CONGRESSWOMAN ELISE STEFANIK
H.R. 905 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. Bart Stupak (D-MI) on February 4, 2009. The bill was referred to the Committee on Natural Resources, which reported the legislation by unanimous consent on July 29, 2009.
H.R. 905 would expand the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve in Lake Huron, Michigan. The legislation would expand the area to encompass the offshore waters of Presque Isle and Alcona Counties in Michigan, and outward to the international border between the U.S. and Canada. The bill would apply all regulations and prohibitions related to Marine Sanctuaries and Underwater Preserves to the new boundaries.
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve, located off the coast of northeast Lower Michigan, contains more than 100 recorded shipwrecks. According to findings listed in the bill, the waters immediately surrounding the Sanctuary contain the same number of historic vessel losses. The legislation would "provide the underwater cultural resources of those areas equal protection to that currently afforded to the Sanctuary." According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), "Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary was designated by ton October 7, 2000. It is jointly managed by NOAA and the State of Michigan to protect and interpret a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks and other maritime heritage resources. The sanctuary solicits advice from the Thunder Bay Sanctuary Advisory Council whose members represent the community's different interests, including government, education, maritime history and interpretation, fishing, diving, tourism, economic development, and the community-at-large."
According to CBO, "The cost of implementing H.R. 905 is uncertain because the bill, as ordered reported by the House Committee on Natural Resources, does not specify a new southern boundary for the sanctuary." CBO states that information from the committee indicates that the new boundary would encompass about 4,000 square miles, which would cost the federal government about $2 million annually to manage. Currently, NOAA spends approximately $1 million a year managing the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Underwater Preserve.