05/23/2008 - Jay Nelson of the Pew Environment Group appeared on NPR's "All Things Considered" to speak on the news that the Bush administration is considering launching one of the biggest conservation programs in U.S. history.
If implemented, President George W. Bush could, with the stroke of a pen, protect vast stretches of U.S. territorial waters from fishing, oil exploration and other forms of commercial development. The initiative could also create some of the largest marine reserves in the world — far larger than national parks like Yellowstone or the Grand Canyon.
A spokesman for the White House Council on Environmental Quality confirmed that the administration is considering the initiative but declined to discuss details, saying they are still under review.
The idea is drawing strong support from conservationists who typically have been harshly critical of the Bush administration's overall environmental record. But some of the possible reserves are already attracting opposition from local leaders and industry groups and from some members of Congress.
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The groups — along with government agencies and other interested parties – ultimately developed a "wish list" that included about 30 potential marine monuments. They ranged from small reserves in U.S. coastal waters to vast swaths around U.S. territories in the distant Central Pacific. The candidates stretched "from Bar Harbor, Maine, to Dutch Harbor, Alaska" and beyond, says Jay Nelson of the Washington-based Pew Environment Group.
Listen to the program on "All Things Considered" and read the related story Bush Eyes Unprecedented Conservation Program on NPR's Web site.