Most Recent Action   Current Congress   Administrative Action   Reports & Conferences 
Summary of Federal Ocean and Coastal Zone Policies (12-4-00)

Marine and coastal issues are becoming more visible.  During the 106th Congress, committees have held a number of hearings on issues related to the ocean and coastal environments.  A mojority of the hearings and bills focus on either the division and allocation of outer continental shelf (OCS) oil and gas revenues or the preservation of near-shore estuarine and coral reef environments.  Other bills focus on marine habitats, fisheries issues, and coastal zone management programs.  In addition to the activities covered in this summary, more detailed information on a varity of ocean issues are available on other AGI websites.  The National Council for Science and the Environment website contains several Congressional Research Service reports on ocean topics, including fisheries.  Further information on international oceans issues can be found on the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) website. The Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (GPA) is particularly relevant as are the recent publications of the Joint Group of Experts on the Scientific Aspects of Marine Environmental Protection (GESAMP).

Most Recent Action
President Clinton signed two major ocean bills into law on November 13th: S. 1482, the National Marine Sanctuaries Amendments Act of 2000, and S. 1752, the Coastal Barrier Resource Reauthorization Act of 2000 (CBRA).  S. 1482 reauthorizes the National Marine Sanctuaries Act (NMSA) -- currently there are 13 National Marine Sanctuaries -- for five years and protects the coral reefs off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.  The legislation establishes the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program to support graduate level work in oceanography, marine biology, and maritime archaeology.  According to President Clinton's statement on signing the bill, "[i]n the quarter century since its inception, the NMSA has provided a powerful mandate for marine resource protection, resulting in the permanent conservation of many invaluable habitats."  A fact sheet from the White House also reports that the bill authorizes $32 million for NMSA for fiscal year 2001 in addition to $6 million for management.  The second bill signed was S. 1752 that helps to preserve coastal barrier environments by prohibiting federal "subsidies for development and disaster relief" on these areas.  Currently the act covers over 3 million acres of coastal barrier habitats, and the new act allows other lands to be voluntarily added to these acres.  Also, the revised act launches a pilot cooperative digital-mapping program.  In his statement on signing the bill into law, Clinton said, "[b]y limiting Federal subsidies such as flood insurance from units in the [Coastal Barrier Resources] System, CBRA discourages development, keeping lives out of harm's way, protecting fish and wildlife habitat, and reducing wasteful expenditures of taxpayer dollars."

Administrative Action
President Clinton signed the Oceans Act of 2000 (S. 2327) on August 7th.  This Act will establish a "Commission on Ocean Policy" to make recommendations to the President and the Congress for a long-awaited coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy.  Starting on January 20, 2001, the 16-member commission will spend 18 months examining federal ocean policy in relation to environmental and economic trends and recommend a long-term strategy to protect oceans, at a cost of approximately $6 million.  The 16-member commission will consist of representatives of state and local government, academia, ocean-related industries, and the conservation and scientific community.  Four of which will be appointed by the President and 12 drawn from nominees submitted by Congress.  Because nearly half of all new development in the U.S. is occuring along the coast; rising demand for seafood is driving some species toward extinction; polluted runoff is causing toxic algae blooms, forcing beach closures and threatening marine life and human health; and the potentiality that the oceans may serve as a tremendous pharmaceutical resource (ie. anti-cancer drugs derived from the deep sea sponge)--this Act builds on the Administration's efforts to protect the nation's beaches and coasts, restore fisheries and marine mammals, strengthen coastal economies, and expand undersea exploration.  Within 120 days of receiving the Commission's report, the President is to submit proposals to Congress for the responsible use and stewardship of ocean and coastal resources and to report biennially on federal ocean programs and projected funding. (8/7/00)

Reports and Conferences
Formed earlier this year to raise the profile of oceans issues within the House and develop appropriate legislation to meet both domestic and international needs, the House Oceans Caucus has been extremely active as of late.  In consultation with the caucus, the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) hosted an Ocean Policy Conference entitled "Oceans for the New Millennium:  Developing and Implementing Ocean Policy" on July 18, 2000.  The forum helped the caucus develop a policy framework in four key areas -- biology, pollution, national security, and governance -- through focused panel discussions.  One panel dealt with marine protected areas while another addressed both the importance of a sustained, integrated ocean observation system and the consequences of a U.S. failure to ratify the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention.  A third panel discussed the impacts of non-point source pollution on the coastal ocean while a fourth examined ocean governance in the 21st century.  Speakers included Jean-Michel Cousteau, President and Founder of the Ocean Futures Society; Dr. Robert Ballard, President of the Institute for Exploration and Scientist Emeritus at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Dr. Sylvia Earle, noted marine biologist and author of the 1995 book Sea Change -- A Message of the Oceans; Dr. Ellen Prager, Assistant Dean of the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science; and Dr. William Brown, Science Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt.  After the conference, invited attendees adjourned to the Oceanographer of the Navy's formal reception aboard its new, high tech survey vessel, the USNS Bruce T. Heezen.  Agendas, abstracts and other supporting information on the conference are available from the conference website.   (7/18/00)

The Ocean Policy Conference followed an International Ocean Science Day meeting  also hosted by AAAS, in conjunction with the World Conservation Union (IUCN) and the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation, Inc.  The symposium examined the science behind three important marine issues:  gas hydrates, fisheries, and ocean diseases.  The House Oceans Caucus is currently involved with gas hydrates and fisheries and plans to examine infectious ocean diseases during the 107th Congress.  (7/17/00)

These conferences come in the wake of several recent reports.  On July 6th, the Center for Marine Conservation (CMC) released its first annual "Health of the Oceans" report accompanied by a press release.  An attempt to establish a comprehensive, baseline measure for U.S. ocean health, the report does point out some positive signs:  fewer dolphins are dying in tuna nets and Pacific gray whales are recovering.  That same day, the National Research Council (NRC) released a report entitled "Clean Coastal Waters:  Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution." Building on an earlier NOAA report, the NRC report states that nutrient over-enrichment "problems are particularly severe along the mid-Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico," depleting dissolved oxygen, producing excessive algal biomass, and altering marine biodiversity.  Seabed grasses and corals may also suffer.  Unlike freshwater systems where excess phosphorus produces eutrophication, U.S. coastal eutrophication is largely the result of nitrogen pollution.  Most of this nitrogen enters rivers via agricultural runoff, stormwater discharge, or fossil fuel emissions, producing problems far downstream.  Because coastal ecosystems are vulnerable to such upstream events, the NRC recommends the development of a National Coastal Nutrient Management Strategy to coordinate remediation efforts and inform local decision makers.  In order to better manage nutrient discharges, the NRC wants expanded monitoring and assessment programs, including a national assessment every ten years.  The NRC also recommends expanded, targeted research on the causes and impacts of nutrient over-enrichment.  (7/6/00)

Frustrated by Congress' inability to pass bills establishing a Commission on Ocean Policy, Pew Charitable Trusts established its oceans commission in May 2000.  Chaired by New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman (R) and White House Chief of Staff Leon Panetta (D), the commission plans to hold several hearings over the next year and a half, producing a number of interim reports before it submits its recommendations to Congress in 2002.  A report detailing the impacts of marine debris, air and water pollution on U.S. coastal waters is due out this October.  An eclectic group, the Pew Oceans Commission is made up of scientists, public officials, business leaders, conservationists and fishermen.  (5/00)

In May 2000, the president's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released its final, integrated assessment of the hypoxia outbreak in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Since 1997, dissolved oxygen levels have fallen precipitously each spring in a large area off the Texas and Louisiana coasts, creating a "dead zone" that lasts until fall.  Concerned, Congress called for this NSTC study in its Harmful Algal Bloom and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 1998.  The assessment indicates that most hypoxia in the northern Gulf of Mexico results from the interaction of excess nitrogen from the Mississippi-Atchafalaya River Basin with the Gulf's stratified waters.  Over the past century, landscape alterations, river channelization and agricultural fertilizers have steadily increased the drainage basin's nitrogen content.  Nitrates account for most of the recent increase, having almost tripled between 1955-70 and 1980-86.  About 90 % of this nitrate load comes from non-point sources, many of which are farms.  In order to return nitrogen loads to their 1955-70 levels, therefore, the NSTC recommends management practices that retain more nitrogen on fields as well as reductions in urban point and non-point nitrogen sources.  (5/00)

The Clinton Administration's Coral Reef Task Force released a plan calling for the protection of 20 % of all U.S. coral reefs by 2010 on Thursday, March 2, 2000.  Both NOAA and the Department of the Interior would oversee conservation activities under the initiative.  Along with the designation of 20 % of all U.S. coral reefs as no-take ecological reserves by the year 2010, Clinton's plan calls for the mapping of all U.S. coral reefs by 2009 and the construction of an integrated national reef monitoring system.  This plan's release follows the September 2, 1999, debut of a White House cabinet report titled An Ocean Policy for the 21st Century, which is available on the White House webpage (3/2/00)

At a November 9, 1999, meeting of the Ocean Studies Board of the National Academy of Sciences, federal agency representatives gave overviews of federally-funded ocean research programs.  A summary of this meeting is available on the AGI website.  (11/9/99)

In a May 1999 report, "Toward a U.S. Plan for an Integrated, Sustained Ocean Observing System," the National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC) advocated an ocean observation system similar to the one presently used for weather forecasting.  Existing ocean observations would continue as part of the new system, although many additional observations would also be added. The new ocean observation system would meet several national needs, the NORLC continued, including forecasting the ocean's role in climate change, facilitating safe, efficient marine operations, restoring degraded marine ecosystems, mitigating natural hazards, and protecting public health.  Rear Admiral Paul G. Gaffney II, Chief of Naval Research, added that "A robust ocean observation system is vital to the success of naval operations and fundamental to our national security."  (5/9/99)

Released in 1999, NOAA's National Estuarine Eutrophication Assessment is based primarily on the results of NOAA's National Estuarine Eutrophication Survey, which was completed in 1997.  The assessment was further supplemented by information on nutrient maps, population projections, and land use, making it the most comprehensive estuarine eutrophication assessment to date.  Based on a study of 138 estuaries, representing over 90 % of the estuarine surface area in the contiguous U.S., the assessment concludes that:

Current Congress

General Ocean Policy

The 106th Congress may leave us with a national oceans policy.  On July 25, 2000, the House passed Sen. Ernest Hollings's (D-SC) Oceans Act of 2000 (S. 2327), just one month after the bill passed the Senate.  S. 2327 has now gone to President Clinton for his signature.  Introduced on March 29, 2000, S. 2327 establishes a Commission on Ocean Policy that is to report to Congress and the president on U.S. ocean policy, including comments from the governors of any affected coastal state in its analysis. Congress, not the president, has the power to implement a national oceans policy.   The president must still submit biennial reports to Congress, however, that include detailed listings of all federal programs related to ocean and coastal activities.  (7/25/00)

Although S. 2327 is almost identical to H.R. 4410 , which was introduced by Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) on May 9, 2000, it differs from other oceans policy bills in certain areas.  Introduced in July 1999, H.R. 2425 directs the president to develop and maintain a comprehensive, long-term policy, and establish a National Ocean Council to help the Commission on Ocean Policy with its report.  In addition, the president's council must develop an implementation plan for a national ocean program, improving the coordination of federal agencies' ocean and coastal activities.  An earlier bill from Sen. Hollings, S. 959, is quite similar to H.R. 2425, although it would also repeal the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966 (5/9/00)

On July 27th, the House Science Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and the Subcommittee on Basic Research held a joint hearing on the state of ocean and marine science.  Basic Research Subcommittee Chairman Nick Smith (R-MI) indicated in his opening statement that marine research has been underfunded.  "If the oceans are a window of life on our planet -- and elsewhere -- we've only just parted the curtains," he said.  All four witnesses affirmed Rep. Smith's remarks in their testimony.  Admiral James Watkins, President of the Consortium for Oceanographic Research and Education (CORE), noted that while marine science funding is still far below what it should be, it is, nonetheless, improving.  Watkins also praised the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP) for coordinating federal oceanic research efforts.  Dr. Robert A. Knox, Chair of the University-National Oceanographic Laboratory Research System (UNOLS), indicated that UNOLS' academic research fleet is a vital part of the U.S. ocean science community.  Echoing a May 1999 NSF report, Knox hoped that UNOLS would be upgraded to meet the challenges of the twenty-first century.  Dr. John Delaney, Professor of Oceanography at the University of Washington, gave a video presentation in which he showcased his plans for an underwater monitoring system on the Juan de Fuca Plate while Dr. Jack Sobel, Director of the Center for Marine Conservation's Ecosystem Protection Program, decried the recent decline of coral reefs.  Most of the ensuing question and answer period focused on increasing public involvement in the ocean sciences.  (7/27/00)

Also on July 27th, the House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee held an oversight hearing on the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act (see Title III of the legislation).  Subcommittee Chairman Jim Saxton (R-NJ) was the only member present at the hearing.  While he was pleased that the act is allowing NOAA to reduce its coastal survey backlog through private sector participation, Rep. Saxton was dismayed that NOAA is still twenty years behind.  NOAA's Deputy Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere, Scott Gudes, was decidedly more optimistic, noting how private sector partnerships have reduced the survey backlog from 40 to 20 years in just a short time.  Gudes also highlighted the importance of electronic nautical maps (ENCs) and PORTS, a National Ocean Service program providing ships real-time information to avoid groundings and collisions.  While most of the witnesses agreed that NOAA should continue to play a significant role in coastal surveying, EarthData Aviation's Stephen DeLoach felt that NOAA should leave all surveying work to the private sector.  The other witnesses disagreed, pointing out that NOAA needs to maintain its hydrographical surveying expertise.  Lieutenant Commander R. George Rey, U.S. Navy (retired) and President of COTS Technology, LLC, added that NOAA should explore long-term time charters.  Rey pointed out that the firm he was representing,  Edison Chouest Offshore, Inc., had already participated in successful long-term charters with the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Navy. (7/27/00)

H.Res. 415:  Resolution to establish a National Ocean Day.  Introduced by Rep. Patsy Mink (D-HI) in February 2000, an amended version of H.Res. 415 passed the House by a 387-28 vote July 11th.

H.R. 2090:  Exploration of the Seas Act.  Introduced by Rep. James Greenwood (R-PA) on June 9, 1999, H.R. 2090 passed the House Resources Committee on July 26, 2000.  A Coordinated Oceanography Program Advisory Panel would  be established to report to Congress on the social benefits and technical feasibility of an oceanography program.

H.R. 2452:  Department of Commerce Elimination Act.  Introduced on July 1, 1999, by Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA), H.R. 2452 was referred to several committees but has seen no action from any of them.  The bill which abolishes the Department of Commerce, leaves the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as an independent agency.  While NOAA would acquire the functions of the National Bureau of Standards (NBS), National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and Office of Space Commerce, it would loses its mapping, charting, and geodesy divisions.

Outer Continental Shelf

Since 1994, the federal government has collected a minimum of $2.6 billion each year from offshore royalties, rents, and bonus bids.  1997 was a record year, bringing in nearly $5.2 billion.  During the 106th Congress, several bills have been introduced that direct portions of this money to the Land and Water Conservation Fund or other projects that purchase land and provide grants to states for conservation projects.  The bills differ in the proportions of outer continental shelf (OCS) revenues allocated and the programs that the funds are directed towards, but they are all based on the notion that funds created by the exploitation of offshore oil and gas should be reinvested in conservation efforts (for an overview of some of these bills as well as a bit of historical perspective on the OCS revenue issue, see the Congressional Research Service reports Outer Continental Shelf:  Oil and Gas Leasing and Revenue and Conserving Land Resources: Legislative Proposals in the 106th Congress).  OCS royalties are also a matter of judicial concern.  A recent Supreme Court decision may impact U.S. oil companies' OCS operations significantly, producing ripple effects throughout the entire industry.  For more information, see the AGI OCS update.

Estuary Restoration and Conservation

Estuaries are gulfs, bays, sounds and inlets where fresh water meets and mixes with salt water from the ocean.  They represent some of the most economically and ecologically valuable natural resources in the United States.  Estuaries provide habitat for many endangered and threatened species.  In recent years, millions of acres of estuary habitat have been degraded or destroyed.  Although there are a number of federal and state programs dedicated to restoring estuaries, it has been difficult to implement actual restoration projects on the ground.  More information is available on national estuary and fisheries protection legislation.

Several reauthorization bills for the EPA's National Estuary Program (NEP) are currently before the Congress.

H.R. 1237 and  H.R. 1775  These bills were introduced by Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) and Rep. Wayne Gilchres  (R-MD) respectively.  Introduced on March 23, 1999, H.R. 1237 passed the House in a May 8, 2000, voice vote and is now before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  The bill authorizes $50 million annually for NEP through FY 2004, requiring program grants to help develop and implement estuary conservation/management plans.  H.R. 1237 also adds the Lake Pontchartrain Basin and Mississippi Sound to the list of NEP estuaries.  Introduced on May 12, 1999, H.R. 1775 has over 100 co-sponsors as well as an endorsement from the Clinton Administration.  It passed the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on March 16th before it cleared the House Resources Committee two months later.  Reported to the House floor as  H.Rpt. 106-561, Rep. Gilchrest's Estuary Habitat Restoration Partnership Act of 1999 aims to restore 1 million acres of estuary habitat by 2010.

H.R. 1096 DeLauro-Lowey Water Pollution Control and Estuary Restoration Act.  Introduced by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY) in March 1999, has seen far less action than either H.R. 1237 or H.R. 1775.  Since the House Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee considered the bill in a hearing on July 13, 1999, there has been no action on Rep. Lowey's measure.  The bill amends the Clean Water Act's estuary provisions considerably, requiring qualified states to use a specified percentage of water pollution control revolving funds for estuary capitalization grants.  States must also establish separate Estuary Accounts within these funds -- the accounts are to be used for implementing approved estuary plans.  While the EPA must provide grants to implement these estuary plans, states still have to match the account deposits.  H.R. 1096 also allows some NEP grants to be used for temporary estuary protection measures, authorizing appropriations for NEP management conferences, grants, conservation/management plans, and research through FY 2004.

S. 835 Introduced by the late Sen. John Chafee (R-RI) on April 4, 1999, it is the Senate companion to H.R.1237 and H.R. 1775.  Like Rep. Gilchrest's H.R. 1775,  it aims to restore 1 million acres of estuary habitat in ten years, establishing a federal council to oversee and coordinate local restoration efforts.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on S. 835 in July 1999, then passed the measure in October.  The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on March 30, 2000.

S. 878  A hearing was held in July 1999 on Sen. Robert Torricelli's (D-NJ) bill introduced on April 26, 1999.  Similar to both H.R.1237 and S.835, S. 878 has seen no action from the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

H.R. 673:  Florida Keys Water Quality Improvements Act of 2000. Introduced on February 10, 1999, by Rep. Peter Deutsch (D-FL), H.R. 673 passed the House, with two amendments, in a resounding 411-7 vote on May 4, 2000.  Rep. Deutsch's bill is now before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  The measure modifies the Clean Water Act so that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can disburse grants to the Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority as well as numerous state and local agencies for treatment works that improve the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's water quality.  Deutsch's bill mandates that non-federal agencies cover at least 25 % of the project's costs.

H.R. 999:  Beaches Environmental Assessment, Cleanup, and Health Act of 1999 (BEACH bill).
Introduced on March 4, 1999, by Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA), H.R. 999 passed the House by voice vote a month later.  On April 13, 2000, H.R. 999 passed out of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  A companion bill to S. 522, the BEACH bill amends the Clean Water Act to require coastal states to adopt water quality standards at least as stringent as those used by the EPA and to notify local governments, the public, and the EPA of their test results.  H.R. 999 authorizes $30 million annually through FY2005 to assist states, tribes, and local governments in implementing approved monitoring and notification programs.  The bill also requires the EPA to establish a national database of polluted coastal, recreational waters.  This database will provide information on water quality non-compliance in coastal recreation waters.

H.R. 1431:  Coastal Barrier Resources Reauthorization Act of 1999. Introduced on April 15, 1999, by House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee Chairman Jim Saxton (R-NJ), H.R. 1431 passed the House in a 309-106 vote on September 21, 1999.   It is now before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.  The bill reauthorizes the Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) through FY 2004 at $1 million annually, providing funds for the Department of the Interior to continue mapping and cataloguing CBRS program areas.  Saxton's reauthorization measure also includes a provision authorizing the Secretary of the Interior to add parcels of private property to the system if the owner so desires and the area includes a specified geologic feature.

S. 522:  Beaches Environmental Assessment, Closure, and Health Act of 1999.   The Senate version of Rep. Brian Bilbray's (R-CA) BEACH bill, S. 522 was introduced by Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) on March 3, 1999.  The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing on the bill in July 1999 before passing it on April 13, 2000.  S. 522 authorizes $9 million annually through FY 2004 for state and local grants, providing an additional $3 million for each of FY 2000 - 2004 to carry out the remainder of its provisions.  S. 522 also enforces EPA water quality standards if states fail to create their own.

S. 1119:  A bill to amend the Act of August 9, 1950, to continue funding of the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act. Introduced on May 25, 1999, by Sen. John Breaux (D-LA), S. 1119 authorizes appropriations for the Coastal Wetlands Planning, Protection and Restoration Act through FY 2009.   Although S. 1119 passed the Senate by unanimous consent on November 19, 1999, the House Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee has not yet acted on it.

Marine Biology and Fisheries

The bills below represent a small sampling of the fisheries legislation proposed during the 106th Congress; for more information see the Congressional Research Service report:  "Fishery, Aquaculture, and Marine Mammal Legislation in the 106th Congress."

H.R. 1243:  The Sanctuaries and Reserves Act of 1999.
H.R. 3059:  Seabed Protection Act.
S. 501:  The Glacier Bay Fisheries Act.
S. 1723:  Bureau of Reclamation Irrigation System Partnership Act of 1999.

Coastal Zone Management

The Coastal Zone Management (CZM) Program was created by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 as a voluntary partnership between the federal government and the coastal states and territories.  CZM Plans include provisions regarding the preservation, protection, development, and restoration of coastal areas; these plans are carried out by federal funds from NOAA matched by funds from states and other sources.  Program goals that are of interest to geoscientists include:

Amendments to the CZM Act in 1990 created a new Coastal Zone Enhancement Program, which provides incentives for states and territories to make changes in any of eight areas including:  wetlands protection,  coastal hazards, cumulative and secondary impacts of development, public access to the coast, special area management planning, ocean governance, marine debris, and government/energy facility siting.

CZMA authorization expired on September 30, 1999.  The bills below were introduced as part of the current reauthorization effort.

H.R. 1110 The Coastal Enhancement Act.  Introduced by Rep. Jim Saxton (R-NJ) on March 16, 1999.  The bill would increase spending by nearly 20 % over four years.  It also requires states to match funds provided by the federal government, expanding the program's scope to include historical waterfronts and coastal habitats.  The bill's most controversial section mandates that states include stricter regulations on personal watercraft in their Coastal Zone Plans in order to receive funding.  In August 1999, Rep. Saxton removed language pertaining to spending requirements on non-point pollution source cleanups that the Coastal States Organization found objectionable in a new bill, H.R. 2669.  It also authorizes a grant to study the effects that personal watercraft have on wildlife, aquatic vegetation, sedimentation and erosional processes. H.R. 2669 also creates a "national coastal zone management outcome monitoring and performance evaluation system."

Saxton's legislation was modified significantly during the amendment process.  Backed by Resources Committee Chairman Don Young (R-AK), Rep. James Hansen (R-UT) offered language stripping five portions of the bill that dealt with wetlands and the Clean Water Act on the grounds that such provisions fell outside the committee's jurisdiction. Although Young stated that he would not oppose the restoration of the provisions (which concern non-point source pollution) on the floor, both Saxton and the Democrats were still angry about the amendment's 26-15 approval.  Rep. Richard Pombo's (R-CA) private property rights amendment aroused even more acrimony when it then passed, 24-23.  Rep. George Miller (D-CA) remarked that the "Pombo amendment ties the hands of states and local governments, interfering with routine zoning, pollution prevention, and assured access to our beaches" while Saxton criticized the measure as an effective repeal of CZMA.  Saxton's amended bill was reported to the House floor on November 18, 1999, as H.Rpt. 106-485.

S. 1420:  The Coastal Stewardship Act.  Introduced on July 22, 1999, by Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), S. 1420 has yet to see any action from the Senate Commerce Committee.  While it is principally a CZM reauthorization bill, S. 1420 also incorporates a number of additional measures that are supposed to restore and protect ocean/coastal resources.  In addition to amending the National Marine Sanctuaries Act of 1999, S. 1420 sets up an Ocean and Coast Conservation Fund within the U.S. Treasury that is to be funded from natural gas and oil lease revenues covered under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.  Sen. Kerry's bill also includes specific provisions for coral reef protection.

S. 1534:  The Coastal Zone Management Act of 1999.  S. 1534 was introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) on August 5, 1999.  On June 15, 2000, the bill was amended and passed by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.  It now awaits floor consideration.  As amended, S. 1534 reauthorizes CZMA for five years, creating a new funding category, Coastal Community Grants, and setting up a minimum of $10 million per year for coastal, non-point source pollution.

Sources:  American Association for the Advancement of Science, Center for Marine Conservation, Environment and Energy News, EESI PULSE Monthly Update & Outlook, Greenwire, Library of Congress, NOAA, National Ocean Research Leadership Council, National Research Council, Pew Oceans Commission, U.S. EPA, U.S. House of Representatives website, White House website

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by AGI/AAPG Geoscience and Public Policy Intern Alison Alcott; Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs; 2000 AGI/AIPG Geoscience and Public Policy Interns Michael Wagg, Audry Slesinger, and Nathan Morris.

Posted November 29, 1999; Last updated December 4, 2000

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