Channel Islands Up for Federal Review

Public Comment Period Ends August 15

The Trump administration is exploring marine sanctuary expansions to see if they conflict with oil and gas exploration.

Paul Wellman (file)

The Trump administration is exploring marine sanctuary expansions to see if they conflict with oil and gas exploration.

The public comment period for President Donald Trump’s Executive Order to review all designations and expansions of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments ​— ​11 in all ​— ​since April 28, 2007, has been extended to August 15. Since the window opened in June, about 68,000 comments have been submitted, according to Bill Douros, West Coast regional director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, which oversees Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary (CINMS). Douros did not yet have a count on how many comments have been specific to CINMS.

According to the Executive Order, “It shall be the policy of the United States to encourage energy exploration and production, including on the Outer Continental Shelf, in order to maintain the Nation’s position as a global energy leader and foster energy security and resilience for the benefit of the American people, while ensuring that any such activity is safe and environmentally responsible.” In that respect, the review is looking at Channel Islands’ 9,600-acre expansion in May 2007, analyzing “the budgetary impacts of the cost of managing” the sanctuary, the “adequacy” of any talks leading up to the expansion, and “the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production from the Outer Continental Shelf,” according to the order signed by Trump on April 28. Under the CINMS footprint, the review area is the seafloor acreage between three and six miles from shore. “It’s really not a big area,” Douros said, adding that at the time, “none of the expansions were controversial.”

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