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108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     108-400
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       Calendar No. 791

                 NATIONAL OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                    on

                                S. 2280



                                     

       DATE deg.October 11, 2004.--Ordered to be printed

       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                      one hundred eighth congress
                             second 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
                   Rob Freeman, Deputy Staff Director
                  Robert W. Chamberlin, Chief Counsel
      Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
         xxxxx xxxxx, Democratic General Counsel deg.


                                                       Calendar No. 791
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     108-400

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



 
                 NATIONAL OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT

                                _______
                                

                October 11, 2004.--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. 2280]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill joint resolution deg. (S. 
2280) TITLE deg. ``A Bill Act deg.To 
establish a coordinated national ocean exploration program 
within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration'', 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment without amendments with an amendment (in the 
nature of a substitute) deg. and recommends that the bill 
joint resolution deg. (as amended) deg. do 
pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of S. 2280, the National Ocean Exploration 
Program Act, is to establish a national ocean exploration 
program within NOAA and authorize appropriations for the 
program for fiscal years 2005 through 2016. The program's main 
purpose would be to explore the oceans to ``benefit, inform, 
and inspire'' the American people, while facilitating the 
discovery of new living and non-living resources, documenting 
shipwrecks and submerged archaeological sites, and encouraging 
the growth of new technologies. The bill would also establish 
an interagency task force to coordinate Federal and non-
government cooperation.

                          Background and Needs

  Ocean exploration has encompassed charting ocean depth and 
bathymetry and identifying and studying marine organisms. 
Although ocean exploration has occurred since the 1800s, only 5 
percent of the ocean floor has been explored to date and 
scientific understanding of undersea environments remains 
cursory. Current ocean exploration excursions continue to probe 
uncharted territory and locate and identify new species and 
resources, ranging from hydrothermal vents and deep sea corals 
to shipwrecks and other cultural artifacts. The potential for 
identifying new and profitable energy sources and biomedical 
resources in the oceans is significant, but it remains largely 
untapped. Progress has generally been limited due to the 
Federal government's narrow focus and limited financial and 
other support for ocean exploration.
  For decades, the ocean science, research, and education 
communities have called for strengthening Federal ocean 
exploration programs and priorities in order to fill critical 
scientific knowledge gaps, develop potential economic 
resources, and inspire greater ocean literacy among the general 
public. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy's (the Ocean 
Commission) final report to Congress, released on September 20, 
2004, reiterated these needs. Within its report, the Ocean 
Commission highlighted the need for a strong, comprehensive 
ocean exploration program, citing the persistent call for a 
national program from various commissions and expert panels 
since the 1970s.
  For example, the Report of the Ocean Commission notes that in 
the 1970s, as the result of recommendations in the 1969 Report 
of the Stratton Commission, the United States led the 
International Decade of Ocean Exploration. In addition, in the 
1980s and 1990s, NOAA and the United States Geological Survey 
(USGS) conducted a long-term exploration of the United States 
Exclusive Economic Zone in response to recommendations of the 
National Advisory Committee on Oceans and Atmosphere. This 
effort produced basic reconnaissance survey data, although NOAA 
and the USGS did not conduct more detailed explorations due to 
divergent agency missions and limited funding.
  In June 2000, President Clinton charged the Department of 
Commerce with recommending a national strategy for launching a 
new era of ocean exploration. To develop this strategy, NOAA 
established the President's Panel on Ocean Exploration, which 
consisted of leading ocean explorers, scientists, and 
educators. This panel recommended a multidisciplinary, 
integrated national ocean exploration office with an annual 
budget of $75 million (not including the cost of providing a 
dedicated exploration vessel and undersea vehicle). In 
response, NOAA established the Office of Ocean Exploration. 
Funding for this office started at $4 million in FY 2001, and 
by FY 2004 it was funded at $13,100,000. NOAA's ocean 
exploration program continues to be constrained by a narrow 
agency focus and limited discretionary funding.
  Overall, the Ocean Commission considers the Federal 
government's past efforts on ocean exploration to be 
inadequately funded and not comprehensive enough in scope. 
Under Recommendation 25-4, the Ocean Commission calls for 
``significant funding'' for ``an expanded national ocean 
exploration program'' with NOAA and the National Science 
Foundation serving as the lead agencies and the USGS and the 
Navy serving supporting roles. It recommends an additional $30 
million in the first year of implementation, rising to $110 
million in annual ongoing costs (including infrastructure 
costs).

                          Legislative History

  S. 2280 was introduced in the Senate on April 5, 2004, by 
Senator Stevens and referred to the Senate Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It is cosponsored by 
Senators Hollings, Inouye, and Dodd. On July 20, 2004, the bill 
was considered by the Committee in an open executive session. 
The Committee, without objection, ordered S. 2280 to be 
reported without amendment.

                            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:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, August 9, 2004.
Hon. John McCain,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 2280, the National 
Ocean Exploration Program Act.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Deborah Reis.
            Sincerely,
                                      Elizabeth M. Robinson
                               (For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
    Enclosure.

S. 2280--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    Summary: S. 2280 would direct the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to establish and coordinate a 
national program for ocean exploration. The purposes of the 
program would be to explore the physical, biological, 
geological, archaeological, and other characteristics of the 
world's oceans. In carrying out this program, NOAA would be 
authorized to coordinate scientific voyages with other federal 
agencies or institutions and to conduct public education and 
outreach programs. The bill also would direct NOAA to convene, 
with other federal agencies such as the National Aeronautics 
and Space Administration and the Office of Naval Research, a 
task force to provide the new program with available 
exploration technology, communications infrastructure, and data 
management systems. For these activities, the bill would 
authorize the appropriation of $45 million annually for fiscal 
years 2005 through 2010 and of $55 million annually for fiscal 
years 2011 through 2016.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 2280 would cost about $15 
million in fiscal year 2005 and $180 million over the 2005-2009 
period. We estimate that $365 million would be spent after 
2009, including $320 million authorized to be appropriated 
between 2010 and 2016. Enacting S. 2280 would have no impact on 
revenues or direct spending.
    S. 2280 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. 2280 is shown in the following table. 
For this estimate, CBO assumes that the entire amounts 
authorized by the bill will be appropriated for each fiscal 
year. Outlays have been estimated on the basis of historical 
patterns for other NOAA programs. The costs of this legislation 
fall within budget function 300 (natural resources and 
environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                    By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                               -------------------------------------------------
                                                                  2005      2006      2007      2008      2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                 CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION\1\

Authorization Level...........................................        45        45        45        45        45
Estimated Outlays.............................................        15        30        45        45        45
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
\1\ NOAA's National Oceans Office received appropriations of $623 million for oceanic research and science
  activities in 2004, many of which are similar to the program that would be authorized by this bill.

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 2280 
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. State 
and local governments, including academic institutions, that 
participate in research, development, and education activities 
created by the bill would incur costs voluntarily.
    Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Deborah Reis; Impact 
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Gregory Waring; Impact 
on the Private Sector: Amina Masood.
     Estimate 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 establish a national ocean 
exploration program within NOAA and authorize appropriations 
for the program for fiscal years 2005 through 2016. It does not 
authorize any new regulations and therefore would not subject 
any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  Section 7 would authorize $45,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2005 through 2010, and $55,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2011 through 2016 in appropriations to the Secretary of 
Commerce for this program. These funding levels 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

  The reported bill would not increase paperwork requirements 
for the private sector. Those non-governmental partners that 
are interested in participating on the Exploration Technology 
and Infrastructure Task Force established in section 5 would 
likely increase their communications, data management, and 
technical expertise capacity related to oceans exploration.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

  Section 1 cites this Act as the ``National Ocean Exploration 
Program Act.''

Section 2. Establishment

  Section 2 would establish a coordinated national ocean 
exploration program within NOAA, which would work in 
consultation with the National Science Foundation.

Section 3. Purposes

  Section 3 states that the main purpose of the program would 
be to benefit, inform, and inspire the American people about 
the oceans. The program would improve the Nation's 
understanding, appreciation, and stewardship of oceans and 
submerged archaeology. The program's endeavors would be 
interdisciplinary and designed to facilitate the discovery of 
new marine natural products that may have social or health 
benefits.

Section 4. Authorities

  Section 4 would authorize NOAA, with interested parties, to 
conduct interdisciplinary activities to explore and document 
little known marine resources, with an emphasis on deep ocean 
regions (e.g., seamounts) and submerged archaeological sites. 
The program would engage and educate the public by utilizing a 
transparent review process for proposed activities, promoting 
improved technology, and establishing a forum for communication 
to enhance the scientific/technical expertise of the program. 
It also authorizes the program to accept donations that could 
be used for exploration.

Section 5. Exploration Technology and Infrastructure Task Force

  Section 5 would establish a task force consisting of the 
National Aeronautics and Space Administration, United States 
Geological Survey, the Navy, and other interested agencies and 
partners. The task force would enhance the program's use of new 
technology and improve its communications, data management, and 
technical expertise capacity through partnerships between 
government and other entities.

Section 6. Interagency Financing

  Section 6 would authorize the transfer of funds between 
Federal agencies, provided those funds are specifically 
appropriated for this program.

Section 7. Authorization of Appropriations

  Section 7 would authorize appropriations to NOAA for this 
program of $45,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2005 through 
2010, and $55,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2011 through 
2016.

                        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.