University of Delaware Library

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Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

See below for collection citation and reference information.

I.B.2. Committee Work -- Merchant Marine and Fisheries, 1983-1992

+ Series I.B.2. -- Scope and Content Note
+ Series I.B.2. -- Contents List

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 committee responsibilities.

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 nation's deficit.

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.

+ Contents List for Series I.B.2. Committee Work--Merchant Marine and Fisheries

+ Return to Index Page for Thomas R. Carper Congressional Papers

+ Guide to Other Political Papers at the University of Delaware Library

+ Return to List of Manuscript Finding Aids by Title

citation and reference information:

Thomas R. Carper
Congressional Papers

1979 - 1993
(bulk dates 1982 - 1992)

Manuscript Collection Number: 399
Accessioned: Gift of Thomas R. Carper, 1992, 1998-1999
Extent: 84 linear ft. and oversize material
Content: Legislation, correspondence, reports, documents and publications, memoranda, speeches, photographs, audio-visual material, newsletters, news clippings, and ephemera.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: November 1997 - December 1999 by Rebecca J. Altermatt with assistance from Rob Costello; edited by L. Rebecca Johnson Melvin.

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