H.R. 2693: Federal Oil Spill Research Program Act

H.R. 2693

Federal Oil Spill Research Program Act

July 20, 2010 (111th Congress, 2nd Session)

Staff Contact

Floor Situation

H.R. 2693 is expected to be considered on the floor of the House on Tuesday, July 20, 2010, under a motion to suspend the rules, requiring a two-thirds vote for passage. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) on June 3, 2010. The Committee on Science and Technology approved the bill by voice vote on July 14, 2010.

Bill Summary

H.R. 2693 would make the following major changes to Title VII of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990:

  • Scales back the Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC) to include Coast Guard, Department of Interior, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and EPA, although it is still chaired by Coast Guard.  The remaining agencies would be relegated to a collaborating role.
  • Shifts the emphasis from technology development and prevention activities to more research on environmental effects of the technologies used in responding to oil discharges, and the effects of oil discharges.
  • Substantially expands the responsibilities of the ICC on international coordination, including engaging in harnessing expertise and leveraging capital to conduct research, development and demonstration activities, including cleanup standards.
  • Requires any entity receiving federal funding for research to provide such research, methodologies or results to the ICC upon request, unless such information is protected by a FOIA exemption. 
  • Authorizes a total of $48 million per year, which would come from the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund.  Of that amount, $16 million is set aside for NOAA, $12 million is set aside for the regional research programs.  The remaining 14 agencies split $20 million per year.  Current law authorizes $22 million per year.


Enacted in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill, title VII of the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 authorized an interagency oil pollution program to conduct research, technology development, and demonstration for the prevention, response, and mitigation of oil pollution resulting from discharges.

The statute created an Interagency Coordinating Committee (ICC) of 14 agencies and chaired by the Coast Guard. The ICC is tasked with developing a research and development plan to guide the program and identify gaps in current knowledge, research priorities and the resources needed to attain those priorities. The program is broken into three main research areas: innovative technology development, technology evaluation, and effects research.

The statute also authorizes demonstration projects, continues operation of the Oil and Hazardous Materials Simulated Environmental Test Tank (OHMSETT) Research Center, requires the ICC to coordinate with states and universities to develop Regional Research programs, and provides authority to coordinate and cooperate with other nations to conduct oil pollution research, development, and demonstration activities, including controlled field tests of oil discharges.


CBO estimates that implementing the legislation would cost $93 million over five years.