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EPA Statement: Federal Response to Ocean Commission's Final Report on Ocean Policy

Release Date: 12/17/2004
Contact Information:


Contact: Cynthia Bergman 202-564-9828 / bergman.cynthia@epa.gov

(Washington, D.C.-- 12/17/04) Today the White House released President Bush's response to the U.S. Commission's report on Ocean Policy. The president agrees with the commission that protecting and enhancing ocean and coastal resources is critical and identifies activities that closely align with a number of EPA's priorities. Among those activities are three programs: The president's executive order on the Great Lakes, the president's wetlands initiative and the BEACH Act.

The commission's report is the result of a three-year undertaking to examine the nation's oceans and coasts and to make recommendations for a new national ocean policy. EPA collaborated with 13 other executive branch agencies and departments on the administration's Interagency Ocean Policy Group to consider the commission's recommendations and help formulate the administration's response.

"The Bush Administration supports the Ocean Commission's final report that watershed-based collaborations with international, federal, state, tribal and local partners are key to protecting the health of our nation’s coastal and ocean waters," said EPA Deputy Administrator Stephen Johnson.

The agency places a priority on implementing regional, watershed-based collaborations such as the effort established under the president's executive order on the Great Lakes. EPA is bringing together the Great Lakes Task Force and 10 department and agency heads to provide direction on federal policy in the Great Lakes. This partnership with Great Lakes governors, tribal leaders, local government leaders and others shows a complementary process of regional collaboration.

Members of the regional collaboration gathered at a Dec. 3, 2004, conveners meeting to pledge their support for the effort and for plans to devise an integrated protection and restoration strategy for the Great Lakes basin. EPA will continue to play a leadership role with states and other partners to restore and protect the Gulf of Mexico, Chesapeake Bay, and other estuaries of national significance.

EPA is working with other federal agencies to implement the president's wetlands initiative, in which the administration will work to restore, improve and protect at least three million acres of wetlands by 2009. EPA is coordinating with other federal agencies to track wetland improvements and restoration and to document the progress made toward achieving this national goal.

Under the BEACH Act, EPA conducts a public health protection program in partnership with state and local environmental and public health agencies to reduce health risks at our nation's beaches. Since 2001, EPA has provided more than $32 million in grants to support beach monitoring and public health notification. The agency recently issued improved, health-based water quality standards for pathogens. These federal standards will apply in those states that have not adopted standards for their coastal recreational waters as protective of health as EPA's recommended criteria.

In addition, EPA is viewed as a global leader in the management of watersheds and coastal areas to protect human health and sensitive marine habitats. The agency successfully cooperates with other federal agencies, countries around the world, and international organizations to implement our international treaty obligations for the marine environment.

For the Commission's report, visit: http://www.oceancommission.gov/documents/prepub_report/ .

For information on related EPA programs, visit the following:
Oceans, Coasts, & Estuaries: http://www.epa.gov/owow/oceans/
Great Lakes: http://www.epa.gov/greatlakes/
Clean Beaches Plan: http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/beaches/plan.htm .