On 14 June 2006, the House Science Committee approved HR 5450, legislation that would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. NOAA was created by executive order during the Nixon Administration as part of the Commerce Department and has never been authorized by Congress. Several groups have called for such an authorization to help ensure the effective management of ocean policy. Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) is the chief sponsor of the legislation.

HR 5450 would restructure NOAA into four areas: research and education, resources management, operations and services, and the National Weather Service. It mandates that the agency would gain no new regulatory authority from the bill, an issue that caused a similar bill to stall last year.

The most vigorous debate about the measure came after Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) introduced an amendment designed to prevent administration officials from tampering with federally-funded research. The amendment lost with a party-line vote of 13-17 after Republicans on the committee argued that, though scientific integrity is a pressing issue, the NOAA bill was not the place to legislate for it.

The legislation must now move through the House Resources Committee prior to being considered by the full House of Representatives.


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