SACRAMENTO, Calif. July 27, 2017 – Attorney General Xavier Becerra expressed his strong opposition to the Trump administration’s “review” of four national marine sanctuaries located off the California coast: Channel Islands, Cordell Bank, Greater Farallones, and Monterey Bay. In comments to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Attorney General Becerra underscored that California’s national marine sanctuaries contain some of the most significant marine ecosystems in the world, that the fossil fuel resources underneath these sanctuaries are miniscule or entirely speculative, and that the Trump administration’s review is based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the applicable legal requirements that govern the creation and expansion of marine sanctuaries.
“California is home to beautiful marine sanctuaries up and down the coast, with thriving but fragile ecosystems,” said Attorney General Becerra. “But now the Trump Administration wants to review whether these sanctuaries should be protected. Our marine sanctuaries matter, and I will fight to ensure they are protected for future generations.”
On April 28, 2017 — just two days after issuing an Executive Order requiring “review” of national monuments under the Antiquities Act — President Trump issued Executive Order 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy.” This Executive Order called on NOAA to conduct a “review” of all national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments that were designated or expanded within the past ten years. On June 26, 2017, NOAA announced that it was reviewing 11 such areas, including four in California.
The California marine sanctuaries at issue were designated or expanded by Republican and Democratic administrations alike after lengthy and comprehensive public engagement, consultation with state agencies, and consideration of the best scientific evidence. There is little public support for ending protections for California’s sanctuaries to allow for increased energy development.
When he assumed office, Attorney General Becerra made protecting the environment a top priority. He has taken action against the Environmental Protection Agency due to its failure to reduce methane emissions from existing oil and natural gas operations, as is required under federal law; challenged the Department of Energy over its failure to publish in the Federal Register finalized energy efficiency standards for five products: portable air conditioners, uninterruptible power supplies, air compressors, walk-in coolers and freezers and commercial packaged boilers; and has expressed his strong opposition to any attempt by the Trump Administration to revoke or weaken existing protections for national monuments, among other actions.