high-reward venture for the Central Coast communities.

Learn more about this issue:

*See the website for the proposed Chumash National Marine Sanctuary

 Karen.Loutzenheiser.CemexDredgingBoatThe California Coastal Commission moves to shut down the Cemex sand mining plant in Marina

It has been clear for many years to us at the Center for the Blue Economy that the negative economic impacts of the CEMEX/Lapis Sand Mine are much greater than the benefits.   In August of 2012, two students in the International Environmental Policy Studies program, Alyssum Pohl (MAIEP 2012) and Lisa Johnston (MAIEP 2012), supported by the Center for the Blue Economy, created a study called Lapis Sand Dollars: An Economic Analysis of Non-Market Impacts of Lapis Sand Mine in Southern Bay.   

The study showed that the unique dunes and beaches of southern Monterey Bay are threatened by an intensified rate of coastal erosion caused by the Lapis Lustre sand mine in the city of Marina. This mine excavates high quality sand sold by the largest international cement and aggregate corporation, Cemex.   We have supported examination of global sand consumption by hosting a screening of the documentary film Sand Wars on our campus on November 4th, 2015.  On March 18th, 2016, Dr. Charles Colgan, Director of Research for the Center for the Blue Economy,  testified as to the economic impact of continued sand loss and beach erosion in the Monterey Bay before State Assemblyman Mark Stone (D-Scotts Valley).  The Center for the Blue Economy supports the Coastal Commission’s actions, which will provide net economic benefits to the greater Monterey Bay Region. 

Learn more about the issue:

*This news article by David Schmalz, published on Jan. 16, 2016 in the Monterey County Weekly gives a nice overview of the history of the Cemex sand mine:  Cemex Mine Reflects Human Hunger for Sand

*Watch the film Sand Wars for an understanding of how sand is consumed globally

*This follow up article by David Schmalz, published on March 18th, 2016 in the Monterey County Weekly talks about the California Coastal Commission's actions against the Cemex mine:  Coastal Commission Brings Down the Hammer on Cemex

Photo Credits:

Monterey Cypress:  CBE stock photo

Oil Rig:  Public Domain Images

Morro Rock:  Amazingplacesonearth.com

Cemex structure:  Karen Loutzenheiser, Monterey County Weekly