Policy and the End of Oil
does the end of oil mean for coastal policy in the United States? A lot.
As energy supply options shift, coastal managers will face new challenges.
Human values and changing supply options will alter the science required,
policies advanced, and ultimately the management of coastal areas. Here
I consider the challenges that will emerge for coastal managers as U.S.
oil production continues its decline. The recommendations of two federally
mandated US ocean commissions orient this discussion.
Energy Policy Present
Another description of our current situation was completed in September of 2004 when the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy (USCOP) released its report. Over the 35 years between Stratton and USCOP, both the values of society and the options for energy supply changed. However, underlying this change in outlook was and is an unspoken assumption that Americans would continue to consume energy at the current or perhaps an even higher per capita basis. In 2001, this meant that U.S. per capita energy consumption was just over five times the world average, according to the EIA.
With these significantly changed circumstances for oil, it's not surprising that the energy policy recommendations of the 2004 Commission report took on a different tone. Gone is the emphasis on offshore drilling found in the Stratton Report and in its place is a recommendation for more research on methane hydrates, a potential new source of energy from the seabed. Significant expenditures for integrated ocean observations are proposed, with the expectation that better environmental information will lead to better management. Most forward-looking is the increased attention to legislative change that will be necessary to comprehensively accommodate renewable forms of energy (including wind, thermal conversion, current, and tidal).
Energy Policy Act of 2005 and ever-higher prices for energy have followed
the U.S. Commission report. This recent energy legislation provides direct
spending to states with significant oil production offshore to assist
with environmental and infrastructure needs, and thus addresses one of
the needs noted by the Stratton Commission. To further enhance the older
oil-based energy policies, the law calls for research, inventory and royalty
relief. Furthermore, the law charges the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
(FERC) with primary responsibility for locating LNG facilities. Provisions
for renewables and for better environmental performance out of coal and
nuclear are also included. Much like the Stratton Commission, the Energy
Policy Act of 2005 encourages expansion of domestic oil development. In
the intervening years between Stratton and the 2005 legislation, domestic
offshore crude oil production rose by 19% according to EIA statistics.
However, in the same time period total U.S. crude oil production declined
This pattern of decline is in the process of repeating itself for global oil production. As Ken Deffeyes describes in his book Hubbert's Peak, the question is only "when." If we haven't already passed the peak of maximum production, how many more years will it take to do so? Now that domestic supply is declining and global supply may soon follow suit, coastal issues will change profoundly.
Energy Policy Future
speculation about the future requires recognition of the present situation.
We have tacitly set goals for energy use through individual behavior manifested
by current high per capita energy use, while the goals we have set for
the coast through laws may be seen as conflicting with our energy consumption
patterns. One hears discussion of increasing efficiencies, but not of
reduction in energy use. Most recognize that oil will become less plentiful,
and that a mix of new technologies will be required to meet future energy
demands. Much of this energy consumption and production will intensify
in coastal areas because that is where end-users live and because many
of the energy technologies themselves are dependent on the sea for its
motion, cooling properties, winds, and/or transportation values.
In this situation, managers will have to develop techniques to balance whole new categories of activity in the coastal area. In this new terrain, the interest groups and coalitions in the rearview mirror will not be the same as those who will become visible through the windshield.
Secondly, managers will need to understand new approaches for conventional systems and a variety of new energy technologies. Conventional systems noted by USCOP and the recent energy legislation focus on oil, gas, coal, and liquefied natural gas (LNG). Each has potential impacts on the coast and one might expect issues and alternatives to be similar to those we've seen in the past. Other energy sources, such as nuclear have environmental impacts that are relatively well known but highly controversial. Renewable energy supplies (solar, wind, hydro-tidal, hydro-river, waves, currents), because of the nature of the technologies involved, generally require more space per unit of energy produced than do traditional sources. To a certain extent, the recent commission and energy policy act embrace these alternatives, but they do not fully define their roles. For example, how might the manager balance a preference for renewables in general with the larger land or sea areas needed and the new impacts that these technologies will require? Coastal managers must also confront cumulative impacts across diverse energy technologies in the context of the total capacity of the coastal region for these developments.
Third, when values and technologies are relatively well understood, the operational challenge of creating institutions to reconcile them in an ever-crowded coastal area will remain. By one recent calculation, coastal counties are about six times more densely populated than non-coastal counties. Coastal populations will continue to increase. Most coastal residents are attracted to the region for values other than those related to energy production or hydrocarbon importation. These high population densities mean quite simply that unless values change, there will be less space on land and at sea to expand. Coastal areas are everyone's back yard. One only need look at the controversies surrounding new LNG terminals or wind power to understand the conflicts and the lack of a good forum for them. Here managers will be challenged to help create institutional structures at local, state, regional, and federal scales that accommodate diverse values and that creatively incorporate emerging scientific and technical information. Current legislative changes do not rise to this important challenge. Without some sort of comprehensive guidance from the federal government, managers are forced to try to reconcile a much larger field of competing interests on a project-by-project basis.
end of oil does not by any means reduce the role of energy in coastal
areas. Enhanced conventional systems and new technologies, particularly
the renewables will affect these regions. Coastal managers at all levels
will need to design and engage new deliberative processes to meet these
challenges. Over the last two years the nation has made some inroads into
the future of coastal energy systems but much, much more lies through
Rick Burroughs work on coastal energy policy began at the President's Council on Environmental Quality with the supertanker environmental study which culminated in the Deep Water Ports Act. Through subsequent appointments at the National Academy of Sciences-National Research Council and, during the Carter Administration, the U. S. Department of the Interior he also contributed to reforming the role of environmental science in coastal policy applied to energy development. Presently, he is Professor and Chair, Department of Marine Affairs, University of Rhode Island and may be reached at email@example.com.
Ocean Commission Initiative -
U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card
We can talk the talk, but can we walk the walk? That's the question asked of us by the U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card in February of this year (www.jointoceancommission.org/assets/ReportCard%200206.pdf). Since the 2003 and 2004 releases of recommendations by the United States Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, hearings have been held, legislation introduced, strategies discussed, and collaborations proposed. The two acceptable grades on the Report Card were given in these areas. In every other category, ratings were dismal. It seems that we've taken the easiest steps, but we can only manage minimal action when it comes to the harder choices. If we are to save the oceans, if we want healthy, diverse ecosystems, if we want to continue to harvest resources, and to enjoy our coastlines, we need to make changes at every level and in every aspect of ocean resource management.
The future is now. I don't know when that phrase was coined, nor who first uttered it, but the fact is the crisis is here. Admiral James Watkins, co-chair of the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) stated that, "This Report Card highlights our concern about the slow rate of progress which jeopardizes the rare opportunity our nation has to make fundamental changes in ocean policy before it is too late." (italics added) The need to conserve and wisely use the oceanfor security, economic health and ethical reasonstranscends partisanship and must not be overwhelmed by petty squabbles.
Internationally, the U.S. needs to step up and take responsibility; we have one of the largest Exclusive Economic Zones in the world, and we are voracious consumers of an array of ocean resources. Yet, " our continued failure to become a party to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea hampers our ability to demonstrate international leadership." The JOCI attributes declining ocean and coastal ecosystem health to failures in our governance approaches and structures. They point to a fisheries industry that has changed [over the last 30 years] from one of seemingly boundless potential to one that is struggling. Each of the Commissions reports identify numerous policy, scientific research and education issues in urgent need of attention to address the degradation of the ocean environment and meet future challenges. Global warming, resources depletion, natural hazards, harmful algal blooms, invasive species and nonpoint source runoff are just a few cited threats to the health of the ocean. Stagnant and in some cases declining funding for ocean research cripples efforts to stem this degradation. "Chronic underinvestment has left much of our ocean-related infrastructure in woefully poor condition, management programs struggling to meet the information demands of decision makers, ocean scientists competing for a smaller percentage of the federal research budget and ocean science virtually absent from the education curriculum," (JOCI Report Card).
The challenges are certainly daunting, but the opportunities for involvement are broad. In ways small and large, TCS' diverse membership has a role to play. We need the idealism and energy of our student members, the enthusiasm of our educators, the wisdom of our scientists, the experiences of government officials and the perspective of the private sector.
We are a passionate, talented community. As individuals, we can vow to live and consume more consciously. As professionals we need to harness our energy and to focus our efforts to make a difference. We need to be involved. Our actions have consequences for sustainability. In the words of Oliver Wendell Holmes, "The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."
We must shed light on the true costs and benefits of projects and decisions to ocean and coastal resources. We need to help the public understand the consequences of their actions, large and small. So many people go about their day-to-day unaware of the linkages between human health and the health of the ocean. From scientists to policy analysts, from educators to managers and decision makers we need to cooperate and collaborate. We must hold our elected officials feet to the fire; we need not just good laws, but the funding to make them work. The Coastal Society is a conduit for information transfer, for networking and for helping to ensure the truth about the coasts and the oceans is told. It was Margaret Mead who said, "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed it's the only thing that ever has."
Ellen Gordon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is Editor of the Bulletin and dusts off her soapbox only on rare occasions.
from the President Back to
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Pick up a newspaper. Flip through a magazine. Watch the CNN or BBC news. Listen to talk radio. Scan through the shelves at a bookstore. There's a very strong likelihood that you'll encounter an article, editorial, or discussion on one or more of the critical environmental issues of the day: global warming, air and water pollution, deforestation, extinction of species, loss of habitat, etc. Why? Because unlike most other human concerns, these problems affect every person on the planet (whether they realize it or not) and, so it seems, everyone has an opinion about how to deal with (or ignore) them. Given that these concerns are so complex, so wide-reaching in their impact, so political in nature, so potentially devastating to the planet's natural regulating systems and, thus, human survival it's no wonder that devising an effective, widely acceptable, affordable, sustainable solution to even one of them is far more complicated than understanding the problem itself.
So, what does it require to actually develop a remedy to treat our environmental ills? What action should be taken? Who should take it? How do we prioritize our efforts? How much will it cost? What is the appropriate time-scale in which to work? How do we overcome the prejudices inherent between developed and developing nations? How can we even conceive of true worldwide positive environmental changes while intolerant philosophical tenets of some governments and appalling poverty endure?
Here's a powerful, yet not-so-new idea: we work both separately and together. And we work very hard. And, in the midst of it, we try to gain some vision, both for ourselves individually and for all people collectively. On a personal basis, we learn as much as we can, teach others around us (especially our children), and then make changes to our everyday lives by altering our lifestyles to leave a shallower footprint. At the same time we work together. We promote better science, develop new technologies, create better laws and regulations, write more sustainable resource management plans, positively influence the political process, recognize and foster new connections between seemingly antithetic parties, widen the circle to involve more people, and share our gained knowledge.
One opportunity for those of us involved in coastal and ocean issues to come together, learn, share and leave with new ideas is our upcoming 20th biennial TCS conference on May 14-17, 2006 in St. Petersburg, FL. The theme of the meeting, "Charting a New Course: Shaping Solutions for the Coasts," speaks directly to the need to develop innovative solutions to coastal and ocean problems. We expect three hundred or so individuals to bring their knowledge, passion and thirst for a better present and a more sustainable, equitable future to bear on these problems. We hope to see you there, hear what you have to say, and show us how you're going to do it, individually and collectively. Let's revel in this opportunity! Yes, finding true solutions to problems is formidable. Mr. Mencken, the great satirist and social critic (often referred to as the "American Nietzsche"), was correct: a neat and easy solution is invariably wrong. But the struggle to find the "right" solution is a worthy, rewarding and vital one.
From the Editor's Desk Back to Table of Contents
As I write this, the 3rd quarter marking period of school for my children is drawing to a close. Teachers will soon be sitting down to finalize grades, preparing to send home the ultimate measure of progress at school: report cards. Rare is the child, no matter how nonchalant or how good a student, who won't experience some trepidation as their teacher hand them that slip of paper. How many parents find themselves slightly anxious on report card day, checking the expressions on their children's faces, looking for downcast eyes as the report card is handed over?
It's really not a surprise that the Joint Ocean Initiative Commission (JOIC) chose a report card format to relay the status of the United States' efforts to implement the recommendations made in recent reports by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission. Universally recognized, report cards and their letter grades lay out performance quite succinctly. Doesn't everyone cringe, seeing an F or a D in those small boxes? If you haven't yet seen the JOIC's dismaying assessment, www.jointoceancommission.org/assets/ReportCard%200206.pdf takes you right to it.
Like other parents, I earnestly tell my children that it's not the grade that's important, that I will be satisfied with whatever they earn, if I believe that it represents their best effort. Well, looking at the written supplements that accompany the U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card, it's clear to me that as a nation, we are definitely not "doing our best." Phrases like, "tangible results have been limited," "absence of an ocean and coastal stewardship ethic," and "funding for essential ocean programs remains woefully insufficient" pepper the assessment. If this report card belonged to my child, could I idly sit back? Would you?
Poor performance in school calls for working closely with teachers, listening to the student, figuring out the resources that are needed to solve the problem, and then following through. Responding to the problems cited in the JOIC U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card is not very different. All the parties need to communicate. We're pretty aware of where the problems lie; now we've got to fund the science that will help us find the solutions, and develop the political backbone to implement the needed changes. We know it isn't going to be easy, and it certainly isn't going to be cheap. Political vision tends to be short and cyclical; saving the oceans and restoring coastal areas to health is a long-term project. But if we cannot summon the honesty and political will to change, it is not us who will suffer the consequences, but our children.
TCS News Back to Table of Contents
Co-Sponsors Coastal and Ocean Celebration
Honored as One of "100 Best Conservation Groups"
Goes to the Movies
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of Rhode Island
A NEW COURSE: SHAPING SOLUTIONS FOR THE COASTS
Concurrent sessions will encompass five themes:
Sitting upon a spectacular white sands beach, the Tradewinds Resort St. Pete Beach, Florida offers a unique opportunity to explore this St. Petersburg/Tampa Bay region barrier island. Plan to network outside alongside one of the Resort's pools with the sound of the ocean in the background.
Interesting field trips before and during the conference.
detailed information on all aspects of the Conference, including how
to register, visit:
2005 Annual Report Back to Table of Contents
International Biennial Conference
Given to Coastal Organizations
to the TCS Board of Directors
TCS Coastal Resource Fundraiser Back to Table of Contents
The Coastal Society (TCS) is embarking upon a new fundraising initiative that will contribute to coastal resource protection and restoration efforts currently underway in areas devastated by hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Funds raised during this effort will be used to sponsor some coastal resource protection and restoration projects in coastal communities in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
TCS will be collecting tax-deductible donations for this Coastal Resource Recovery Fund (CRRF) until Fall 2006, after which TCS will issue a Request for Proposals that will aid in the selection of coastal resource recovery projects. Donations will be collected through the following means: 1) direct donations contributed at The Coastal Society's 20th Biennial Conference in St. Pete Beach, Florida from May 14-17, 2006; 2) direct donations contributed after TCS 20; 3) online donations through the TCS website; and 4) through regional chapter events.
information about the TCS Coastal Resource Recovery Fund will be distributed
in the next few weeks via postal mail, electronically and at TCS 20. If
you have any questions, please contact Kristen M. Fletcher, Chair, Special
Projects Committee, email@example.com
or Kimberly Lellis, Co-Chair, Special Projects Committee, Kimberly.Lellis@noaa.gov
NEWSNOTES Back to Table of Contents
Major Ecosystem Shift in the Northern Bering Sea
Hooks Could Dramatically Reduce Sea Turtle Mortality
of the Habitat Snatchers
Sea squirts, genus Didemnum, are tunicates. Adults have a firm but flexible outer covering, called a tunic. Tunicates may form dense mats made up of thousands of tiny individuals and attach to firm substrates such as gravel, sea scallops, mussels, docks and other structures. Sometimes they even attach to seaweed. Theory has it that these tunicates are Asian in origin, perhaps having hitched rides and oysters imported for aquaculture from Japan to New England. Didemnum sp. Can also heavily foul ships, which may facilitate its worldwide spread. The sea squirts thrive in a wide range of marine environments, though they prefer waters a temperature range of -2-24 degrees C/28-75 degrees F, and have been found inshore in tidal rivers as well as offshore on Georges Bank. A major concern is that these Didemnum sp. Squirts could change seabed communities by smothering finfish and shellfish grounds, thus having the potential to change the landscape of the seafloor, wreaking major changes in the ecosystem, with cascading economic impacts. www.asfmc.org/habitatHotline.htm
to Naval Sonar Deleted in Whale-Beaching Report
Management Measures to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution from Urban Areas
Draft Watershed Handbook Released
Officials Learn From Dutch Flood Expertise
Applying the TCS/NOAA Internship Model Back to Table of Contents
NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service has hosted a TCS student member as a paid intern in its Silver Spring, Maryland office during each of the past four years. The program, hosted by the Office of Habitat Conservation, has proven to be immensely successful. Competition has grown each year and the interns have proven so valuable that each one has stayed longer than the intern from the preceding year. And all have stayed beyond the initial internship. Clearly, the basic objective of providing a stepping-stone to a coastal career has been achieved. In fact, the internships have contributed directly to a PhD by Becky Cooper (our 2002 intern, degree received in 2005 from East Carolina University), a contract position for Wes Patrick (2003), and longer-term NOAA/NMFS jobs for both Kim Lellis (2004) and Jeff Smith (2005).
Four years of experience has also dispelled fears that the time investment to host a short-term intern would over-shadow the potential contributions of a student or recent graduate. As evidenced by each intern, the agency's obligation to mentor a new colleague and the intern's effort to relocate to a new home have been eclipsed easily by impressive accomplishments and newfound friendships. Each intern and each of their colleagues readily attest to the fact that this program is a winner.
This intern program offers a simple model for other agencies, the private sector, and academic institutions. Using the initial search of interested TCS members, other hosts could search for potential matches, with little effort and great promise. NOAA joined with the Surfrider Foundation on the 2006 internship program, with each expecting to hire one intern. Judging by the response, TCS could easily place several more high-quality interns at other institutions.
you have questions or are interested in joining the 2007 version of this
solicitation, please contact Tom Bigford at firstname.lastname@example.org
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on Coastal Zone Management
Research Priorities Plan Workshop
Global Warming International Conference and Expo
Nature Conservation in Europe 2006
Fisheries and Marine Ecosystems Graduate Student Conference
20, The Coastal Society's 20th International Conference, Charting a New
Course: Shaping Solutions for the Coast
Water Policies: the Framework Directive
Association of State Floodplain Managers Conference
Restoration and Protection in the Mid-Atlantic Region
World Conference on Disaster Management
Society of Wetland Scientists 27th International Conference and the Australian
Marine Sciences Association Annual Meeting
Change and Coastal Communities, An International Conference Sponsored
by the Coastal Zone Canada Association
European Conference on Ecological Restoration, Land Use Changes in Europe
as a Challenge for Restoration: Ecological, Economical and Ethical Dimensions
17th International Sedimentological Congress
2006: Focus on the Great Lakes: Applying Scientific, Legal, and Management
Tools to Restore Wetland and Watershed Functions
and the World Ocean Conference '06
America Oceans Conference and Exhibition
America's Estuaries 3rd National Conference and Expo on Coastal and Estuarine
Habitat Restoration: Forging the National Imperative for Restoration