Complex and Murky Spatial Planning
University of South Carolina - School of Law
October 23, 2012
Journal of Land Use & Environmental Law, 2013
Ocean zoning represents a governance mechanism with potential to solve many existing marine environmental problems. President Obama’s Executive Order 13,547 is the first serious effort by the federal government to move toward zoning of federal waters. The initiative contained in E.O. 13,547, described as “Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning,” includes the two components of a traditional zoning process – plan development and the creation of enforceable, spatial rules. It is not clear why the President opted not to include the word “zoning” in the title of the initiative; more important, it is not clear why the “enforceable rules” piece of the initiative is drafted in such a complex and murky way. I argue that this lack of clarity, in particular the failure of E.O. 13,547 to identify the development of durable, dominant-use rules as a key objective of the planning process, is problematic for two reasons. First, such rules are the most important functional components of effective zoning regimes, which work because they give clear priority to single or compatible uses in geographically-defined spaces. Second, the failure to pre-commit to the development of durable, dominant-use rules greatly reduces the incentive for interest groups to participate in the initial planning process. Without buy-in from the full range of interest groups, from the oil and gas industry to marine conservationists to alternative energy organizations, the President’s initiative is unlikely to produce meaningful, long-lasting improvements to ocean governance.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 23
Keywords: oceans, ocean law, ocean zoning, marine environment, fisheries, offshore energy, oil and gas, alternative energy
Date posted: October 23, 2012
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