[Senate Report 112-266]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]

112th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     112-266


                                                       Calendar No. 545



                              R E P O R T

                                 OF THE



                                 S. 692


                January 2, 2013.--Ordered to be printed

                      one hundred twelfth congress
                             second session

            JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West Virginia, Chairman
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts         OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BARBARA BOXER, California            JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
BILL NELSON, Florida                 JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington           ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas                 ROY BLUNT, Missouri
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri           JOHN BOOZMAN, Arkansas
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota             PATRICK J. TOOMEY, Pennsylvania
TOM UDALL, New Mexico                MARCO RUBIO, Florida
MARK WARNER, Virginia                KELLY AYOTTE, New Hampshire
MARK BEGICH, Alaska                  DEAN HELLER, Nevada
                     Ellen Doneski, Staff Director
                   James Reid, Deputy Staff Director
                     John Williams, General Counsel
               Richard Russell, Republican Staff Director
            David Quinalty, Republican Deputy Staff Director
               Rebecca Seidel, Republican General Counsel

\1\The late Senator Inouye served on the Committee until his death on 
December 17, 2012.

112th Congress                                                   Report
 2d Session                                                     112-266




                January 2, 2013.--Ordered to be printed


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


                         [To accompany S. 692]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 692) to improve hurricane 
preparedness by establishing the National Hurricane Research 
Initiative, and for other purposes, 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. 692, the National Hurricane Research 
Initiative Act of 2011, is to protect the public by 
establishing a coordinated research effort on hurricane 
prediction, resilient infrastructure, impact mitigation, public 
communication, and for other purposes.

                          Background and Needs

  Hurricanes and the resulting storm surges, flooding, and high 
winds often lead to loss of life and property. Increases in 
population have made the Nation more vulnerable to hurricane 
damage. As of 2008, 29 percent of the U.S. population lived in 
coastline counties, an 84 percent increase from 1960.\1\ 
Coastal areas are traditionally at high risk; however, damage 
from winds, flooding, storm surges, severe thunderstorms, 
tornadoes, and pressure fluctuations affect the entire Nation.
    \1\United States Department of Commerce & Economics and Statistics 
Administration, U.S. Census Bureau, Coastline Population Trends in the 
U.S.: 1960-2008 (www.census.gov/prod/2010pubs/p25-1139.pdf)
  According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA), the average U.S. annual economic loss 
from 1900-2005 from hurricanes is about $10 billion,\2\ and the 
cumulative cost of hurricanes in the country totals hundreds of 
billions of dollars. The current trend suggests that as coastal 
populations continue to grow, bringing with them additional 
personal wealth, economic losses due to hurricanes will 
continue to double each decade.\3\ Between fiscal year 1989 and 
fiscal year 2008, Congress appropriated nearly $271 billion 
through emergency supplementals and other spending bills in 
response to hurricane destruction.\4\
    \2\Roger A. Pilke, Jr. et al. ``Normalized Hurricane Damage in the 
United States: 1900-2005'', Natural Hazards Review (2008).
    \4\Congressional Research Service Report RL33226, Emergency 
Supplemental Appropriations Legislation for Disaster Assistance: 
Summary Data (2008).
  Recent hurricanes have been particularly costly. In 2003, 
Hurricane Isabel caused over $3 billion in damages along the 
Atlantic Coast and resulted, directly or indirectly, in 34 
deaths.\5\ In 2005, Hurricane Katrina resulted in $125 billion 
in damages and over 1,833 reported deaths, making it the most 
expensive natural disaster in U.S. history.\6\ Hurricane Ike 
caused $25 billion in damages and 20 deaths in the southeastern 
United States in 2008.\7\ While economic analyses of the most 
recent hurricane are still ongoing, Hurricane Sandy has been 
reported as responsible for at least 125 deaths and over $62 
billion in damages.\8\
    \5\National Hurricane Center, ``Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane 
Isabel'' (Revised: January 16, 2004).
    \6\NOAA, ``Hurricane Katrina: A Climatological Perspective'' 
(Updated August 2006) (National Climatic Data Center Technical Report 
    \7\National Hurricane Center, ``Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane 
Ike'' (January 23, 2009) (AL092008).
    \8\Associated Press, ``Superstorm Sandy Deaths, Damage and 
Magnitude: What We Know One Month Later'' (November 29, 2012).
  Experts suggest that investment in a broad research portfolio 
including building codes, infrastructure, fundamental research, 
modeling, and monitoring could effectively mitigate losses due 
to extreme hurricane events. In a 2005 report, the National 
Science and Technology Council (NSTC) cites six grand 
challenges to improve the Nation's disaster resilience: (1) 
provide hazard and disaster information where and when it is 
needed; (2) understand the natural processes that produce 
hazards; (3) develop hazard mitigation strategies and 
technologies; (4) recognize and reduce vulnerability of 
interdependent critical infrastructure; (5) assess disaster 
resilience using standard methods; and (6) promote risk-wise 
    \9\National Science and Technology Council, Committee on 
Environment and Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction, 
Grand Challenges for Disaster Reduction (June 2005).
  The NSTC offers a combination of both research 
recommendations and technical goals to address these 
challenges. The report stresses the continued need for basic 
research into the causes and behaviors of storms and other 
severe weather events. The report also highlights the need to 
develop enhanced modeling techniques to enable improved 
assessments and analysis of infrastructure, urban planning, 
structural engineering, flood zones, and other vulnerable 
  Population and economic growth in the 20th century has put 
unprecedented stress on existing critical infrastructure, 
reducing its resilience to withstand emergency use in a natural 
disaster. Even after the lessons learned in recent severe 
hurricanes, America's levees, bridges, wastewater, roads, and 
electrical grid all remain vulnerable to hurricane damage. The 
American Society of Civil Engineers' 2009 Report Card for 
America's Infrastructure gave the United States a ``D'' grade 
and called for a $2.2 trillion investment over five years to 
overcome the deficiencies.\10\ Hurricane-prone areas in 
particular require communication and transportation 
infrastructure in advance of extreme weather to alert the 
public to danger and carry out successful evacuations.
    \10\American Society of Civil Engineers, 2009 Report Card for 
America's Infrastructure (March 25, 2009).
  The National Academy of Sciences also identified disaster 
resiliency as an imperative to meet 21st century infrastructure 
needs.\11\ Its 2009 report creates a framework for the nation 
to develop critical infrastructure with the ability to 
withstand and quickly recover from natural disasters. The 
components of the plan include: creating a broad and compelling 
vision; a focus on providing essential services involving water 
and wastewater, power, mobility, and connectivity; recognition 
of the interdependencies among critical infrastructure; a 
collaborative systems-based approach; and performance measures. 
The National Academy's findings reinforce the findings and 
recommendations of the NSTC report on the challenges for 
disaster resilience and necessary resources to address them.
    \11\National Academy of Sciences (National Research Council), 
Sustainable Critical Infrastructure Systems: A Framework for Meeting 
21st Century Imperatives (2009).
  This bill would establish a research program addressing the 
critical needs identified in both the NSTC and National 
Academy's reports to increase the understanding of hurricanes 
and their effects on infrastructure and the population, and 
improve the Nation's overall hurricane preparedness.

                         Summary of Provisions

  S. 692 would increase the understanding of and preparation 
for hurricanes by creating the National Hurricane Research 
Initiative. This Initiative would conduct research on hurricane 
prediction, infrastructure development, mitigation techniques, 
and communication as well as provide for training for the next 
generation of hurricane researchers and forecasters.
  NOAA, working with the National Science Foundation (NSF), 
would establish a five-year implementation plan and subsequent 
research goals for the Initiative. NSF and NOAA would help to 
fulfill these objectives through merit-based research grant 
awards and training opportunities for future generations of 
hurricane researchers.
  Every two years the Initiative would be required to submit to 
Congress, along with the President's budget request, a cross-
cut budget and biennial report. NOAA and NSF would ensure 
public access to the work of the Initiative with workshops, 
conferences, and a public domain web site.

                          Legislative History

  Senator Bill Nelson introduced S. 692, the National Hurricane 
Research Initiative Act of 2011, on March 30, 2011. The bill 
was referred to the Senate Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation Committee. A companion bill, H.R. 2258, was 
introduced by Representative Alcee L. Hastings and eight 
cosponsors in the House on June 21, 2011.
  The Committee held a hearing on May 3, 2011 entitled 
``America's Natural Disaster Preparedness: Are Federal 
Investments Paying Off?'' to examine the Nation's state of 
preparedness for natural disasters and how investments in 
programs such as the National Hurricane Research Initiative 
proposed by S. 692 would save lives and reduce reconstruction 
costs after future disasters. The witnesses were Dr. William 
Hooke, Senior Policy Fellow and Director, American 
Meteorological Society; Mr. Bob Ryan, Senior Meteorologist, 
ABC7/WJLA-TV; Dr. Anne Kiremidjian, Professor, Department of 
Civil and Environmental Engineering, Stanford University, on 
behalf of the American Society of Civil Engineers; and Dr. 
Clint Dawson P.E., Professor, Institute for Computational 
Engineering and Sciences, University of Texas at Austin. On May 
5, 2011, the Commerce Committee met in open Executive Session 
and in a voice vote ordered that S. 692 be reported favorably 
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 
S. 692--National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2011
    Summary: S. 692 would direct the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science 
Foundation (NSF) to establish a program to conduct research 
related to hurricanes. The bill also would require NOAA to 
create a Web site to make information about hurricane research 
available to the public. Finally, the bill would direct NOAA 
and NSF to carry out a series of national workshops and 
conferences to facilitate hurricane research.
    Based on information from the affected agencies and 
assuming appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO estimates 
that implementing the legislation would cost $375 million over 
the 2013-2017 period. Enacting S. 692 would not affect direct 
spending or revenues; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures do 
not apply.
    S. 692 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. 692 is shown in the following table. The 
costs of this legislation fall within budget functions 250 
(general science, space, and technology) and 300 (natural 
resources and environment).

                                                                 By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                            2013     2014     2015     2016     2017   2013-2017
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Estimated Authorization Level...........................      100      100      100      100      100       500
Estimated Outlays.......................................       29       67       87       94       98       375

    Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S. 
692 will be enacted early in fiscal year 2013 and that the 
necessary amounts will be appropriated for each fiscal year. 
Estimated outlays are based on historical spending patterns for 
similar NOAA and NSF programs.
    S. 692 would require NOAA and NSF to develop a national 
hurricane initiative that would fund research projects to 
improve hurricane forecasting and tracking, enhance storm surge 
models, and assess the impacts of hurricanes on physical 
infrastructure and people. Those agencies spent less than $50 
million annually on activities related to hurricane research in 
recent years. The bill also would require those agencies to 
develop a website to make hurricane research conducted under 
the program available to the public. Finally, the legislation 
would direct NOAA and NSF to conduct a series of national 
workshops to facilitate hurricane research. Based on 
information provided by the affected agencies and the National 
Science Board, CBO estimates that implementing the legislation 
would cost $375 million over the 2013-2017 period, assuming 
appropriation of the necessary amounts. Most of those funds 
would be used to develop better hurricane observation 
equipment, improved modeling of hurricane behavior, and 
research on making buildings more resilient to hurricane 
    Pay-As-You-Go considerations: None.
    Intergovernmental and private-sector impact: S. 692 
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: Jeff LaFave; Impact on 
state, local, and tribal governments: Melissa Merrell; Impact 
on the private sector: Amy Petz.
    Estimate approved by: Theresa Gullo, Deputy 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 not subject any individuals or 
businesses affected by the bill to any additional regulations.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  S. 692 is not expected to have an adverse impact on the 
Nation's economy. Should the research authorized by this bill 
yield advances in hurricane prediction, mitigation, and/or 
infrastructure protection that are then deployed by Federal, 
State, or local governments, it is anticipated that these 
advances will result in cost savings to the public in the event 
of future hurricanes.


  The bill would have little, if any, impact on the personal 
privacy of individuals.


  The reported bill would not increase paperwork requirements 
for private individuals or businesses. For the Federal 
Government, the bill would require an implementation plan along 
with biennial reports.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

  In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 

                      Section-by-Section Analysis

Section 1. Short Title.
  This section would provide the title for the Act as the 
``National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2011.''
Section 2. Definitions.
  This section would define the terms Eligible Entities, Indian 
Tribe, Initiative, State, Tribal Government, and Under 
Section 3. National Hurricane Research Initiative.
  This section would direct the Under Secretary for Oceans and 
Atmosphere (the Under Secretary) to establish the National 
Hurricane Research Initiative (the Initiative). The purpose of 
the Initiative would be to conduct research to improve: (1) the 
understanding and prediction of hurricanes and other tropical 
storms; (2) the development of storm resilient infrastructure; 
(3) mitigation of the impacts on coastal populations, 
structures, and natural resources; and (4) communication with 
the public concerning hurricane forecasts and risks. The 
Initiative would also provide training for future hurricane 
researchers and forecasters.
Section 4. National Hurricane Research.
  This section would direct NSF, in coordination with NOAA, to 
establish a competitive grant program through its merit review 
process to carry out the research described in section 3. NOAA 
would also carry out a research program to address the research 
objectives in section 3, which may include intramural research, 
grant awards, contracting with research entities, or 
cooperative agreements for research. It would also require 
interagency research collaboration and information sharing to 
the maximum extent practicable.

                        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.