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105th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE

 1st Session                                                     105-37
_______________________________________________________________________


 
         NATIONAL CAVE AND KARST RESEARCH INSTITUTE ACT OF 1997

                                _______
                                

                  June 26, 1997.--Ordered to be printed

_______________________________________________________________________


  Mr. Murkowski, from the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 
                        submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 231]

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, to which was 
referred the bill (S. 231) to establish the National Cave and 
Karst Research Institute in the State of New Mexico, and for 
other purpose, having considered the same, reports favorably 
thereon without amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                         purpose of the measure

    The purpose of S. 231 is to establish the National Cave and 
Karst Research Institute in the State of New Mexico. The 
purposes of the Institute would be to further the science of 
speleology; to centralize and standardize speleological 
information; to foster interdisciplinary cooperation in cave 
and karst research programs; to promote national and 
international cooperation in protecting the environment for the 
benefit of cave and karst landforms; and to promote and develop 
environmentally sound and sustainable resource management 
practices.

                          background and need

    The National Geographic Society has identified the 
protection and management of water resources--critical both to 
public health and to sustainable economic development--as the 
major issue facing the world as society enters the 21st 
century. The overwhelming majority of the nation's freshwater 
resources consists of groundwater, some 25 percent of which is 
located in cave and karst regions (areas of limestone 
formations that are characterized by sinks, ravines, and 
underground streams).
    Over 20 percent of the earth's surface is characterized as 
karst. The United States as a whole is 20 percent karst. East 
of central Oklahoma, 40 percent of the country is karst. 
Approximately 58 units of the National Park System contain 
caves and karst features; these range from as few as 10 to 15 
caves per park unit (the C & O Canal) to well over 200 caves 
per unit (the Grand Canyon).
    Caves provide scientists with information on natural 
resources, human history, and evolution. Recent studies have 
also indicated that caves contain valuable data related to 
global climate change, waste disposal, groundwater supply and 
contamination, petroleum recovery, and biomedical 
investigations. Caves also contain information pertinent to 
anthropological, archeological, geological, paleontological, 
and mineralogical discoveries and resources.
    Congress created a major impetus for America's involvement 
in cave and karst protection and management in 1988 by passing 
the Federal Cave Resources Protection Act (Public Law 100-691), 
which directed the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture 
to inventory and list significant caves on Federal lands and to 
provide for the management and dissemination of information 
about caves. The inventory and list was completed in December 
1995. According to a 1994 study by the National Park Service, 
since the passage of the Act, Federal land management agencies 
have developed a heightened awareness of the management needs 
for the cave and karst resources on their lands; of the need 
for both a cave research program and a repository for cave and 
karst information; and of their own growing needs for 
assistance in inventorying and classifying their cave and karst 
resources.
    In 1990, through the passage of Public Law 101-578, 
Congress directed the National Park Service to establish and 
administer a cave research program, and to prepared a proposal 
for Congress that examines the feasibility of a centralized 
National Cave and Karst Research Institute, associated with an 
existing cave and karst research program already established by 
the National Park Service. The National Park Service study 
report to Congress, prepared in cooperation with other Federal 
cave-managing agencies, cave-related organizations, cave 
experts, and interested individuals, was completed in December 
1994.
    The study report states as goals of the Institute the 
furtherance of the science of speleology (cave study); 
centralization and standardization of speleological 
information; interdisciplinary cooperation in cave and karst 
research programs to foster research; education; promotion of 
national and international cooperation in environmental 
considerations for the protection of cave and karst landforms; 
and promotion of environmentally sound, sustainable research 
management practices. Program areas that the study considers 
essential to the Institute's mission include information 
management, research and education.
    S. 231 reflect suggestions made in the study, including: 
joint administration; cost sharing; the location of the 
Institute in a local community that possesses significant cave 
resources (rather than inside a unit of the National Park 
Service) and which provides easy accessibility for researchers, 
students and other visitors, and is large enough to attract and 
retain high-quality employees and their families.

                          legislative history

    S. 231 was introduced by Senator Bingaman on January 29, 
1997. Senator Lautenberg was added as a cosponsor on May 7, 
1997. Senator Domenici was added as a cosponsor on June 17, 
1997.
    At the business meeting on June 11, 1997, the Committee on 
Energy and Natural Resources ordered S. 231 favorably reported 
without amendment.

           committee recommendations and tabulation of votes

    The Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, in open 
business session on June 12, 1997, by a unanimous vote of a 
quorum present, recommends that the Senate pass S. 231 without 
amendment.
    The rollcall vote on reporting the measure was 20 yeas, 0 
nays, as follows:
        YEAS                          NAYS
Mr. Murkowski
Mr. Domenici
Mr. Nickles
Mr. Craig
Mr. Campbell
Mr. Thomas
Mr. Kyl
Mr. Grams
Mr. Smith
Mr. Gorton
Mr. Burns \1\
Mr. Bumpers
Mr. Ford
Mr. Bingaman \1\
Mr. Akaka \1\
Mr. Dorgan \1\
Mr. Graham \1\
Mr. Wyden
Mr. Johnson \1\
Mrs. Landrieu

    \1\ Indicates voted by proxy.

                      section-by-section analysis

    Section 1 entitles the Act the ``National Cave and Karst 
Research Institute Act of 1997.''
    Section 2 describes the purposes of the Act as being: (1) 
to further the science of speleology; (2) to centralize and 
standardize speleological information; (3) to foster 
interdisciplinary cooperation in cave and karst research 
programs; (4) to promote public education; (5) to promote 
national and international cooperation in protecting the 
environment for the benefit of cave and karst landforms; and 
(6) to promote and develop environmentally sound and 
sustainable management practices.
    Section 3 directs the Secretary of the Interior 
(``Secretary''), acting through the Director of the National 
Park Service, to establish the National Cave and Karst Research 
Institute (``Institute'') for the purposes described in the Act 
in the vicinity of Carlsbad Caverns National Park in the State 
of New Mexico. The legislation stipulates that the Institute 
shall not be located within the boundaries of the park.
    Section 4(a) directs the Institute be jointly administered 
by the National Park Service and a public or private agency, 
organization, or institution as determined by the Secretary.
    Section 4(b) directs that the institute be operated and 
managed in accordance with a study prepared by the National 
Park Service in 1990.
    Section 4(c)  authorizes the Secretary to enter into a 
contract or cooperative agreement with a public or private 
agency, organization, or institution in order to carry out the 
Act.
    Section 4(d) authorizes the Secretary to lease or acquire a 
facility for the Institute. If the Secretary determines that a 
suitable facility is not available, the Secretary is authorized 
to construct a facility for the Institute.
    Section 4(e) authorizes the Secretary to accept grants or 
donations from private persons, and transfer funds from another 
Federal agency in order to carry out the Act.
    Section 5 directs that Federal funds must be matched by an 
equal amount of funds from non-Federal sources. The bill 
authorizes the appropriation of such sums as may be necessary.

                   cost and budgetary considerations

    The following cost estimate for this measure has been 
provided by the Congressional Budget Office.

               Congressional Budget Office Cost Estimate

S. 231--National Cave and Karst Research Institute Act of 1997

    Summary--S. 231 would direct the National Park Service 
(NPS) to establish the National Cave and Karst Research 
Institute in New Mexico. The NPS would be authorized to lease 
or construct a suitable facility for the institute, and to 
jointly administer the institute with another public or private 
organization. The bill would authorize the NPS to expend 
appropriated funds only to the extent that such spending is 
matched by nonfederal funds to help establish and operate the 
institute. Assuming appropriation of the necessary funds, CBO 
estimates that the federal government would spend about $5 
million over the 1998-2002 period to construct a building for 
the institute and to begin its research operations.
    Enacting the bill could affect both receipts and direct 
spending; therefore, pay-as-you-go procedures would apply. S. 
231 would allow the Department of the Interior to accept gifts 
and donations (which are recorded as governmental receipts), 
and the department could spend any amounts received without the 
need for appropriations action. Because any such receipts and 
direct spending would likely offset each other, however, we 
estimate no net budgetary impact for pay-as-you-go purposes.
    S. 231 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (UMRA) and would 
impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    Estimated cost to the Federal Government--The estimated 
budgetary impact of S. 231 is shown in the following table.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                   By fiscal year, in millions of dollars       
                                                           -----------------------------------------------------
                                                              1997     1998     1999     2000     2001     2002 
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                        SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION                                       
Estimated Authorization Level.............................        0        3      (a)      (a)        1        1
Estimated Outlays.........................................        0      (a)        1        2        1        1
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
a Less than $500,000.                                                                                           

    The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 
300 (natural resources and the environment).
    Based on information from the NPS, CBO estimates it would 
cost about $6 million to construct a building to house the 
institute over a multiyear planning and construction period. In 
addition, we estimate that once it is fully operational it 
would cost about $2 million annually to operate the institute. 
This estimate assumes that matching funds will be provided by a 
nonfederal source to construct and operate the institute, and 
that half of these funds, or about $5 million over the 1998-
2002 period, would come from federal appropriations.
    Pay-as-you-go considerations--Section 252 of the Balanced 
Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 sets up pay-
as-you-go procedures for legislation affecting direct spending 
or receipts through 1998. Pay-as-you-go procedures would apply 
to S. 231 because it would authorize the Department of the 
Interior to accept gifts and donations to carry out the bill, 
and the department could spend such donations without further 
appropriation. We expect, however, that receipts from any gifts 
or donations would be offset by the spending of those funds and 
thus there would be no net budgetary impact for pay-as-you-go 
purposes.
    Estimated impact on state, local, and tribal governments--
S. 231 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in 
UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal 
governments. The bill would direct that the proposed institute 
be jointly managed by the NPS and a public or private agency, 
organization, or institution.
    It also would require that federal expenditures be matched 
by equal funds from nonfederal sources. It is possible that a 
public agency or institution would choose to participate in 
this project and provide some matching funds. Any such 
contribution would be voluntary.
    Estimated impact on the private sector--The bill would 
impose no new private-sector mandates as defined in UMRA.
    Estimate prepared by--Federal Costs: Victoria V. Heid; 
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie 
Miller.
    Estimate approved by--Peter H. Fontaine for Paul N. Van de 
Water, Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      regulatory impact evaluation

    In compliance with paragraph 11(b) rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee makes the following 
evaluation of the regulatory impact which would be incurred in 
carrying out S. 231. The bill is not a regulatory measure in 
the sense of imposing Government-established standards or 
significant economic responsibilities on private individuals 
and businesses.
    No personal information would be collected in administering 
the program. Therefore, there would be no impact on personal 
privacy.
    Little, if any, additional paperwork would result from the 
enactment of S. 231, as ordered reported.

                        executive communications

    On May 21, 1997, the Committee on Energy and Natural 
Resources requested legislative reports from the Department of 
the Interior and the Office of Management and Budget setting 
forth Executive agency recommendations on S. 231. These reports 
had not been received at the time the report on S. 231 was 
filed. When these reports become available, the Chairman will 
request that they be printed in the Congressional Record for 
the advice of the Senate. The testimony of the Department of 
the Interior at the Subcommittee hearing follows:

 Statement of Katherine H. Stevenson, Associate Director for Cultural 
    Resources Stewardship and Partnerships, National Park Service, 
                       Department of the Interior

    Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the opportunity to provide the 
Subcommittee with the views of the National Park Service on S. 
231, a bill to establish the National Cave and Karst Research 
Institute. Similar legislation was introduced and a hearing was 
held before this Subcommittee during the 104th Congress. The 
National Park Service supports this legislation; however, 
funding has not been requested in the Administration's budget 
request. For the Institute to become a reality we need two 
things--funding would need to be provided by Congress for the 
NPS share, and the public/private partners would need to match 
the federal appropriations. Federal funding for this proposal 
would be contingent upon NPS budget constraints and 
Administration priorities.
    If enacted, S. 231 would establish a National Cave and 
Karst Research Institute for the purpose of furthering the 
science of speleology, encouraging public education in the 
field, and promoting and developing environmentally sound and 
sustainable resource management practices. The Institute would 
be located near Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Management and 
operation of the Institute would be based on a partnership 
between the National Park Service and a public or private 
agency selected by the Secretary.
    Cave and karst systems are vital to humankind in many ways. 
The protection and management of water resources have been 
identified as major issues facing the planet as we enter the 
21st century--and a full 25 percent of America's freshwater 
resources exist in groundwater in cave and karst regions. Caves 
also serve as rich storehouses of information about national 
resources, human history, evolution, and global climate 
change--not to mention such current concerns as waste disposal, 
petroleum recovery, and biomedical investigations.
    Congress created a major impetus for America's involvement 
in cave and karst protection and management by passing the 
landmark Federal Cave Resources Protection Act of 1988. This 
Act, among other things, directed the Secretaries of the 
Interior and Agriculture to inventory and list significant 
caves on Federal lands. The nationwide assessment of 
significant Federally owned caves began in 1994. This action 
has added greatly to the number of known caves on Federal land, 
and increased the impetus for cave management and research. 
Federal land managers have since developed a heightened 
awareness of the management needs of the cave and karst 
resources on these lands and of their growing needs for 
assistance in inventorying and classifying their cave and karst 
resources. It is also evident that in order to succeed in this 
effort, the private sector as well as other public agencies 
need to be part of the project. We will need to develop 
partnerships which will bring funding, as well as research and 
program content, to the project.
    The foundation for S. 231 stems from the study prepared by 
the National Park Service in response to P.L. 101-578 (November 
15, 1990). In that law, Congress directed the Secretary of the 
Interior, acting through the Director of the National Park 
Service, to establish and administer a Cave Research Program 
and to prepare a study that examines the feasibility of 
establishing a centralized National Cave and Karst Research 
Institute.
    The NPS study was completed in December of 1994. The study 
recommended that the Institute be jointly administered by the 
National Park Service and another entity. Congress has 
identified the National Park Service as project lead since it 
manages over 60 park units containing significant cave 
resources. It has had a Cave and Karst Research Program in 
place since March 1991, and it already has an appropriate 
general cooperative management model in use, called a 
``Cooperative Park Studies Unit.'' The National Park Service 
would have ultimate responsibility for the Institute, and would 
retain indirect control over its activities and programs. An 
academic entity would plan, coordinate, and administer the 
Institute and its programs.
    The location that the study recommended is a local 
community (rather than a National Park Service unit) that 
possesses significant cave resources, is easily accessible to 
researchers, students, and other visitors, is located near the 
academic entity with which it is associated, and is large 
enough to offer a favorable quality of life in order to attract 
and retain high-quality employees and their families. As 
specifically directed by P.L. 101-578, the study focused on 
locating the Institute near the region surrounding Carlsbad 
Caverns National Park. The Carlsbad location was identified by 
the study because of the documented strong local-community and 
political support, and the numerous and diverse cave and Karst 
resources found throughout the region.
    It is estimated that the cost for the Institute during the 
first five years, if space for the Institute were donated to 
the NPS, would exceed $1.2 million for operating and capital 
expenses alone over the five year period. Since New Mexico 
State University is considering housing the Institute at its 
Carlsbad Environmental Monitoring and Research Center during 
the first five years, it is anticipated that a permanent 
facility would need to be built by the sixth year of operation. 
The estimated construction cost of the Institute exceeds $1.2 
million.
    It is critical in times of decreasing budgets and resources 
that the dictates of this legislation be accomplished jointly--
between the National Park Service and a designated partner in 
this venture, such as the State of New Mexico, New Mexico State 
University, or private entities. Technical cooperators for 
research projects could include organizations such as the Karst 
Waters Institute, the National Speleological Society, the Cave 
Research Foundation, and the American Cave Conservation 
Association.
    All funds and efforts of the NPS must be matched at least 
equally and responsibility for the success of the project must 
be shared. We would strongly recommend a change in bill 
language to emphasize this position. In Section 4 (c) and (e) 
as well as Section 5(a) we would suggest changing the Secretary 
``may'' to the Secretary ``shall''. This would reaffirm that 
the commitment to the project is the responsibility of all 
parties, and its success depends completely on cooperative 
efforts. Without cooperation, existing NPS projects and 
programs would be jeopardized.
    This concludes my prepared remarks concerning S. 231, Mr. 
Chairman. I would be pleased to respond to any questions you 
may have.

                        changes in existing law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee notes that no 
changes in existing law are made by S. 231, as ordered 
reported.