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MINING OF THE DEEP SEABED

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 19, 1977

U.S. SENATE,
SUBCOMMITTEE ON PUBLIC LANDS AND
RESOURCES, OF THE COMMITTEE ON ENERGY AND
NATURAL RESOURCES, AND THE COMMITTEE ON
COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION,

Washington, D.C. The subcommittee and committee met, pursuant to notice, at 10:05 a.m., in room 3110, Dirksen Office Building, Hon. Lee Metcalf presiding.

Present: Senators Metcalf, Hatfield, Weicker, Hollings, and Melcher.

Also present: Steven P. Quarles, counsel; Norm Williams, professional staff member, Subcommittee on Public Lands and Resources; and James P. Walsh, general counsel; Deborah Stirling, and Christopher Koch, professional staff members; Gerald Kovach, minority staff counsel, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. LEE METCALF, A U.S. SENATOR

FROM THE STATE OF MONTANA Senator METCALF. The joint hearing will be in order.

This is the first of 3 days of joint hearings on S. 2053 before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Resources of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. I want to extend a warm welcome to all my distinguished colleagues, with the hope that they will be able to participate fully in all of these hearings.

Our purpose is to take testimony on S. 2053, a bill to promote the orderly and environmentally sound exploration for and commercial recovery of hard mineral resources of the deep seabed, pending the adoption of an international regime controlling such activities.

S. 2053 is a bill which was introduced by me on August 5, 1977, in order to accomplish two basic goals. First: The bill would establish an interim regulatory system covering activities of U.S. citizens, including, in certain cases, foreign corporations, engaged in the mining of hard minerals from the deep seabed, outside of national jurisdiction and beyond the Continental Shelf.

Second: The bill would establish a voluntary insurance program to protect the investment of such U.S. citizens and corporations in deep seabed mining and processing equipment.

Let me say a word or two about the basic assumption underlying S. 2053. This bill specifically disclaims any assertion by the U.S.

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Government of sovereignty over any area of the deep seabed. I don't believe there is any need for this Nation to take such a step, nor would it be justifiable.

Under existing international law, the commercial recovery of ferromanganese nodules—which is the type of hard mineral we are considering from the deep seabed is entirely legal and proper. U.S. citizens who wish to mine nodules are quite within their rights.

Since nodules contain minerals such as copper, nickel, cobalt, and manganese which are essential to the health and stability of our industrial economy, and since these particular minerals are, in large measure, imported from other countries, constituting a significant drain on our balance of payments, S. 2053 declares it to be in the national interest for Congress to encourage our citizens and corporations to proceed with development of ocean mining in a manner which will not damage the marine environment nor intrude on the rights of other nations.

It is certainly not my intention, nor is it the purpose of this legislation, to dispute the United Nations resolution designating the resources of the deep seabed as the common heritage of mankind. I wish to make that understood at the outset.

The resolution of the United Nations was an historic declaration. Nevertheless, until the Law of the Sea Conference negotiations have been successfully concluded, and until there is, in effect, an international agreement which will, among other things, spell out the legal meaning of the term "common heritage of mankind," we must assume the customary freedom of the high seas will continue to guide American citizens in their use of the world's oceans.

Therefore, S. 2053 is based upon the assumption that, pending the entry into force of an international agreement of this kind, U.S. citizens and corporations have a perfect right to mine the deep seabed. In the interest of orderly development and protection of the marine environment, Congress should institute an interim regime covering the activities of those citizens and corporations-a regime which will be superseded when the new international regime takes

over.

In the last few years, a number of ocean mining bills have come before the Congress. On these committees, we have yielded repeatedly to requests emanating from the State Department to withhold action on the legislation because of the allegedly traumatic effect such unilateral action as enacting an ocean-mining bill would have upon the Law of the Sea Conference.

We finally lost patience in the last Congress and passed S. 713 out of committee. However, that bill was not well received by the other committees to which it was referred, nor was there any intention to bring it to the floor for Senate consideration.

Perhaps the fears of the State Department were well founded. Perhaps the Department was right when it insisted that oceanmining legislation would seriously disturb, if not disrupt, the Law of the Sea Conference. It seemed like a reasonable concern at that time. But that time has passed.

What is now obvious to many observers is the bankruptcy of the Conference. It has dashed the hopes of those who have looked to it for production of a comprehensive new body of international law dealing with all uses of the world's oceans. The interminable bickerings, and the backroom wheeling and dealing in Committee One threaten to bring the whole effort to naught.

When Ambassador Elliot Richardson testified before the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Resources on July 26, 1977, following the conclusion of the Sixth Session of the Law of the Sea Conference in New York, he all but urged Congress to get on with enacting deep seabed legislation. I believe he testified to that effect before other committees on both sides.

Ambassador Richardon's testimony reflected a sharp turn away from the previous State Department position. It reflected, too, the dismay with which Mr. Richardson viewed the way Committee One Chairman Paul Engo cavalierly altered and distorted the treaty text which had been painstakingly discussed, article by article, by the 150 delegates during the 6-week session.

Ambassador Richardson characterized the treaty text produced by Chairman Engo as completely unacceptable. His rejection of the Engo text has prompted a thorough reassessment of the U.S. position with respect to continued participation in the Law of the Sea Conference. I understand this review is still underway.

Clearly, it is time to examine deep seabed legislation carefully and seriously with a view to moving it to enactment in the 95th Congress. I trust we shall begin that process in the Senate today by considering S. 2053. Thus, we can benefit from the thinking of those who have worked most closely with the legislation on the House side in addition to those representing three Federal agencies which will be most directly involved in implementing this bill.

For the record, I hereby order the inclusion at this point of bill S. 2053 and any reports from the administration. We have received the GAO report.

[The material referred to follows:

95TH CONGRESS

1st SESSION

S. 2053

IN THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES

August 5 (legislative day, July 19), 1977 Mr. METCALF introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred

to the Committees on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Energy and Natural Resources jointly by unanimous consent

A BILL To promote the orderly and environmentally sound exploration

for and commercial recovery of hard mineral resources of the deep seabed, pending adoption of an international regime relating thereto.

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Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representa

2 tives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

3 That this Act may be cited as the "Deep Seabed Mineral

4 Resources Act".

FINDINGS AND PURPOSES

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SEC. 2. (a) FINDINGS. — The Congress finds that,

(1) the United States requirements for hard minerals to satisfy national industrial and security needs will continue to expand and that the demand for such min

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erals will increasingly exceed the available domestic

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sources of supply;

(2) the United States is dependent upon foreign sources of supply for certain hard minerals and that the acquisition of such minerals from foreign sources is a significant adverse factor in the national balance-of-payments position;

(3) the present and future national security and economic interests of the United States require the availability of hard mineral resources which are independent of the export policies of foreign nations;

(4) an alternate source of supply of certain hard minerals significant in relation to national needs, including nickel, copper, cobalt, and manganese, is contained

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in the nodules which are found in great abundance on

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the deep seabed;

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(5) major deposits of such nodules have been proven to exist in areas of the deep seabed which are

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seaward of the limits of national resource jurisdiction

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recognized by international law;

(6) various mining companies are engaged in developing the technology necessary for the commercial recovery and processing of such nodules ;

(7) given the necessary investment climate, United

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States mining companies are prepared to undertake pro

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