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108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    108-203
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       Calendar No. 403


                      OCEANS AND HUMAN HEALTH ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 1218





      DATE deg.November 19, 2003.--Ordered to be printed
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                      one hundred eighth congress
                             first session

                     JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska                  ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South Carolina
CONRAD BURNS, Montana                DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi              JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West 
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas              Virginia
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine              JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas                JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
GORDON SMITH, Oregon                 BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
PETER G. FITZGERALD, Illinois        RON WYDEN, Oregon
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada                  BARBARA BOXER, California
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia               BILL NELSON, Florida
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire        MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
                                     FRANK LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
           Jeanne Bumpus, Staff Director and General Counsel
                   Ann Begeman, Deputy Staff Director
                  Robert W. Chamberlin, Chief Counsel
      Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
                Gregg Elias, Democratic General Counsel



                                                       Calendar No. 403
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                    108-203

======================================================================



 
                      OCEANS AND HUMAN HEALTH ACT

                                _______
                                

               November 19, 2003.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. McCain, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1218]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 1218) to provide for 
Presidential support and coordination of interagency ocean 
science programs and development and coordination of a 
comprehensive and integrated United States research and 
monitoring program, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) and recommends that the bill (as amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 1218, the Oceans and Human Health Act, is 
to establish a Federal research program that examines ocean 
resources and their applications to human health.

                          Background and Needs

  In recent years, we have gained a renewed appreciation for 
the importance of the oceans to our health and well-being. We 
now recognize that human health is one area in which the oceans 
exert major influences that are both positive and negative. 
Oceans and human health is a growing field of science focused 
on detecting potential marine-based contaminants, preventing 
associated illness, and developing products from the ocean that 
will enhance human well-being. Understanding the relationship 
between the oceans and human health is a challenging 
interdisciplinary field of study, and it is increasingly clear 
that it is in the national benefit to provide Federal support 
and coordination of this research effort. Currently, a number 
of Federal agencies share responsibility and expertise for this 
field of science, requiring that capabilities be harnessed 
across such diverse entities as the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Science 
Foundation (NSF), and the National Institute of Environmental 
Health Sciences (NIEHS).
  The rich biodiversity of marine organisms represents an 
important biomedical resource, a promising source of novel 
compounds with therapeutic potential to combat cancer and fight 
infectious diseases, and a potentially significant contribution 
to the national economy. A 1999 National Research Council 
report, From Monsoons to Microbes, noted that nature has been 
the traditional source of new pharmaceuticals and found that 
over 50 percent of the marketed drugs are extracted from 
natural sources or produced using natural products. While the 
oceans are a repository for much of this biodiversity with 
potential biomedical applications, little of it has been 
catalogued or studied. One important aspect that we have yet to 
fully explore is the potential of marine life to produce 
chemicals for treating diseases. There are only three marine 
compounds now in clinical use--and these were developed in the 
1950s.
  In contrast to these life-supporting applications of ocean 
resources, oceans also harbor disease-causing organisms and 
other harmful conditions that impair marine and human life. For 
example, harmful algal blooms, disease-causing parasites, and 
toxic marine compounds can infect seafood or otherwise harm 
human health when handled or ingested. Hypoxic conditions or 
``dead zones'', in which dissolved oxygen is depleted in the 
water column, further impair the oceans' ability to support 
life and can cause massive fish kills. Collectively, these 
threats to marine and human health can result in substantial 
economic losses to coastal communities and lead to severe 
illness, even death, when contaminated seafood is consumed.
  Various marine processes can affect the distribution and 
proliferation of disease-causing organisms and their vectors 
through estuarine, coastal, and ocean basin circulation, tides, 
and temperatures (influencing the occurrence of harmful algal 
blooms, among other health risks). Human activities contribute 
to the problem through sewage disposal, nutrient runoff from 
agriculture and other land uses, and the transfer of organisms 
via ballast water (e.g. the marine pathogenic bacteria Vibrio 
cholera). Climate and weather systems also can cause diseases 
to spread through short dramatic events such as tsunamis, storm 
surges, heavy rains and winds, as well as long-term 
fluctuations related to oceanic trends (e.g. El Nino, Pacific 
Decadal Oscillation). Because the majority of the world's 
population lives in coastal areas, the hazards associated with 
these events have a large impact on public health, and 
understanding their role will be important in the development 
of predictive forecasting and prevention approaches.
  In addition, research is needed to understand the increasing 
detection of disease in marine life, including corals, marine 
mammals, sea turtles, and echinoderms. Study of these species 
may provide information on both the status of contaminants in 
the marine environment and the mechanisms of marine disease. 
For example, marine mammals have been known to be impacted by a 
variety of toxins and have experienced mortality, reproductive 
failure, and depression of the immune system, but little is 
known about the effects of contaminants and diseases on these 
species. Being top predators, marine mammals have a direct 
application to human health because they serve as useful 
indicators of health risks in the marine environment and 
provide means of determining similar mechanisms of disease in 
humans and developing potential treatments.
  Much work is needed to understand the connections between the 
oceans and human health in order to better respond to future 
health needs and threats. To be successful, a research program 
must integrate disciplines, bringing together oceanographers 
and biomedical researchers to better understand marine 
processes, identify marine pathogens, reduce public health 
risks, enhance our biomedical capabilities, and expand the 
promise of therapeutic marine derived pharmaceuticals.
  In fiscal year (FY) 2003, NOAA received appropriations of $8 
million to develop an oceans and human health initiative. 
Within NOAA, many programs and laboratories perform research 
and related activities that could contribute significantly to a 
national research effort, but such efforts have not been 
coordinated within NOAA or among Federal agencies. 
Establishment of a coordinated, interdisciplinary program 
consisting of nationally-recognized research centers and an 
external interdisciplinary research grant program is expected 
to enhance the NOAA program. In addition, last November, the 
NIEHS and the NSF invited applications for research programs to 
explore the relationship between marine processes and public 
health. The joint initiative commits $6 million annually to 
establish centers of excellence focusing on harmful algal 
blooms, water and vector-borne diseases, and marine 
pharmaceuticals.
  S. 1218 would establish a national Interagency Oceans and 
Human Health Research Program (Interagency OHH Program) to 
coordinate research efforts and ensure an adequate Federal 
investment in this growing field of research. The bill would 
direct this program to be coordinated through the National 
Science and Technology Council (NSTC), which would submit to 
Congress within one year of enactment a 10-year implementation 
plan for coordinated Federal activities under the Interagency 
OHH Program. The bill also would direct NOAA to create an 
Oceans and Human Health (OHH) Initiative that would coordinate 
and implement interdisciplinary research and activities within 
NOAA on this topic. This OHH Initiative would be guided by an 
advisory panel, establish centers of excellence, and provide 
external research grants on NOAA mission-related aspects of 
oceans and human health. In addition, the bill would direct the 
Secretary of Commerce to establish a coordinated public 
information and outreach program with the Food and Drug 
Administration (FDA), Enivronmental Protection Agency (EPA), 
Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and the States to provide 
information on potential ocean-related human health risks, and 
it would authorize funding for the NOAA OHH Initiative for FYs 
2004 through 2008 and for the public information and risk 
assessment program for FYs 2004 through 2007.

                          Legislative History

  S. 1218 was introduced by Senators Hollings and Stevens on 
June 10, 2003, and referred to the Senate Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation. Co-sponsors include 
Senators Inouye, Breaux, Cantwell, and Bill Nelson. On June 26, 
2003, the bill was considered by the Committee in an open 
executive session. The Committee, without objection, ordered S. 
1218 be reported with an amendment in the nature of a 
substitute.

                            Estimated Costs

  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

S. 1218--Oceans and Human Health Act

    Summary: S. 1218 would authorize the appropriation of $89 
million through fiscal year 2008 for research on oceans and 
human health issues. This funding would be used by the National 
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to finance an 
oceans and human health initiative and a public health 
information and outreach program.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 1218 would cost the federal 
government $5 million in 2004 and $80 million over the 2004-
2008 period. (The remaining $9 million would be spent in 2009.) 
Enacting the bill would not affect direct spending or revenues.
    The bill contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) 
and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments.
    Estimated Cost to the Federal Government: The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 1218 is shown in the following table. 
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 300 
(natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2004     2005     2006     2007     2008
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Authorization Level................................................       13       15       18       23       20
Estimated Outlays..................................................        5       10       18       22       25
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Basis of Estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that the 
amounts authorized by the legislation will be appropriated for 
each fiscal year and that outlays will follow historical 
spending patterns for similar activities.
    The bill would authorize the appropriation of between $10 
million and $20 million a year over the 2004-2008 period for 
NOAA's oceans and human health initiative. Most of those funds 
would be used to provide grants to public and private research 
centers and individuals. (For fiscal year 2003, NOAA received 
an appropriation of $8 million to provide research grants under 
the oceans and human health initiative.) The bill also would 
authorize the appropriation of $3 million a year over the 2004-
2007 period for NOAA to collect and disseminate research 
findings and other information on the relationship between 
oceans and human health.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 1218 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs; Deborah Reis; Impact 
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie Miller; and 
Impact on the Private Sector: Paige Piper/Bach.
    Estiamte approved by: Robert A. Sunshine, Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

  In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       NUMBER OF PERSONS COVERED

  The reported bill would require the development of a Federal 
interagency program on oceans and human health. It does not 
authorize any new regulations and therefore should not subject 
any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  Section 6 of the reported bill would authorize $10,000,000 
for FY 2004, $12,000,000 for FY 2005, $15,000,000 for FY 2006, 
$20,000,000 for FY 2007, and $20,000,000 for FY 2008 for the 
Secretary of Commerce to carry out the NOAA OHH Initiative. It 
also would authorize $5,000,000 for each of FYs 2004 through 
2007 for the public information and risk assessment program. 
These funding levels are relatively modest and are not expected 
to have an inflationary impact on the nation's economy.

                                PRIVACY

  The reported bill would not have any adverse impact on the 
personal privacy of individuals.

                               PAPERWORK

  S. 1218 would not impose any new paperwork requirements on 
private citizens or businesses that do not choose to seek 
research grants as authorized under section 4; entities 
choosing to seek research grants may be subject to some changes 
in the paperwork requirements of the program.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short Title.

  This section cites the short title as the ``Oceans and Human 
Health Act''.

Section 2. Findings and Purposes.

  This sections includes a number of Congressional findings, as 
follows:
          (1) the oceans' biodiversity provides essential 
        resources;
          (2) biodiversity research helps scientists understand 
        human and marine health;
          (3) oceans drive climate and weather that can affect 
        human health;
          (4) oceans act as a vector for transmission of human 
        diseases;
          (5) harmful algal bloom and hypoxia events have 
        increased, threatening marine resources and coastal 
        communities;
          (6) Federal programs and resources support research 
        on these issues, with limited progress; and
          (7) national investment in a research and monitoring 
        program on oceans and human health would enhance public 
        health.
  The purposes of this Act are to provide for presidential 
support and coordination of interagency ocean sciences 
programs, and development and coordination of a research and 
monitoring program on the role of oceans in human health.

Section 3. Interagency Oceans and Human Health Research Program.

  This section would provide for the establishment of an 
Interagency OHH Program to be coordinated and supported by the 
NSTC.
  Subsection (a) would direct the NSTC to establish a Committee 
on Oceans and Human Health comprised of at least one 
representative from NOAA, NSF, National Institutes of Health 
(NIH), CDC, EPA, FDA, Department of Defense (DoD), Department 
of Homeland Security (DHS), and other agencies and departments 
deemed appropriate by the NSTC. This section also would provide 
for the biennial selection of a Chairman of the Committee, who 
shall represent an agency that contributes substantially to the 
Interagency OHH Program.
  Subsection (b) would direct the NSTC, through the Committee 
on Oceans and Human Health, to submit to Congress, within one 
year of enactment, a 10-year implementation plan for 
coordinated Federal activities under the Interagency OHH 
Program. In developing the plan, the Committee would be 
required to consult with the Inter-Agency Task Force on Harmful 
Algal Blooms and Hypoxia, and nothing in the plan required 
under this section would duplicate or supercede that Task 
Force's work. The implementation plan would complement the 
ongoing activities of NOAA, NSF, NIEHS, and other departments 
and agencies, and--
          (1) establish the Federal research goals and 
        priorities related to oceans and human health;
          (2) describe specific activities required to achieve 
        such goals;
          (3) identify relevant Federal programs and activities 
        that would contribute to the Interagency OHH Program;
          (4) consider and use reports and studies conducted by 
        Federal agencies and departments, the National Research 
        Council, the Ocean Research Advisory Panel, the United 
        States Commission on Ocean Policy, and other entities;
          (5) make recommendations for the coordination of 
        national and international programs; and
          (6) estimate Federal funding for research activities 
        to be conducted under the Interagency OHH Program.
  Subsection (c) would outline the scope of the Interagency OHH 
Program, which is to include the following activities--
          (1) interdisciplinary and coordinated research and 
        activities to improve our understanding of how ocean 
        processes and marine organisms can relate to human 
        health and contribute to medicine and research;
          (2) coordination with the National Ocean Research 
        Leadership Council (established under 10 U.S.C. 
        7902(a)) to ensure any ocean and coastal observing 
        system provides information necessary to monitor, 
        predict, and reduce marine public health problems;
          (3) development through partnerships of new 
        technologies and approaches for detecting and reducing 
        hazards to human health from ocean sources and for 
        strengthening understanding of the value of marine 
        biodiversity to biomedicine; and
          (4) support for scholars, trainees, and educational 
        opportunities that encourage an interdisciplinary and 
        international approach to marine life research.

Section 4. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Oceans and 
        Human Health Initiative.

  This section would authorize a NOAA initiative on Oceans and 
Human Health that would coordinate NOAA activities on oceans 
and human health as well as coordinate with the Interagency OHH 
Program.
  Subsection (a) would direct the Secretary of Commerce to 
develop an OHH Initiative, consistent with the interagency 
program developed under section 3, that would coordinate and 
implement research and activities within NOAA related to the 
role of the oceans in human health. In establishing the 
program, the Secretary would be required to consult with other 
Federal agencies conducting integrated ocean health research or 
research in related areas, including the CDC, NSF, and NIEHS. 
The NOAA OHH Initiative would provide support for program and 
research coordination, an advisory panel, NOAA national 
center(s) of excellence, research grants, and distinguished 
scholars and traineeships.
  Under subsection (b) of section 4, the Secretary would 
establish an oceans and human health advisory panel to assist 
in the NOAA OHH Initiative development and implementation. 
Membership of the advisory group would include a balanced 
representation of individuals with multi-disciplinary expertise 
in the marine and biomedical sciences. The subsection would 
provide that the Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 
1) shall not apply to the panel.
  Subsection (c) would direct the Secretary to, through a 
competitive process, establish and support centers of 
excellence that strengthen NOAA's capabilities to carry out 
programs and activities related to the oceans' role in human 
health. These centers shall complement and be in addition to 
any centers of excellence for oceans and human health 
established through NSF or NIEHS. The centers would focus on 
areas related to NOAA missions, including the use of marine 
organisms as indicators for marine environmental health, ocean 
pollutants, marine toxins and pathogens, harmful algal blooms, 
hypoxia, seafood testing, drug discovery, biology and 
pathobiology of marine mammals, and such disciplines as marine 
genomics, marine environmental microbiology, ecological 
chemistry, and conservation medicine. The Secretary is directed 
to consider the need for geographic representation and to 
encourage proposals that have strong scientific and 
interdisciplinary merit and partnership approaches.
  Subsection (d) would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to 
provide grants for research and projects on oceans and human 
health that complement or strengthen NOAA-related programs and 
activities. In implementing this subsection, the Secretary is 
directed to consult with the oceans and human health advisory 
panel and the National Sea Grant College Program, and may work 
with other agencies in the Interagency OHH Program to establish 
joint criteria for such research projects. This subsection 
specifies that the grants shall be awarded through a peer-
review process that may be conducted jointly with other 
agencies participating in the Interagency OHH Program or under 
the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (10 U.S.C. 
7901).
  Subsection (e) would direct the Secretary to provide 
financial assistance to support distinguished scholars working 
in collaboration with NOAA scientists and facilities. The 
Secretary also would be authorized to establish a training 
program, in consultation with NIEHS and NSF, for scientists 
early in their careers who are interested in oceans and human 
health.

Section 5. Public Information and Outreach.

  Subsection (a) of this section would direct the Secretary of 
Commerce, in consultation with the CDC, FDA, EPA, and the 
States, to design and implement a national public information 
and outreach program on potential ocean-related human health 
risks. The outreach program would collect and analyze 
information, disseminate the results (to relevant Federal, 
State, public, industry or other interested parties), provide 
advice regarding precautions against illness or hazards, and 
make recommendations on observing systems that would support 
the program.
  Subsection (b) would require the Secretary, in consultation 
with the CDC, FDA, EPA, and the States, to assess health risks 
and benefits associated with the consumption and handling of 
seafood.

Section 6. Authorization of Appropriations.

  This section would authorize funding for the NOAA OHH 
Initiative established under section 4, and the public 
information and risk assessment program established under 
section 5.
  Subsection (a) would authorize funding to be appropriated to 
the Secretary of Commerce to carry out the initiative under 
section 4 as follows: $10,000,000 for FY 2004; $12,000,000 for 
FY 2005; $15,000,000 for FY 2006; $20,000,000 for FY 2007; and 
$20,000,000 for FY 2008.
  Subsection (b) would authorize $5,000,000 for each of FYs 
2004 through 2007 for the public information and risk 
assessment program established under section 5.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the bill as 
reported would make no change to existing law.