International Trade

The National Ocean Policy

by Gwen Bausmith

Growing up in southwest Ohio, I lived over 600 miles away from the ocean, viewing it as a vacation destination, a place very far removed from the agricultural fields and suburbs of the Midwest. It wasn’t until years later that I learned how much all of our lives, whether coastal or inland, are dependent upon and directly impact our ocean and coasts. Where I lived, my local tributaries fed into the Ohio River, which flowed to the Mississippi River, emptied into the Gulf of Mexico, and finally became part of the Atlantic Ocean. Understanding this connection was crucial to realizing my role in ocean and coastal environments.

Healthy and productive ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes regions are a significant part of our nation’s economy, contributing to untold millions of dollars a year and supporting tens of millions of jobs. The oceans are essential in international trade, transportation, energy production, recreational and commercial fishing, national security, and tourism. They also provide many ecological benefits such as flood and storm protection, climate regulation, and important habitat for fish species, migratory birds, and mammals.

My family depended on all of these services, especially for consumer goods and food. In addition, my father worked in the steel industry, relying heavily on our nation’s waters for transporting materials.

On July 19, 2010, President Obama signed an Executive Order directing the federal government to develop a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, often referred to as the National Ocean Policy. It focuses on improving stewardship for our ocean and coastal resources and addressing their most pressing challenges.

It builds on over a decade of bipartisan discussions and looks toward a science-based approach for Federal, State, Tribal, and local partners to better manage the competing uses in these regions. Designed with extensive public and stakeholder input, the Policy will work to increase efficiencies across the Federal Government and provide access to better data to support multiple industries.

I am very proud to be a part of EPA’s involvement in the National Ocean Policy. EPA is committed to numerous actions and milestones in the Policy’s Implementation Plan, from improving water quality and promoting sustainable practices on land, to restoring and protecting regional ecosystems. I may not have realized it as a child growing up in the Midwest, but everyone has a stake in the future health of our ocean and coastal ecosystems. Every state is an ocean state.

About the Author: Gwen Bausmith is an Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Fellow at EPA’s Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Green International Trade Missions

About the author: Jessica Arnold joined the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration’s Environmental Technologies Team in 2007 as an associate team member. Last spring, she spent a month in Sub-Saharan Africa with U.S. companies on a multi-sector trade mission designed to help facilitate U.S. exports to the region.

If you search the Internet for images of Lagos, Nigeria, you’ll probably find many photos. With more than 120 million people living in Nigeria, it is the most heavily populated country in Sub-Saharan Africa and, until recently, has put very little focus on the environment. Nigeria’s president, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, said in 2008 that, “the country’s annual losses stemming from environmental degradation total nearly $5.1 billion.”

In the spring of 2008, I participated in a multi-sector trade mission to three countries (Ghana, Nigeria, and South Africa) in Sub-Saharan Africa led by the International Trade Administration (ITA). Trade missions are one of the key tools ITA uses to help U.S. businesses export products and services and enter new markets.

So, with President Ya’Adua’s comment in mind, I thought, “We’re off to visit three countries that want newer and more efficient technologies to help them clean their air, their water, and their waste.” I set a goal for myself to make sure that multiple U.S. companies focused on environmental technology products were part of the trade mission and would have the opportunity to begin or expand exports to these markets where their products and services could truly be helpful.

I was very happy to find that the U.S. industry was both enthusiastic about and capable of filling this need as four of the 13 companies on the trade mission were environmental firms or involved with environmental technologies in some way. I’m also thrilled to report that as a direct result of this trade mission, at least one company, a renewable energy company based in Michigan, secured contracts to develop solar efficiency projects in Nigeria and South Africa.

As green technologies developed by U.S. industry continue to advance and the interest and demand for products and services derived from those technologies from foreign markets grows, ITA will be leading three green trade missions this spring: an environmental technology mission to Italy, Greece, and Croatia; a solar energy mission to India; and a green building products and services mission to Southeast Asia. I look forward to returning to Greenversations in the future to share experiences and report on successes from these trade missions. In the meantime, please visit us at: Export.gov.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.