Well endowed and powerful environmental philanthropies — notably the Pew Charitable Trusts — have wrested control over the agenda for ocean policies from traditional, broad-based political forces, according to lawyers writing in an American Bar Association newsletter.
The authors James P. Walsh and Gwen Fanger of the San Francisco firm Davis Wright Tremaine LLP warn that Pew and similar groups — though no others are named — are moving aggressively and even cynically to shape ocean policies.
The case study in point was Pew's alliance with and support for former President George W. Bush who claimed what Walsh and Fanger describe as dubious constitutional authority to unilaterally declare three massive Pacific Ocean sectors to be Marine Protected Areas — together representing an ocean area of 335,488 square miles, larger than the land mass of California.
The authors traced the history of the efforts to cordon off the three unattached areas from most forms of commercial fishing and resources extraction and noted that indigenous interests which opposed the takings were swept aside in the claimed authority of the President to act without Congressional authorization.
Writing in the August issue of the bar association's Maritime Resources Committee Newsletter, Walsh and Fanger concluded that the action by Bush was probably "unlawful."
They were harsh in chastising Pew for praising Bush's expansion of executive power and anointing him with a "Blue Legacy." "Given the Pew Charitable Trusts' environmental views, particularly on global warming" — a development the ex-president continually denied — the praise struck the authors as seeming to be "like a Faustian bargain." The newsletter notes that the authors were not writing on behalf of the bar association.
Jane Lubchenco, at the time a member of the faculty of Oregon State University and now the administrator of oceans for the Obama administration, had urged complete shutdown of commercial fishing in the Marianas.