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February 22, 2013

Frank backs White House fishery push

Recently retired Congressman Barney Frank said Thursday he would “absolutely” be willing to go to the White House as an advisor to and friend of Sen. Elizabeth Warren to seek President Obama’s support for executive orders and congressional appropriations to relieve the Northeast groundfishery disaster.

On top of the disaster declared by the federal government last fall, draconian cuts in catch limits scheduled to take effect on May 1, the start of the 2013 fishing year, and the shifting of operating costs for government monitors on the boats to fishermen is being widely seen as signaling the collapse of the groundfishing industry in the co-capital ports of Gloucester and New Bedford.

Warren acknowledged that in meetings in Gloucester Tuesday and New Bedford Wednesday. In Gloucester, she described the crisis as entering the “59th minute of the 11th hour,” while, in New Bedford, she said the forces oppressing the industry reminded her of Wall Street’s excesses during the great decline of the U.S. and global economy beginning with the popping of the housing bubble in 2007 and 2008.

Frank, who served as a mentor to Warren, a Harvard Law School professor, during the drafting of the Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which partially reformed the banking system in 2010, said Thursday that the U.S. Senate now holds leverage over the president as he prepares to refill two top positions in the Commerce Department — those of Secretary and NOAA administrator.

There has been no confirmed commerce secretary in nearly a year, and as of next Thursday, with the departure of Lubchenco leaves the top NOAA post open as well.

Frank, a staunch critic of Lubchenco’s policies almost from the start of her NOAA reign, described her in a telephone interview as an intellectually dishonest environmental zealot and enemy of the fishing industry.

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