Steve Southerland Wants Obama's Oceanic Plans Capsized
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U.S. Rep. Steve Southerland, R-Fla., unveiled a bill on Thursday pushing back against President Barack Obama’s proposal to limit energy exploration and fishing in 780,000 miles of ocean.
Last week, Obama proposed to create the world’s largest ocean preserve which would end fishing and drilling in American waters around Hawaii and American Samoa. Taking a page from President George W. Bush, Obama looked to expand the Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument and protect more aquatic life.
Obama said last week that increased pollution and fishing are posing a threat for future generations.
"If we ignore these problems, if we drain our oceans of their resources, we won't just be squandering one of humanity's greatest treasures," Obama said. "We'll be cutting off one of the world's major sources of food and economic growth, including for the United States. We cannot afford to let that happen."
While environmentalists cheered the news, Republicans have criticized Obama for ignoring Congress in his decision. Advocates for consumer fishermen have also criticized the proposal, noting that 3 percent of American tuna fishing comes from the area Obama is closing off.
Southerland’s “Marine Access and State Transparency (MAST) Act” mandates Obama’s proposal and any similar actions in the future would need to be approved by state governments bordering the impacted oceans, and Congress.
“The president is brazenly attempting to shut down access to a portion of our oceans that’s larger than Florida, Texas, and Alaska combined,” said Southerland on Thursday. “In response, I introduced common-sense legislation to improve transparency and stop this unprecedented water grab from occurring without the consent of the individual states and their citizens.”
Southerland noted his bill would not impact Florida waters already closed to oil exploration but insisted that it would stop Obama from using the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create marine monuments off the coast of the Sunshine State, limiting commercial and recreational fishing in those waters.
“North and Northwest Florida’s fishermen are already struggling to survive under this president’s overregulation of our oceans, and they deserve to know some in Congress are fighting to stop him from making their jobs even tougher,” Southerland said.
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