Marine sanctuaries get supervisors’ support

06/08/2017

County supervisors approved a resolution on Tuesday that supports the 2015 expansions of the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries and opposes President Donald Trump’s executive order aimed at evaluating sites for mining and offshore drilling potential. The executive order, titled “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Policy,” may be primarily intended to open up offshore drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, but it also includes language that subjects national monuments and sanctuaries that were expanded or designated in the last decade to potential re-evaluation. This includes the Greater Farallones and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuaries, which were two of only six that likely fall into that category. The sanctuaries have until the end of June to submit documents to federal review. Supervisors called the order an “unwarranted intrusion into settled law.” District Four Supervisor Dennis Rodoni spearheaded the resolution with Supervisor Kate Sears and invited former congresswoman Lynn Woolsey, who worked toward the expansions, to speak at the meeting. “The work my offices, this community, all the elected bodies and NOAA put into the expansion took 15 years,” she said. The President “would undo all of this in 90 days if he could. Let’s make sure it can’t happen, because we will set the example for the rest of the country.” Maria Brown, the superintendent of the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, reminded the board that any attempt to modify the expansion would require public involvement. “You can only change a sanctuary in the manner it was created. We would have to go through an extensive public process to make any changes to the sanctuary,” she said. Tom Roth, a former aide to Ms. Woolsey, mentioned that when he was helping to draft the bill to expand both sanctuaries 10 years ago, he discovered a document from the Reagan administration that showed oil resources off the coast of Mendocino and Sonoma Counties. But their potential was not substantial. “[They were] not enough, basically, to run America for a day, but enough to pollute our oceans for years to come,” he said.