NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 20, 2006)
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Mr. PALLONE. Mr. Speaker, I rise to express my serious concerns about the process and manner by which this legislation has arrived on the House floor today.
The fact of the matter is that despite the laudable work that the Science Committee has done to develop legislation codifying the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, this bill represents only half of what we need to develop a real organic act for the agency.
The Republican leadership has chosen to bring H.R. 5450 to the floor without the Resources Committee taking any action on its sequential referral. While the Science Committee's bill deals with the atmospheric or so-called ``dry'' side of NOAA, the Resources Committee has jurisdiction over ocean and coastal programs, known as the ``wet'' side.
This inaction is further evidence that when it comes to protecting our oceans, the House Republican leadership and the Resources Committee majority have nothing to show for themselves.
Mr. Speaker, in 2003 the Pew Oceans Commission put out a comprehensive report telling us that our oceans were in serious trouble. Many on the other side of the aisle disparaged the report. But a year later, the Congressionally chartered U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy released a separate report and came to the same basic conclusion--that our oceans are in peril from degraded waters, compromised resources, and conflicts between man and nature--and that immediate action is needed to restore the environment and protect our ocean and coastal related economy. They laid out some pretty pointed and thoughtful recommendations for Congress.
Two years later, however, the House and the Resources Committee have done virtually nothing in response to these recommendations. Rather than developing a cohesive, bipartisan strategy to evaluate the Commission's recommendations, they have effectively blocked meaningful oversight on oceans issues.
The Subcommittee on Fisheries and Oceans has held exactly one hearing on the US Ocean Commission's recommendations. Neither the Subcommittee nor the full Resources Committee have done anything to take serious action on the report's findings despite repeated requests from myself and others.
Today, in the face of the Resources Committee's disinterest in oceans issues and its inability to report its own version of H.R. 5450, we are now forced to consider a bill that may be well intentioned, but is nonetheless seriously flawed.
The truth is we have wasted the past two years when we should have taken action. Our oceans are a tremendous resource for this nation. Fishermen, beachgoers, coastal business owners, and many others in my district know this. They expect me and other members of Congress to be working on the problems facing our oceans, and I agree. Rather than passing half a bill, we should be taking serious action in response to ocean commission recommendations.
Mr. Speaker, members might vote for this bill because they support NOAA and want to move forward on an organic act. But no one should be fooled into thinking that the House has properly done its work to address the recommendations of the Ocean Commission.
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