Trump now quietly trying to drill in ocean monuments, sanctuaries

An expansion to Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument is among those under review. 

Credit: Claire Fackler, CINMS (NOAA), flickr.

Americans have until July 26 to weigh in on the Trump administration's newly opened "review" of 11 marine sanctuaries and monuments, which could pave the way for drilling in fragile ocean ecosystems.

Part of a wider assault on monument and other public land protections, the Trump administration has begun reviewing 11 ocean monuments and sanctuaries with an eye toward "encourag[ing] energy exploration and production." The deadline for submitting public comments is July 26. 

The review is similar in tack and intent to Trump's sweeping order targeting large land-based monuments: a heavy-handed jab at his predecessors' conservation accomplishments that undermines our public lands tradition in service of fossil fuel, mining and more special interests. 

The review covers marine national monuments, national marine sanctuaries, or expansions thereof,  established since April 28, 2007, and is pursuant to Trump's "America-First Offshore Energy Strategy," which touts energy and minerals extracted from public lands and waters.  

Some notable examples of places under review:

  • Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument: Established by President Obama as the first marine monument in the Atlantic Ocean, this area preserves delicate deep-sea ecosystems vulnerable to overfishing and trawling. 
  • Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (expansion): The addition to this "Serengeti of the Sea" sanctuary protects the Davidson Seamount, which hosts vast coral forests supporting a variety of fish and other marine life.
  • Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (expansion): Established by President George W. Bush and expanded by President Obama expanded in 2016 this monument protects habitat for whales, sea turtles and tropical fish, among others. The tract threatened by Trump's review is intended to help shield the area from future deep-sea mining and commercial fishing.
  • Pacific Remote Islands National Monument: Designated by President Bush and expanded by President Obama, this monument encompasses five existing wildlife refuges with vital habitat for sharks, dolphins, birds and a recently discovered species of beaked whale. 

Since the beginning of his presidency, Trump has prioritized fossil fuel extraction over stewarding American lands and waters. In April, he signed an executive order to open protected offshore waters to oil drilling, a move that was legally dubious. 

Please submit a comment today in defense of marine monuments and sanctuaries

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Kip Evans (NOAA), flickr.