Posts Tagged department of commerce

Jan 27 2012

What Obama’s Government Reform Proposal Means for Our Oceans

Making Sure NOAA Stays Strong During Federal Reorganization


The Oscar Dyson, an NOAA vessel, headed to summer feeding grounds off the Alaskan coast to study whales that have been teetering on extinction for decades. - AP/ NOAA















By Michael Conathan | Director of Ocean Policy

On January 13, President Barack Obama announced his plan to implement a sweeping reorganization of the Department of Commerce by consolidating six agencies involved in trade and economic competitiveness. One unintended consequence of this reshuffling is that by redesigning the Commerce Department, we now must find a home for the agency that comprised more than 60 percent of its budget—the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, our nation’s primary ocean research agency.

In a December 2010 report, “A Focus on Competitiveness,” John Podesta, Sarah Rosen Wartell, and Jitinder Kohli detailed why President Obama’s proposed restructuring makes sense for America. But it’s worth taking a closer look at how such a move would affect NOAA and in turn affect how we manage our oceans.

The president’s plan would relocate NOAA to the Department of the Interior. In his remarks, President Obama went so far as to suggest that the Department of the Interior was a “more sensible place” for NOAA, and that it only ended up at Commerce at its inception in 1970 because then-President Richard Nixon was feuding with then-Secretary of the Interior Walter Hickle, who had publicly criticized President Nixon’s handling of the Vietnam War.

While this storied example of Beltway pettiness has circulated among ocean policy wonks for years, the reality is rather more complex. In fact, when NOAA was established in 1970, 80 percent of its budget and more than two-thirds of its employees came from the Environmental Science Services Administration—an agency that included the Weather Bureau, the Coast and Geodetic Survey, and Environmental Data Services—which was already housed at the Department of Commerce.

Since the announcement, many environmental groups have decried the move as potentially compromising NOAA’s scientific integrity by shifting the agency to a department that has developed a reputation for being industry friendly. Certainly, degradation of NOAA’s science-first attitude is to be avoided at all costs. Yet there is no reason the agency’s mission can’t be maintained under the auspices of Interior provided the agency retains its structural integrity and its budgetary clout.


Read the rest of the story on American Progress.


Aug 26 2011

Department of Commerce submits plan to comply with Obama regulatory review

The Department of Commerce has submitted its plan to comply with President Obama’s Executive Order 13563, “Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review”.   The General Counsel of the Department of Commerce, Cameron Kerry, will be responsible for overseeing execution of the retrospective analysis laid out in the Plan.

According to the plan:

Many of NOAA’s statutory mandates emphasize the need to base decisions on best scientific information available and require periodic review of regulatory actions. In addition, many of NOAA’s activities require analyses under the National Environmental Policy Act. The Council on Environmental Quality has indicated that environmental impact statements that are more than 5 years old should be carefully reexamined to determine if supplementary analyses are required per 40 C.F.R. § 1502.9 of the CEQ regulations. See (explaining need for supplements to old EIS at question # 32 of “NEPA’s Forty Most Asked Questions”).

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) intends to reinforce the existing culture of retrospective analysis through increased outreach to the Regional Fishery Management Councils that develop fishery management plans pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The Councils’ fishery management planning process entails significant public participation and opportunities for soliciting thoughts on needed modifications to or repeal of regulatory actions. NMFS has begun, and will continue, to coordinate with the councils, emphasizing the need for scrutiny of proposed and existing regulations consistent with Executive Order 13563, the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and other relevant laws, and the need to make fisheries management regulations simpler and easier to follow. NMFS intends to encourage such scrutiny of regulatory actions through its meetings with the Council Coordination Committee and during meetings of the councils and their subcommittees.

As part of the agency’s Catch Share Policy, NOAA has provided further guidance to the Councils regarding periodic review of all limited access privilege programs pursuant to 16 U.S.C. § 1853a(c)(1)(G). Specifically, the agency directs that Councils should periodically review all catch share and non-catch share programs to ensure that management goals are specified, measurable, tracked, and used to gauge whether a program is meeting its goals and objectives. The policy reinforces NOAA’s commitment to working with Councils, stakeholders, the Department of Commerce, the Office of Management and Budget, and Congress in improving and monitoring useful and relevant performance metrics for all U.S. fishery management policies, not just catch share programs.

Additional plan sections referenceing NMFS include:

NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Regional Fishery Management Councils established under the Magnuson-Stevens Act have ongoing engagement with constituents and other members of the public on fishery management actions. NMFS and the Councils receive continual feedback on concerns regarding regulations, guidance documents, information collections, and other agency activities. Since publication of the notice, NMFS has used outreach and communication opportunities, as they have arisen, to alert members of the public to the notice and to encourage people to provide feedback.

The vast majority of NOAA’s significant regulations involve marine fishery and protected resources issues. These regulations are subject to change frequently as a result of new information and also pursuant to statutory requirements.

NOAA is currently undertaking the following actions to review its rulemaking, in many cases to streamline and reduce requirements:

Read the rest on or the complete document here.