06/23/2011 - As the 27-agency National Ocean Council begins the formidable task of mapping out the myriad resources of the nation's oceans, lakes and coasts, some are looking to the Interior Department's offshore wind program for hints of how early planning can improve federal decisionmaking.
Interior's plan to expedite wind leasing and development off the Atlantic Coast is viewed by some as an early glimpse of the potential for coastal and marine spatial planning, or CMSP. The Obama administration initiative seeks to gather scientific data, mapping resources and input from ocean stakeholders to provide a framework for federal officials and investors to make informed decisions.
The idea is to ensure that ocean users -- commercial and recreational fishermen, shipping companies, wind developers, naval vessels and marine wildlife -- get a sustained bang for their buck, so to speak, without harming the environment.
"What we don't want to see happen is the whole thing get bound up in process," said Chris Mann, who works on ocean issues for the Pew Environment Group. "When we read through those [plan] outlines, a lot of it seems to put off the decisionmaking."
But Mann said Interior's wind planning was a promising, albeit imperfect, start to what he hopes will become a comprehensive planning framework for sound action to protect oceans and coasts.
Read the full article, Interior Offshore Wind Leasing Program Seen as 'Test Case' for Marine Spatial Planning, on The New York Times' Web site.