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It's CLEAR We Won!

Today was a great day for the ocean, as the House of Representatives passed (D-WV) Consolidated Land, Energy, and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act (H.R. 3534).  After several hours of debate, the bill passed along party lines by a count of 209 to 193 with Members endorsed and supported by Ocean Champions leading the way.

This bill includes a number of strong ocean provisions, including:

  • The establishment of the first ever annual fund dedicated to ocean conservation. The bill also included large increases in land and water conservation funding.
  • The creation of regional planning bodies, tasked with evaluating the health of their local ocean ecosystems and developing a strategy for ensuring sustainable use of their resources by applying coastal and marine spatial planning.
  • Removal of the $75 million cap for oil company spill liability.
  • Statutory reform of the failed Minerals Management Service into separate entities, eliminating the conflicts of interest that enabled a corrupt and broken culture.  In addition, the bill closes the revolving door between Big Oil and its regulator.

The bill isn't perfect.  To get support from oil producing states, an amendment was included that lifts the temporary drilling moratorium on certain deepwater rigs, subject to their passing strengthened safety evaluations.  Ocean Champions opposes this measure, but we recognize it as an unfortunate necessity to passing the broader, very positive ocean package.

This day might not have happened, however, without a great combination of grassroots activism and inside action. Just last week, pressure from Big Oil supporters in Congress almost caused the bill to be weakened beyond recognition.  We asked you to tell Congress how you felt, and you did, rapidly delivering an impressive array of emails, letters and phone calls to your Representatives.  Meanwhile, we were meeting extensively with our champions on the Hill to marshal support for the ocean provisions in the Act.

Together, along with our colleagues in the conservation community, our efforts helped to deliver a great victory for the oceans, but we won't be done until this bill is signed into law.  That requires passing it in the Senate - an even bigger challenge.  We'll again be working hard on the inside, and we'll need your help along the way.  Stay tuned and be ready for ocean action!

2 August 2010, 8:00 pm