Extent: 6.5 linear ft.
Boxes: 21 - 27
Contents: Correspondence, memoranda, meeting notes, floor statements, memos, drafts of bills
and amendments, final versions of bills, published testimonies, published reports, and clippings.
Arrangement: Arranged by general Merchant Marine and Fisheries (MMF) Committee topics,
followed by issues dealt with in the two subcommittees: Coast Guard and Navigation, and
Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the Environment. Arranged alphabetically by topic and
chronologically within. Most files were arranged in reverse chronological order and this original
filing order has been preserved. Issues that consist of extensive groups of files, such as Oil Spills
and Pollution, Ocean Dumping, and Ocean Incineration have been maintained as separate groups
within the series. Issues that fell under jurisdiction of both of Carper's subcommittees, such as
Oil Spill and Ocean Dumping legislation, are listed under the general committee issues.
The bulk of these committee files were maintained by Christophe Tulou, the legislative
assistant who covered MMF committee work as well as other environmental issues for Carper
from 1983-1991. Unlike the majority of the series in the Carper Papers, this is one of the few file
series in the collection that is documented from the beginning of Carper's tenure in Congress
until the end. Carper chaired the Subcommittee on Economic Stabilization of the Banking,
Finance and Urban Affairs Committee in 1991-1992, and Tulou became his legislative staff
member for that subcommittee. At that time, LA John Baker took over Tulou's MMF issue and
Significant topics in this series include Oil Spills and Pollution, Ocean Dumping and
Ocean Incineration, and the Comprehensive Environmental Response Compensation and
Liability Act (CERCLA), or Superfund, as it was more commonly known.
Legislation to address ocean dumping, known formally as the Marine Protection,
Research and Sanctuaries Act (MPRSA), was a major issue during Carper's first term in
Congress in 1983. The Oceanography and Fisheries and Wildlife Conservation and the
Environment Subcommittee, of which Carper was a member, worked on this legislation. Carper
introduced two bills pertaining to MPRSA in November of 1983: H.R. 4491, a bill to impose a
user fee to cover processing costs of ocean dumping permits, and H.R. 4492, a bill to prohibit
dumping of sewage sludge into the ocean. Delaware, with its extensive ocean coastline, opposed
ocean dumping of harmful wastes which could eventually wash up on the Delaware beaches --
major tourist attractions and sources of revenue for many Delawareans.
The crux of the Ocean Incineration predicament centered around the New York Bight
dumping area and New York City's unwillingness to stop ocean dumping of waste altogether.
Carper and other members of Congress advocated complete cessation of dumping, a position
mandated with a 1981 deadline from the MPRSA amendment. New York City was successful in
obtaining several extensions, arguing that it would be too costly for them to switch to land-based
dumping or incineration methods. The Bight, a recreational and fishing area twelve miles off the
shore of New York State in the Atlantic Ocean, had been used as a dumping site since 1924. An
alternate site in use since the 1930s, 106 miles off the coast of New Jersey and Delaware, was
proposed in lieu of dumping at the Bight area. Termination dates for dumping at the twelve-mile
Bight site as far back as 1983 had been set, but during each successive Congress these dates were
pushed back as New York City was continually granted extensions. The city argued that
alternative means of getting rid of waste, including building waste water treatment plants or
spreading land sludge would be expensive and put an unnecessary financial burden on the
citizens of New York City. The 106-mile site was no better alternative to Carper. New Jersey
had contended with waste washing up on its shores for several years, prompting beach closings in
the 1980s, and Carper did not want this to become a reality for Delaware beaches. In addition,
Carper cited Philadelphia's success at ending ocean dumping as further example of a large city's
ability to find alternative disposal methods.
Oil incineration and ocean dumping are two closely related topics but the staff maintained
very separate and extensive files on each of these topics. Oil spill files contain hearings,
legislation, speeches, clippings, and research documents concerning oil spills in the Delaware
River. They have been put in chronological order. This issue fell under the jurisdiction of both
of Carper's subcommittees, Coast Guard and Navigation, and Fisheries and Wildlife
Conservation and the Environment. The former committee addressed clean up and response to
spills, and the latter environmental concerns and crises caused by spills.
Information on the Grand Eagle, Exxon-Valdez and Presidente Rivera 1989 spills is
included in this series. These oil spills prompted passage of bills that specified which parties
should be responsible for the clean up of oil spills and advocated double hulling of ships. Even
though one of the subcommittees on which Carper served might have had jurisdiction over part
of legislation concerning these larger issues, since the final reports came directly from the MMF
Committee, they have been filed under the general files of the MMF series.
In the 99th Congress (1985), Carper was appointed to the Congressional Task Force on
Toxic Emergencies, partially in response to oil pollution liability issues. This appointment and
Carper's activities are documented in the files relating to Comprehensive Environmental
Response Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA), or the more common name,
Superfund, which are located in Series I.C.11. Issue Files -- Energy and the Environment.
The Waste Reduction Clearinghouse Act of 1987 was a bill sponsored by Congressman
Carper and Senator Joseph P. Biden, Jr.. The bill's purpose was to facilitate exchange of
information on technologies to reduce hazardous waste via the establishment of a Waste
Reduction Clearinghouse. Other significant file groups include weakfish legislation, which
Carper introduced in 1992. Providing for the conservation and management of weakfish,
Carper's H.R. 288 was modeled after earlier bills on striped bass conservation and management
along the Atlantic coastline. Other important issues for Delaware included wetlands, fisheries
management, and Delaware estuaries and bays. More information on these issues can be found
in Series I.D. Regional Issues Files.
As a member of the Coast Guard and Navigation Subcommittee, Carper worked on issues
such as user fees for recreational boaters, oil spill response team clean-up responsibility, oil spill
liability, and commercial fishing industry vessel safety. The Coast Guard was part of both the
Department of Transportation and Department of Defense during wartime, and Carper believed
that it should be funded to the fullest extent possible, but not at the expense of increasing the
In 1995, the Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee was absorbed into the Committee
on Resources. The Coast Guard is now under the jurisdiction of the Committee on
Transportation and Infrastructure.