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bills H.R. 11769, 11812, 11868, 11984, 12007, 13150, and on H.R. 11460, each of which would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to study feasible and desirable means of establishing marine sanctuaries.
My remarks will be directed first to H.R. 11584 and related bills. Each bill directs the Secretary of the Interior to undertake a 2-year study of the Nation's natural tidelands—i.e., the bays, estuaries, land, and waters within our 3-mile territorial belt—the Outer Continental Shelf—i.e., land and waters extending from this belt to the 200-meter depth contour-seaward areas—i.e., areas extending from this contour-and also the lands and waters of the Great Lakes.
Each of the bills also mentions specific areas to be included in the study, such as the Georges Bank area adjacent to lower Cape Cod and the Santa Barbara Channel, California, seaward to the Channel Islands.
The bills direct the Secretary to submit a report to Congress, through the President. The report must contain findings on (1) sport and commercial fishing, wildlife conservation, recreation, scenic beauty, and marine ecological research values of the areas studied; (2) alternate beneficial uses of such areas; (3) means of developing areas without endangering esthetic and other values; and (4) means of creating a national system of marine sanctuaries. The Secretary's report is expected to include legislative recommendations.
The bills authorize a maximum appropriation of $1 million for this broad study.
While we cannot recommend enactment of this legislation for reasons that I will state in a moment, we do favor the objectives of the various bills because
1. We recognize the many values of an unspoiled marine environment to the present and future generations of Americans;
2. We are acutely aware of the loss of these values in certain areas due to conflicting uses for commercial and domestic pur
3. We believe that balanced uses and greater benefits can be realized in these areas if provisions are made for preservation of
their natural character to permit study and planning. The creation of marine sanctuaries would implement, in a positive way, one of the recommendations in the Report of the Panel on Oceanography of the President's Science Advisory Committee, entitled "Effective Use of the Sea," which the President released in June 1966. The report pointed out the need to preserve the quality of as much as possible of the unmodified or useful marine environment and to restore as much of the damaged environment as possible. The report recommended establishment of a system of marine wilderness preserves for research, wilderness recreation, and other purposes.
We have several reasons for recommending against passage of this legislation:
The first is the time and dollar limitations in the bills and their relation to other authorities of the Department and other pending legislation.
In our opinion, it is not possible to conduct the broad study called for in this legislation within a 2-year period and at a maximum funding level of $1 million. Since the time begins to run from the date of enactment, the study period will be reduced by whatever time it takes
to obtain appropriations so the actual study period may be less than 2 years. In addition to the information specified in the bills, the Department believes that fairly complete information on all resources of the areas involved should be available before recommendations are made on sanctuaries. Considerable exploration and research will be needed before such information will be available and a lead time of several years will be required to obtain it.
In addition, we believe that there is adequate general authority to conduct most, if not all, of the study mandated by this legislation (for example, the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956, the Bureau of Outdoor Recreation's Organic Act, the general authorities of the Bureau of Mines and the Geological Survey, and the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended).
Also, there is H.R. 25 which has been passed by the House which mandates a study of the Nation's estuaries, including coastal marshlands, bays, sounds, seaward areas, and lagoons, and land and waters of the Great Lakes. We strongly favor enactment of H.R. 25.
Further, the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966 directs the Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources to "make a comprehensive investigation and study of all aspects of marine science in order to recommend an overall plan for an adequate national oceanographic program that will meet the present and future national needs.” The recommendations of the Commission will have a direct bearing on the intent of this legislation.
Section 4 of the bills prohibits the Secretary from issuing or renewing any license, permit, or other authorization for mineral exploration, development, mining, or other removal thereof in any part of the shelf under study as a possible marine sanctuary.
We view this language as not applying to existing leases, and so forth, or to the various approvals called for in such leases and the regulations (see 30 CFR 250), such as the approval by the Secretary's representative of plans for the performance of work under an already issued lease or the plan of development under the lease. To hold otherwise, would result in an interference with the lessee's rights under his lease and the possibility of damage claims or other suits based on the deprivation of the lessee's property rights.
We believe that this prohibition is undesirable because it would restrict the recovery of valuable and needed minerals and would also curb a substantial income to the Federal Treasury from bonus bids and royalty payments. It is unnecessary, because to coordinate the utilization of the mineral resources along with the aquatic resources of the Shelf, the Department has recently developed more adequate administrative procedures for the management of the Outer Continental Shelf, particularly with respect to the aquatic resources of the Shelf.
Actions are taken to coordinate exploration activities by industry in order to minimize effects on fish and fishing activities. In many areas this is done through cooperation with State agencies; in others by Interior Bureaus and the industry. The technology used for seismic measurements in the exploration for oil is advancing rapidly so there is now very little use of explosives which have been harmful to fish in the past. Explorations can also be controlled and timed to avoid concentrations of fish and other aquatic life.
The Department will take every step possible to regulate operations and placement of oil drilling platforms to avoid pollution and interference with navigation. When test holes are abandoned, the bottom must be left free of obstructions. Where necessary, pipelines are buried to avoid interference with other sea bottom activities.
We believe it is possible to manage the resource development of the Continental Shelf so that the many values such as living and mineral resources and esthetic considerations can be utilized and protected. This will achieve multiple use for the greatest national advantage and there is no need for special interests to be harmed.
We are also concerned about the definitions given in section 7 of these bills. They are so broad that they become almost meaningless. Further, once legislated they might have a tendency to be viewed as an accepted legislative interpretation of these terms.
In conclusion, we recognize that there are problems which result from the multiple pursuit of resources which occupy the same or adjacent geographical areas. There are concerns, for example, about environmental pollution and the physical alteration of the environment which could affect many interests adversely. We believe that it would be in the Nation's interest to accelerate research, surveys, and related social studies in order to attain the best use of all coastal and Outer Continental Shelf resources. We believe that much of this information will be obtained under the comprehensive estuarine pollution study authorized by section 5(g) of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, as amended; the broad study contemplated by H.R. 25; and the study authorized by the Marine Resources and Engineering Development Act of 1966. We believe it would be best to utilize our talents and funds on those studies rather than the one contemplated by these bills.
In reference to H.R. 11460, which concerns the study for establishment of all or part of the Santa Barbara Channel as a marine sanctuary,
I am sure that members of the committee know that there was an oil and gas lease sale in February of this year in certain parts of this area. Our formulation of this particular program took into account the wide variety of marine interests for this area. Activities of military, shipping, fishing, recreational, and industrial users were already blended into the channel. Onshore was located one of the largest oilfields in California. This petroleum resource had every indication of extending out under the waters of the channel. The willingness of the oil and gas industry to bid $603 million for drilling and production rights indicates the potentially large oil deposits that underlie the channel area. Proper multiple resource management dictated that we utilize this resource.
The Department's decision to conduct the lease sale was made after extensive consultation with officials of the State of California, the cities and counties of Ventura and Santa Barbara, and with the many other interest groups located in the area. Every effort has been made to place specifications on these operations so that they will be conducted with a minimum of impact on other values in the channel. We placed a buffer zone around the State's Santa Barbara sanctuary in order that no drilling would take place that could cause drainage of oil underlying these State-owned lands. This combined area will keep drilling platforms at least 41/2 miles offshore and make them less visi -ble from land.
Thus, from the foregoing, it is evident that we would also have to recommend against enactment of H.R. 11460. We fully realize the importance of protecting the many values in the Santa Bárbara Channel area and reserving portions of it for marine sanctuaries would exclude many other important uses. Its living resources such as fish, kelp, and many other forms of aquatic life; its minerals and recreational uses are all in addition to it being one of the most scenic residential areas in the United States.
These bills have been very helpful to impress upon us the importance of using all the authority available to the Secretary to carry out comprehensive and balanced management of the resources on our Continental Shelf. We have appreciated this opportunity to make these views known and I hope that this and any other information we can furnish you will be helpful in your deliberations on this proposed legislation.
The Bureau of the Budget has advised that there is no objection to the presentation of this report from the standpoint of the administration's program.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, .
Mr. Pautzke, are there any areas that the Secretary has decreed shall be protected against possible research activities where a system of priorities has been established, for example, to recognize the importance of these areas to the existing uses?
Mr. PAUTZKE. Mr. Congressman, do I understand that your question is, has the Secretary set aside areas that would be restricted from exploration? Is this your question ?
Mr. KEITH. Yes. I don't expect you to have to ask counsel for this. You are the top spokesman for fishing in the Department of the Interior, are you not?
Mr. PAUTZKE. Yes; I am here representing the Department of the Interior.
Mr. KEITH. Yes, and you are their top spokesman with reference to fishing matters?
Mr. PAUTZKE. I know of no areas that the Secretary has set aside.
Mr. KEITH. Don't you feel that there are some areas which are so vital to our commercial fishing interests that research in those areas might be adverse to fishing interests?
Mr. PAUTZKE. Considering proper utilization of all resources, the Secretary probably would not restrict himself to one line of research. He attempts to develop and conserve all of the natural resources including living resources that might be in the area.
Mr. KEITH. Has there been any research for oil conducted on the Georges Bank?
Mr. PAUTZKE. There has been.
Mr. PAUTZKE. No; I wanted to double check my information before I gave it. I wanted to be sure it would be accurate.
Mr. KEITH. If they conduct research on Georges Bank and they discover oil within reach of commercial exploitation, would not those commercial interests feel that they had the right to the benefits accruing therefrom?
Mr. PAUTZKE. The Secretary has the authority to lease or not to lease.
Mr. KEITH. I realize that, but if he is going to sanction the exploration for oil and other mineral resources in those areas, those that are making that investment would feel that they were entitled to the return on that investment if they should strike oil, would they not?
Mr. PAUTZKE. I would say that what they feel and what the Secretary decides to do may not be the same thing. The Secretary has the authority to manage to achieve proper conservation.
Mr. KEITH. Under what terms have these leases been granted ?
Mr. PAUTZKE. I don't have the details of all of these, but I could provide it for the record.
Mr. KEITH. Maybe your associate, Mr. Standley, could tell us.
Mr. STANDLEY. Yes, sir; I would be glad to. First of all, the exploration you are talking about does not penetrate the sediments on Georges Bank and so there is no real discovery of oil. It is a discovery of a structure that might contain oil. We do not give rights to an exploration company on that basis. They go out there and do work without any claim at all on the land. It is up to the Secretary to determine whether or not there is a possible structure there and then it is up to his discretion whether or not he wants to lease it.
Mr. KEITH. You don't discourage research for those purposes at this stage of the game?
Mr. STANDLEY. No, sir; because they carry no interest. There is no preference, right, or title to any of the property, at that stage.
Mr. KEITH. You see, what prompted this, as I am sure you are aware from the history of this, is that in certain areas where fish were found in great quantity the research in itself constituted a serious threat.
Mr. STANDLEY. Right.
Mr. KEITI. We found that there was very little communication between the Geological Survey activities and the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, and we are interested in finding real protectiveness on the part of the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries, a protective attitude.
Mr. STANDLEY. The Geological Survey is under specific instructions now not to approve any seismic permits in the Georges Bank area unless they have been checked out with our Bureau of Commercial Fisheries people, and in addition, they are restricted to the nonexplosive exploration devices, so that this type of accident will not happen again on Georges Bank.
Mr. KEITH. Of course, what they are doing now is working on a preliminary phase. Before they really can get the kind of information that they want, they will probably have to conduct the explosive type of experiments; will they not?
Mr. STANDLEY. No, sir. The type of information they want is purely structural. In other words, they are looking for folds in the sediments below the seabed, and they can determine those with the nonexplosive type seismic operations.
Mr. KEITH. Getting back to the fishing experts again, to what other areas have the Bureau of Commercial Fisheries or other agencies of the Department of the Interior asked to have this kind of protection afforded ?