Environmental News Service, July 29, 2008
The governors of California, Oregon and Washington Tuesday announced the details of their plan to address ocean and coastal management issues such as polluted runoff, oil spills and marine garbage along the West Coast.
The West Coast Governors’ Ocean Action Plan is the result of a 2006 agreement signed by the three governors that established a long-term partnership to tackle obstacles facing the Pacific Ocean and its coastal communities.
The three states will work together on 26 actions. They promised to advocate for stricter ocean going vessel emission standards, prevent the introduction of invasive species, explore the feasibility of offshore alternative ocean energy development, improve ocean research, increase ocean education and prevent and respond to offshore oil spills, among other efforts.
Each action within the plan contains benchmarks and a timeframe for action. The governors have formally committed to report on the status of actions at the end of two years.
“This agreement is another key step in our aggressive efforts to maintain clean water and beaches along our coast,” said Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, speaking with his fellow governors via satellite.
“I believe our commitment to working together and putting this plan into action will help effectively tackle critical issues up and down the West Coast,” he said, “ensuring a healthy ocean environment for current and future generations.”
Governor Ted Kulongoski of Oregon views the effort as another successful regional compact. “Just as we’ve seen with the Western Regional Climate Action Initiative, collaboration on complex natural resource issues leads to improved management, inspires innovation and ensures a healthier environment. Together, we can sustain our marine resources and the communities that depend upon them.”
“While Washington is making significant strides with state initiatives such as the Puget Sound Partnership, the crisis facing salmon this year is an example of why we must address these issues together as a region,” said Governor Christine Gregoire of Washington. “Our waters know no boundaries.”
“This plan commits us to combining our resources and ideas, and prioritizes restoring and maintaining the health of our marine and coastal waters to ensure a sustainable future,” she said.
California, Oregon and Washington have worked closely with key federal agencies as well as ocean users, academic institutions, the public, tribes, and other state and regional entities to develop the plan and will continue to collaborate with these groups to accomplish the tasks identified in the plan.
The three governors sent a joint letter to Congress asking for $5 million in federal support for implementation of the action plan. Congress has provided funding and support for similar regional ocean initiatives, such as the Gulf of Mexico Alliance.
To support the states’ agreement, a Federal Working Group, co-led by the U.S. Department of Interior, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has been established and will work with the states in implementing the actions.
The action plan commits the three states to collaborate with each other and federal partners on seven priority areas related to ocean protection:
- Ensuring clean coastal waters and beaches;
- Protecting and restoring healthy ocean and coastal habitats;
- Promoting the effective implementation of ecosystem-based management of our ocean and coastal resources;
- Reducing adverse impacts of offshore development;
- Increasing ocean awareness and literacy among our citizens;
- Expanding ocean and coastal scientific information, research and monitoring; and
- Fostering sustainable economic development throughout our diverse coastal communities.