Subcommittee Approves Legislation to Improve R&D for Ocean Acidification, the Sea Grant Program, and Hybrid Vehicles
(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology’s Energy and Environment Subcommittee passed three bills to improve environmental research and development programs – H.R. 4174, H.R. 5618, and draft legislation on hybrid vehicles.
H.R. 4174, the Federal Ocean Acidification Research and Monitoring Act of 2007 or the FOARAM Act, was introduced by Rep. Tom Allen (D-ME) on November 14, 2007. H.R.4147 establishes an Interagency Committee on Ocean Acidification to oversee the planning, establishment, and coordination of a plan to improve the understanding of the role of ocean acidification on marine ecosystems and to develop adaptation techniques to effectively conserve marine ecosystems. This bipartisan legislation was originally cosponsored by Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D- WA), Ranking Republican Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), and Rep. Wayne Gilchrist (R-MD). The amendment offered today by Reps. Baird and Inglis to H.R. 4174 incorporates witness recommendations from the hearing on June 5.
"On June 5th we heard from a panel of experts on ocean and atmospheric sciences testify in strong support of this legislation," said Subcommittee Chairman Nick Lampson (D-TX). The bill authorizes the formation of an interagency research and monitoring program to better understand ocean acidification and its potential impacts on marine organisms and marine ecosystems.
"Ocean acidification is not often talked about, but may very well be one of the greatest threats facing our oceans and marine life. Promoting further understanding of ocean acidification and preventing it from worsening is absolutely essential," stated Baird.
H.R. 5618, the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2008, was introduced by Rep. Madeleine Bordallo (D-GU) on March 13, 2008. The Sea Grant program is a partnership between state and federal government to promote the understanding, conservation, and management of our ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources. H.R. 5618 would implement changes to the Sea Grant Program recommended by the National Academy of Sciences 2006 report. The recommendations include increasing interaction between the National Sea Grant Office and the individual state programs, increasing funding levels, and improving programmatic performance reviews. The Subcommittee held a hearing on May 21 to discuss and review these recommendations.
"The National Sea Grant College Program was last reauthorized in 2002. Sea Grant research, education, and extension programs have been very effective in training future scientists and resource managers, generating information to support sound resource management, and delivering applied research results to the people who rely on our coastal areas and Great Lakes for their livelihoods," said Lampson.
In addition, Members marked up Rep. James Sensenbrenner’s draft legislation. This bill would accelerate plug-in hybrid research in trucks by establishing five grants for manufacturers to build, test, and eventually sell plug-in hybrid utility and delivery trucks. Also, the legislation would encourage the Department of Energy to expand its research in advanced energy storage technologies to include hybrid trucks as well as passenger vehicles. This legislation includes feedback the subcommittee received at a hearing on June 10 which examined the state of developing hybrid technologies for medium- to heavy-duty commercial vehicles applications.
"This bill addresses a narrow segment of the automobile market with a tremendous potential impact. We heard in a Subcommittee hearing last week from witnesses who described the substantial oil savings and emissions reductions to be had in medium-to-heavy hybrid trucks, as well as the benefit to the whole domestic automotive sector from the invaluable lessons learned in designing and manufacturing these systems," added Lampson. "I believe this is a very important piece of legislation in the large and complex puzzle that is our transportation sector."
These bills are expected to be marked up by the Full Committee in the coming weeks.