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National Ocean Exploration Program Act<br>National Undersea Research Program Act of 2007

Bill Summary and Status

Reported (as amended) by the Full Committee, October 24, 2007

Cleared the Energy & Environment Subcommittee by voice vote on October 10, 2007

Introduced in the House March 29, 2007


Title I – National Ocean Exploration Program

Section 101. Short Title

States that this title may be cited as the National Ocean Exploration Program Act.

Section 102. Authorization

Directs the Secretary of Commerce, through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA),  to establish a coordinated national ocean exploration program in consultation with the National Science Foundation and other appropriate Federal Agencies.

Section 103. Authorities –

Defines activities of the program to include interdisciplinary voyages to explore and survey the marine environment giving priority to deep ocean areas and to conduct archaeological and scientific voyages of shipwrecks and submerged sites; to enhance the technical capability of the U.S. marine science community; and to establish an ocean exploration forum to promote communication and information exchange between experts and other stakeholders in the ocean science community.  It also directs the Secretary to develop a merit-based, peer review process in consultation with the National Science Foundation for the review and approval of proposals for program activities and to accept donations of property, data or equipment for use in ocean exploration activities.

Section 104. Ocean Exploration Advisory Board –

Directs the NOAA Administrator to appoint an Advisory Board composed of relevant experts to advise on priority areas for survey and discovery; assist development of a five-year strategic plan; annually review the effectiveness of the proposal peer-review process; and provide other assistance as requested.

Exempts the Advisory Board from the Federal Advisory Committee Act (FACA), generally, but requires the Board to be appointed and operate in a manner consistent with several provisions of FACA.

Section 105. Ocean Exploration Technology and Infrastructure Task Force.

Directs the Administrator of NOAA to convene a task force including other federal agencies and experts from non-governmental organizations, academia, and industry to develop and implement a strategy to facilitate transfer of exploration technology, to improve communications infrastructure, to develop an integrated data management system, to conduct public outreach activities, and to encourage cost-sharing partnerships with the program established in Section 102.

Section 106. Application with Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act –

States that the provisions of the bill do not supersede or limit the authority of the Secretary of the Interior under this Act.

Section 107.  Authorization of Appropriations –

Authorizes appropriations of $30.5 million beginning in fiscal year 2008 increasing each year to $71.9 million in fiscal year 2017.

Title II – Undersea Research Program

Section 201. Short Title

States that this title may be cited as the National Undersea Research Program Act of 2007.

Section 202. Authorization –

Directs the NOAA Administrator to conduct an undersea research program and designate a director for the program.

Section 203. Purpose –

States that the purpose of the program is to increase scientific knowledge for informed management, use and preservation of oceanic, coastal and large lake resources through undersea research, exploration, education, and technology development. 

Section 204. Program –

Directs the Administrator to conduct the program through a national headquarters, a representative network of extramural regional centers and a national technology institute.  Direction will be provided by the program director in coordination with a Council of Center Directors.

Section 205. Regional Centers and Institute –

Defines the content of the programs that are to be conducted through the network of extramural regional centers and the technology institute as: core research and exploration; advanced undersea technology development; development of technologies associated with undersea ocean observatories, submersibles, advanced diving equipment, etc.; education and outreach; and research and development of natural products from ocean and aquatic systems. 

Section 206. Competitiveness –

Directs the Administrator to ensure the external projects supported by the regional centers will be managed through an open, competitive, merit-based process except for a small set-aside for rapid response activities.

Section 207.  Authorization of Appropriations –

Authorizes appropriations of $17.5 million for fiscal year 2008 increasing each year to $35.5 million in fiscal year 2017.

Title III – Interagency Financing, Planning and Coordination

Section 301.  Interagency Financing –

Allows relevant federal agencies to participate in interagency financing and share, transfer, receive and spend appropriated funds to carry out the purposes of this legislation.

110th Congress