Environment

Keys sanctuary not included in ‘Energy Strategy’ review

Water of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will not be covered by a presidential order on marine protected areas’ costs and potential energy search.
Water of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will not be covered by a presidential order on marine protected areas’ costs and potential energy search. Keynoter

An executive order on offshore marine protected areas issued by President Trump on April 28 apparently does not extend to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

The “America-First Offshore Energy Strategy” order affects 10 national marine sanctuaries and national marine monuments that have been designated or significantly expanded since 2007.

The addition of the Dry Tortugas Ecological Reserves to the Keys marine sanctuary in 2000 was the last major expansion locally.

Comments are being taken on the 10 sanctuaries and monuments being covered by the order that instructs the Department of Commerce to conduct “an analysis of the budgetary impacts of the costs of managing each National Marine Sanctuary or Marine National Monument designation or expansion” and “the opportunity costs associated with potential energy and mineral exploration and production...”

The only Atlantic Ocean area covered by the order is the Northeast Canyons and Seamount Marine National Monument, a 5,000-square-mile area off New England enacted in September 2016 by then-President Obama.

Comments can be posted to www.regulations.gov. Enter NOAA-NOS-2017-0066 in the “Search” box, click the ‘‘Comment Now!”

Advisory Council

The Florida Keys Sanctuary’s Advisory Council heard in a Tuesday meeting that the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the sanctuary’s zoning and management update is working its way through Washington, D.C.

“We have been saying fall or winter 2017” for the impact statement release, said sanctuary Deputy Superintendent Beth Dieveney.

Acting Sanctuary Superintendent Ed Lindelof told council members Tuesday that with the change in administrations, there are “some unknowns on [statement] clearance by NOAA” and the Department of the Interior, she said.

“We are committed to getting it out as soon as possible,” Dieveney said. “There will be at least 90 days during which the Florida Keys community, stakeholders, resource users, and the general public will be able to provide feedback and recommendations.”

Agency officials have interviewed potential candidates to fill posts as Keys sanctuary superintendent, and deputy superintendent in the Upper Keys. No date for a final decision is available.

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