Congressmen John Tierney and Barney Frank today released the following joint statement in response to the announcement by the Obama administration of the nomination of John Bryson, co-founder and former attorney of the Natural Resources Defense Council, for the position of Secretary of Commerce.
"We were disappointed to see President Obama nominate a new Secretary of Commerce in a manner that does not appear to have taken account of our concerns about the inappropriate regulation of the fishing industry that has taken place in that department. This is particularly surprising because the Obama administration has, after a good deal of pressure from Members of Congress and people in the industry, acknowledged serious defects in the way in which fishing regulations have been promulgated and enforced. We had hoped that we were in the midst of a process to make significant improvements, but to our knowledge, no one concerned with the fishing industry was given any chance to have input on the nomination of the proposed new Secretary of Commerce, John Bryson, and we were especially troubled to see that the number one credential listed for him outside of his business experience was membership in the Natural Resources Defense Council. There are many aspects of the NRDC's work with which we agree, but they have unfortunately been one of those environmental organizations that has reflexively attacked the fishing industry inaccurately and without any real environmental basis. For the President to nominate someone for the position of Secretary of Commerce, without consultation with those of us most concerned with fairness for fishing, and for the NRDC membership to be listed as one of his major qualifications is troubling."
"We continue to be strong supporters of environmental regulations that protect the air, clean the water, and attack the difficult issue of climate change by restricting emissions in various ways. But artificially limiting the number of fish that can be caught by members of the fishing industry -- who are thereby providing a healthy source of food for Americans -- does not seem to us to be a legitimate part of an environmental agenda to the extent that it has been."
"We know that the Senators who represent our fishing areas, including Senators Kerry and Brown from Massachusetts, as well as many others along the East Coast, share our concern with the flawed fishing industry regulation, and we are confident that they will not confirm Mr. Bryson to this post, which is so important to the fishing industry, without looking deeply into his views on this industry and without getting commitments that the fishing industry has a right to expect that they will be treated fairly if he is the Secretary. Our East Coast Senators, who have been so strong in their defense of fishing interests in a legitimate way, are well-positioned to require in their meetings with Mr. Bryson, both formal and informal, that he make these commitments, and while we have no doubt whatsoever about their readiness to do so, we are sending along a copy of this statement to all of our East Coast Senators with whom we have worked so cooperatively on this matter."