January 6, 2009
Bush Announces Huge Pacific Area Now Protected From Drilling
President George W. Bush will label a 200,000 square mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday as a sheltered section, making the area protected from oil drilling and other harmful procedures.
The U.S. is calling this "the largest area of protected sea in the world."
"The president's actions will prevent the destruction and extraction of natural resources from these beautiful and biologically diverse areas without conflicting with our military's activities and freedom of navigation, which are vital to our national security," she said.
While convivial about the protection, environmental activists noted that without taking action to stop the climate change, any other measures would be useless.
"The conservation action is going to benefit the public and future generations through enhanced science, knowledge and awareness, and just good old-fashioned inspiration, because these places are exceptionally dynamic when it comes to the marine environment," stated the chairman of the White House council on environmental quality.
The areas being protected house underwater mud volcanoes, coral reefs, and extraordinary species of whales.
The White House announced in August it is considering protecting a few islands and atolls in the central Pacific area, like the Rose Atoll and the waters of the Northern Mariana Islands.
Connaughton added that these national monuments would be created in a way "that also fully respects our nation's national security needs by ensuring freedom of navigation for all vessels in accordance with international law and by ensuring that our military can stay ready and be globally mobile".
Bush created a national monument in northwestern Hawaii in 2006, the biggest marine protected region worldwide at the time.
The Pew Environment Group commended the latest action.
"This historic action by President Bush protects some of the world's most unique and biologically significant ocean habitat," Joshua Reichert, the group's managing director, stated.
"Together with the Hawaii marine monument established two years ago, this marks the end of an era in which humans have increasingly understood the need to conserve vanishing wild places on land but failed to comprehend the similar plight of our oceans. It comes none too soon," he added.
Brendan Cummings, an oceans director at the Center for Biological Diversity, also complimented the protected are but added that restriction of greenhouse emissions are extremely important for long-term preservation of the ocean's gifts.
"Unless we deal with global warming, all other protective measures for coral reefs will be rendered meaningless," Cummings said. "Ultimately, Bush's legacy as a climate criminal will far outweigh his ocean legacy, as any benefit coral reefs receive from this monument designation will be bleached away by warming seas."
Image Caption: Rose Atoll
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