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Capital Report


June 2014 Issue

Joint Ocean Commission Opposes Budget Cuts
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative submitted letters to the Barack Obama Administration and Congress encouraging support for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs. The letters were sent to Dr. John Holdren, Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House; the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies; and the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies.

In these letters, the Joint Initiative expressed concern about the administration's proposal to consolidate STEM programs, including the elimination of funding for certain ocean education programs in NOAA. The letters to the Senate and House subcommittees address funding needs for NOAA ocean education programs.

For example, the letter to Holdren states that among the NOAA STEM education programs the budget proposes to terminate are: the Bay Watershed Education and Training Program, which allows more than 76,000 K-12 students to participate in field work in watersheds annually; Teacher at Sea program, which provides research ship experiences and professional development for at least 250 teachers annually; Sea Grant public education and outreach program, which allows more than 480,000 lifelong learners to better understand their environment; NOAA Competitive Education Grant program, which supports exhibits and programs at aquariums, museums and science centers across the country reaching more than 50 million people; Ocean Exploration and Research education program, which trains 600 teachers a year in ocean sciences; Nancy Foster Fellowship, which provides graduate fellowships to women and minorities pursuing advanced degrees in the marine sciences; and National Ocean Science Bowl, which promotes ocean and environmental science literacy for more than 2,500 students from 300 high schools.

Sensenbrenner, Larsen Introduce Bill To Establish US Arctic Ambassador
Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) introduced a bill to amend the U.S. State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish a United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs.

Currently, 20 government agencies are handling Arctic policy. Under this legislation, an Ambassador would be charged with all coordination and serve as chair of the Arctic Council when the U.S. assumes the chairmanship from 2015 to 2017.

'We need someone with ambassadorial rank to show that the U.S. is serious about being an Arctic nation,' said Sensenbrenner. 'As Russia continues to act aggressively, including making claims in the Arctic, and as China states its own interest, the U.S. must coordinate its Arctic policy and protect its domestic energy supply at the highest level.'

'The Arctic is fast becoming the 21st century version of the Northwest Passage,' said Larsen. 'An ambassador-level position takes an important step to coordinate U.S. commercial, environmental and security interests in the region. The position also signals our country's commitment to international cooperation on Arctic policy.'

Ocean Champions Endorses Brownley, Honda for California
Ocean Champions, which works to build political power for the oceans by helping to re-elect pro-ocean candidates to the U.S. Congress, has endorsed several candidates, including Rep. Julia Brownley (D-Calif.) for a second term representing California's 26th District. Brownley serves on the House Committee on Science Space and Technology and its Subcommittee on the Environment. She has received attention for her work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium to protect California's endangered sea otter population.

Ocean Champions also endorsed Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.) for California's 17th District. He is a senior member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science, which funds NOAA. His perspective will be critical as negotiations over reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act begin to heat up.

AAPA Testifies Against National Preparedness Grant Program Bill
Testifying on behalf of the American Association of Port Authorities (AAPA), Port of Long Beach Security Director Randy Parsons told the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security that the association has a fundamental philosophical difference with the Barack Obama Administration over its proposed National Preparedness Grant Program legislation, which would move seaport security grants from the federal to the state level. Parsons, head of security for the U.S.'s second-busiest container port, said the proposed bill would put the U.S. at greater risk for terrorism because increased competition for grants with emergency responder programs would mean less funding for seaport security.

Port security grants are often used to help seaport facilities address mandates for federal agencies, but state agencies are often unaware of such mandates and don't have the expertise to determine risks to international borders such as ports, according to AAPA.

Louisiana to Get $1.1 Million For Coastal Restoration
Louisiana will receive $1.1 million to restore its coast thanks to the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) authored and passed by Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The money is Louisiana's share of the $4.2 million going to Gulf Coast states from the revenues produced off their shores in 2013. GOMESA, which Landrieu passed in 2006 with Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.), allows Louisiana and energy-producing states in the Gulf to share 37.5 percent of the revenues generated in bids, bonuses, royalties and rental payments, and opens up 8.3 million acres in the Gulf for new exploration and drilling—the first time in a quarter-century.

Landrieu called for the passage of her bipartisan FAIR Act that will accelerate the date for all payments, lift the $500 million cap and expand revenue sharing to all coastal states producing energy. The payments will be used for wetlands restoration, hurricane protection and flood control.


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