Industry's concern over potential US ocean policy is premature.

President Obama established the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in June 2009. The task force is staffed by 24 senior policy-level officials from executive departments, agencies, and offices across the federal government, and led by the White House Council on Environmental Quality, chaired by Nancy Sutley. It is “charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy that ensures protection, maintenance, and restoration of oceans, our coasts and the Great Lakes.”

In the first 90 days, the Task Force received more than 500 comments from “academia, citizens, commercial interests, non-governmental organizations, and States, tribes, and regional governance structures.”

The number of comments seems quite low, even though some are said to represent the concerns of hundreds or thousands of constituents.

The task force then issued an interim report on Sept. 10, 2009, followed by a 30-day public comment period.

Earlier this week, 69 members of the US House of Representatives sent a letter to Sutley, saying they were concerned the task force’s work would hamper US efforts to develop offshore energy.

Although their presupposition is understandable, there is no actual mention of oil and gas drilling or development anywhere in the 38-page interim report.

This fall, the Task Force is hosting six regional public meetings in Anchorage, San Francisco, Providence, Cleveland, New Orleans, and Honolulu. The comments received will be included in the Task Force’s final report in December.

This framework for coastal and marine spatial planning is due to the President by Dec. 9, 2009.

Time will tell how it may affect the industry.