The battle to achieve a balanced energy policy for the U.S. recently got a lot more complicated. Thus far, much of the debate over where we can drill for oil has focused on the country’s coastal waters. But in light of a June 12 memorandum from President Obama establishing an Ocean Policy Task Force, it appears that all the world’s waters will come under closer scrutiny.

In a letter explaining the formation of this new task force, President Obama says we have a stewardship responsibility to maintain healthy oceans, coasts and Great Lakes, and to protect them from the environmental challenges they face.

CEA, of course, supports this goal of developing policies that help the world’s oceans thrive. But we are concerned by the urgency with which the task force was instructed to, essentially, fix all the ills of the world’s oceans – especially considering this matter is barely on the public’s radar screen.

Recently this new task force produced its first interim report, proposing policies that could significantly impact all sorts of activity, including oil exploration and production and possibly bar them.

Now, this new Ocean Policy Task Force is weighing a multitude of issues, not just oil, and certainly not just offshore drilling. But with serious talk so early in this process of setting up a governance system with little to no input from commercial industry, there is a big danger the American energy industry could emerge as one of the big losers of any new ocean policies. This system of ocean governance the task force has drafted could, in fact, limit the country’s ability to develop its own offshore energy, including oil, natural gas, and renewable energy.

Recently, CEA successfully organized a massive letter writing campaign in support of responsible drilling in our coastal waters. Today, we’re asking all our members and supporters once again to start writing. The public comment period on the recommendations outlined in the task force’s interim report closes on October 17.

Like we said earlier, topics such as ocean governance and ocean ecology are as vast as the ocean itself. Likewise, the formation of a system that will enable our oceans, our people and our industries to all thrive is a lot more complicated than we can cover in this post. Check this blog for future updates and details on the Ocean Policy Task Force’s proposals, and all the different groups of people and business who might be impacted.

Our parting message for the moment, though, is Don’t Wait. Make sure your voice is heard now. A draft letter to the U.S. Council on Environmental Quality is available on our web site, along with the mailing address and other contact information. You can also submit your comments and concerns electronically here.

Remind our policy makers about all the ways that a robust domestic energy industry supports the country. And remember that your voices are heard.