January 10, 2013

Recently Introduced Offshore Drilling Bill Would Create New NOAA Grant Program

By Brianna C. Fields

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D – TX) introduced the Deficit Reduction, Job Creation, and Energy Security Act (HR 70) last week, The bill directs the Secretary of Interior and the Secretary of Commerce, acting through NOAA, to initiate immediate action to create jobs in America by taking advantage of leasing opportunities and development of offshore oil and gas resources. Among the items of interest in the bill to the UW community is a provision for a portion of the interest payments from these leases to be held in a fund in the Treasury and used for a grant program through NOAA. The bill directs the Secretary of Commerce to allocate 60 percent of these funds to the National Grant Program for Coastal and Ocean Sustainability and Health, and of which 50 percent shall be allocated to institutions of higher learning, among other public entities, for activities “that are intended to restore, protect, maintain, manage, or understand marine resources and their habitats and resources in coastal and ocean waters, including baseline scientific research and other activities carried out in coordination with Federal and  State departments or agencies, that are consistent with Federal environmental laws, and that avoid environmental degradation.”
The bill has been referred to the House Committees on Science, Space, and Technology, Natural Resources, and Transportation and Infrastructure.

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