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NOAA-ECSC Fellow Publishes Key Article on U.S. Oil Dispersant Policy

Cynthia McGee, J.D.

NOAA Educational Partnership Program Law Fellow

NOAA's mission of science, service, and stewardship requires expertise from across many disciplines, including policy and law. During summer 2013, Cynthia McGee completed an internship at NOAA's National Ocean Service (NOS) in the International Program Office (IPO), where she had a front-seat view of the international aspects of NOAA's ocean policy. Her article, Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: The Failure of U.S. Oil Dispersant Policy and Lessons to Be Learned from Australia and Norway, was published as the lead article in Volume 4 of Law of the Sea Reports, an online journal of the American Society of International Law. Cynthia was supported by NOAA Environmental Cooperative Science Center (ECSC) and graduated from Florida A&M University (FAMU) College of Law this spring with her Juris Doctor degree.

Cynthia prepared her article as a NOAA-ECSC fellow in an Ocean and Coastal Law Seminar and was able to connect with experts on dispersant use and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at Capitol Hill Ocean Week during her internship with NOAA. At FAMU, Cynthia was advised by Professors Randall Abate and Robert Abrams. Her article focuses on the need for new testing protocols and regulations to govern the use of chemical dispersants after oil spills. During her internship at NOAA, Cynthia was mentored by NOS/IPO Deputy Director Arthur Paterson and had the opportunity to participate as an observer on the U.S. Delegation at the United Nations' Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization/Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (UNESCO/IOC) Assembly in Paris, France. She wrote the initial draft of the US position paper for the regional sub-commission for Africa and met with the IOC Secretary and other international delegates. During her internship, Cynthia also conducted a legal research project for the NOAA General Counsel's office on securing a preliminary international agreement to limit the harvesting of Sargassum in the Sargasso Sea.

This summer, NOAA NOS Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) is hosting another ECSC student intern, Kayann Chambers, a current Juris Doctor candidate at FAMU College of Law. Kayann is reviewing and compiling state-level legal interpretations of the Coastal Zone Management Act to ensure Federal consistency. She is also developing a legal memorandum analyzing the U.S. Coast Guard's responsibility for implementing routing measures domestically based on the Endangered Species Act.

NOAA ECSC engagement with FAMU College of Law has resulted in a strengthening of the social science component of the Center. Previous NOAA-ECSC research associates from the College of Law have set a high standard for publishing and conducting impactful work in NOAA-mission related policy topics.

Mike Nichola (2012-2013 NOAA-ECSC Research Associate) won first place in the 2013 Environmental Law Writing Competition for his paper, Takings of the Future: Sea Level Rise's Impact on Florida's Coastal Property Under Current Florida Law and Proposed Strategies for Adaptation. Stacy Fallon (2012-2013 NOAA-ECSC Associate) published her paper, Don't Leave the Sami Out in the Cold: The Arctic Region Needs a Binding Treaty that Recognizes Its Indigenous People's Right to Self-Determination and Free, Prior and Informed Consent, in Volume 3 of Law of the Sea Reports, an online journal of the American Society of International Law. NOAA ECSC Fellow (2012-2013) and FAMU Law School Graduate Victoria Orero became a Foreign Affairs Officer in the Office of Policy Analysis & Public Diplomacy at the U.S. Department of State's Bureau of Energy Resources, where she works on climate change and energy issues.

The work of these promising students will contribute to the development of more effective national policy to manage our natural resources.