Home > 106th Congressional Bills > H.R. 2090 (rh) To direct the Secretary of Commerce to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanographic Program Advisory Panel to report to the Congress on the feasibility and social value of a coordinated oceanogra...

H.R. 2090 (rh) To direct the Secretary of Commerce to contract with the National Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanographic Program Advisory Panel to report to the Congress on the feasibility and social value of a coordinated oceanogra...


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                                                       Calendar No. 806
106th CONGRESS
  2d Session
                                H. R. 2090


_______________________________________________________________________


                   IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

                           September 13, 2000

                     Received; read the first time

                           September 14, 2000

            Read the second time and placed on the calendar

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT


 
   To direct the Secretary of Commerce to contract with the National 
Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanographic Program 
Advisory Panel to report to the Congress on the feasibility and social 
              value of a coordinated oceanography program.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ``Exploration of the Seas Act''.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    Congress finds the following:
            (1) During the past 100 years, scientists working with 
        marine fossils, both underwater and high in the mountains, have 
        traced the origins of life on Earth to the sea, beginning 
        approximately 3 billion years ago. Today, life on our planet 
        remains dependent on the vitality of the sea.
            (2) More than two-thirds of the Earth's surface is covered 
        by water, with oceans and inland seas accounting for almost 140 
        million square miles.
            (3) The United Nations forecasts a worldwide population of 
        8.9 billion by the year 2050, a 50 percent increase from 5.9 
        billion in 1999. As this trend in population growth continues, 
        increasing demands will be placed on ocean and coastal 
        resources, not only as a result of population growth in coastal 
        regions, but also from the need to harvest increasing amounts 
        of marine life as a source of food to satisfy world protein 
        requirements, and from the mining of energy-producing materials 
        from offshore resource deposits.
            (4) The ocean remains one of the Earth's last unexplored 
        frontiers. It has stirred our imaginations over the millennia, 
        led to the discovery of new lands, immense mineral deposits, 
        and reservoirs of other resources, and produced startling 
        scientific findings. Recognizing the importance of the marine 
        environment, the need for scientific exploration to expand our 
        knowledge of the world's oceans is crucial if we are to ensure 
        that the marine environment will be managed sustainably.
            (5) The seas possess enormous economic and environmental 
        importance. Some ocean resources, such as fisheries and 
        minerals, are well recognized. Oil use has increased 
        dramatically in recent times, and the sea bed holds large 
        deposits of largely undiscovered reserves. Other ocean 
        resources offer promise for the future. In addition to fossil 
        fuels, the ocean floor contains deposits of gravel, sand, 
        manganese crusts and nodules, tin, gold, and diamonds. Marine 
        mineral resources are extensive, yet poorly understood.
            (6) The oceans also offer rich untapped potential for 
        medications. Marine plants and animals possess inestimable 
        potential in the treatment of human illnesses. Coral reefs, 
        sometimes described as the rain forests of the sea, contain 
        uncommon chemicals that may be used to fight diseases for which 
        scientists have not yet found a cure, such as cancer, acquired 
        immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and diabetes. While the 
        number of new chemical compounds that can be derived from land 
        based plants and microbial fermentation is limited, scientists 
        have only just begun to explore the sea's vast molecular 
        potential.
            (7) In spite of the development of new technologies, 
        comparatively little of the ocean has been studied. The 
        leadership role of the United States has been eroded by a 
        gradual decrease in funding support, even while public opinion 
        surveys indicate that ocean exploration is at least as 
        important as space exploration.
            (8) The National Academy of Sciences has the means by which 
        to study and make determinations regarding the adoption and 
        establishment of a coordinated oceanography program for the 
        exploration of the seas, in which the National Oceanic and 
        Atmospheric Administration could participate in a role similar 
        to that of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration 
        with regard to the International Space Station.

SEC. 3. COORDINATED OCEANOGRAPHIC PROGRAM ADVISORY PANEL.

    (a) In General.--Not later than 60 days after the date of the 
enactment of this Act and subject to the availability of 
appropriations, the Secretary of Commerce shall contract with the 
National Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanography 
Program Advisory Panel (in this Act referred to as the ``Panel''), 
comprised of experts in ocean studies, including individuals with 
academic experience in oceanography, marine biology, marine geology, 
ichthyology, and ocean related economics.
    (b) Chairperson and Vice Chairperson.--The Panel shall elect a 
chairperson and a vice-chairperson.
    (c) Termination.--The Panel shall cease to exist 30 days after 
submitting its final report and recommendations pursuant to section 4.

SEC. 4. REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS.

    (a) In General.--No later than 18 months after its establishment, 
the Panel shall report to the Committee on Resources of the House of 
Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate on the feasibility and social value of a 
coordinated oceanography program. In preparing its report, the Panel 
shall examine existing oceanographic efforts and the level of 
coordination or cooperation between and among participating countries 
and institutions.
    (b) International Workshop.--To assist in making its feasibility 
determination under subsection (a), the Panel shall convene an 
international workshop with participation from interested nations and a 
broad range of persons representing scientists, engineers, policy 
makers, regulators, industry, and other interested parties.
    (c) Final Report.--The Panel shall include in its final report 
recommendations for a national oceans exploration strategy, which 
will--
            (1) define objectives and priorities, and note important 
        scientific, historic, and cultural sites;
            (2) promote collaboration among research organizations;
            (3) examine the potential for new ocean exploration 
        technologies;
            (4) describe those areas of study in which national or 
        international oceanographic cooperation is currently being 
        undertaken;
            (5) identify areas of study in which knowledge of the 
        oceans is inadequate;
            (6) ensure coordination with the National Oceanic and 
        Atmospheric Administration's Marine Protected Area Center;
            (7) ensure that newly discovered organisms with medicinal 
        or commercial potential are identified for possible research 
        and development; and
            (8) identify countries and organizations that would be 
        likely to participate in a coordinated oceanography program.
    (d) Implementation.--If the Panel determines that a coordinated 
oceanography program is feasible and has significant value for 
advancing mankind's knowledge of the ocean, the Panel shall include in 
its final report recommendations for implementing such program, 
including recommendations regarding--
            (1) the institutional arrangements, treaties, or laws 
        necessary to implement a coordinated oceanography program;
            (2) the methods and incentives needed to secure cooperation 
        and commitments from participating nations to ensure that the 
        benefit that each nation that is a party to any international 
        agreement establishing a coordinated oceanography program 
        receives is contingent upon meeting the nation's obligations 
        (financial and otherwise) under such an agreement;
            (3) the costs associated with establishing a coordinated 
        oceanography program;
            (4) the types of undersea vehicles, ships, observing 
        systems, or other equipment that would be necessary to operate 
        a coordinated oceanography program; and
            (5) how utilization of aboriginal observational data and 
        other historical information may be best incorporated into a 
        coordinated oceanography program.

SEC. 5. OBTAINING DATA.

    Subject to national security restrictions, the Panel may obtain 
from any department or agency of the United States information 
necessary to enable it to carry out this Act. Upon request of the 
chairperson of the Panel, the head of any department or agency shall 
furnish that information at no cost to the Panel.

SEC. 6. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    There are authorized to be appropriated for the purposes of 
carrying out this Act, and to remain available until expended, 
$1,500,000.

            Passed the House of Representatives September 12, 2000.

            Attest:

                                                 JEFF TRANDAHL,

                                                                 Clerk.




                                                       Calendar No. 806

106th CONGRESS

  2d Session

                               H. R. 2090

_______________________________________________________________________

                                 AN ACT

   To direct the Secretary of Commerce to contract with the National 
Academy of Sciences to establish the Coordinated Oceanographic Program 
Advisory Panel to report to the Congress on the feasibility and social 
              value of a coordinated oceanography program.

_______________________________________________________________________

                           September 14, 2000

            Read the second time and placed on the calendar

Pages: 1

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