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September 2012 Issue

Marine Debris Act Clears House of Reps With $5 Million in Funding Cut
The U.S. House of Representatives in August passed the Marine Debris Research, Prevention and Reduction Act (H.R. 1171), which would continue funding through 2015 for NOAA’s existing Marine Debris Program, but halved the program’s appropriations from the initially proposed $10 million to $4.9 million.

A companion bill that has stalled in the U.S. Senate, offered by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii) would fund the program at the full $10 million. Rep. Sam Farr (D-Calif.) had introduced the House version of the bill. Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) proposed the amendment to cut the funding.

“While I would have preferred more financial support for this program, today’s passage is a significant step towards protecting Alaska’s beaches and shores from marine debris,” Rep. Young said.

Every year 7 million tons of trash ends up in the ocean, costing millions in cleanup costs and lost revenue for fisheries and the tourism industry. An additional 5 to 20 million tons of debris from Japan’s 2011 tsunami will arrive on U.S. shores after crossing the Pacific.


North Carolina Bans Use of Predictive Models When Determining Sea-Level Rise
A North Carolina law requiring the state’s Coastal Resources Commission to base the next four years of its predictions of sea-level rise on historical calculations, as opposed to predictive models, went into effect in August. Gov. Bev Perdue had one month to act on House Bill 819, which passed the state’s general assembly. Perdue did not act on the bill, allowing it to become law without signature.

“North Carolina should not ignore science when making public policy decisions,” Perdue said. “House Bill 819 will become law because it allows local governments to use their own scientific studies to define rates of sea-level change. I urge the general assembly to revisit this issue and develop an approach that gives state agencies the flexibility to take appropriate action in response to sea-level change within the next four years.”

Rates of sea-level rise are increasing three to four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a U.S. Geological Survey published earlier this summer. The study highlighted a 600-mile stretch of coastline from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, to Boston, Massachusetts, as a hot spot where the sea level has risen 2 to 3.7 millimeters per year since 1990, compared to the global increase over the same period that was 0.6 to 1 millimeter per year.

Perdue’s office received more than 3,400 letters and e-mails urging her to veto this bill and two others dealing with environmental regulations, The Wilmington Star News reported.

Under the law, the Coastal Resources Commission shall be the only state agency authorized to define rates of sea-level change for regulatory purposes. If the commission defines rates of sea-level change for regulatory purposes, it shall do so in conjunction with the state’s Division of Coastal Management. The law also requires the commission to address the consideration of oceanfront and estuarine shorelines for dealing with sea-level assessment and not use one single sea-level rate for the entire coast.

The Coastal Resources Commission will deliver its five-year updated assessment to its March 2010 report entitled “North Carolina Sea-Level Rise Assessment Report” no later than March 31, 2015.


Senate Defense Appropriations Bill Includes Funding for Navy Biofuels
Funding for U.S. Navy biofuels was included in the U.S. Senate defense appropriations act, which received subcommittee approval in August with a vote of 33-0.

The bill includes increases in the areas of alternative energy, nanotechnology and advanced naval radar technologies. Sen. Patty Murray of Washington, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said $70 million was allocated for advanced drop-in biofuel production in the $604 defense bill. Hawaiian Sen. Daniel Inouye, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on defense, did not specify how much was allocated to Navy biofuels.

Opponents of the U.S. Navy’s “Great Green Fleet” have criticized the biofuels program for being too expensive. The Navy purchased 450,000 gallons of biofuel at $26 a gallon, which was used at Rim of the Pacific this summer, according to Reuters. The fuels filled three warships and 71 aircraft, and lasted two to three days. The biofuel blends are 50-50 mixtures of biofuel (made from used cooking oil and algae) and petroleum-based marine diesel or aviation fuel.


BOEM, FERC Issue Revised Guidelines for MHK Projects on the US Outer Continental Shelf
The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in July released revised guidelines for potential marine hydrokinetic (MHK) energy developers interested in pursuing technology testing and commercial development activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf.

The revised guidelines replace existing guidelines that were issued in 2009 by BOEM’s predecessor, the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and FERC. These guidelines provide information about respective responsibilities of each agency and provisions for obtaining leases and licenses, fee structures and hybrid project considerations. The full guidelines are available at http://bit.ly/QFkUMJ.

BOEM has the authority to issue three types of leases on a case-by-case basis for MHK projects: commercial leases, limited leases and research leases. Generally, a limited lease is appropriate for projects of limited scope (i.e., less than five years) and a relatively small power generation (e.g., less than 5 megawatts). Unless applicants are a federal agency with congressional authorization, they must have a FERC license to operate a hydrokinetic project on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Project developers may conduct limited testing under a BOEM lease without a FERC license if the technology is experimental; the proposed facilities are to be used for a short period to conduct studies necessary for preparing a license application or providing an educational experience; and power generated from the test project would not be transmitted into or displaced from the interstate electric grid.



2013:  JAN | FEB | MARCH | APRIL | MAY | JUNE | JULY | AUG | SEPT | OCT | NOV | DEC
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