Obama’s National Ocean Council “Listening Session,” Part 3

Following California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird, came the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Dr. Larry Robinson.

Dr. Larry Robinson

A nuclear chemist from Tennessee and Florida, Robinson worked from 1984-1997 at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the nations largest energy research facility.  Since 2001, he’s worked for NOAA through the environmental and research departments at Florida A&M University.  Obama appointed him to the high-ranking NOAA position just weeks after the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf.  He oversaw and reported upon NOAA’s responses to the BP Oil Spill.

Robinson said the goal of the National Ocean Council was to “enact more strategic, and in fact, more efficient utilization and management of our oceans and coastal resources.”  He expressed a desire to “hear from the public at this critical point as to whether or not we are on the right path,” claiming that policy would be affected by what was heard and developed from the “listening session.”

Finally, Ms. Eileen Sobeck spoke briefly in support of the stated aims of the new National Ocean Council.

Eileen Sobeck

Sobeck is a Stanford lawyer who has worked for years representing NOAA.  She also worked for the Department of Justice in the Environment and Natural Resources Division, and is presently the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks, part of the Departnment of the Interior.

For those who don’t know, NOAA is part of the Department of Commerce, and regulates fisheries.  The former Minerals Management Service (MMS), now called “B.O.E.M.R.E.,” regulates oil and gas drilling and mineral extraction, and is part of the Department of the Interior.  Of course, the Navy is in the Department of Defense.

Noyo News has not sorted exactly what other offices, departments, divisions, bureaus, agencies, and corporations were also involved at the NOC conference.  The alphabet soup begins to resemble alphabet mush, the more you try to sort it out.

But so far on the North Coast, we’ve spent two years creating a gigantic carbon footprint, with a totally corrupt MLPA “Initiative,” to throw basically non-existent fisherman off parts of the ocean that aren’t being fished, due to current mis-management and over regulation.  All without safeguarding the ocean from other threats like industrialization, drilling and pollution.

Back in 2007, the first seemingly idealistic attempts at installing huge “environmentally friendly” wave energy “parks” off Mendocino and Fort Bragg, turned out to be an unwise and ecologically destructive boondoggle – a criminally negligent attempt at ocean industrialization, that dragged our community into many tedious and unnecessary meetings.

(Noyo News has learned that Kearns and West, the same PR & management firm that handled the “public process” for the North Coast MLPAI, may have been involved in the “public involvement process,” for P.G.&E.’s attempted ocean resource takeover of 64 square miles off Fort Bragg, and 135 square miles off Eureka, back in 2009.  The effort was unsuccessful.)

The federal government, through the M.M.S. and F.E.R.C. (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), under the Cheney/Bush administration, backed and supported the hand-over of California State waters to P.G.&E., for the ill-advised “wave energy projects.”

So, it was not reassuring to see the same players from the wave energy boondoggle, lurking in the wings Obama’s National Ocean Council “Listening Session” – which was happening to supposedly “save the ocean.”

John Romero, who was Minerals Management Service’s liaison for the wave energy projects was back.  So was P.G.&E.’s Ian Caliendo, the head PR man behind the aborted 2007-2008 wave energy fiasco.

Caliendo sat at the back of the room during the meeting, working on his laptop computer, when he wasn’t out in the lobby talking on his cellphone.

After the introductory one-hour “plenary” meeting, the group of just over 100 people, consisting mostly of government employees and environmental activists, was divided up into into nine “Breakout Sessions,” in a classic application of the Delphi Technique.

I asked Mr. Caliendo as I was leaving,  “So Ian, are you here representing P.G.&E.?”

“Sort of,” was his reply, as he turned to resume talking on his cellphone.


“Breakout Session” room.  Less than ten people per room attended.



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