|Sponsor||Rep. Sanchez, Loretta|
|Date||September 29, 2009 (111th Congress, 1st Session)|
|Staff Contact||Andy Koenig|
H.R. 1771 is being considered on the floor under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage on Tuesday, September 29, 2009. This legislation was introduced by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) on March 26, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the legislation by unanimous consent on July 29, 2009.
H.R. 1771 would reauthorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s Chesapeake Bay Office through 2014 and authorize the appropriation of $79 million over four years to fund the Office's operations. The legislation would authorize funds for the office as follows:
• $17 million for FY 2011
• $18.7 million for FY 2012
• $20.5 million for FY 2013
• $22.6 million for FY 2014
The bill requires that the Office be headed by a director that has knowledge and experience in NOAA's resource management efforts in the Chesapeake. The measure would define the Office's purpose to "focus the relevant science, research, and resource management capabilities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as they apply to the Chesapeake Bay." The Office would be required to coordinate the efforts of other NOAA programs in a manner so as to further the Office's mission.
H.R. 1771 would insert language to require the Office to focus on coastal hazards, climate change, and integrated ecosystem assessments. The bill would also require the director to develop a mechanism to ensure that the activities funded by the Office have undergone peer review and have acceptable scientific merit.
H.R. 1771 would authorize the Chesapeake Bay Office to accept donations of funds, property, and services for use in implementing its programs. The legislation also reauthorizes the director's authority to award grants to provide education and training projects that enhance the understanding of environmental problems in the Chesapeake Bay watershed or protect resources in the watershed. H.R. 1771 also establishes a Chesapeake Bay watershed education and training program and a Chesapeake Bay coastal living resources management and habitat program.
The NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office (NCBO) was established in 1992 and provides a focus for coordinating NOAA's multiple activities in the Chesapeake Bay. The NCBO also coordinates efforts with the Chesapeake Bay Program, a federal and State partnership that seeks to restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed, with help from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NCBO provides grants to local governments and non-profit organizations that conduct restoration projects in the Chesapeake watershed and has worked with the States of Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the District of Columbia. According to CBO, in FY 2007 through 2009, the Chesapeake Bay Office received appropriations ranging from $12 million to $19 million annually, including $15 million in fiscal year 2009.
On September 10, 2009, the House passed H.R. 965, the Chesapeake Bay Gateways and Watertrails Network Continuing Authorization Act, permanently reauthorizing the National Park Service's (NPS) Chesapeake Bay Watertrails Network, which gives grants to State and local governments and the private sector to provide assistance to communities, museums, historic sites, and natural parks around the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. Today the House will also consider H.R. 1053, the Chesapeake Bay Accountability and Recovery Act, which would require the EPA to create a new management plan for the Chesapeake Bay Program. This would be the third bill to authorize funding for the Chesapeake Bay region to pass the House since Congress returned from the August recess.
According to CBO, H.R. 1771 would "cost $68 million over the 2010-2014 period and $11 million after 2014."