skip to main content

S. 686 (103rd): Gulf of Mexico Act of 1993


The text of the bill below is as of Mar 31, 1993 (Introduced). The bill was not enacted into law.


S 686 IS

103d CONGRESS

1st Session

S. 686

To establish a Gulf of Mexico Commission and a Gulf of Mexico Program Office within the Environmental Protection Agency, and for other purposes.

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

March 31 (legislative day, MARCH 3), 1993

Mr. KRUEGER (for himself, Mr. BREAUX, Mr. GRAHAM, and Mr. JOHNSTON) introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


A BILL

To establish a Gulf of Mexico Commission and a Gulf of Mexico Program Office within the Environmental Protection Agency, and for other purposes.

    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 ‘Gulf of Mexico Act of 1993’.

SEC. 2. FINDINGS.

    (a) ECONOMIC IMPACT FINDINGS- Congress makes the following findings concerning economic activities in the Gulf of Mexico region:

      (1) The Gulf of Mexico supplies over 30 percent of the domestic fish and seafood market, making it one of the world’s most significant fisheries.

      (2) Forty-five percent of the domestic import and export tonnage passes through ports located in the Gulf of Mexico.

      (3) Over 90 percent of United States and Mexican oil production is derived from offshore oil wells located in the Gulf of Mexico. Payments to the United States Treasury under Outer Continental Shelf production leases have totaled more than $80,000,000,000 over the past 30 years, which is only exceeded by Federal income tax revenue.

      (4) Offshore oil and gas exploration in the Gulf of Mexico utilizes a fleet of approximately 200 mobile rigs that is supported by a multibillion dollar marine service and supply industry.

      (5) The rapidly growing beach resort and recreation industry along the Gulf of Mexico coastlines generates approximately $10,000,000,000 per year in revenues.

      (6) Wetlands in the Gulf of Mexico region provide habitat for more than 75 percent of the migratory waterfowl of North America and a breeding ground for a wide variety of sport and commercial fish and shellfish.

    (b) FINDINGS RELATING TO ENVIRONMENTAL THREATS- Congress makes the following findings concerning environmental threats to the ecological system of the Gulf of Mexico:

      (1) Excessively low levels of oxygen have caused up to 3,000 square miles of bottom waters known as the dead zone to be documented off the Louisiana and Texas coasts. This phenomenon is caused by nutrient runoff and other forms of water pollution that drain into the Gulf.

      (2) Three-fourths of the North American land mass drains into the Gulf. Urban and agricultural runoff, including pesticides, animal waste, motor oil, industrial and chemical waste, fertilizers, and solid waste from this enormous area drain directly into the Gulf of Mexico.

      (3) Concerns about human health have resulted in the permanent or conditional closure of 3,400,000 acres of shellfish-growing areas along the Gulf of Mexico coast.

      (4) The entire Gulf of Mexico region is experiencing a gradual and significant loss of inland and coastal wetlands. In conjunction with coastal erosion, the loss of inland and coastal wetlands reduces hurricane protection and jeopardizes intercoastal and intracoastal waterways.

      (5) The continued rapid loss of wetland and seagrass habitats in estuaries threatens the continued productivity of commercial fishery stocks because between 92 and 98 percent of the commercial fish and shellfish of the Gulf of Mexico rely on the estuarine habitats for at least a part of their life cycles.

      (6) The huge volume of marine debris that is accumulating on the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico is in a concentration of approximately 1 ton per mile in many areas and is largely attributable to the lack of adequate disposal practices and facilities on resale and in ports throughout the Wider Caribbean Region.

      (7) Spillage of crude oil and other petroleum and chemical products transported on the waters of the Gulf of Mexico continues to harm environmental resources and resources related to tourism, and the risk of a major calamity increases with the increase of marine traffic.

    (c) MANAGEMENT FINDINGS- Congress makes the following findings concerning the management of the Gulf of Mexico:

      (1) The Gulf States, by virtue of their proximity to the Gulf of Mexico and their knowledge of the local conditions affecting the environmental integrity of the Gulf of Mexico, must continue to play an essential role in planning for the management, protection, and restoration of the natural resources of the Gulf of Mexico.

      (2) The existing efforts of citizens groups, local agencies, State governments, institutions of higher education, private industries, nonprofit research organizations, the Environmental Protection Agency (including the Gulf of Mexico Program and the International Division of the Environmental Protection Agency), the Department of Commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service), the Department of Agriculture (including the Soil Conservation Service), the Department of the Interior (including the Minerals Management Service, the National Park Service, the Geological Survey, and the Fish and Wildlife Service), the Department of the Army (including the Corps of Engineers), the Department of Transportation (including the Coast Guard), and other Federal agencies should be utilized to carry out this Act.

      (3) Oceanic and atmospheric circulation patterns around the Gulf of Mexico inherently render the marine environment of the Gulf of Mexico an integral component of the environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, and life cycles of marine species, the quality of water and the cleanliness of beaches in the Gulf are dependent on the Wider Caribbean Region and its environment as a whole.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

    As used in this Act:

      (1) FEDERAL AGENCY- The term ‘Federal agency’ means the Environmental Protection Agency (including the Gulf of Mexico Program and the International Division of the Environmental Protection Agency), the Department of Commerce (including the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service), the Department of Agriculture (including the Soil Conservation Service), the Department of the Interior (including the Minerals Management Service, the National Park Service, the Geological Survey, and the Fish and Wildlife Service) the Department of the Army (including the Corps of Engineers), and the Department of Transportation (including the Coast Guard).

      (2) COMMISSION- The term ‘Commission’ means the Gulf of Mexico Commission established under section 4.

      (3) GULF STATES- The term ‘Gulf States’ means Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas.

      (4) WIDER CARIBBEAN REGION- The term ‘Wider Caribbean Region’ means the Caribbean Sea, including the Gulf of Mexico, and areas of the Atlantic Ocean adjacent to the Caribbean Sea, south of 30 degrees north latitude and within 200 nautical miles of the Atlantic coast of the States that are signatories to the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment of the Wider Caribbean Region, with Annex, done at Cartagena on March 24, 1983 (TIAS 11085).

SEC. 4. GULF OF MEXICO COMMISSION.

    (a) ESTABLISHMENT- On receiving the written agreement of the Governor of each Gulf State, the President shall establish a Gulf of Mexico Commission for the purpose of promoting the environmental and economic interests of the Gulf of Mexico by coordinating the variety of public authorities and private organizations that are engaged in evaluating and responding to problems relating to the Gulf of Mexico.

    (b) FIRST MEETING- The Commission shall hold its first meeting within 90 days after the President receives the written agreement referred to in subsection (a).

    (c) MEMBERSHIP-

      (1) IN GENERAL- The Commission shall be composed of--

        (A) the Governor of each Gulf State, or a representative of the Governor;

        (B) the President of the Senate of each Gulf State legislature (or the equivalent official of the State), or a designee of the President of the Senate of the State (or the equivalent official of the State);

        (C) the Speaker of the House of Representatives of each Gulf State legislature (or the equivalent official of the State), or a designee of the Speaker (or the equivalent official of the State);

        (D) two individuals from each Gulf State who shall not be members, officers, or employees of either the executive or legislative branch of that State and who shall be appointed by the Governor of the State; and

        (E) one official each from the Department of Commerce, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Coast Guard, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

      (2) TERM- Each Commission member shall serve for a term of 4 years, except that--

        (A) a Commission member described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) of paragraph (1) shall not serve after the date of termination of the executive or legislative term of office of the member;

        (B) a Commission member described in paragraph (1)(D) shall not serve after the date of termination of the term of office of the Governor who appoints the member; and

        (C) a Commission member described in paragraph (1)(E) shall not serve after the date of termination of the term of office of the President who appoints the member.

      (3) REAPPOINTMENT- Any member of the Commission may be reappointed, if the member is eligible for membership under paragraphs (1) and (2).

      (4) CHAIRPERSON AND VICE CHAIRPERSON- The Commission shall annually elect a Chairperson and Vice Chairperson from among its members.

    (d) FUNCTIONS-

      (1) RECOMMENDATIONS- The Commission shall make recommendations to the President, the Gulf States, Congress, the heads of Federal agencies, and other appropriate parties regarding--

        (A) the orderly, sustainable, and comprehensive use and conservation of the resources of the Gulf of Mexico;

        (B) the balancing among agriculture, commercial, environmental, industrial, transportation, and recreational interests in the use and protection of the resources of the Gulf of Mexico;

        (C) necessary improvements in the management system of the Gulf of Mexico existing on the date of enactment of this Act to maximize the public benefits of the resources of the Gulf of Mexico;

        (D) the appropriate role for the Federal Government in the management and protection of the national resources found in the Gulf of Mexico;

        (E) cooperation between the Gulf States, the Federal Government, and the Government of Mexico, as well as other governments and intergovernmental bodies having interests in, or jurisdiction sufficient to affect, conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and its environs;

        (F) cooperation among private groups and organizations in the Gulf of Mexico region on matters affecting the Gulf of Mexico;

        (G) uniform laws, or other laws (including ordinances or regulations) relating to the development, use, and conservation of the resources of the Gulf of Mexico by each of the respective Gulf States, the Federal Government, and the Government of Mexico, as well as other governments and intergovernmental bodies having interests in, or jurisdiction sufficient to affect, conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and its environs;

        (H) agreements between the United States and Mexico that would positively affect the development, use, and conservation of the resources of the Gulf of Mexico;

        (I) mutual arrangements to be embodied in concurrent or reciprocal legislation promulgated by Congress and the legislature of the Government of Mexico;

        (J) improvements to the overall transportation infrastructure in the Gulf of Mexico and its environs;

        (K) means of improving and maintaining the productivity of the various industries doing business in the Gulf of Mexico; and

        (L) the adequacy of current and projected funding for the activities described in subparagraphs (A) through (K).

      (2) REVIEW BY COMMISSION- The Commission shall review and comment on plans developed pursuant to section 5(d).

      (3) ASSISTANCE IN NEGOTIATIONS- The Commission may, at the request of the President, assist in the negotiation and formulation of any treaty or mutual agreement between the United States and Mexico that relates to the Gulf of Mexico and its environs.

    (e) POWERS OF COMMISSION- The Commission shall have the power to--

      (1) compile, analyze, and report on technical and other data relating to the resources of the Gulf of Mexico and its environs;

      (2) conduct studies (directly or through contracts, grants, or other indirect means) regarding existing or potential problems within the Gulf of Mexico and its environs;

      (3) pursue and administer such grants and other financial assistance as may be provided by public and private sources to facilitate any purpose of this Act;

      (4) prepare, publish, and disseminate information relating to the activities and recommendations of the Commission; and

      (5) make recommendations and take all actions necessary and proper to execute the powers conferred on the Commission by this Act, except that no recommendation or action shall have the force of law in, or be binding on, any Gulf State, the United States Government, or the Government of Mexico.

    (f) ADMINISTRATION-

      (1) AUTHORITY OF COMMISSION- For the purpose of carrying out this Act, the Commission may--

        (A) adopt bylaws governing the conduct of the activities and meetings of the Commission;

        (B) hold such hearings, sit and act at such times and places, take such testimony, receive such evidence, and publish and distribute such reports as the Commission considers appropriate to carry out this Act;

        (C) acquire, furnish, and equip such office space as may be necessary;

        (D) employ and compensate an executive director and such other personnel as the Commission determines appropriate, including consultants, at rates not to exceed the daily equivalent of the rate prescribed for level V of the Executive Schedule under section 5316 of title 5, United States Code, and retain and compensate by contract such professional or technical service firms as the Commission determines appropriate;

        (E) arrange for the services of personnel from any Gulf State, the Federal Government, the Government of Mexico, or any intergovernmental agency; and

        (F) incur such necessary expenses and exercise such powers as are reasonably required to perform the functions of the Commission under this Act.

      (2) ASSISTANCE- At the request of the Commission, the heads of Federal and State departments and agencies may furnish information, personnel, and other assistance in support of the functions of the Commission.

      (3) COMPENSATION- Members of the Commission shall serve without compensation, but shall be reimbursed for travel or transportation expenses under subchapter I of chapter 57 of title 5, United States Code, while away from their homes or regular places of business in performance of services for the Commission.

      (4) FUNDS- In addition to appropriations authorized under this Act, the Commission may accept and use appropriations, grants, and donations (including in-kind gifts) from a Gulf State, the Federal Government, the Government of Mexico, an individual, a private institution, or any other government or intergovernmental body having interests in, or jurisdiction sufficient to affect, conditions in the Gulf of Mexico and its environs.

      (5) RECORDS- The Commission shall keep accurate records of all receipts and disbursements. The accounts shall be audited at least annually in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards by independent certified or licensed public accountants. A report of the audit shall be included in, and become a part of, the annual report of the Commission, which shall be submitted to each Gulf State, the President, and Congress.

      (6) REVIEW- The records of the Commission referred to in paragraph (5) shall be open at all reasonable times for inspection by representatives of the jurisdictions and agencies that make appropriations, donations, or grants to the Commission.

      (7) TERMINATION- The President shall terminate the Commission after receipt of a written request signed by the Governor of each Gulf State.

SEC. 5. ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY PROGRAM.

    (a) GULF OF MEXICO NATIONAL PROGRAM OFFICE- The Gulf of Mexico National Program Office (referred to in this section as the ‘Program Office’) is established within the Environmental Protection Agency, to be located in one of the Gulf States and headed by a Director to be selected by the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from candidates nominated by the Commission. The Director shall have expertise in technical and management issues related to environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico.

    (b) GULF OF MEXICO ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT-

      (1) FUNCTIONS OF PROGRAM OFFICE- The Director of the Program Office shall--

        (A) gather and create a database of research on Gulf of Mexico environmental quality issues for use by universities, governments, and private institutions;

        (B) establish a Gulf-wide network comprised of Federal, State, and local authorities and private institutions to monitor environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico;

        (C) develop and implement policies in conjunction with Federal, State, and local authorities and private institutions designed to improve environmental quality in the Gulf;

        (D) coordinate activities within the Environmental Protection Agency, including those of regional and headquarters offices with responsibilities for the Gulf of Mexico, aimed at improving environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico; and

        (E) coordinate activities of the Environmental Protection Agency with the actions of the Commission, other Federal agencies, and State and local authorities, to ensure their participation in the development and implementation of policies to improve environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico.

      (2) GULF OF MEXICO RESEARCH-

        (A) INVENTORY- The Director of the Program Office shall establish a Gulf of Mexico research inventory and database to provide a comprehensive source of environmental studies, data, and other information related to environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico.

        (B) UPDATES- The Director of the Program Office shall update the inventory every 5 years.

        (C) MONITORING NETWORK-

          (i) ESTABLISHMENT- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall establish a Gulf-wide monitoring network not later than May 1, 1994, in consultation with the Commission and Federal, State, and local agencies, to develop data that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of Environmental Protection Agency policies related to the Gulf.

          (ii) COORDINATION- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall review, and, to the extent feasible, incorporate into the network monitoring efforts in the Gulf at the Federal, State, and local levels, existing on the date of enactment of this Act.

          (iii) PURPOSES- The network shall be structured to produce data to support the development of the Gulf of Mexico Management Plan and describe the environmental quality of the Gulf of Mexico, with particular attention given to areas of concentrated industrial activity and other sources of point and nonpoint source pollution.

      (3) GULF OF MEXICO MANAGEMENT PLAN-

        (A) PUBLICATION OF THE PROPOSED PLAN- Not later than May 1, 1995, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, after consultation with the Commission and representatives of other Federal, State, and local agencies, shall publish for public comment a proposed Gulf of Mexico Management Plan. The Plan shall--

          (i) summarize existing data describing the environmental quality of the Gulf of Mexico, including information pertaining to the status of fisheries, shellfish growing areas, wetlands, and beaches;

          (ii) describe the monitoring network and the Program Office Research Inventory;

          (iii) describe significant sources of pollution and assess associated environmental risks;

          (iv) describe on-going and planned activities intended to identify, evaluate, and preserve wetlands and other critical habitats;

          (v) report on pollution prevention and other abatement and remedial measures underway on the date the report is prepared;

          (vi) recommend measures to be undertaken by Federal, State, and local agencies and private interests to ensure the protection and restoration of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem;

          (vii) address the economic impact of any additional measures on development in the Gulf of Mexico region, particularly measures affecting agriculture, fishing, recreational activities, and oil and gas activities; and

          (viii) recommend the Federal, State, and local agencies to be charged with implementing the Plan.

        (B) PUBLIC COMMENT AND PUBLICATION OF FINAL PLAN- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall provide a period of 60 days for public comment. The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall publish the final Gulf of Mexico Management Plan not later than 180 days after the expiration of the public comment period.

        (C) ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS- Beginning with fiscal year 1995, within 90 days after the end of each fiscal year, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, after consultation with the Commission, and Federal, State, and local agencies, shall submit a comprehensive report to Congress that--

          (i) updates the status of environmental quality in the Gulf of Mexico;

          (ii) describes any modifications in the monitoring network of Research Inventory;

          (iii) describes the achievements in the preceding year in implementing measures undertaken in the Gulf of Mexico Management Plan;

          (iv) describes the designation of any critical habitats in the previous year; and

          (v) describes the long-term prospects for improving the environmental quality in the Gulf.

      (4) GRANT PROGRAM-

        (A) IN GENERAL- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency may, upon approval of an application submitted by a Gulf State or a group of States, make a grant to the State or group of States for the purpose of furthering the development or implementation of the monitoring network or Plan.

        (B) PURPOSES- A State or group of States receiving a grant under this paragraph may provide funds to other State and local agencies, universities, institutions, organizations, and individuals for the purpose of assisting the State or States in developing or implementing the monitoring network or Plan.

        (C) SUBMISSION OF PROPOSAL- A proposal submitted under this paragraph shall describe in detail the activities the grant will fund and, in the case of a grant to be used for implementation measures, the proposed abatement or conservation action and the result the proposed action is expected to achieve.

        (D) FEDERAL SHARE-

          (i) IN GENERAL- The Federal share of a grant under this paragraph shall be 50 percent of the amount of the grant award.

          (ii) WAIVER- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency may waive the 50 percent limitation on the Federal share if the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency determines in a particular case that overriding national, international, or regional interests justify a larger Federal share. The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall report on the number of waivers issued under this subparagraph at the time the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency submits a budget proposal to the President for inclusion in the annual budget of the United States Government submitted by the President to Congress.

        (E) ADMINISTRATIVE EXPENSES- Not more than 10 percent of the amount of any grant awarded under this paragraph may be used for administrative expenses.

        (F) REPORTS- As a condition to receiving a grant under this paragraph, a State or group of States must agree to submit to the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency a report at the end of each fiscal year describing the progress the State has made in taking the actions proposed in the grant application and the amount of grant funds expended.

        (G) LIABILITY- Grants made under this section may not be used for the purpose of relieving from liability any person who may otherwise be liable under Federal or State law for damages, response costs, natural resource damages, restitution, equitable relief, or any other relief.

    (c) BUDGET ITEM- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency shall, in the annual budget submission of the Environmental Protection Agency to Congress, include a funding request for the Program Office as a separate line item.

    (d) MEMORANDA OF UNDERSTANDING WITH OTHER FEDERAL AGENCIES-

      (1) AUTHORIZATION- The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to negotiate memoranda of understanding with other Federal agencies with jurisdiction over the Gulf of Mexico.

      (2) PURPOSES- A memorandum shall set out the various responsibilities of each agency that is a party to it. A memorandum shall clearly delineate the jurisdiction and activities to be undertaken by each party.

SEC. 7. RELATIONSHIP TO EXISTING FEDERAL AND STATE LAWS AND INTERNATIONAL TREATIES.

    (a) IN GENERAL- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the jurisdiction, powers, or prerogatives of any department, agency, officer, or program of the Federal Government, or of any State government or tribe.

    (b) INTERNATIONAL BODIES- Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect the jurisdiction, powers, or prerogatives of any international body created by a treaty, to which the United States is a party, with authority relating to the Gulf of Mexico.

    (c) RELATIONSHIP TO INTERNATIONAL LAW AND FOREIGN POLICY OF THE UNITED STATES- Any action taken pursuant to this Act shall be consistent with relevant international law. Any action taken pursuant to this Act that relates to the waters under the jurisdiction of a foreign country shall be undertaken only in cooperation with representatives of the affected foreign country.

SEC. 8. STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL ISSUES.

    The Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency is authorized to conduct a study to assess the nature and extent of environmental problems in the Gulf of Mexico and Wider Caribbean Region, including areas beyond the Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States.

SEC. 9. AUTHORIZATION OF APPROPRIATIONS.

    (a) AMOUNTS- There are authorized to be appropriated such sums as are necessary to carry out this Act.

    (b) AVAILABILITY OF FUNDS- The amounts authorized to be appropriated under this section shall remain available until expended.

    (c) SUPPLEMENTAL FUNDS- Funds made available under subsection (a) shall be used to supplement and not supplant any other funds made available to the Environmental Protection Agency.