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July 2011 Issue

House Appropriations Committee Approves $50 Million for 2012 Water Power Program
The U.S. House Committee on Appropriations approved the fiscal year (FY) 2012 energy and water appropriations bill on June 15 that includes $50 million for the Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Water Power Program. The bill was scheduled to be sent to the House floor for a vote after July 4.

The allocation marks a $20 million increase above EERE's FY 2011 and is $11.5 million above the budget request. The bill allocates $25 million to both traditional hydropower and to marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) research, development and demonstration.

The budget proposes funding for conventional hydropower to the deployment of higher-efficiency turbines and the installation of turbines at unpowered dams, with the committee recommending using the appropriated money at existing facilities and dams.

In regards to MHK, the committee directed the Department of Energy to provide no funds to the deployment of turbine upgrades or efficiency upgrades at existing hydropower facilities to keep the program focused on its core mandate to develop and advance new energy science and technologies.

The president of the Ocean Renewable Energy Coalition, Sean O'Neill, commended the committee's efforts to expand MHK research. "Ten percent of current U.S. electricity consumption can be met with MHK technologies, and we look forward to working with Congress to help our members achieve that goal."

Report Calls for Implementation of Obama Administration's US Ocean Policy
Less than a year after President Obama signed an executive order establishing the U.S.'s first National Ocean Policy (NOP), the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (JOCI) released a report calling for the policies effective implementation.

The report, "America's Ocean Future: Ensuring Healthy Oceans to Support a Vibrant Economy," was released in June and lists 10 recommendations for implementing the NOP.

The NOP itself outlines nine objectives, which include ecosystem-based coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP), regional ecosystem protection and restoration, and strengthening U.S. ocean observing systems, sensors, data collection and mapping capabilities. To act on the NOP's objectives within the next year, the JOCI's report suggests Congress and the administration should grant the National Ocean Council (NOC), the body charged with implementing the NOP, the resources it needs. The JOCI report also stated the NOC should conduct an interagency effort to review and amend ocean-related policies to reduce duplication and inefficiencies in today's ocean management system.

Other recommendations from the JOCI report include increasing coordination among federal, state and local officials to ensure they support the priorities of coastal regions, states and tribes. For example, in regards to marine CMSP, the JOCI said the NOC should proactively seek stakeholder and public input at every step, encourage federal agencies provide incentives for state and tribal participation, and avoid slowing or halting commercial activities during the planning process.

The report also outlines current threats to the nation's coastal economy, stating that U.S. coastal counties generate an estimated $8 trillion dollars and 69 million jobs per year. The report outlines current threats to this economy and proposes solutions to protect the industries and communities.

Committee OKs Bill Allowing Survivors of 11 Killed On Deepwater Horizon to Claim More Damages
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation approved legislation in June that would allow survivors of the 11 men who died in the Deepwater Horizon explosion to claim further damages against the companies involved.

The bill, The Deepwater Horizon Survivors' Fairness Act, would amend current legislation, including the Death on the High Seas Act, which limits survivors' damages to economic losses only (e.g., wages, funeral costs). Under the bill's changes, survivors of those killed would be able to claim "nonpecuniary loss," which is defined in the proposed legislation as "the loss of care, comfort, companionship and society." The bill also suggests changes to the Shipowners' Liability Act of 1851, which limits a vessel owner's liability to the value of its interest the vessel and its freight.

If passed, the bill would apply to incidents after April 19, 2010, as well as to prior incidents that have not been finally adjudicated including appellate review.

This bill, sponsored by Sen. John Rockefeller IV (D.-W.Va.) was originally introduced on January 25. The Senate must still vote on it.

Democrats Urge Continued Investment
Into Harmful Algal Blooms, Hypoxia Research

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment discussed in June legislation to increase research efforts on harmful algal blooms (HABs) and hypoxia.

Subcommittee members heard testimony on the draft legislation, the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2011, which would establish a national HAB and hypoxia program and provide for comprehensive regional action plans to address and reduce HABs and hypoxia. Similar legislation introduced in 2009 passed the House but never made it through the Senate.

According to NOAA, HABs and hypoxia have a negative economic impact of $82 million in the U.S. annually. Subcommittee Democrats said they were concerned the current version of the legislation does not include a freshwater HABs section. Though HABs are most often associated with marine water, they are also found in freshwater like the Great Lakes.

Ranking member Brad Miller (D-N.C.) said, "We must continue to invest in a way that will move this research forward and advance our understanding of these blooms and the hypoxic events they cause."



2012:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
2011:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC

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