US Coral-listers: the House Coral Bill needs your help

Judith Lang & Lynton Land JandL at
Wed Jun 21 21:13:02 EDT 2000

Dear US Coral-listers,

The good news: Congress is attempting to pass legislation to ensure a future
for the interagency US Coral Reef Task Force that resulted from President
Clinton's Executive Order two years ago!

The bad news: Section 4(c) of House bill (H.R.3919) would grant exclusive
authority in the Federal Government to the Secretary of Commerce for
managing coral reef ecosystems in the US Exclusive Economic Zone! This would
remove the lead management role of the Department of the Interior from some
of the US's National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and some other marine
areas under their management! It is also in contradiction to the spirit of
the Executive Order, which was intended to maximize interagency efforts to
conserve coral reefs!

Please help restore the original intent of the Executive Order, and the
stated intent of the legislation, by dashing off a letter to YOUR
congressperson, explaining your concerns with Section 4(c). To help you with
the composition of your letter, below is a copy of letter that was sent to
the House Resource Committee by the Marine Conservation Biology Institute,
Oceanwatch, the Sierra Club,
the Center for Marine Conservation and the American Oceans Campaign on June

Time is off the essence: it's my understanding that this bill was passed by
the committee, but the issue is coming up again when H.R. 3919 is considered
on the House floor, PROBABLY WITHIN A WEEK OR TWO!

Many thanks,
Judy Lang

>June 19, 2000
>Honorable Don Young, Chairman
>House Resources Committee
>U.S. House of Representatives
>Washington, DC 20515 
>Honorable George Miller, Ranking Member
>House Resources Committee
>U.S. House of Representatives
>Washington, DC 20515
>RE:     H.R. 3919, the Coral Reef Conservation and Restoration Partnership 
>Act of 2000
>POSITION: Strike Section 4 (c)
>Dear Chairman Young, Ranking Member Miller, and members of the Committee:
>We strongly urge the committee to strike Section 4 (c) of  H.R.3919 which 
>restricts the Secretary of the Interior's authority to manage and conserve 
>coral reef ecosystems in the existing National Parks, future National 
>Wildlife Refuges, and other Interior holdings.  
>This legislation, designed to maximize interagency efforts to conserve coral 
>reefs, should not undermine the existing authorities of any agency.  
>Unfortunately, Section 4 (c) would do just that.  Under the pending Committee 
>Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute, Section 4(c) would grant exclusive 
>authority in the federal government to the Secretary of Commerce for managing 
>coral reef ecosystems in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This is a 
>substantive change in federal policy that if passed, would transfer authority 
>to the Secretary of Commerce from the Department of Interior for managing 
>coral reef resources in certain areas within existing National Parks, future 
>National Wildlife Refuges and other Interior holdings.  
>Although we support other provisions of H.R.3919, we oppose this language 
>because it runs counter to the stated purpose of the legislation, which is to 
>support the efforts of the interagency Coral Reef Task Force in protecting 
>coral reefs. The National Wildlife Refuge and National Park systems are 
>critical to the legislation and Executive Order 13089's stated goal to 
>"protect, restore and sustainably use" coral reefs. That goal should not be 
>undermined by changing or diminishing the authorities of the Department of 
>Interior for coral reef management in its Refuges and Parks. 
>Under Federal law, both the Commerce and Interior Departments have authority 
>to manage coral reef ecosystems under various authorities.  By granting 
>exclusive authority to the Commerce Department, Section 4 (c) is in conflict 
>with the Department of Interior's current regulations in at least one 
>National Park, the Key Biscayne National Park, and preempts the Department of 
>the Interior from playing a lead management role in future National Wildlife 
>Refuges and other DoI holdings that overlap with the EEZ.
>In practice, the Departments of Interior and Commerce are making great 
>strides regarding cooperative management of coral reef ecosystems.  Such 
>leadership and cooperation seem to be moving strong protection for the Dry 
>Tortugas region of the Florida Keys and the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  
>When 60% of the world's coral reefs are threatened with destruction in the 
>next 50 years, we should not diminish the ability of any agency to protect 
>these fragile areas.
>We strongly urge the Committee to strike Section 4(c) from the bill as 
>introduced and the pending Amendment in the Nature of a Substitute.
>Amy Mathews-Amos
>Marine Conservation Biology Institute
>Cliff McCreedy
>Dave Raney
>Sierra Club
>Jack Sobel
>Center for Marine Conservation
>Ted Morton
>American Oceans Campaign

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