WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and U.S. Representative Jim Langevin (RI-02) were joined by a bicameral, bipartisan group of 28 Members of Congress from Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island on Thursday to express support for continued public engagement on the draft Northeast Ocean Plan – a framework to better manage the region’s ocean and coastal ecosystems. In a letter addressed to President Barack Obama, the members of Congress emphasized that the Atlantic Ocean and its coasts contribute significantly to the Northeast region’s economy and culture, and encouraged the Administration to continue working with local residents and stakeholders as they work to finalize the plan.
“As Members of Congress who represent the Northeastern United States, we write in support of the Administration’s efforts to advance the ocean planning process, including the release of a draft Northeast Regional Ocean Plan. The recently released draft Northeast Ocean Plan is the nation’s first ocean plan for federal waters, and we are proud of the historic and continued leadership role our states and region have played in its development,” the members of Congress wrote. “We respectfully request that the Administration continue its engagement as the public provides additional input during the draft comment period. Through refining and perfecting the plan and its data portal, federal agencies, states and local stakeholders can better capitalize on the Atlantic as an economic driver and work to protect its environmental treasures for generations to come.”
In addition to Murphy and Langevin, the letter was signed by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), as well as U.S. Representatives John B. Larson (CT-01), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-03), James A. Himes (CT-04), Elizabeth H. Esty (CT-05), David N. Cicilline (RI-01), Richard E. Neal (MA-01), James P. McGovern (MA-02), Niki Tsongas (MA-03), Joseph P. Kennedy, III (MA-04), Katherine M. Clark (MA-05), Seth Moulton (MA-06), Michael E. Capuano (MA-07), Stephen F. Lynch (MA-08), William R. Keating (MA-09), Frank C. Guinta (NH-01), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), Chellie Pingree (ME-01), and Bruce Poliquin (ME-02).
Established by Presidential Executive Order in 2010, the National Ocean Policy called for the formation of nine regionally-focused boards to better manage the nation’s oceans and coasts. New England was the first region in the nation to launch a planning board. Residents interested in providing feedback on the Northeast Ocean Plan through the public comment process should visit: http://neoceanplanning.org/plan/.
The full text of the letter is below:
As Members of Congress who represent the Northeastern United States, we write in support of the Administration’s efforts to advance the ocean planning process, including the release of a draft Northeast Ocean Plan. Since 2012, the Northeast Regional Planning Body has worked with our states, engaging our constituents on their needs for effective ocean management to support a sustainable and vibrant Northeast environment and economy. The recently released draft Northeast Ocean Plan is the nation’s first ocean plan for federal waters, and we are proud of the historic and continued leadership role our states and region have played in its development.
The plan has many elements that will benefit states, federal agencies, tribes, and other ocean users in the Northeast. Elements of the Northeast Ocean Plan that we find particularly important include:
- New information developed in partnership with numerous ocean industries. This data identifies regional ocean uses, commercial needs, and future industry trends for the region.
- Collaboration among states, tribes, and federal agencies that will streamline permitting and decision-making by facilitating early identification of potential conflicts.
- Access to marine life and habitat data that provide transparent, management-driven information for decision-makers, enhancing our ability to conserve sensitive ocean resources.
In Congress, we have fully supported our states and constituents as they took the initiative and engaged in the regional ocean planning process. Further, both public and private stakeholders entered into this planning process based on the assurance of full and ongoing support from federal agencies. We respectfully request that the Administration continue its engagement as the public provides additional input during the draft comment period. We urge the Administration to ensure the regional planning board continues its public outreach and incorporates that public input into the final plan. Through refining and perfecting the plan and its data portal, federal agencies, states and local stakeholders can better capitalize on the Atlantic as an economic driver and work to protect its environmental treasures for generations to come.
The Atlantic Ocean is an inextricable part of our region’s economy and way of life. We are proud of the accomplishments of our region and of the continued engagement of our constituents throughout this process. The consortium of stakeholders has given us a blueprint for action that reflects the dynamic ocean ecosystem and various maritime uses inherent to the Northeast. As we celebrate this milestone, we look forward to working with you throughout the comment period to perfect and finalize the plan.
U.S. Senator Christopher S. Murphy
U.S. Representative James R. Langevin
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal
U.S. Senator Jack Reed
U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse
U.S. Senator Susan M. Collins
U.S. Senator Angus S. King, Jr.
U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren
U.S. Senator Edward J. Markey
U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen
U.S. Senator Kelly Ayotte
U.S. Representative John B. Larson
U.S. Representative Joe Courtney
U.S. Representative Rosa L. DeLauro
U.S. Representative James A. Himes
U.S. Representative Elizabeth H. Esty
U.S. Representative David N. Cicilline
U.S. Representative Richard E. Neal
U.S. Representative James P. McGovern
U.S. Representative Niki Tsongas
U.S. Representative Joseph P. Kennedy, III
U.S. Representative Katherine M. Clark
U.S. Representative Seth Moulton
U.S. Representative Michael E. Capuano
U.S. Representative Stephen F. Lynch
U.S. Representative William R. Keating
U.S. Representative Frank C. Guinta
U.S. Representative Ann McLane Kuster
U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree
U.S. Representative Bruce Poliquin