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                                                       Calendar No. 396


116th Congress  }                                           {  Report
                                 SENATE                          
1st Session     }                                           {  116-185
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

                                                       



                    REGIONAL OCEAN PARTNERSHIP ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 2166




               December 19, 2019.--Ordered to be printed
               
               
                           ______

             U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE 
 99-010               WASHINGTON : 2019
              
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                             first session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
RICK SCOTT, Florida
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director
               
               



                                                       Calendar No. 396
                                                       
116th Congress  }                                              {  Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session    }                                              { 116-185

======================================================================



 
                     REGIONAL OCEAN PARTNERSHIP ACT
                                _______
                                

               December 19, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 2166]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 2166) to designate Regional 
Ocean Partnerships of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration, and for other purposes, having considered the 
same, reports favorably thereon with an amendment (in the 
nature of a substitute) and recommends that the bill (as 
amended) do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

    The purpose of S. 2166, the Regional Ocean Partnerships 
Act, is to give authority to the Governor or Governors of 
coastal state(s) to apply to the Secretary of Commerce for 
designation as a Regional Ocean Partnership; designate the Gulf 
of Mexico Alliance, the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, the 
Mid-Atlantic Regional Council, and the West Coast Ocean 
Alliance as Regional Ocean Partnerships; and define the 
functions of Regional Ocean Partnerships.

                          Background and Needs

    In the United States, the ocean and Great Lakes economy 
accounted for 3.2 million jobs and produced $320 billion, or 
1.8 percent of total U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), in 
goods and services in 2015.\1\ Over 40 percent of all Americans 
currently live in coastal regions, and these regions account 
for nearly half of total economic productivity in the United 
States,\2\ with 3.2 million employees working in 152,000 
businesses in the ocean and Great Lakes economy, earning $128 
billion in wages as of 2015.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for 
Coastal Management, ``NOAA Report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes 
Economy,'' 2018 (http://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/
econreport.html) (accessed March 21, 2019).
    \2\NOAA Digital Coast, ``Socioeconomic Data Summary'' (https://
coast.noaa.gov/data/digitalcoast/pdf/socioeconomic-data-summary.pdf) 
(accessed March 21, 2019).
    \3\National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Office for 
Coastal Management, ``NOAA Report on the U.S. Ocean and Great Lakes 
Economy,'' 2018 (http://coast.noaa.gov/digitalcoast/training/
econreport.html) (accessed March 21, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Coastal and ocean management issues frequently cross State 
boundaries and require regional coordination. The Regional 
Ocean Partnerships (ROPs) are voluntarily convened by State 
Governors in collaboration with local and Federal Government 
partners and stakeholders to address ocean and coastal issues 
of common concern for the region. There are currently four 
ROPs, located in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, 
and the West Coast. ROPs provide a State-led model for 
coordinated ocean and coastal resource management, and present 
opportunities for increased efficiency, cost-effectiveness and 
more robust ecosystem-based approaches to the way the nation 
engages the ocean and its many stakeholder groups. They 
leverage existing State and Federal resources, knowledge, and 
partnerships to build a stronger base of information and 
experience to make well-informed decisions about the use of 
ocean resources.
    Several of the ROPs have established Ocean Data Portals, 
which link existing data systems together to provide an easy-
to-use gateway to discover ocean and coastal data. Coastal 
decision-makers, researchers, and stakeholders use the portals 
to access data and decision-support tools they need to 
understand and address high-priority regional issues. These 
regional data portals work with the national-level data 
portal,\4\ called the Marine Cadastre, to provide national-
level data and identify multi-use areas for siting projects, 
identifying compatibility, and providing data to support ocean 
action plans. The portals may also contain data specific to a 
region such as State-created recreational data.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\``About MarineCadastre.gov'' (https://marinecadastre.gov/about/) 
(accessed July 19, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2000, Congress passed the Oceans Act,\5\ in recognition 
of the importance of and the challenges to the oceans and the 
coasts. Pursuant to that Act, President Bush appointed a 16-
member U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, which submitted its 
report, ``An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century,'' to the 
President and Congress.\6\ A key recommendation of the Ocean 
Commission was that a National Ocean Council should support 
voluntary establishment of regional ocean councils in order to 
improve Federal agency coordination at the regional level and 
develop and disseminate regionally important data that would be 
useful for ecosystem management.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \5\Pub. L. 106-256.
    \6\See ``About the Commission'' (http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/
oceancommission/commission/welcome.html) (accessed September 16, 2019).
    \7\See Chapter 5, ``An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century'' 
(http://govinfo.library.unt.edu/oceancommission/documents/
full_color_rpt/000_ocean_full_report.pdf).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Following the recommendations, the regions began to 
organize. The Gulf of Mexico Alliance started in 2004 and 
includes the States of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, 
Mississippi, and Texas. Its mission is to enhance the 
ecological and economic health of the Gulf of Mexico through 
increased regional collaboration.\8\ The Northeast Regional 
Ocean Council was formed in 2005 by the Governors of the New 
England States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, 
Rhode Island, and Connecticut to serve as a forum for the 
development of goals and priorities and address regional 
coastal and ocean management challenges with creative 
solutions.\9\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\Gulf of Mexico Alliance (https://gulfofmexicoalliance.org/) 
(accessed July 19, 2019).
    \9\Northeast Regional Ocean Council (https://
www.northeastoceancouncil.org/) (accessed July 19, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In June 2009, President Obama issued a memorandum 
establishing an Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force to develop 
recommendations regarding a coordinated national ocean policy, 
improved stewardship, and coastal and marine spatial 
planning.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \10\Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force (https://
obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/administration/eop/ceq/whats_new/
Interagency-Ocean-Policy-Task-Force) (accessed September 16, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The same month, the Governors of Virginia, Maryland, 
Delaware, New Jersey, and New York signed an agreement to 
enhance the vitality of the Mid-Atlantic's ocean ecosystem and 
economy by identifying four regional priorities for shared 
action to improve ocean health and contribute to the quality of 
life and economic vitality of the region.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (http://
midatlanticocean.org/) (accessed July 19, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In 2010, the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force released 
its recommendations. Chief among them was that nine regional 
planning bodies should be formed to--among other things--
aggregate and coordinate development of regional coastal and 
marine spatial plans.\12\ President Obama formally adopted 
these recommendations in a July 19, 2010 Executive order.\13\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\See pages 52-60, Final Recommendations of the Interagency Ocean 
Policy Task Force (https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/files/
documents/OPTF_FinalRecs.pdf) (accessed September 16, 2019).
    \13\Executive Order 13547--Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, 
and the Great Lakes (https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-
office/executive-order-stewardship-ocean-our-coasts-and-great-lakes) 
(accessed September 16, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Though the National Ocean Policy espoused laudable goals, 
it faced political backlash due to concerns regarding 
separation of powers. In response, Congress enacted several 
appropriations provisions barring funding to be expended on 
implementation of the policy. One inadvertent result was that 
the existing regional bodies (Gulf of Mexico Alliance, 
Northeast Regional Council, and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean 
Council) lost all funding related to the National Ocean Policy.
    In the years since, there has been interest among the 
regional bodies and on Capitol Hill in differentiating the 
conflict regarding a broad and sweeping national ocean policy 
and the more narrowly-tailored consensus push for regional 
ocean and coastal planning and data-sharing. For example, in 
2016, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation favorably reported S. 3038, the Coastal 
Coordination Act. This bill would have reauthorized the Coastal 
Zone Management Act of 1972 and included new provisions 
strengthening the role of interstate and regional coordination 
of coastal zone management. It would have also specifically 
authorized the Gulf of Mexico Alliance as a regional 
coordination body. The legislation was never considered in the 
full Senate.
    On June 19, 2018, President Trump signed an Executive 
order\14\ rescinding President Obama's National Ocean Policy. 
The new Executive order was intended to advance the economic, 
security, and environmental interests of the United States 
through improved public access to marine data and information, 
efficient Federal agency coordination on ocean related matters, 
and engagement with marine industries, the science and 
technology community, and other ocean stakeholders, including 
ROPs. However, the Executive order excluded climate change and 
conservation goals of the previous National Ocean Policy.\15\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \14\EO 13840. ``Ocean Policy To Advance the Economic, Security, and 
Environmental Interests of the United States'' (https://
www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2018-06-22/pdf/2018-13640.pdf) (accessed 
July 19, 2019).
    \15\``Trump's New Oceans Policy Washes Away Obama's Emphasis on 
Conservation and Climate'' (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2018/06/
trump-s-new-oceans-policy-washes-away-obama-s-emphasis-conservation-
and-climate) (accessed September 16, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Finally, the most recently formed regional ocean 
partnership, the West Coast Ocean Alliance, includes the States 
of Washington, Oregon, and California, and was formed in 
December 2018 to support healthy, resilient ocean ecosystems 
and communities that thrive on ocean resources.\16\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \16\West Coast Ocean Alliance (https://westcoastoceanalliance.org/) 
(accessed July 19, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    This legislation has the ability to provide a strong 
national framework for the regions to address their own 
specific issues while also being able to coordinate better with 
Federal agencies acting on the ground.

                         Summary of Provisions

    S. 2166, the Regional Ocean Partnerships Act, would do the 
following:
   Give authority to the Governor or Governors of 
        coastal State(s) to apply to the Secretary of Commerce 
        for designation as a Regional Ocean Partnership.
   Designate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, the Northeast 
        Regional Ocean Council, the Mid-Atlantic Regional 
        Council, and the West Coast Ocean Alliance as Regional 
        Ocean Partnerships.
   Define the functions of Regional Ocean Partnerships.

                          Legislative History

    S. 2166 was introduced on July 18, 2019, by Senator Wicker 
(for himself and Senators Cantwell, Cassidy, Collins, and 
Jones) and was referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, 
and Transportation of the Senate. Senators Markey, Kennedy, and 
Murphy are additional cosponsors. On July 24, 2019, the 
Committee met in open Executive Session and, by voice vote, 
ordered S. 2166 reported favorably with an amendment (in the 
nature of a substitute).
    In the 114th Congress, similar language was included in the 
Coastal Coordination Act of 2016, S. 3038, introduced by 
Senator Nelson (for himself and Senator Wicker) on June 8, 
2016. It was reported favorably out of the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation and passed in the Senate 
with an amendment (in the nature of a substitute) by voice vote 
on December 9, 2016.

                            Estimated Costs

    In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:




    S. 2166 would designate four Regional Ocean Partnerships 
which would consist of coastal states that share a common ocean 
or coastal area. The bill also would create a process for other 
groups of two or more coastal states to apply for recognition 
as such a partnership. Those partnerships would coordinate 
actions between the state and federal governments to conserve 
shared coastal resources and liaise with international 
counterparts.
    The bill would authorize the appropriation of specific 
amounts that total $62 million over the 2020-2025 period for 
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide 
grants to those partnerships to complete the activities 
authorized under S. 2166.
    Based on historical spending patterns for the similar 
activities, and assuming appropriation of the authorized 
amounts, CBO estimates that implementing S. 2166 would cost $45 
million over the 2019-2024 period and $17 million after 2024. 
The costs of the legislation, detailed in Table 1, fall within 
budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

                                     TABLE 1.--ESTIMATED INCREASES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION UNDER S. 2166
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                                     By fiscal year, millions of dollars--
                                                      --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                        2019   2020   2021   2022   2023   2024   2025   2026   2027   2028   2029  2019-2024  2019-2029
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Authorization........................................      0     10     10     10     10     10     11      0      0      0      0        51         62
Estimated Outlays....................................      0      6      8     10     10     10     10      4      2      *      0        45         62
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Components may not sum to totals because of rounding; * = between zero and $500,000.

    The CBO staff contact for this estimate is Robert Reese. 
The estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy 
Assistant Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

    In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       number of persons covered

    S. 2166 as reported does not create any new programs or 
impose any new regulatory requirements, and therefore will not 
subject any individuals or businesses to new regulations.

                            economic impact

    S. 2166 is not expected to have a negative impact on the 
Nation's economy.

                                privacy

    The reported bill would have no impact on the personal 
privacy of individuals.

                               paperwork

    S. 2166 would require a report every 5 years from the 
Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric 
Administration (NOAA) on the effectiveness of the partnership. 
This requirement would sunset in 2040.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

    This section would provide that the bill may be cited as 
the ``Regional Ocean Partnership Act''.

Section 2. Findings; Sense of Congress; Purposes

    This section states that it is the sense of Congress that 
the United States should seek to attain coordination of ocean 
management, conservation, resilience, and restoration through 
Regional Ocean Partnerships.

Section 3. Regional Ocean Partnerships

    This section would define the terms ``Administrator,'' 
``coastal state,'' and ``Indian Tribe.'' It would allow a 
coastal state to participate in a Regional Ocean Partnership 
with another coastal state(s) that shares a common ocean or 
coastal area. The section would give authority to the Governor 
or Governors of coastal state(s) to apply to the Secretary of 
Commerce for designation as a Regional Ocean Partnership. It 
would require that partnerships are designated as Regional 
Ocean Partnerships only if they are established to manage 
coastal resources, focus on environmental issues affecting 
ocean and coastal areas, and do not have a regulatory function. 
It would designate the Gulf of Mexico Alliance, the Northeast 
Regional Ocean Council, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council, and 
the West Coast Ocean Alliance as Regional Ocean Partnerships. 
This section would establish that a Regional Ocean Partnership 
be governed by a governing body comprised of voting members 
from each State in the partnership and designated by the 
Governor.
    This section would define the functions of Regional Ocean 
Partnerships. These would include promoting coordination 
between State and Federal agencies, State and local 
authorities, and other stakeholders to conserve natural 
resources, manage data and data portals, and implement outreach 
programs. It would allow Regional Ocean Partnerships to create 
grants and enter into contracts for the purposes of monitoring 
water quality and other ocean and coastal natural resources, 
and researching and addressing the effects of environmental 
change.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the 
bill as reported would make no change to existing law.