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OPINION

And Now: The Stealth Obama Ocean Grab

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

It's not enough that the White House is moving to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land in the name of environmental protection. The Obama administration's neon green radicals are also training their sights on the deep blue seas. The president's grabby-handed bureaucrats have been empowered through executive order to seize unprecedented control from states and localities over "conservation, economic activity, user conflict and sustainable use of the ocean, our coasts and the Great Lakes."_

Democrats have tried and failed to pass "comprehensive" federal oceans management legislation five years in a row. The so-called "Oceans 21" bill, sponsored by Democratic Rep. Sam Farr of California, went nowhere fast. Among the top reasons: bipartisan concerns about the economic impact of closing off widespread access to recreational fishing. The bill also would have handed environmentalists another punitive litigation weapon under the guise of "ecosystem management." Instead of accepting defeat, the green lobby simply circumvented the legislative process altogether.

In late July, President Obama established a behemoth 27-member "National Ocean Council" with the stroke of a pen. Farr gloated: "We already have a Clean Air Act and a Clean Water Act. With today's executive order, President Obama in effect creates a Clean Ocean Act." And not a single hearing needed to be held. Not a single amendment considered. Not a single vote cast. Who gives a flying fish about transparency and the deliberative process? The oceans are dying!

The panel will have the power to implement "coastal and marine spatial plans" and to ensure that all executive agencies, departments and offices abide by their determinations. The panel has also been granted authority to establish regional advisory committees that overlap with existing regional and local authorities governing marine and coastal planning.

No wonder the anti-growth, anti-development, anti-jobs zealots are cheering. The National Ocean Council is co-chaired by wackadoodle science czar John Holdren (notorious for his cheerful musings about eugenics, mass sterilization and forced abortions to protect Mother Earth and for hyping weather catastrophes and demographic disasters in the 1970s with his population control freak pals Paul and Anne Ehrlich) and White House Council on Environmental Quality head Nancy Sutley (best known as the immediate boss of disgraced green jobs czar/self-avowed communist Van Jones).

Also on the new ocean panel:

-- Socialista and energy/climate change czar Carol Browner, last seen bullying auto company execs to "put nothing in writing, ever" and threatening to push massive cap-and-trade tax hikes during the upcoming congressional lame duck session.

-- Dr. Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and a former high-ranking official at the left-wing Environmental Defense Fund, which has long championed drastic reductions of commercial fishing fleets and recreational fishing activity in favor of centralized control.

-- Attorney General Eric Holder, who will no doubt use his stonewalling expertise to shield the ocean council's inner workings from public scrutiny.

-- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, who apparently doesn't have enough to do destroying jobs through his offshore drilling moratorium, blocking onshore development and wreaking havoc on the energy industry.

Given Salazar's fraudulent book-cooking in support of the administration's offshore drilling moratorium (Remember: Obama's own appointed scientists blasted the Interior Secretary for unilaterally contradicting and misrepresenting their conclusions.), his comments on the new ocean grab are more threat than promise: "With two billion acres we help oversee on the Outer Continental Shelf, Interior is a proud partner in this initiative, and we look forward to helping coordinate the science, policies and management of how we use, conserve and protect these public treasures."

"Helping coordinate the science," as interpreted by Obama's Chicago-on-the-Potomac heavies, means doctoring, massaging and ramming through whatever eco-data is necessary "to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses, and preserve critical ecosystem services to meet economic, environmental, security and social objectives." Translation: drastically limiting human activity from coastal areas to seabeds to achieve the "social objective" of appeasing the enviros and their deep-pocketed philanthropic funders.

Even New York Sen. Charles Schumer slammed the administration's junk science-based fishing limits at a meeting this week between NOAA's Lubchenco and Long Island recreational fishermen. Draconian regulations, he said, according to the New York Post, "put the industry on death's door." Now, the same forces behind such job destroyers will have free reign over a national ocean policy established by administrative fiat. Viva la Summer of Wreckovery.

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