Federal News Service July 13, 2004 Tuesday
HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON FISHERIES CONSERVATION, WILDLIFE AND OCEANS OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON RESOURCES SUBJECT: OVERSIGHT ON THE STATUS OF OCEAN OBSERVING SYSTEMS IN THE UNITED STATES
CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE WAYNE T. GILCHREST (R-MD)
WITNESSES PANEL I: RICHARD W. SPINRAD, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR, NATIONAL OCEAN SERVICE, NOAA;
MARGARET S. LEINEN, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR GEOSCIENCES, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION;
ROBERT WINOKUR, TECHNICAL DIRECTOR, OCEANOGRAPHER OF THE NAVY; ROBERT A. WELLER, SENIOR SCIENTIST, DIRECTOR, COOPERATIVE INSTITUTE FOR CLIMATE AND OCEAN RESEARCH , WOODS HOLE OCEANOGRAPHIC INSTITUTION;
DONALD F. BOESCH, PRESIDENT, CENTER FOR ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF MARYLAND;
PANEL II: NEWELL "TOBY" GARFIELD, SAN FRANCISCO STATE UNIVERSITY, CENTER FOR INTEGRATIVE COASTAL OBSERVATION, RESEARCH AND EDUCATION; MOLLY MCCAMMON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ALASKA OCEAN OBSERVING SYSTEM;
EVAN RICHERT, PRESIDENT, GULF OF MAINE OCEAN OBSERVING SYSTEM; CORTIS COOPER, METOCEAN CONSULTANT, ENERGY TECHNOLOGY COMPANY, CHEVRON TEXACO;
J. FREDERICK GRASSLE, DIRECTOR, INSTITUTE OF MARINE AND COASTAL SCIENCES, RUTGERS, THE STATE UNIVERSITY OF NEW JERSEY; HELEN A. BROHL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF MARITIME ORGANIZATIONS
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REP. FRANK PALLONE (D-NJ): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your having decided to move ahead with today's hearing regarding ocean observation because it is such an important issue. But I did want to reiterate a procedural problem which I mentioned to you yesterday and that is that, for whatever reason, the Resources Committee, the full committee is having a hearing today, a very important hearing actually, and I know I've already mentioned it to you but I'll mention again and I mention to Chairman Pombo, that I think it's inappropriate for us to have hearings before both the subcommittee and the full committee at the same time because it makes it difficult, if not impossible, for members to participate.
As you can see, there is just two of us here today. And I know there are members on the Democratic side who wanted to come but are at the other committee-full committee hearing down the hall. So I know it's not your fault but I just hope that we can work together so that we don't have these conflicts in the future because I'm going to actually have to step out myself at some point to go down there and participate.
I also hope that this is only the first in a series of oversight hearings concerning the recently released recommendations of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. I was heartened by the strong endorsement that ocean observation initiatives have received and the view of the Ocean Commission's recommendations is a very positive development. I have been a long-time supporter of increased funding for the design, coordination and deployment of innovative, automated observation technologies to improve our basic understanding of the coastal and ocean environment of the United States.
Much of what I do know about coastal observations, I attribute to Dr. Fred Grassle in his work at the Institute of Marine and Coastal Sciences at Rutgers University and I'd like to thank Dr. Grassle for again coming before the subcommittee to update our members about the significant research through the LEO-15 array and planned expansion of this technology in the Southeastern United States.
Of course, several of my Democratic colleagues are equally enthusiastic about the potential for a national ocean observation system, specially Congressman Sam Farr and Congressman Tom Allen. I also want to thank both Dr. Toby Newell and Mr. Evan Richert for traveling to Washington to inform the subcommittee of the regional programs they're involved with in California and Maine. I'm compelled to say that I'm very concerned about where we're going to find the funding to design, build, deploy and maintain a comprehensive ocean observation system. I don't want to be negative but as many members know, last week, the House passed legislation significantly cutting funding for NOAA's ocean and coastal programs from last year's appropriation.
A number of us, including myself, went on the floor and expressed the hope that in conference some of that funding would be restored. But the stark reality is that, unless members coalesce around the need for a genuine ocean observation system, the funding is never going to be there. And no less important, the administration must bring to this initiative the very same commitment it brought to the modernization of NOAA's weather forecasting and satellite programs which Chairman Gilchrest mentioned.
In the absence of such a commitment, a comprehensive observation system will remain dead in the water. We simply can't afford to have that happen. Mr. Chairman, I think we have to work together to better inform our colleagues about the many cross-over benefits that a nationwide ocean observation will bring in research and national security, hazard mitigation and natural resource management. And I know this is going to be a challenge but I pledge to you my cooperation in that effort. And thank you, again, for having the hearing today.
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REP. PALLONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to get to the funding issue and ask Dr. Spinrad. In your written testimony, you make a compelling case for why an Integrated Ocean Observing System is needed. Indeed every witness sitting at the table has articulated why the U.S. needs such a system and I have to say that I'm pleased to see such overwhelming support for it and applaud the efforts thus far in moving towards that goal.
But, as I mentioned in my opening, although we are all optimistic, there is a lot of pessimism regarding the funding to implement and sustain a national ocean-observing system. As we saw with the president's budget request and then the recent House Commerce, Justice, State appropriations bill there was significant reductions to NOAA's budget, I guess, to the tune of $446 million from Fiscal Year 04 enacted levels. And then in the Senate, we have S.1400. If you use that as a guide, an implementation will cost all agencies involved a total of over $200 million for each of the next five years. So that's $1 billion.
So you contrast what we think we need versus what we're getting, assuming that the CJS appropriations bill pass this Congress, I'd like to know, Dr. Spinrad, what NOAA programs will be specifically affected by the budget cuts with regards to their responsibility in helping to implement the ocean-observing system? And perhaps you can talk about a few programs and then submit a list of the affected programs to the subcommittee later. But if you at least tell us what you can at this point, I'd appreciate it.
DR. SPINRAD: Yes, I'd be glad to do that. There are a couple of initial points that I'd like to make in response. And the first is that we are converging on a clear understanding of what the current level of investment is. And nationally, we're looking at a level of investment on the order of about $900 million per year, from research through operations among all of the agencies that are invested in the Integrated Ocean Observing System.
NOAA's contribution to that, through our various pieces, is approximately $600 million per year. So the first important point is that our ability to sustain that investment persists. We will continue to invest in those levels and you've heard some reference to the kinds of programs that we will be able to continue to invest in the Physical Oceanographic Real-Time System. And it does --
REP. PALLONE: But still, tell us how-I mean, there must be some impact from these cuts, and if you give us some information about how the budget cuts would affect the system.
DR. SPINRAD: Without the specifics associated with some of those cuts, it's hard to determine at a program level where we will see those cuts. Now, for example, in language in the House Appropriation, there was sustainment of our navigation services efforts. Many of the kinds of observations that I'm talking about here are, in fact, embedded within the navigation services investments. The water level observations, for example, is part of that as well.
There are research investments within NOAA in our ocean assessment program which we are trying to determine-we were trying to determine what the cut effects might be on those particular research programs. It's unresolved at this point. Again, with respect to our budget submission, however, what you will see is that there are specific growth areas that we have proposed, both in the navigation services and then in the climate related ocean observations arena, to the tune of $24 million on the climate side.
REP. PALLONE: I know you're trying not to be specific, and maybe you can just get back to us later, but I mean, the bottom line is there has to be some impact. I mean, didn't the president's own Fiscal Year 05 request cut some of the ocean observation earmarks specifically?
DR. SPINRAD: The budget request itself included sustainment of the baseline investments and two particular areas of proposed increases with respect to navigation services and climate investments.
REP. PALLONE: But there were no cuts specifically in ocean observation earmarks?
DR. SPINRAD: The earmarks that had been provided in past years were not resubmitted as part of the budget in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
REP. PALLONE: Now, what about-I mean, is it likely that what you're going to do is just divert funds from other programs to cover the expenses of implementation? I mean, you keep stressing overall, and not wanting to get to the specifics. Is that what's likely to happen?
DR. SPINRAD: I would hope that's not what's likely to happen. As I said, our budget actually included some specific increased areas for ocean observations and a determined effort to sustain those core, if you will, areas that we've retained within the $600 million figure that I identified earlier, as well as the sustained efforts in data management and communications.
REP. PALLONE: Well, I just don't know how you're going to do it all and still not have some impact. But I guess you're reluctant to give me much in the way of details. But with the help-along with your support, Mr. Chairman, if we could get some written statement from you about how the CJS approps would specifically affect the different programs or line items, I'd appreciate it.
DR. SPINRAD: Absolutely. We're well-prepared to develop those impact statements.
REP. PALLONE: Could I just ask one more thing, with your indulgence? Is it reasonable to expect users of ocean observation data to pay for access to the data? In other words, who would be required to pay for access, commercial/recreational fishing, commercial shippers, recreational boaters? What would you think about that?
DR. SPINRAD: There's been a long history in the meteorological community that the weather service has been party to in dealing with exactly that question, the availability of data. And I might add that this is a critical issue in the international scene. The World Meteorological Organization, for example, years ago established a policy for the full and open availability of those data. The oceanographic community is, to a large extent, taking a lead from that community, trying to make full and open availability of these data.
Where we expect to see similar kinds of developments in the oceanographic community is in the development of tailored products for which there may be subscription services, for which there may be charges not unlike, for example, what is seen in the meteorological community where you clearly can get, for free, data from the National Weather Service, but should you choose to request a particular tailored product, there's a whole private sector community that can provide outstanding services along those lines. I think we can do the same kind of thing in the oceanographic community.
REP. PALLONE: Thank you.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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REP. PALLONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I just wanted to ask Mr. Winokur a question. You were the assistant administrator at NOAA for the National Environmental Satellite Data Information Services, and during that time you participated in the modernization of NOAA's weather forecasting and satellite observation platforms. I don't-I'm not trying to oversimplify, but your work directly impacted the ability to monitor extreme and hazardous weather events, and that of course in the end has saved lives and money. So I just wanted to ask what parallels you can draw between the modernization of weather forecasting and the modernization of ocean observation systems in the country, and are we not trying to achieve the same goals as those achieved for the atmosphere?
And basically what I'm trying to get at, you know, what's lacking about our current efforts to gain political and financial support to create an integrated ocean-observing system. You know, what do you suggest that we do, given that you were involved in this with the weather aspect?
MR. WINOKUR: Thank you for the question. I see my past is catching up to me. But it is a very good question, quite honestly, because there is a direct parallel between the modernization of the weather service and what we're trying to achieve with an integrated ocean-observing system. Many years ago, I think as Dr. Spinrad mentioned, the nations of the world got together and created something called the World Weather Watch, and that in fact was to build an international framework which data would be collected and shared with respect to the atmosphere to improve our ability to forecast weather and hazardous events and everything that goes with that.
I think those of us-I won't speak for my colleagues here at this table, but we're sort of wannabes. We would like to be like the World Weather Watch. And an analogy I think that you could use for an integrated ocean-observing system is a world ocean watch, which would achieve very much the same thing, an integration of space-based operations with in situ data collection from all of the capabilities that my colleagues here have mentioned. I think if we were to do that, that would certainly give us the capability to forecast all of those types of events that Dr. Spinrad and Dr. Leinen had mentioned. But also in the context of the Navy, for example, it gives us the ability to characterize the ocean environment on real-time basis anywhere in the world so that not only would the civil community be able to use it, but the military community as well.
I think it takes a concerted effort on the part of certainly all of those that are here at this panel and the panel you'll hear from right after us to convince the public, to convince yourselves, I think as Congressman Gilchrest said, your colleagues on the Hill of the importance of what needs to be done with understanding the contributions that ocean observations make to the ocean so that ultimately we'll not only have this integrated ocean-observing system but, my words I guess, a world ocean watch which would be very much parallel to the World Weather Watch. Everybody understands on a daily basis because it's the lead-in every day on the news, what the weather is. It's the teaser every night. Stay tuned. In 20 minutes we'll tell you if it's going to rain.
Well, we'd like to do the same thing in the ocean. Stay tuned in 20 minutes and we'll tell you if you can go to the beach and what the conditions are. If you're in my situation as I am right now, having moved from NOAA back to the Navy, what impacts the weather and knowledge of the ocean will have on military operations. So we need a good public relations firm, I guess.
REP. PALLONE: Well, thank you. You know, along those same lines, I wanted to ask Dr. Weller or Dr. Boesch. Many Americans obviously are unaware of the importance of the ocean, and both the Pew and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy stress the need for a better educated public with regard to the ocean. So sort of the same question. Do you see a link between public education on the oceans and success in implementing or sustaining a national ocean observation system? What strategies have either of you employed to raise awareness of ocean issues to the public, and what would you suggest in that regard, if you'd care to comment?
DR. BOESCH: Well, let me just say that. One of the things that we realize as we develop observing systems it that the observing systems, ocean-observing systems, are a marvelous education tool too, because it captures the fascination of young people of things that are high-tech, things that are real-time. And so a number of programs all around the country are trying to use-bring these together with K-12 education.
In the Mid-Atlantic region, for example, with your own institution, Rutgers, and the University of Maryland is partnering with several other institutions in the region on an NSF sponsored education program called COSI (ph), which is to bring science to the younger people, ocean science to the younger people. And the whole framework, the whole focus of our effort is the observing systems. We have LEO, the Chesapeake Bay Observing System. We're using this information to bring it to school groups, bring it to teachers. And it's marvelous how these kids really develop a better understanding of the ocean, get excited about it, and help educate their own parents and other friends about it as well.
REP. PALLONE: A good point.
DR. WELLER: I agree with Don. NSF and NOAA both have a Teacher at Sea program, where we take middle school teachers to see on cruises. And it's remarkable, the engagement of the classroom, so we have real-time communication. But I think another thing we have to do better is be very clear and lucid when we develop products and understanding about the link between the ocean and things on the land. I mean, for example, drought in the central part of the United States, or firefighting efforts. I mean, we are now, as we build, observing capability and better models, gaining an ability to predict and link conditions in the dry and the wet periods.
I think we should be right up front about, you know, this is the way the buoy data from, say, the middle of the North Pacific, gives you the information that tells you about the drought. One of the big sources of moisture for the central part of the U.S. is the Gulf of Mexico. This is the way that a buoy system in the Gulf of Mexico that measures the air-sea exchange of moisture, that's the way it contributes to understanding about drought conditions in the middle of the country. We need to do a bit better job at being clear about our science.
REP. PALLONE: Thank you. Thanks a lot.
DR. BOESCH: Can I just add one other thing to add to Dr. Weller's comment about the connection-helping people understand the connection between the ocean and what happens on the land. It works the other way too, because I think when we think about observing systems, ocean-observing systems, we have to think of it in the context of earth observing systems. And so much of what we do on land affects the coastal ocean. The areas from the New York Bight, Chesapeake Bay, the Gulf of Mexico are great examples of that. But part of this has to be boosting and sustaining the observations we make on land, the river flow observations, USGS monitoring of the inputs to the system. So it goes both ways, both in terms of how the ocean affects us on land as we affect the ocean.
REP. PALLONE: Thanks a lot.
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REP. PALLONE: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I wanted to ask about the need to authorize national ocean-observing systems, again about the funding which I think we have to constantly address, and also the U.S. Ocean Commission recommendations. All of you-and anybody can answer this-all of you testified as participants or users of existing regional ocean observation programs or compared with federal or state university based observation programs. And in general, all of you are very enthusiastic about the potential benefits that an integrated national ocean observation system might produce.
But that said, if the Congress were to take no action to authorize a national ocean observation system, what would be the effect on existing programs, either those established and operating today or those on the planning board? And along with that, what can be done to better inform the Congress of the multiple benefits of an integrated ocean observation system? You know, again, I go back to why there isn't more support for that kind of initiative. You don't all have to answer. I mean, whoever --
MR. : I'll give it a first shot. If we continue as we have over the last five or seven years, some longer and many shorter, with building ocean-observing systems based on earmarks, year to year earmarks, we will not have a system. Period. We must have authorizing legislation, hopefully leading to appropriations. We need to get away from the funding methodology of earmarks. Imagine a national weather service living on year to year earmarks. We would not have a system. The system depends on long-term reliability. The ability for people to know with certainty that the data are there day in, day out, year in, year out. And you cannot build a system based on the way that we're doing it now. It's a very high risk way of doing it. So we've got to have authorizing legislation and hopefully leading quickly to appropriations.
REP. PALLONE: Dr. Grassle.
DR. GRASSLE: Yes. Our system is not supported by earmarks. We've been supporting it by research projects where we compete nationally for funding for specific research projects. This means that our system-the part of our system which we try to maintain throughout the year in real-time is something that we support on the side of university funds and bits and pieces of the systems that are needed to support research. This cannot be sustained. We've been very lucky in our ability to compete for research funds. But we can't run a year-round system.
My colleagues tell me that the high frequency radar system that we've been running for the entire Continental Shelf which the Coast Guard finds useful and I believe the maritime industry finds very useful. We've had two workshops with the maritime industry associated with the port of New York and New Jersey and they've talked to us about various systems that they need. That is one technology which gives currents in real-time, that is generally useful both for ocean prediction, improving weather forecasts and more specifically related to transport within the harbor.
We also make available satellite data over the Internet from a constellation of satellites. These data are also useful for a wide variety of users. We can't sustain that without some support for operational systems. It's not possible to maintain the systems that are needed by industry, by the public on the basis of research funds. So in that sense, I agree with Ms. Brohl that the issue is not funding research. The issue is trying to provide the operational systems that are called for by industry and the general public.
REP. PALLONE: You know, I might go on to the second set of questions because it relates to a lot of what you're saying and then ask Ms. Brohl to continue. But I was going to ask in addition in terms of the funding aspect whether or not we can talk about creating a national system without first determining whether a dedicated source of revenue would be available. And then the question gets-you know, do you really think that we can sustain a national system based on regional program with annual appropriations which is constantly competing with other federal programs as opposed to a dedicated source of funding. I mean, you don't have to comment on that but that was sort of my next question.
And then, of course, the third part of that is whether user fees could be used to generate funds to operate a national system, and you know, I mean, these are just different possible funding sources in the overall context of whether we should be authorizing a national system.
MS. BROHL: Well, thank you for letting me jump in-we really appreciate the discussion about how to be more effective in providing real-time systems. The coalition believes there is already authorizing language, authorizing law that does provide for this. In fact, the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act amendments of 2002 include that the-under Section 103A4 says clearly, "The administrator of NOAA shall, subject to availability of appropriations, of course, design, install, maintain and operate real- time hydrographic monitoring systems." It also provides under the Tides and currents line item under NOAA-now the numbers are not large. The authorized amount for '05 is $30 million. It was $27.5 million in '04. We received $21.97 million.
The problem has laid in the fact that it clearly says that the administrator shall fund these. But it has been NOAA's policy, Department of Commerce's policy, OMB's policy that they will not do that, that they will not design, install-they designed them. They helped install them under a, quote, "equal partnership." But the partnership is one of quality control and being able to funnel that information into a central sources, which is great. But in effect, local pay will oversee.
It is the coalition's position that, in fact, the federal government should provide this information because we don't believe that safe navigation should be a privilege by whoever can pay locally. But it should be a right. And in fact, in maritime, you have navigation byways, which are critical navigation areas but they aren't necessarily run by a port authority. There isn't a coalition nearby. They may be along a major river. But who's going to be responsible for getting the money together for that major river?
And we have long felt that there should be something funded by the federal government and, in terms of not having money, the PORTS site, which is the real-time oceanographic site that a lot of people use in the Philadelphia Delaware region is now not working. It got shut down because they could no longer come up with the money to pay for it because it's a couple of hundred thousand dollars a year. So it's not just building them. It's creating them and we believe that if NOAA would take it upon themselves to implement a national plan to integrate through creating systems throughout the country, similar to the GoMOOS platform or PORTS or real-time monitoring systems, however you want to describe it, it could be done in a very logical sense without huge sums-without these hundreds of millions of dollars. And then locally, you determine where you add bells and whistles to meet local needs, whether it's for resource management, whether it's for navigation, whether it's for research.
REP. PALLONE: Okay. I can go on a second round after you, Mr. Chairman.
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REP. GILCHREST: Well, we almost escaped with that as the last question. But our colleague is back from the Indian gaming hearing and he was betting we'd still be here.
REP. PALLONE: That will be the ending of me.
REP. GILCHREST: I yield to the gentleman from New Jersey.
REP. PALLONE: Thank you. I don't know if I explained, you know, the full committee is having a hearing at the same time down the hall. Anyway, I just wanted to ask Dr. Toby Garfield a question because you commented on how-or could you comment, I should say, because I know the state of California has moved ahead to provide state funding for the development of two regional programs. And what was behind the support for this public investment? I mean, obviously, it's another funding source that maybe we should have commented on in the committee today.
MR. GARFIELD: Thank you, Mr. Pallone. The funding source for that was state propositions. The voters in California can put forward a proposition if they get enough signatures, it goes on the ballot. And so this was part of the Water Quality Act, actually two water quality acts. The total, I think, was $5.8 billion. Of that amount of money that was voted in and authorized, $21 million was authorized for coastal circulation.
REP. PALLONE: And so it was voted on by the whole state, the voters.
MR. GARFIELD: Yes.
REP. PALLONE: We don't have that type of initiative in most states, though. It doesn't exist in most states.
MR. GARFIELD: No. Right. I recognize that.
REP. PALLONE: Some people would say good, but --
MR. GARFIELD: When it comes to recalls and things, it provides some interesting days.
REP. PALLONE: All right, let me --
MR. GARFIELD: Could I just add one more comment there?
REP. PALLONE: Yeah, sure.
MR. GARFIELD: And one other reason I think that I thank this committee for looking at authorizing this is that question of liability that Mr. Cooper raised and was raised earlier. That as we develop these systems, if we don't address that question about liability it could be very hard for a lot of these operations to keep going. Because it's a big looming question for all of us.
REP. PALLONE: Okay. And then I just wanted to ask a couple of questions, Mr. Chairman, about the U.S. Ocean Commission recommendation. You're all familiar, I think, with the --
REP. GILCHREST: Could you turn the light on?
REP. PALLONE: You want to turn it on or off? Oh. Well, I'm sorry. No, it's all right. I'll be fast.
You know, they of course recommended the Integrated Ocean Observation System. Are all of you in support of the commissions recommendations? In other words, in general are you in agreement with the various organizational recommendations? Especially leadership through NOAA and Ocean.US?
I mean, you don't have to all-if anybody would like to comment on that?
Yeah, Dr. Grassle?
DR. GRASSLE: Yes. I was on the science advisory --
REP. PALLONE: Right.
DR. GRASSLE: -- commission, and I strongly support their recommendations. I was surprised that the administration didn't embrace the idea of the National Ocean Council. I think that would be a useful complement to Congress' effort to build an observing system for the oceans, and in general be a complement to the development of a national ocean policy.
There are quite a number of recommendations that relate to the observing system throughout the report. And my written testimony goes into that, but in general I think that the recommendations are consistent with those that are in the latest, very lengthy description of IOOS, which is on the website.
REP. PALLONE: Did anybody else want to comment on that?
MR. RICHERT: I'll just say that we support the recommendations in general. There was some difference in language and terminology. You know, with respect, for example, to regional associations.
REP. PALLONE: Yeah.
MR. RICHERT: But by and large the meaning is the same, and we were very pleased with the report.
REP. PALLONE: Well, that was sort of my second question. You know, was whether or not the process implemented by Ocean.US to develop a national implementation plan adequately involved existing regional programs? You know, maybe you can comment on that too in the context of it. I see Ms. Brohl --
MR. RICHERT: They've been terrific. Ocean.US has been extremely dutiful and conscientious in making this a grassroots effort and bringing in a lot of interests and stakeholders and regions.
REP. PALLONE: Okay. Go ahead, anybody else.
Ms. Brohl had a comment.
Or you go ahead.
DR. GRASSLE: Sorry. One of the important parts of the Ocean Commission recommendations is that they recommend funding NOAA, but they also-that's a vehicle for funding what will be the equivalent of a national ocean partnership. They change the name of the National Ocean Research Leadership Council to a different name, and that is a coordinating mechanism for funding in other agencies as well.
And so I think that the essential part of the observing system funding is that all are agencies involved, and there has to be some cross cutting structure for ocean science to do that.
MR. PALLONE: Thank you. Want to comment?
MS. BROHL: It's as close to a loaded question as there's been today. From our perspective we kind of keep asking ourselves what came first, the Ocean.US vision of IOOS or the Ocean Commission's vision of IOOS. And I think they all become kind of blended at some point.
And it doesn't really matter whether you say, gee, do you like the recommendations of the Ocean Commision or do you like how NOAA has a vision for IOOS through the Ocean.US, because the Ocean.US and NOAA are very intertwined.
At no time so far has commercial maritime been engaged in Ocean.US or IOOS development. Now, the GoMOOS is an exception. They started before this whole regional association concept got some funding. We have, the coalition has met with Dr. Spinrad to say there's something wrong with this picture, because we are intimately tied to the whole development of real time monitoring systems, we have funded them, we've been in partnership with NOAA on them, and we find it just amazing that there's not one commercial maritime in any of the development boards for any of the regional associations.
However, we have been assured by Dr. Spinrad that, to quote him, "The train is not out of the station," with regard to regional associations, that they are merely in development. And that their goal is in fact not just to receive research funding and that in fact they do have commercial maritime interests in mind. That hasn't really happened yet, we're still in that process of discussion. And with all-and to give Dr. Spinrad credit, he has created on behalf of commercial maritime interests through the coalition.
There is going to be a public meeting to brief commercial maritime on what IOOS is and the NOAA vision, this Ocean.US vision of maritime. And that will be held on July 30th in New York City. And we'll be glad to get you that information and make sure that information is forwarded to the subcommittee.
But the vision right now of IOOS from our perspective is very narrowly channeled towards universities and research funding. And we see a gap between that and the idea of really integrating data and creating systems by which we can read data. So the chairman asked me a question before, where we stand on this, and we see two very separate issues on the table here.
One is this vision of, let's integrate data. We need to do it, we heard lots of good reasons why you've got so many different people creating systems, let's integrate that. Let's standardize it, let's make sure it can all be channeled through perhaps co-ops and their online access, that would be terrific and we all benefit. We can enhance that through existing authorizations by increasing more water level-excuse me, real time water hydro monitoring platforms, let's say. Enhance them based upon maritime and resource management and research needs.
Now, the whole concept of a big huge process and regional associations, because of the way they've been presented so far and organized so far and the fact that commercial maritime has not been a part of the process at all so far, we just have a lot of questions, and wonder whether the train is really way ahead of us, and whether there's a possibility of chasing it and catching up, which we would like to do.
REP. PALLONE: Okay. I just-one more thing. The commission recommended funding an Integrated Ocean Observation System through one line item, and that was budget. Now, is that-you know, given that that would eliminate the Congressional earmarks for specific programs, does that pose a problem, or what would your reaction be to that?
And I promise not to ask anything else.
MR. GARFIELD: In California we really would like to promote a broad interagency approach.
REP. PALLONE: Okay.
MS. McCAMMON: I would agree with that in Alaska. I know there was some concern expressed about having all the funding go through NOAA because the idea is that there would be this plan that was developed in conjunction with regional associations expressing the needs for other agencies other than NOAA, such as Interior, USGS, NASA, the Navy.
And so there was some concern about the funding going through NOAA, that because the idea is that it goes to NOAA but then it would go out to those other agencies according to a plan adopted by-recommended by Ocean.US and adopted by NORLC (ph), the National Ocean Research Leadership Council. So as long as it follows kind of that strategy we would support it.
MR. RICHERT: Yeah, I agree with Molly. I have no problem with the money going through NOAA, I think that in the end may be the practical thing to do, as long as that money then is dispersed according to a plan adopted by the National Ocean Research Leadership Council. And that there was monitoring and enforcement of that disbursement in that matter.
REP. GILCHREST: So instead of saying NOAA may distribute this money, we'll put NOAA shall distribute this money?
MR. RICHERT: Yes.
REP. GILCHREST: I just want to say, Ms. Brohl, that this not about a train leaving the station, which is usually accelerating at a high speed in a short period of time. It's about a ship leaving the harbor. And it hasn't left the harbor yet, it's still tied up. Of course, we don't want to keep it tied up, but we'll make sure you'll all be included in these discussions in the coming weeks and months ahead.
I do have another appointment at two o'clock, I had one at 1:30. I'm not sure if the gaming hearing is over yet.
REP. PALLONE: It's over.