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 Collection: Congressional Research Service Reports
Piracy: A Legal Definition

Piracy: A Legal Definition

Date: October 19, 2010
Creator: Mason, R. Chuck
Description: Pirate attacks in the waters off the Horn of Africa, including those on U.S.-flagged vessels, have brought continued U.S. and international attention to the long-standing problem of piracy in the region. A recent development in one of the piracy trials in Norfolk, VA, has highlighted a potential limitation in the definition of piracy under the United States Code. This report first examines the historical development of the offense of piracy, as defined by Congress and codified in the United States Code. The focus then turns to how contemporary international agreements define piracy. Finally, the report highlights a recent federal district court ruling that the offense of piracy under 18 U.S.C. ยง 1651 requires a robbery at sea.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

Date: October 15, 2010
Creator: Corn, M. Lynne & Copeland, Claudia
Description: The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and the resulting oil spill began a cascade of effects on the coastal areas of the Gulf and on the wealth of species that inhabit those areas. This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues. The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, although a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed, along with issues that may arise as response and recovery transition to restoration of the Gulf.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Oil Spill Legislation in the 111th Congress

Oil Spill Legislation in the 111th Congress

Date: October 15, 2010
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report summarizes provisions of selected legislation - enacted and proposed - that address oil spill policy issues raised after the April 20, 2010, explosion and resulting oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This report focuses primarily on oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, and the liability and compensation framework.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Marine Protected Areas: An Overview

Marine Protected Areas: An Overview

Date: September 29, 2010
Creator: Upton, Harold E. & Buck, Eugene H.
Description: Marine protected areas (MPAs) are generally defined as areas reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment. This report identifies a number of issues related to establishing MPAs in the United States. It begins by defining the concept and administrative actions taken to provide spatial protection in marine areas. It then considers some of the key issues and potential benefits and costs of designating additional MPAs. It concludes by considering potential areas of congressional interest for the 111th Congress. Existing federal laws related to the use of MPAs are summarized in the Appendix.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework

Offshore Oil and Gas Development: Legal Framework

Date: September 20, 2010
Creator: Vann, Adam
Description: The development of offshore oil, gas, and other mineral resources in the United States is impacted by a number of interrelated legal regimes, including international, federal, and state laws. International law provides a framework for establishing national ownership or control of offshore areas, and domestic federal law mirrors and supplements these standards. This report discusses these issues.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background and Governance

Date: September 2, 2010
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report provides background information regarding oil spills in U.S. coastal waters and identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup. Based on data between 1973 and 2009, the annual number and volume of oil spills have shown declines- in some cases, dramatic declines.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

Date: August 5, 2010
Creator: Corn, M. Lynne & Copeland, Claudia
Description: This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues.3 The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, though a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed along with issues that may arise in the years after the leak from the deepwater well is capped.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress

Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Selected Issues for Congress

Date: July 30, 2010
Creator: Hagerty, Curry L. & Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report summarizes provisions of selected legislation - enacted and proposed - that address oil spill policy issues raised after the April 20, 2010, explosion and resulting oil spill at the Deepwater Horizon drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico. This report focuses primarily on oil spill policy matters that concern prevention, preparedness, response, and the liability and compensation framework.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Commercial Fishery Disaster Assistance

Commercial Fishery Disaster Assistance

Date: July 29, 2010
Creator: Upton, Harold F.
Description: This report discusses disaster relief for commercial fishery, which be provided by the federal government to assist the fishing industry when it is affected by a commercial fishery failure. A commercial fishery failure occurs when fishermen endure economic hardships resulting from fish population declines or other disruptions to the fishery.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

The Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill: Coastal Wetland and Wildlife Impacts and Response

Date: July 7, 2010
Creator: Corn, M. Lynne & Copeland, Claudia
Description: The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010, and the resulting oil spill began a cascade of effects on the coastal areas of the Gulf and on the wealth of species that inhabit those areas. This report addresses the importance of wetlands in general, the ecology of the coastal wetlands in the Gulf, impacts of oil spills on wetland habitats, response options, the implications of hurricane season for the spill's impacts, and cleanup and recovery issues. The emphasis is on the nearshore environment, although a few species found in deeper waters will be mentioned. In addition, some lessons from past spills such as the Exxon Valdez in Alaska will be discussed, along with issues that may arise as response and recovery transition to restoration of the Gulf.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

Date: June 15, 2010
Creator: Buck, Eugene H.
Description: This report describes provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) relating to living marine resources and discusses how these provisions comport with current U.S. marine policy.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification

Date: May 27, 2010
Creator: Buck, Eugene H. & Folger, Peter
Description: This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Gas Hydrates: Resource and Hazard

Gas Hydrates: Resource and Hazard

Date: May 25, 2010
Creator: Folger, Peter
Description: This report discusses gas hydrates, which are potentially huge resource of natural gas for the United States. The U.S. Geological Survey estimated that there are about 85 trillion cubic feet (TCF) of technically recoverable gas hydrates in northern Alaska. The Minerals Management Service estimated a mean value of 21,000 TCF of in-place gas hydrates in the Gulf of Mexico. By comparison, total U.S. natural gas consumption is about 23 TCF annually. Gas hydrates are both a potential resource and a risk, representing a significant hazard to conventional oil and gas drilling and production operations, and to date gas hydrates have no confirmed commercial production.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Date: April 30, 2010
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report focuses on oil spills in U.S. coastal waters. The first section highlights background issues, including oil spill statistics and potential environmental impacts. The second section discusses the legal framework that governs oil spill prevention and response. The third section examines the threat of future oil spills in coastal waters and whether response personnel are prepared to respond to a major spill.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Date: August 27, 2009
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report reviews the history and trends of oil spills in the United States; identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup; and examines the threats of future oil spills in U.S. coastal waters.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification

Date: July 2, 2009
Creator: Buck, Eugene H. & Folger, Peter
Description: With increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere, the extent of effects on the ocean and marine resources is an increasing concern. One aspect of this issue is the ongoing process whereby seawater becomes acidified (i.e., ocean acidification) as more CO2 dissolves in it, causing hydrogen ion concentration in seawater to increase. While not yet fully understood, the ecological and economic consequences of ocean acidification could be substantial. Congress is beginning to focus attention on better understanding ocean acidification and determining how this concern might be addressed.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

Date: June 22, 2009
Creator: Buck, Eugene H.
Description: This report describes provisions of the LOS Convention relating to living marine resources and discusses how these provisions comport with current U.S. marine policy. As presently understood and interpreted, these provisions generally appear to reflect current U.S. policy with respect to living marine resource management, conservation, and exploitation.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea: Living Resources Provisions

Date: June 22, 2009
Creator: Buck, Eugene H.
Description: The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (LOS Convention) was agreed to in 1982, but the United States never became a signatory nation. In the 111th Congress, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, at her confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs on January 13, 2009, acknowledged that U.S. accession to the LOS Convention would be an Obama Administration priority. This report describes provisions of the LOS Convention relating to living marine resources and discusses how these provisions comport with current U.S. marine policy.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification

Date: May 27, 2009
Creator: Buck, Eugene H. & Folger, Peter
Description: This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard

Environmental Activities of the U.S. Coast Guard

Date: May 7, 2009
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report discusses the environmental activities of the U.S. Coast Guard, which fall within the service's program for protection of natural resources, and consist of maritime oil spill prevention, marine debris, and pollution response preparedness. Protection of living marine resources and fisheries also falls in this category, but is not discussed here. Marine environmental protection is one of six "non-homeland security missions" specified in the Homeland Security Act of 2002.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Oil Spills in U.S. Coastal Waters: Background, Governance, and Issues for Congress

Date: April 23, 2009
Creator: Ramseur, Jonathan L.
Description: This report reviews the history and trends of oil spills in the United States; identifies the legal authorities governing oil spill prevention, response, and cleanup; and examines the threats of future oil spills in U.S. coastal waters.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Ocean Acidification

Ocean Acidification

Date: April 2, 2009
Creator: Buck, Eugene H. & Folger, Peter
Description: This report discusses the increasing concern, within the scientific community, that rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere could detrimentally alter marine ecosystems. The report discusses how ocean acidification happens, its possible outcomes, as well as natural and human responses that could possibly limit or reduce the rate of the process.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Whales and Sonar: Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training

Whales and Sonar: Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training

Date: February 18, 2009
Creator: Alexander, Kristina
Description: This report discusses laws related to the protection of marine mammals when using mid-frequency active sonar including the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA), the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). The report discusses each of the laws generally, and then reviews the litigation surrounding the Navy's compliance with these laws in the context of using the sonar for training purposes off California's coast.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department
Whales and Sonar: Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training

Whales and Sonar: Environmental Exemptions for the Navy's Mid-Frequency Active Sonar Training

Date: February 18, 2009
Creator: Alexander, Kristina
Description: This report discusses litigation regarding the use of mid-frequency active sonar training exercises and its effects on marine mammals.
Contributing Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department