The U.S. Chamber of Commerces Institute for 21st Century Energy today expressed alarm about the Administrations use of ocean policy to regulate a broad cross-section of the American economy, from energy policy to agriculture, manufacturing and infrastructure.
The National Ocean Policy is the most significant issue affecting energy security, job creation, and economic growth that no one has heard about, said Christopher Guith, vice president for policy at the Energy Institute, during testimony today before the House Natural Resources Committee hearing. Through a myriad of drawn-out arguments, the recommendations allow for regulatory coverage of virtually every bit of land and any entity operating or living on it. Offshore and onshore energy operations, as well as agriculture, manufacturing and construction are all vulnerable to new regulatory actions.
The goal of the hearing was to conduct oversight on the Administrations National Ocean Policy, which is being implemented through an Executive Order thereby bypassing the normal agency regulatory review process issued in July.
Guith testified that the Chamber is concerned about the extreme breadth of the policy, which explicitly calls for addressing urban and suburban development through regional planning authorities. The Administration has proposed using Coastal and Marine Special Planning to strengthen the governance structure to create the authorities.
Infrastructure developers must already negotiate a byzantine regulatory labyrinth that often leads to costly delays, said Guith. Superimposing the will of a regulatory planning authority on top of this process has the very real potential of precluding many of the infrastructure projects which will provide jobs that the county needs.
This planning authority comes on top of dozens of federal laws and hundreds of state laws which already exist to ensure healthy and sustainable oceans.
The National Ocean Energy Policy breaks with precedence by accepting the precautionary approach adopted at the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. This principle states that unless there is currently a conclusive scientific finding that a specific human activity does not cause harm to the environment, it should be limited. The shifting of this burden could have a chilling effect on future economic activity and innovation.
The Administrations aggressive approach to ocean policy comes on the heels of an unprecedented period of regulation. By the spring of 2011, over 4,200 regulations were in various stages of development, resulting in well over $1 trillion in compliance costs for businesses by some estimates. Small businesses are hit particularly hard by the Administrations approach, as businesses with fewer than 20 employees incur regulatory costs 42 percent higher than larger businesses. It is no wonder, then, that private sector investment in the economy continues to lag.
The mission of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy is to unify policymakers, regulators, business leaders, and the American public behind a common sense energy strategy to help keep America secure, prosperous, and clean. Through policy development, education, and advocacy, the Institute is building support for meaningful action at the local, state, national, and international levels.