The following are excerpts, highlighted in red, from the final legislation and/or conference report which contain National Academies' studies. (Pound signs [##] between passages denote the deletion of unrelated text.)
HRpt 106-1033 CONFERENCE REPORT to accompany H.R. 4577 - MAKING OMNIBUS CONSOLIDATED AND EMERGENCY SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS FOR FISCAL YEAR 2001
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
Mr. YOUNG of Florida, from the committee of conference, submitted the following
[To accompany H.R. 4577]
The committee of conference on the disagreeing votes of the two Houses on the amendment of the Senate to the bill (H.R. 4577) "making appropriations for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and related agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2001, and for other purposes", having met, after full and free conference, have agreed to recommend and do recommend to their respective Houses as follows:
That the House recede from its disagreement to the amendment of the Senate, and agree to the same with amendments, as follows:
In lieu of the matter stricken and inserted by said amendment, insert:
SECTION 1. (a) The provisions of the following bills of the 106th Congress are hereby enacted into law:
(1) H.R. 5656, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(2) H.R. 5657, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(3) H.R. 5658, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(4) H.R. 5666, as introduced on December 15, 2000.
(5) H.R. 5660, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(6) H.R. 5661, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(7) H.R. 5662, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(8) H.R. 5663, as introduced on December 14, 2000.
(9) H.R. 5667, as introduced on December 15, 2000.
SEC. 219. (a) Congress makes the following findings:
(1) Organ procurement organizations play an important role in the effort to increase organ donation in the United States.
(2) The current process for the certification and recertification of organ procurement organizations conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services has created a level of uncertainty that is interfering with the effectiveness of organ procurement organizations in raising the level of organ donation.
(3) The General Accounting Office, the Institute of Medicine, and the Harvard School of Public Health have identified substantial limitations in the organ procurement organization certification and recertification process and have recommended changes in that process.
(4) The limitations in the recertification process include:
(A) An exclusive reliance on population-based measures of performance that do not account for the potential in the population for organ donation and do not permit consideration of other outcome and process standards that would more accurately reflect the relative capability and performance of each organ procurement organization.
(B) A lack of due process to appeal to the Secretary of Health and Human Services for recertification on either substantive or procedural grounds.
(5) The Secretary of Health and Human Services has the authority under section 1138(b)(1)(A)(i) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320b-8(b)(1)(A)(i)) to extend the period for recertification of an organ procurement organization from 2 to 4 years on the basis of its past practices in order to avoid the inappropriate disruption of the nation´s organ system.
(6) The Secretary of Health and Human Services can use the extended period described in paragraph (5) for recertification of all organ procurement organizations to-
(A) develop improved performance measures that would reflect organ donor potential and interim outcomes, and to test these measures to ensure that they accurately measure performance differences among the organ procurement organizations; and
(B) improve the overall certification process by incorporating process as well as outcome performance measures, and developing equitable processes for appeals.
(b) Section 371(b)(1) of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 273(b)(1)) is amended-
(1) by redesignating subparagraphs (D) through (G) as subparagraphs (E) through (H), respectively;
(2) by realigning the margin of subparagraph (F) (as so redesignated) so as to align with subparagraph (E) (as so redesignated); and
(3) by inserting after subparagraph (C) the following:
"(D) notwithstanding any other provision of law, has met the other requirements of this section and has been certified or recertified by the Secretary within the previous 4-year period as meeting the performance standards to be a qualified organ procurement organization through a process that either-
"(i) granted certification or recertification within such 4-year period with such certification or recertification in effect as of January 1, 2000, and remaining in effect through the earlier of-
"(I) January 1, 2002; or
"(II) the completion of recertification under the requirements of clause (ii); or
"(ii) is defined through regulations that are promulgated by the Secretary by not later than January 1, 2002, that-
"(I) require recertifications of qualified organ procurement organizations not more frequently than once every 4 years;
"(II) rely on outcome and process performance measures that are based on empirical evidence, obtained through reasonable efforts, of organ donor potential and other related factors in each service area of qualified organ procurement organizations;
"(III) use multiple outcome measures as part of the certification process; and
"(IV) provide for a qualified organ procurement organization to appeal a decertification to the Secretary on substantive and procedural grounds;".
MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH ADMINISTRATION
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
The conference agreement includes $246,747,000 for mine safety and health administration, salaries and expenses instead of $233,000,000 as proposed by the House and $244,747,000 as proposed by the Senate. The conference agreement includes $2,500,000 over the budget request for physical improvements at the National Mine Safety and Health Academy.
The conference agreement includes language proposed by the Senate that allows MSHA to retain and spend up to $1,000,000 in fees collected for the approval and certification of mine equipment and materials. The conference agreement also includes language establishing a $1,000,000 contingency fund for mine rescue and recovery activities. The House bill contained no similar provisions.
Concerns have been expressed about the possible ramifications of a rulemaking on the use of conveyor belts in underground coal mines, including concerns about the validity of the testing on which the rule is based. MSHA is urged to carefully examine the record and to conduct additional research that may be required to address any significant concerns that have been raised.
The conferees are extremely concerned by a recent catastrophe in Eastern Kentucky. Millions of gallons of slurry coal waste broke free from an impoundment causing considerable damage to the environment and disrupting water supply for citizens along the Big Sandy and Ohio Rivers. The conferees believe this event warrants a thorough examination of current coal waste disposal methods and an exploration of future dumping alternatives. Therefore, the conference agreement includes $2,000,000 for a contract with the National Academy of Sciences to examine engineering standards for coal waste impoundments, provide recommendations for improving impoundment structure stabilization, and evaluate potential alternatives for future coal waste disposal, including the benefits of each alternative. The Academy shall seek the participation of representatives of relevant federal, state, and private entities, to include MSHA, OSM, EPA, Corps of Engineers, State mining authorities, and mining companies. Findings of this study shall be conveyed to the Committees on Appropriations no later than October 15, 2001.
The conference agreement includes bill language identifying $589,000,000 for the Ryan White Title II State AIDS drug assistance programs instead of $554,000,000 as proposed by the House and $538,000,000 as proposed by the Senate. The conferees concur with Senate report language regarding the Institute of Medicine study to evaluate the effectiveness of the current role and structure of the Ryan White CARE Act and the efforts to create a national consumer and provider education center within pediatric HIV/AIDS.
The conferees concur with the language of the Senate report regarding a study of the structure of NIH and expect to receive a report and recommendations one year from the date of confirmation of the new NIH Director.
The conferees are troubled by the recent Institute of Medicine study which found that as many as 98,000 deaths are caused by medical errors each year. The conferees have provided an additional $50,000,000 to the agency to determine ways to reduce medical errors. The conferees are supportive of a study to determine the impact of extended work hours for registered nurses on patient safety.
The agreement includes $10,000,000 for research that investigates the relationship between the health care workplace and its impact on medical errors and the quality of care provided to patients. Efforts to restructure the health care workplace, often in response to pressures to reduce costs, suggest that work environment and processes have had an impact on health and quality of workers´ lives as well as the patients for whom they care. As we have learned from the experience of the aviation industry, reducing errors and promoting safety are a result of improving workforce systems. Likewise, it is important that workforce considerations be integrated into efforts to reduce medical errors and promote patient safety. The conferees believe that better understanding of these workforce considerations will lead to improved workplace practices and better outcomes for patients.
The conferees support the efforts of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, the Department of Labor, and other agencies to work jointly and coordinate their work to improve healthcare quality, patient safety, and worker safety in health care facilities, through such activities as the October 2000 jointly sponsored conference on "Enhancing Working Conditions and Patient Safety: Best Practices." The conferees urge that such coordinated efforts be continued.
The conferees strongly urge the agency to enhance its investigator-initiated research funding through all available mechanisms, as appropriate.
-$500,000 to fund, through a contract with the National Academy of Sciences, an evaluation on children´s health. This evaluation should assess the adequacy of currently available methods for assessing risks to children, identify scientific uncertainties associated with these methods, and develop a prioritized research agenda to reduce such uncertainties and improve risk assessment for children´s health and safety;
The conferees request the Secretary to provide a report to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees by May 1, 2001 on the Department´s review and action steps taken in response to the Institute of Medicine´s report, "No Time to Lose: Getting More from HIV Prevention." This should include a review of current investments in HIV prevention as they relate to the issues raised by the Institute of Medicine.
The conferees encourage the Secretary to consider funding a study by the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences which provides a balanced evaluation of the consequences of high stakes testing, using data from a representative sample of states and local educational agencies. The evaluation may examine the consequences for students in general, minority students and students with limited English proficiency related to academic achievement, dropout and retention rates, quality of instruction, and the extent to which parents are informed about assessment results and consequences.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
OPERATIONS, RESEARCH, AND FACILITIES
For an additional amount for "Operations, Research, and Facilities", $750,000, to remain available until expended, for a study by the National Academy of Sciences pursuant to H.R. 2090, as passed by the House of Representatives on September 12, 2000.
SEC. 209. IMPLEMENTATION OF STELLER SEA LION PROTECTIVE MEASURES.-
(a) FINDINGS.-The Congress finds that-
(1) the western population of Steller sea lions has substantially declined over the last twenty-five years.
(2) scientists should closely research and analyze all possible factors relating to such decline, including the possible interactions between commercial fishing and Steller sea lions and the localized depletion hypothesis;
(3) the authority to manage commercial fishing in federal waters lies with the regional councils and the Secretary of Commerce (hereafter in this section "Secretary") pursuant to the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (hereafter in this section "Magnuson-Stevens Act"); and
(4) the Secretary of Commerce shall comply with the Magnuson-Stevens Act when using fishery management plans and regulations to implement the decisions made pursuant to findings under the Endangered Species Act, and shall utilize the processes and procedures of the regional fishery management councils as required by the Magnuson-Stevens Act.
(b) INDEPENDENT SCIENTIFIC REVIEW.-The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (hereafter in this section "North Pacific Council) shall utilize the expertise of the National Academy of Sciences to conduct an independent scientific review of the November 30, 2000 Biological Opinion for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries (hereafter in this section "Biological Opinion"), its underlying hypothesis, and the Reasonable and Prudent Alternatives (hereafter in this section "Alternatives") contained therein. The Secretary shall cooperate with the independent scientific review, and the National Academy of Sciences is requested to give its highest priority to this review.
(c) PREPARATION OF FISHERY MANAGEMENT PLANS AND REGULATIONS TO IMPLEMENT PROTECTIVE MEASURES IN THE NOVEMBER 30, 2000 BIOLOGICAL OPINION.-
(1) The Secretary of Commerce shall submit to the North Pacific Council proposed conservation and management measures to implement the Alternatives contained in the November 30, 2000 Biological Opinion for the Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries. The North Pacific Council shall prepare and transmit to the Secretary a fishery management plan amendment or amendments to implement such Alternatives that are consistent with the Magnuson-Stevens Act (including requirements in such Act relating to best available science, bycatch reduction, impacting on fishing communities, the safety of life at sea, and public comment and hearings.)
(2) The Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries shall be managed in a manner consistent with the Alternatives contained in the Biological Opinion, except as otherwise provided in this section. The Alternatives shall become fully effective no later than January 1, 2002, as revised if necessary and appropriate based on the independent scientific review referred to in subsection (b) and other new information, and shall be phased in in 2001 as described in paragraph (3).
(3) The 2001 Bering Sea/Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska groundfish fisheries shall be managed in accordance with the fishery management plan and federal regulations in effect for such fisheries prior to July 15, 2000, including-
(A) conservative total allowable catch levels;
(B) no entry zones within three miles of rookeries;
(C) restricted harvest levels near rookeries and haul-outs;
(D) federally-trained observers;
(E) spatial and temporal harvest restrictions;
(F) federally-mandated bycatch reduction programs; and
(G) additional conservation benefits provided through cooperative fishing arrangements, and said regulations are hereby restored to full force and effect.
(4) The Secretary shall amend these regulations by January 20, 2001, after consultation with the North Pacific Council and in a manner consistent with all law, including the Magnuson-Stevens Act, and consistent with the Alternatives to the maximum extent practicable, subject to the other provisions of this subsection.
(5) The harvest reduction requirement ("Global Control Rule") shall take effect immediately in any 2001 groundfish fishery in which it applies, but shall not cause a reduction in the total allowable catch of any fishery of more than ten percent.
(6) In enforcing regulations for the 2001 fisheries, the Secretary, upon recommendation of the North Pacific Council, may open critical habitat where needed, adjust seasonal catch levels, and take other measures as needed to ensure that harvest levels are sufficient to provide income from these fisheries for small boats and Alaskan on-shore processors that is no less than in 1999.
(7) The regulations that are promulgated pursuant to paragraph (4) shall not be modified in any way other than upon recommendation of the North Pacific Council, before March 15, 2001.
(d) SEA LION PROTECTION MEASURES.-$20,000,000 is hereby appropriated to the Secretary of Commerce to remain available until expended to develop and implement a coordinated, comprehensive research and recovery program for the Steller sea lion, which shall be designed to study-
(1) available prey species;
(2) predator/prey relationships;
(3) predation by other marine mammals;
(4) interactions between fisheries and Steller sea lions, including the localized depletion theory;
(5) regime shift, climate change, and other impacts associated with changing environmental conditions in the North Pacific and Bering Sea;
(7) juvenile and pup survival rates;
(8) population counts;
(9) nutritional stress;
(10) foreign commercial harvest of sealions outside the exclusive economic zone;
(11) the residual impacts of former government-authorized Steller sea lion eradication bounty programs; and
(12) the residual impacts of intentional lethal takes of Steller sea lions. Within available funds the Secretary shall implement on a pilot basis innovative non-lethal measures to protect Steller sea lions from marine mammal predators including killer whales,
(e) ECONOMIC DISASTER RELIEF.-$30,000,000 is hereby appropriated to the Secretary of Commerce to make available as a direct payment to the Southwest Alaska Municipal Conference to distribute to fishing communities, businesses, community development quota groups, individuals, and other entities to mitigate the economic losses caused by Steller sea lion protection measures heretofore incurred; provided that the President of such organization shall provide a written report to the Secretary and the House and Senate Appropriations Committee within six months of receipt of these funds.
NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION
OPERATIONS, RESEARCH, AND FACILITIES
The conference agreement includes $750,000 for a study by the National Academy of Sciences pursuant to H.R. 2090, as passed by the House of Representatives on September 12, 2000.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
SALARIES AND EXPENSES
The agreement provides $100,000,000 to the Library of Congress to establish a national digital information infrastructure and preservation program. Of this amount, $25,000,000 is provided immediately and remains available until expended. An additional amount up to $75,000,000 is provided to match dollar-for-dollar any non-federal contributions to this program, including in-kind contributions, that are received before March 31, 2003. The information and technology industry that has created this new medium should be a contributing partner in addressing digital access and preservation issues inherent in the new digital information environment. This program is a major undertaking to develop standards and a nationwide collecting strategy to build a national repository of digital materials.
The Library is directed to develop a phased implementation plan for this program jointly with Federal entities with expertise in telecommunications technology and electronic commerce policy and with participation of other Federal and non-Federal entities. After consultation with the Joint Committee on the Library, membership of which is changed to include the chair of the Legislative Subcommittee of the Committee on Appropriations of the House of Representatives, the Library shall seek approval of the program plan from the Committee on House Administration, the Committee on Rules and Administration of the Senate, and the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Library of Congress is authorized to expend up to $5,000,000, before approval of the plan, for the development of the plan and for collecting or preserving digital information that may otherwise vanish during the plan development and approval cycle.
The overall plan should set forth a strategy for the Library of Congress, in collaboration with other Federal and non-Federal entities, to identify a national network of libraries and other organizations with responsibilities for collecting digital materials that will provide access to and maintain those materials. In addition to developing this strategy, the plan shall set forth, in concert with the Copyright Office, the policies, protocols, and strategies for the long-term preservation of such materials, including the technological infrastructure required at the Library of Congress. In developing the plan, the Library should be mindful of the conclusions drawn in a recent National Academy of Sciences report concerning the Library´s trend toward insularity and isolation from its clients and peers in the transition toward digital content.
SEC. 123. STUDY ON MEDICARE COVERAGE OF ROUTINE THYROID SCREENING.
(a) STUDY.-The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall request the National Academy of Sciences, and as appropriate in conjunction with the United States Preventive Services Task Force, to conduct a study on the addition of coverage of routine thyroid screening using a thyroid stimulating hormone test as a preventive benefit provided to medicare beneficiaries under title XVIII of the Social Security Act for some or all medicare beneficiaries. In conducting the study, the Academy shall consider the short-term and long-term benefits, and costs to the medicare program, of such addition.
(b) REPORT.-Not later than 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall submit a report on the findings of the study conducted under subsection (a) to the Committee on Ways and Means and the Committee on Commerce of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Finance of the Senate.
Section 123. Study on Medicare coverage of routine tyroid screening
The provision would require the Secretary to request the National Academy of Sciences, and as appropriate in conjunction with the United States Preventive Services Task Force, to analyze the addition of routine thyroid screening under Medicare. The analysis would consider the short term and long term benefits, and cost to Medicare, of adding such coverage for some or all beneficiaries.
Sec. 108. National Research Council reports.
SEC. 108. NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL REPORTS.
(a) STUDY AND RECOMMENDATIONS.-The head of each agency with a budget of more than $50,000,000 for its SBIR program for fiscal year 1999, in consultation with the Small Business Administration, shall, not later than 6 months after the date of enactment of this Act, cooperatively enter into an agreement with the National Academy of Sciences for the National Research Council to-
(1) conduct a comprehensive study of how the SBIR program has stimulated technological innovation and used small businesses to meet Federal research and development needs, including-
(A) a review of the value to the Federal research agencies of the research projects being conducted under the SBIR program, and of the quality of research being conducted by small businesses participating under the program, including a comparison of the value of projects conducted under the SBIR program to those funded by other Federal research and development expenditures;
(B) to the extent practicable, an evaluation of the economic benefits achieved by the SBIR program, including the economic rate of return, and a comparison of the economic benefits, including the economic rate of return, achieved by the SBIR program with the economic benefits, including the economic rate of return, of other Federal research and development expenditures;
(C) an evaluation of the noneconomic benefits achieved by the SBIR program over the life of the program;
(D) a comparison of the allocation for fiscal year 2000 of Federal research and development funds to small businesses with such allocation for fiscal year 1983, and an analysis of the factors that have contributed to such allocation; and
(E) an analysis of whether Federal agencies, in fulfilling their procurement needs, are making sufficient effort to use small businesses that have completed a second phase award under the SBIR program; and
(2) make recommendations with respect to-
(A) measures of outcomes for strategic plans submitted under section 306 of title 5, United States Code, and performance plans submitted under section 1115 of title 31, United States Code, of each Federal agency participating in the SBIR program;
(B) whether companies who can demonstrate project feasibility, but who have not received a first phase award, should be eligible for second phase awards, and the potential impact of such awards on the competitive selection process of the program;
(C) whether the Federal Government should be permitted to recoup some or all of its expenses if a controlling interest in a company receiving an SBIR award is sold to a foreign company or to a company that is not a small business concern;
(D) how to increase the use by the Federal Government in its programs and procurements of technology-oriented small businesses; and
(E) improvements to the SBIR program, if any are considered appropriate.
(b) PARTICIPATION BY SMALL BUSINESS.-
(1) IN GENERAL.-In a manner consistent with law and with National Research Council study guidelines and procedures, knowledgeable individuals from the small business community with experience in the SBIR program shall be included-
(A) in any panel established by the National Research Council for the purpose of performing the study conducted under this section; and
(B) among those who are asked by the National Research Council to peer review the study.
(2) CONSULTATION.-To ensure that the concerns of small business are appropriately considered under this subsection, the National Research Council shall consult with and consider the views of the Office of Technology and the Office of Advocacy of the Small Business Administration and other interested parties, including entities, organizations, and individuals actively engaged in enhancing or developing the technological capabilities of small business concerns.
(c) PROGRESS REPORTS.-The National Research Council shall provide semiannual progress reports on the study conducted under this section to the Committee on Science and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives, and to the Committee on Small Business of the Senate.
(d) REPORT.-The National Research Council shall transmit to the heads of agencies entering into an agreement under this section and to the Committee on Science and the Committee on Small Business of the House of Representatives, and to the Committee on Small Business of the Senate-
(1) not later than 3 years after the date of enactment of this Act, a report including the results of the study conducted under subsection (a)(1) and recommendations made under subsection (a)(2); and
(2) not later than 6 years after that date of enactment, an update of such report.
Senate Report 106-293 To accompany S. 2553 - DEPARTMENTS OF LABOR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES, AND EDUCATION AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATION BILL, 2001
--- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- --- ---
The Committee recognizes the recent advances in the treatment and medical care of persons with HIV disease and the need for early access to these interventions and services. Furthermore, the Committee understands that disparities exist in accessing and maintaining the benefits of these recent advances among communities highly impacted by HIV and AIDS. The Committee requests that the Secretary fund an independent study through the Institute of Medicine to evaluate the effectiveness of the current role and structure of the Ryan White CARE Act programs on improving access to effective HIV treatments among underserved communities. The report should include a review of the current structure of the types of services funded through the CARE Act and their relation to medical care, mechanisms to assure access to quality medical services to underserved and uninsured populations, and the effectiveness of the funding allocation formulas in targeting communities of the greatest need. The report should include recommendations to ensure that all persons with HIV-infection have reasonable access to new treatments and quality medical care and providers. The study should be made available by the end of the fiscal year.
Coordination.-The Committee is extremely pleased with the scientific advances that have been made over the past several years due to the Nation´s support for biomedical research at NIH. However, the Committee also notes the proliferation of new entities at NIH, raising concerns about coordination. While the Committee continues to have confidence in NIH´s ability to fund outstanding research and to ensure that new knowledge will benefit all Americans, the fundamental changes in science that have occurred lead us to question whether the current NIH structure and organization are optimally configured for the scientific needs of the Twenty-first Century. Therefore, the Committee has provided to the NIH Director sufficient funds to undertake, through the National Academy of Sciences, a study of the structure of NIH. The Committee expects to receive a report and recommendations by December 31, 2001.
HR2090 Greenwood (R.-Pa.) 09/12/00
Engrossed (passed) in House
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.