Summary: H.R.2759 — 96th Congress (1979-1980)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (06/23/1980)

(Measure passed Senate, amended)

Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Resources Act - Disclaims extraterritorial sovereignty by the United States over deep seabeds. Encourages the Secretary of State to negotiate a comprehensive Law of the Sea Treaty. Encourages the Secretary of State to promote international action to protect the environment from the adverse impacts of exploration or commercial recovery of hard mineral until such a treaty is concluded. Defines "commercial recovery" to provide that the primary purpose of commercial recovery is to market or commercially use hard mineral resources at a profit.

=Title I: Regulation of Exploration and Commercial Recovery by United States Citizens= - Prohibits any United States citizen from engaging in exploration or commercial recovery unless authorized: (1) under a license or permit issued pursuant to this Act; (2) under a license or permit issued by a reciprocating state; or (3) pursuant to an international agreement. Specifies activities which are exempted from this Act. Permits the continuation of existing exploration upon timely application for such license, unless the President or Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issues an emergency order to suspend such activities for specified persons. Entitles applicants continuing existing exploration to priority of right for the issuance of such license. Prohibits interference with the activities of a licensee or permittee under this Act.

Entitles the holder of a valid existing license to priority of right for a commercial recovery permit. Specifies that such permit recognizes the right of the holder to recover, own, take away, use, and sell the hard mineral resources. Provides that in the event of interference with the exploration or commercial recovery of a licensee or permittee by nationals of other states, the Secretary of State shall use all peaceful means to resolve the controversy.

Sets forth procedures for the issuance or transfer of, and limitations upon, licenses for exploration and permits for commercial recovery under this Act. Prohibits commercial recovery from commencing prior to January 1, 1988. Requires commercial recovery to be conducted within the United States unless the President determines that such restrictions contravene overriding national interests. Authorizes the Administrator to allow the conduct of commercial recovery outside the United if: (1) such recovery is necessary to the economic viability of the permittee, and (2) the permittee assures that after processing the hard mineral resources will be returned to the United States if they are needed for domestic use. Declares any United States citizen eligible for exploration licenses and commercial recovery permits. Requires applicants for licenses or permits to submit an exploration or recovery plan which sets forth the activities to be carried out. Specifies that such exploration plan should include a description of the area to be explored, the exploration schedule, the methods to be used, and estimate of minimum expenditures, and measures to protect the environment.

Specifies that such recovery plan shall include the schedule for commercial recovery, environmental safeguards and monitoring systems details of the area proposed for such recovery, a resource assessment, the methods and technology to be used, and the methods for disposal of wastes. Allows the applicant to select the size and location of the work plan area which shall be approved unless the Administrator finds that: (1) the size of the area is not a logical mining unit; or (2) commercial recovery activities would have a significant adverse impact on the environment which cannot be avoided.

Establishes a formula for the determination of priority of right for issuance to applicants other than those continuing exploration or already holding a valid license.

Provides for an antitrust review by the Attorney General and the Federal Trade Commission of any license or permit application.

Requires the Administrator to provide by regulations for full consultation and cooperation with other Federal agencies or departments which have programs or activities which would be affected by activities carried out under a license or permit.

Sets forth findings which must be made prior to issuance of a license for exploration or permit for commercial recovery.

Provides that the Administrator shall propose terms, conditions, and restrictions on the exploration or commercial recovery proposed in the application. Permits the licensee or permittee to object to such terms, conditions, and restrictions if such licensee or permittee believes they are inconsistent with this Act. Subjects any final determination made by the Administrator to judicial review. Requires the Administrator to consult with any affected Regional Fishery Management Council prior to taking any action on a license or permit.

Permits modifications or suspension of operations upon order of the Administrator. Sets forth procedures and effects of denial, suspension, or revocation of a license. Allows the President to issue an emergency order suspending or modifying particular activities, if he determines that such action is necessary to avoid international conflict. Permits the Administrator to issue such emergency orders in certain circumstances.

Requires that the exploration or recovery plan and the terms, conditions, and restrictions of each license and permit be designed to assure diligent development. Provides that each license shall require such expenditures for exploration as the Administrator shall establish. Stipulates that such expenditures shall not be established at a level which would discourage exploration by persons with less costly technology. Permits the Administrator to require the permittee to maintain commercial recovery throughout the period of the permit.

Directs the Administrator to expand and accelerate the program assessing the environmental effects of exploration commercial recovery activities. Requires the Administrator to conduct a continuing program of ocean research to support environmental assessment activity. Requires the Administrator to prepare a plan to carry out the program and submit such plan to the Congress.

Directs the Administrator to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement with respect to the areas likely to be developed by United States citizens. States that the issuance of any license or permit shall be deemed to be a major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment for the purposes of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969.

Requires that each license and permit contain terms, conditions, and restrictions which have due regard for the conservation of natural resources. Prohibits licenses or permittees from interfering with reasonable uses of the seas. Requires certain recordkeeping, environmental impact statements, navigational safety procedures, and disclosures by licensees and permittees. Stipulates that the Administrator shall withhold data or information the disclosure of which is prohibited by the Trade Secrets Act.

Permits the Administrator to monitor exploration or commercial recovery operations.

Permits relinquishment or surrender of such licenses or permits.

Requires that the public shall have notice of, and opportunity for comment and hearings on, any promulgation of rules and regulations or action on licenses or permits by the Administrator. Allows a person to commence a civil action for equitable relief against any person in violation of this Act or against the Administrator when the Administrator has failed to perform nondiscretionary duties or acts.

Permits the Administrator to designate "reciprocating states" as defined by this Act. Authorizes the President to negotiate international agreements to provide for such designations. Directs the Administrator, in consultation with the Secretary of State and the heads of other appropriate departments and agencies, to consult with foreign nations which enact or are preparing to enact domestic legislation establishing a legal framework for exploration or recovery of hard mineral resources for the purpose of establishing reciprocity. Directs the Administrator to provide such foreign nations with information on environmental impacts of exploration and commercial recovery activities, and to provide technical assistance in designing regulatory measures to protect the environment.

Directs the Secretary of State, in cooperation with the Administrator, to negotiate with all nations identified under this Act as reciprocating states to establish international stable areas(zones for resources evaluation and environmental assessment of deep seabed mining) in which no mining shall take place. States that nothing in this Act shall be construed as authorizing the United States to unilaterally establish such areas. Prohibits United States recognition of any state's unilateral claim to such areas. Directs the Secretary to submit to Congress within four years after enactment of this Act a progress report on such areas.

=Title II: Transition to International Agreement= - Declares the intent of Congress regarding any international seabed agreements to which the United States may become a party to be: (1) to provide reasonable access to the deep seabed mineral resources for United States citizens; and (2) to recognize certain continuing seabed mining rights of United States citizens who have begun such mining operations prior to any such international agreement. Sets forth the effect upon specified provisions of this Act resulting from subsequent international agreements.

Disclaims any legal or moral obligation on the part of the United States Government to compensate any person for any impairment of the value of investment in any exploration or commercial recovery activities which might occur in connection with an international agreement.

Directs the Administrator: (1) to submit to Congress proposed legislation to implement a system for the protection of interim investments that has been adopted as part of an international agreement; or (2) if no such system has been adopted, to report to Congress the status of negotiations relating to such a system.

=Title III: Enforcement, and Miscellaneous Provisions= - Makes unlawful violations of this Act. Establishes civil and criminal penalties for such violations. Directs the Administrator to enforce this Act. Stipulates that the Secretary of the department in which the Coast Guard is operating shall have exclusive responsibility for enforcement measures carried out at sea. Sets forth the powers of enforcement of officers authorized by such Administrator. Makes vessels in violation of this Act liable in rem for such violation.

Provides that any vessel and its cargo used in connection with any prohibited act may be subject to forfeiture to the United States. Gives the district courts exclusive jurisdiction over any case or controversy arising under this Act.

Directs the Administrator to issue regulations for the implementation of this Act.

Permits the Administrator to amend such regulations at any time. Stipulates that such amended regulations shall apply to any activities under an existing permit unless the Administrator determines that economic hardship to the licensee or permittee significantly outweighs the conservation of natural resources or protection of environment to be achieved.

States that this Act and regulations issued under this Act shall not be deemed to supersede any other Federal laws or treaties, or regulations issued thereunder.

Directs the Secretary to submit to the Congress biennial reports on the administration of this Act.

=Title IV: Tax= - Deep Seabed Hard Mineral Removal Tax Act of 1979 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1954 to impose a tax on the removal of hard mineral resources from the deep seabed.

Establishes in the United States Treasury a Deep Seabed Revenue Sharing Trust Fund.