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108th Congress Report
2d Session 108-400
Calendar No. 791
NATIONAL OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT
R E P O R T
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
DATE deg.October 11, 2004.--Ordered to be printed
SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
one hundred eighth congress
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
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
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-
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
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.
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
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.
Elizabeth M. Robinson
(For Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Director).
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
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
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.
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
The reported bill would not have any adverse impact on the
personal privacy of individuals.
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 1. Short title
Section 1 cites this Act as the ``National Ocean Exploration
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
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
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.