H.R. 4481 (103rd): National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Act of 1994

103rd Congress, 1993–1994. Text as of Jul 19, 1994 (Introduced).

Status & Summary | PDF | Source: GPO

HR 4481 SC

103d CONGRESS

2d Session

H. R. 4481

To restore the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems through the voluntary cooperation of Federal, State, tribal, and corporate and other private interests.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

MAY 24, 1994

Mr. HAMBURG (for himself, Mr. STUDDS, Mr. EDWARDS of California, Mr. MANTON, Mr. SANDERS, Ms. FURSE, Mr. HUGHES, Mr. HOCHBRUECKNER, Mr. RICHARDSON, Ms. WOOLSEY, Ms. PELOSI, Mrs. UNSOELD, Ms. ESHOO, and Mr. VENTO) introduced the following bill; which was referred jointly to the Committees on Merchant Marine and Fisheries and Public Works and Transportation

July 19, 1994

Additional sponsors: Mr. OBERSTAR, Mr. HINCHEY, and Mr. Beilenson


A BILL

To restore the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems through the voluntary cooperation of Federal, State, tribal, and corporate and other private interests.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

    This Act may be cited as the ‘National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Act of 1994’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS, PURPOSES, POLICY, AND LONG-TERM GOALS.

    (a) FINDINGS- The Congress finds the following:

      (1) Aquatic ecosystems, including wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal marine ecosystems, and associated riparian upland habitats that buffer those areas from external factors, perform numerous valuable environmental functions which sustain environmental, social, and cultural values. They recycle nutrients, purify water, attenuate floods, augment and maintain streamflow, recharge ground water, act as primary producers in the food chain, provide habitat for plants, fish and wildlife, and other dependent species, and provide recreational opportunities.

      (2) Physical and biological integrity of aquatic ecosystems is key to maintaining biodiversity and to providing for human and ecological health and safety.

      (3) Degradation of the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems and loss of aquatic biodiversity have reached alarming levels, affecting all waters of the United States, such that entire hydrologic systems and natural biodiversity of all forms of aquatic and riparian species are at risk.

      (4) Federal policy has not devoted sufficient attention to the decline of aquatic and riparian ecosystems.

      (5) Projects to restore and maintain aquatic ecosystems will provide both skilled and unskilled jobs to all regions of the country. After these ecosystems are restored, jobs dependent on these ecosystems will return, including fishing, hunting, recreation, resource protection and maintenance, and tourism jobs, and societal costs can be minimized with adequate maintenance of these ecosystems.

      (6) A proactive approach to reverse the degradation of aquatic ecosystems will reverse the decline of certain aquatic habitat-dependent species and reduce the likelihood that these species will become so diminished as to become an impediment to sustainable development activities.

      (7) Creation of partnerships between local citizens, tribal organizations, corporations, and State and Federal agencies is often critical to the success of aquatic ecosystem restoration activities.

    (b) PURPOSES- The purposes of this Act are the following:

      (1) To provide a comprehensive and integrated framework to direct long-term national aquatic ecosystem restoration activities.

      (2) To coordinate existing Federal programs and policies relating to aquatic ecosystem restoration in order to provide the maximum benefit from Federal aquatic ecosystem restoration activities.

      (3) To activate local, tribal, and State aquatic ecosystem restoration initiatives by providing technical expertise and funding to such entities.

      (4) To create a dedicated source of funds to more effectively foster local, tribal, and State aquatic ecosystem restoration activities.

    (c) POLICY- It is the policy of the United States that--

      (1) Federal, State, and local agencies, in consultation and collaboration with private citizen organizations, should plan and implement aquatic ecosystem restoration projects resulting in achievement of--

        (A) the interim goals of a net restoration of 10,000,000 acres of wetlands, 400,000 miles of streams and rivers, and 1,000,000 acres of lakes (excluding the Great Lakes) by the year 2010; and

        (B) long-term goals published by the Council under subsection (d); and

      (2) the Federal Government should provide leadership and technical and financial assistance to State and local governments, tribal organizations, and other management entities, and private citizens to plan, implement, monitor, and evaluate aquatic ecosystem restoration to improve and protect the Nation’s aquatic ecosystems.

    (d) LONG-TERM GOALS- The Council shall--

      (1) monitor achievement of the interim goals set forth in subsection (c)(1)(A); and

      (2) upon determining that those interim goals have been achieved, establish and publish in the Federal Register long-term goals for aquatic ecosystem restoration projects planned and implemented by Federal, State, and local agencies.

SEC. 3. NATIONAL AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION STRATEGY.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT OF TASK FORCE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The President shall establish a task force within 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, to develop the National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Strategy in accordance with this section. The task force shall be known as the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Task Force.

      (2) COMPOSITION- The Task Force shall be composed of officials and scientists appointed by the President from Federal agencies involved in aquatic habitat or resource management, State agencies, tribes, academic institutions, local management entities, and nongovernmental organizations.

      (3) ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES- The administrative expenses of the Task Force shall be paid on a pro-rata basis by all of the Federal agencies represented on the Task Force.

      (4) TERMINATION- The Task Force shall terminate on the later of--

        (A) the submission of recommendations to the President under section 7(a); or

        (B) the date of publication of the Strategy under subsection (b) of this section.

    (b) STRATEGY-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Task Force shall, within 2 years after the date of the enactment of this Act, develop and publish in the Federal Register in accordance with this Act a plan for an interagency and intergovernmental process to develop, implement, monitor, and evaluate the national policy set forth in section 2(c). The plan shall be known as the National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Strategy.

      (2) IMPLEMENTATION- The Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service shall seek to implement the Strategy, including by providing assistance to management entities conducting aquatic ecosystem restoration.

      (3) CONTENTS- The Strategy shall contain the following:

        (A) Guidelines for coordination of aquatic ecosystem restoration projects within watersheds and ecoregions.

        (B) National restoration milestones to meet the national policy set forth in section 2(c).

        (C) Standards for identifying the most ecologically sound restoration projects possible through the utilization of available information. To the extent possible, such standards should be ecoregional.

        (D) Measurable standards for each ecoregion for monitoring the success of aquatic ecosystem restoration projects.

        (E) Guidelines for maintaining pristine and successfully restored aquatic ecosystems.

        (F) Identification of riparian, floodplain, wetlands, and other aquatic habitats that retain, or could easily be restored to support, significant indigenous fish, wildlife, and plant populations, by coordinating existing surveys of watersheds. To the extent existing surveys are inadequate, the Task Force shall recommend a procedure for conducting additional surveys.

        (G) Guidelines for setting ecoregional and national aquatic ecosystem restoration priorities which will result in the greatest ecological return on investment.

        (H) Mechanisms for ensuring access to and sharing of information and providing technical assistance to State agencies, tribal organizations, and management entities.

        (I) Recommendations to the Congress regarding legislation to remove obstacles to aquatic ecosystem restoration and achieve the national policy set forth in section 2(c).

        (J) Recommendations for periodic scientific review of the Strategy by State, Federal, and independent scientists to incorporate new information, including a schedule for reviews and revisions by the Director under subsection (d).

        (K) Procedures for disseminating new information regarding aquatic ecosystem restoration to management entities and State, tribal, and Federal agencies involved in implementing the Strategy.

        (L) Recommendations for reorganizing aquatic ecosystem restoration activities on an ecoregional basis.

        (M) Recommendations for additional Federal incentives to encourage aquatic ecosystem restoration on non-Federal lands.

      (4) CONSIDERATIONS IN DEVELOPING THE STRATEGY- In developing the Strategy, the Task Force shall take into consideration--

        (A) the national policy set forth in section 2(c);

        (B) the recommendations contained in the National Research Council’s 1992 report on Restoration of Aquatic Ecosystem with regard to the restoration of aquatic ecosystems; and

        (C) the recommendations contained in the 1994 National Science Foundation’s Freshwater Initiative with regard to the restoration of aquatic ecosystems.

    (c) SUBCOMMITTEE- The Task Force shall establish a subcommittee that shall--

      (1) identify Federal regulatory and nonregulatory aquatic ecosystem restoration policies and programs that affect aquatic ecosystems,

      (2) evaluate the roles of those policies and programs in promoting or degrading aquatic ecosystem health,

      (3) evaluate changes to current operation and maintenance procedures that would restore aquatic ecosystem functions,

      (4) recommend appropriate times to reevaluate those policies and programs,

      (5) recommend mechanisms to coordinate implementation of Federal policy and programs for the purpose of aquatic ecosystem restoration,

      (6) identify the portion of the national policy set forth in section 2(c) that can be achieved on Federal lands, and

      (7) establish appropriate responsibilities and measurable objectives for each agency involved in achieving the restoration goals under section 2(c).

    (d) REVIEW AND REVISION OF STRATEGY- The Director shall periodically review and revise the Strategy to reflect the best available information regarding aquatic ecosystems, aquatic resources restoration techniques, and watershed and ecosystem management. The Director shall make such reviews and revisions at least as often as is recommended in the Strategy pursuant to subsection (b)(3)(J).

    (e) INTERIM FUNDING- The Director, subject to the availability of appropriations, may make grants to fund appropriate aquatic ecosystem restoration projects before publication of the Strategy.

SEC. 4. AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION ASSISTANCE.

    (a) PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Foundation, subject to the availability of amounts deposited into the Fund, shall provide financial assistance to a management entity in accordance with this section for carrying out each aquatic ecosystem restoration project for which the Council approves that assistance in accordance with this section.

      (2) PRIORITY- The Foundation shall provide assistance under this subsection in accordance with the priorities specified by the Council under subsection (c)(4).

    (b) Application for Assistance-

      (1) APPLICATION- A management entity seeking assistance under this section for an aquatic ecosystem restoration project shall submit an application to the Service regional office for the Service region in which the project will be carried out.

      (2) TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE- The Director shall ensure that technical assistance is provided to management entities.

      (3) FORWARDING OF APPLICATIONS TO COUNCIL- The head of a Service regional office shall forward to the Council each application for assistance received by that office.

    (c) REVIEW AND APPROVAL OF PROPOSED PROJECTS BY COUNCIL-

      (1) REVIEW AND DETERMINATIONS- The Council shall--

        (A) review each application for assistance that is forwarded by the head of a Service regional office under subsection (b)(2); and

        (B) determine whether the aquatic ecosystem restoration project proposed by the application--

          (i) will assist in implementing the Strategy;

          (ii) under the criteria set forth in paragraph (2), is appropriate for funding under this section;

          (iii) to the extent practicable, will return damaged or degraded aquatic ecosystems to the full range of their natural functions and values;

          (iv) does not employ management actions that favor one function, value, or species to the detriment of, or without regard for, others; and

          (v) will fulfill the purposes of this Act.

      (2) PROJECT SELECTION CRITERIA- The Council shall determine, under paragraph (1)(B), whether a project is appropriate for funding under this section based on the following criteria:

        (A) The technical feasibility of the project.

        (B) The cost-effectiveness of the project, including minimization of future operation and maintenance costs.

        (C) The expected duration of the aquatic ecosystem restoration to be carried out under the project.

        (D) The extent to which habitat to be restored under the project is degraded.

        (E) The extent of non-Federal participation in payment of the costs of the project.

        (F) The relationship of the project to a watershed, ecosystem, or other landscape approach or plan.

        (G) The potential benefits of the project to fish and wildlife resources of special concern and to the diversity of other natural functions and values inherent in aquatic resources.

        (H) The aquatic ecosystem restoration opportunities that the project will provide on lands that are not eligible for restoration under the Wetlands Reserve Program.

        (I) The extent to which the project will involve a high degree of cooperation between Federal and non-Federal entities.

        (J) The extent to which sites at which the project is conducted will pose a continuing contaminant threat to fish and wildlife species using the sites after restoration or will require chemical restoration to provide restoration of beneficial uses.

        (K) The availability of other Federal funding sources to carry out the project.

        (L) Whether the project will substantially contribute to long-term restoration of water quality.

        (M) The extent to which the project will train and employ individuals who reside in the area where the project will be carried out, particularly individuals displaced from resource-dependent industries.

      (3) APPROVAL OF PROJECTS- The Council may approve assistance under this section for an aquatic ecosystem restoration project if the Council makes affirmative determinations under paragraph (1)(B)(i), (ii), (iii), (iv), and (v).

      (4) NOTIFICATION OF FOUNDATION- The Council shall promptly notify the Foundation of approval of assistance under this section for an aquatic ecosystem restoration project, specifying the priority of the project for assistance under this section relative to other projects for which the Council has approved such assistance.

SEC. 5. NATIONAL AQUATIC RESTORATION COUNCIL.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is established a council to be known as the National Aquatic Restoration Council.

    (b) MEMBERSHIP-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Council shall consist of 15 members, as follows:

        (A) 4 members, of whom one 1 shall be appointed by each of--

          (i) the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere,

          (ii) the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency,

          (iii) the Chief of the Soil Conservation Service, and

          (iv) the Secretary of the Army.

        (B) 10 members appointed by the Director, of whom 2 shall be appointed as representatives of each of the following:

          (i) State fish and wildlife management agencies.

          (ii) Tribal fish and wildlife management agencies.

          (iii) Academic scientists.

          (iv) Local watershed councils.

          (v) Non-governmental organizations.

        (C) The Director.

      (2) EXPERIENCE REQUIRED- An individual shall not be eligible for appointment as a member of the Council unless the individual has experience in aquatic ecosystem restoration.

      (3) TERMS OF MEMBERS- The term of a member of the Council shall be 3 years.

    (c) CHAIRPERSON- The Director or another member of the Council designated by the Director shall be the chairperson of the Council.

    (d) MEETINGS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Council shall meet at least once each year to consider projects for approval of assistance under section 4.

      (2) QUORUM- 9 members present at a meeting of the Council shall constitute a quorum.

    (e) PAY- An individual shall not receive any pay, allowance, or benefits by reason of service as a member of the Council.

    (f) TRAVEL EXPENSES- Each member of the Council shall receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in accordance with sections 5702 and 5703 of title 5, United States Code.

    (g) COUNCIL EXEMPTED- The Federal Advisory Committee Act (5 U.S.C. App. 1) shall not apply to the Council.

SEC. 6. AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION FUND.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is established on the books of the Treasury a separate account which shall be known as the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Fund.

    (b) CONTENTS- The Fund shall consist of--

      (1) amounts deposited into the Fund under section 7; and

      (2) such other amounts as may be appropriated to the Fund.

    (c) USE-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Amounts in the Fund shall be available to the Foundation subject to appropriations, for--

        (A) providing assistance under section 4, including payment of administrative expenses incurred by the Fund in providing that assistance;

        (B) reimbursing members of the Council who are not officers or employees of the Federal Government for travel and transportation expenses under section 5(f); and

        (C) paying expenses of administering the Fund.

      (2) LIMITATION ON USE FOR ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES- Not more than 10 percent of amounts deposited into the Fund each fiscal year shall be available to pay administrative expenses under paragraph (1)(A) or (C) or reimbursement under paragraph (1)(B) with respect to costs incurred in that fiscal year.

SEC. 7. SOURCES OF FUNDING.

    (a) RECOMMENDATIONS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- Not later than 1 year after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Task Force shall submit to the President and publish in the Federal Register recommendations for sources of amounts for deposit into the Fund, consisting of fees imposed for use or degradation of water resources.

      (2) AMOUNT- In identifying sources under paragraph (1), the Task Force shall seek to provide the Fund with such funding as may be required to fulfill the purposes set forth in section 2(b).

    (b) REVIEW BY PRESIDENT- Not later than 60 days after publication of the recommendations of the Task Force under subsection (a)(1), the President shall--

      (1) disapprove the recommendations and transmit the disapproval and the reasons for the disapproval to the Task Force and the Congress; or

      (2) approve the recommendations and transmit to the Congress and the Secretary a copy of the recommendations and certification of that approval.

    (c) CONSIDERATION BY CONGRESS-

      (1) IN GENERAL- If the recommendations of the Task Force are approved and transmitted to the Congress by the President under subsection (b)(2), they shall be effective and apply as if enacted as part of this Act unless disapproved by a joint resolution enacted by the Congress before the earlier of--

        (A) the end of the 60-day period beginning on the date of the transmission of certification of that disapproval under that subsection; or

        (B) an adjournment of Congress sine die for the session in which the report is transmitted.

      (2) CALCULATION OF PERIODS- For purposes of paragraph (1), the days on which either House of Congress is not in session because of an adjournment of more than 3 days to a day certain shall be excluded in the computation of a period.

    (d) DEPOSIT INTO FUND- Amounts received by the United States pursuant to recommendations of the Task Force that are effective under subsection (c) shall be deposited into the Fund.

SEC. 8. DEFINITIONS.

    In this Act:

      (1) AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM- The term ‘aquatic ecosystem’ includes wetlands, streams, rivers, lakes, estuaries, coastal marine ecosystems, and associated riparian upland habitats that buffer those areas from exterior factors.

      (2) AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM RESTORATION- The term ‘aquatic ecosystem restoration’ means returning an aquatic ecosystem to a close approximation of its condition prior to its disturbance by humans, such that its structure and function (including chemical, physical, hydrological, geomorphological, and biological characteristics) are repaired, its natural dynamic processes are operating effectively again, and its indigenous biota are returned to predisturbance levels to the greatest extent possible.

      (3) COUNCIL- The term ‘Council’ means the National Aquatic Restoration Council established by section 5(a).

      (4) DIRECTOR- The term ‘Director’ means the Director of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

      (5) ECOREGION- The term ‘ecoregion’ means a continuous geographical area characterized by--

        (A) the occurrence of one or more important ecological associations that differ, at least in proportional area covered, from the associations of adjacent regions.

        (B) distinctive flora, fauna, climate, landform, soil, vegetation, and ecological climax; and

        (C) essentially similar ecological relationships between plant species and soil and climate.

      (6) FOUNDATION- The term ‘Foundation’ means the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

      (7) FUND- The term ‘Fund’ means the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Fund established by section 6(a).

      (8) MANAGEMENT ENTITY- The term ‘management entity’ means an agency of a State, tribal, or local government, a regional planning organization, a conservation district, or any other public, private, or nonprofit entity which has adequate authority to carry out aquatic ecosystem restoration projects with assistance under this Act.

      (9) SECRETARY- The term ‘Secretary’ means the Secretary of the Interior.

      (10) STRATEGY- The term ‘Strategy’ means the National Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Strategy developed and published under section 3(b)(1) and revised under section 3(e).

      (11) TASK FORCE- The term ‘Task Force’ means the Aquatic Ecosystem Restoration Task Force established under section 3(a)(1).

      (12) WATERSHED COUNCIL- The term ‘watershed council’ means a representative group of local watershed residents (including private, public, government, corporate, and nonprofit organizations) organized to develop and implement watershed restoration.

SEC. 10. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) IN GENERAL- There is authorized to be appropriated to the Fund, subject to subsection (b)--

      (1) $30,000,000 for fiscal year 1995;

      (2) $40,000,000 for fiscal year 1996; and

      (3) $50,000,000 for each of fiscal years 1997, 1998, and 1999.

    (b) REDUCTION OF AMOUNT AUTHORIZED- The amount authorized to be appropriated to the Fund under subsection (a) for a fiscal year shall be reduced by the amount that will be deposited into the Fund for the fiscal year under section 6(b)(1).