[Senate Report 109-57]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]



109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE                          
 1st Session                                                     109-57
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                        Calendar No. 71

                 NATIONAL OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                        S. H.R. deg. 39



                                     

        DATE deg.April 13, 2005.--Ordered to be printed


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       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                       one hundred ninth congress
                             first session

                     TED STEVENS, Alaska, Chairman
                 DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Co-Chairman
JOHN McCAIN, Arizona                 JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West 
CONRAD BURNS, Montana                    Virginia
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi              JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas          BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine              BARBARA BOXER, California
GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon              BILL NELSON, Florida
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada                  MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia               FRANK LAUTENBERG, New Jersey
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire        E. BENJAMIN NELSON, Nebraska
JIM DeMINT, South Carolina           MARK PRYOR, Arkansas
DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
                    Lisa Sutherland, Staff Director
             Christine Drager Kurth, Deputy Staff Director
                      David Russell, Chief Counsel
     Margaret Cummisky, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel
 Samuel Whitehorn, Democratic Deputy Staff Director and General Counsel


                                                        Calendar No. 71
109th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session                                                     109-57

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



 
                 NATIONAL OCEAN EXPLORATION PROGRAM ACT

                                _______
                                

                 April 13, 2005.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

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

                              R E P O R T

                          [To accompany S. 39]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill joint resolution deg. (S. 
H.R. deg. 39) to establish a coordinated national 
ocean exploration program within the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration, having considered the same, reports 
favorably thereon without amendment with 
amendments deg. with an amendment (in the nature of a 
substitute) deg. and recommends that the bill joint 
resolution (as amended) deg. do pass.

                          PURPOSE OF THE BILL

  The purpose of S. 39, 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 2006 through 2017. The program's main purpose 
would be to ``benefit, inform, and inspire'' the American 
people, while facilitating the discovery of new living and non-
living resources, documenting shipwrecks and submerged 
archeological 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, and 
advances in deep-sea technologies have made it easier to 
identify structures at ocean depths, 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 narrow 
focus and limited financial and other support for oceans 
exploration in the Federal government.
  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 in the general 
public. The final report to Congress by the U.S. Commission on 
Ocean Policy (the Ocean Commission), released on September 20, 
2004, reiterated these needs. The Ocean Commission report 
highlighted the need for a strong, comprehensive ocean 
exploration program, citing the persistent call for a national 
program from various commissions since the 1970s.
  For example, the Ocean Commission notes that in the 1980s and 
1990s, NOAA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) conducted a 
long-term exploration of the U.S. 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 Secretary of 
Commerce with recommending a national strategy for launching a 
new era of ocean exploration. To develop this strategy, the 
Secretary, through 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. In response, NOAA 
established the Office of Ocean Exploration. Funding for this 
office started at $4 million in FY2001. In FY2004 it increased 
to $12 million, and in FY2005 Congress further increased its 
funding to $22 million, based on the Commission's 
recommendations.
  Overall, the Ocean Commission considers the Federal 
government's past efforts on ocean exploration as 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 
U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research serving supporting roles. 
The recommendation also states outreach and education should be 
an integral component of the program. The report recommends an 
additional $30 million in the first year of implementation, 
rising to $110 million in annual ongoing costs, including 
infrastructure costs. Chapter 27 of the Commission's report 
sets forth detailed recommendations for infrastructure needs of 
the program, including dedicated ocean exploration platforms, 
including ships and submersibles.

                          LEGISLATIVE HISTORY

  S. 39 was introduced in the Senate on January 25, 2005, by 
Senator Stevens and referred to the Senate Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It is cosponsored by 
Senators Inouye, Snowe, Cantwell, Lautenberg, Kerry, and Dodd. 
On March 10, 2005, the bill was considered by the Committee in 
an open Executive Session. The Committee, without objection or 
amendment, ordered S. 39 be reported.

                            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. 39--National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

    Summary: S. 39 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 those activities, the bill would 
authorize the appropriation of $45 million annually for fiscal 
years 2006 through 2011 and $55 million annually for fiscal 
years 2012 through 2017.
    Assuming appropriation of the authorized amounts, CBO 
estimates that implementing S. 39 would cost about $15 million 
in fiscal year 2006 and $180 million over the 2006-2010 period. 
We estimate that $420 million would be spent after 2010, 
including $375 million authorized to be appropriated between 
2011 and 2017. Enacting S. 39 would have no impact on revenues 
or direct spending.
    S. 39 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. 39 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--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2006     2007     2008     2009     2010
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                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 nearly $830 million for oceanic research and
  science activities in 2005, including some activities that are similar to the exploration program and ocean
  research efforts that would be authorized by this bill.

    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 39 contains 
no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as defined in 
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: Selena Caldera.
    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 2006 through 2017. It does not 
authorize any new regulations and therefore will not subject 
any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  Section 7 would authorize $45,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2006 through 2011, and $55,000,000 for each of fiscal 
years 2012 through 2017 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 will not have any adverse impact on the 
personal privacy of individuals.

                               PAPERWORK

  The reported bill will 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 and 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, U.S. Geological 
Survey, U.S. 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 authorizes 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 2006 through 
2011, and $55,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2012 through 
2017.

                        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.