Dear Ms. Denit, NOAA:
I urge the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to maintain the current regulations and regulatory processes in order to implement our nation’s fundamental environmental laws.
In light of Executive Orders 13766, 13771, 13777, and 13783, NOAA is seeking comment on “outdated, ineffective, or unnecessary regulations.” NOAA issues regulations to implement many of our nation’s key environmental laws, including the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the Endangered Species Act, the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the National Marine Sanctuaries Act, and the Coastal Zone Management Act. These laws and associated regulations are essential to the well-being of our oceans and coastal communities and are important drivers of our national economy. I recommend that NOAA reject any rollbacks or weakening of its vital environmental regulations under the guise of streamlining or reducing regulatory burden.
I object to the false premise that public safeguards represent an unnecessary regulatory burden for our nation. Environmental protections save lives, improve health, conserve resources, spur innovation, and level the playing field for small businesses while allowing for or even promoting economic growth and providing far more in benefits than they cost. There is no evidence that NOAA regulations burden industry unnecessarily. In fact, in the Office of Management and Budget’s most recent report analyzing the benefits and costs of federal regulation, the estimated net benefits of major federal regulations between 2009 and 2015 was in the range of $103 billion and $393 billion. Since it began issuing the report in 1997, OMB’s analysis has repeatedly shown that the benefits of federal regulation outweigh the costs. In addition, NOAA consistently engages in Regulatory Impact Reviews for all regulatory actions that are of public interest to ensure that the agency systematically and comprehensively considers all available alternatives so that public welfare can be enhanced in the most efficient and cost-effective way.
NOAA’s broad call for comments on “any existing Agency regulation” is unprecedented and unnecessary. NOAA’s regulations, including those specifically identified in the Federal Register notice, were properly promulgated in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act. Thus, NOAA has already received comments from the public on its regulations. There is no reason to believe that, after the comprehensive process for promulgating regulations, NOAA’s regulations are obsolete, ineffective, or counter-productive. Rather, it appears that this exercise is driven by an ideological opposition to all regulation, no matter how necessary to address practical problems, conserve the environment, promote the economy, or comply with the law. Indeed, it appears from the Federal Register notice that the administration wants to create a one-way ratchet, seeking only negative input and not seeking to hear about the benefits of regulation. The notice is calculated to solicit comments from special interests voicing their displeasure with protections that help the public and protect the environment for the benefit of all Americans. NOAA ought to be asking for guidance on how to better carry out its mission of conserving and managing our coastal and marine ecosystems and resources, not how to retreat from it.
NOAA must maintain all current regulatory processes, especially those promulgated to implement our nation’s environmental laws. I urge NOAA staff and any other decision-makers involved in the review process to reject any attempts to roll back or weaken NOAA’s existing regulations or regulatory processes.