United States Congress passed the Ocean Thermal Energy Converstion Act of 1980 to promote the development of ocean thermal energy conversion (OTEC), an alternate source of energy with the potential to minimize dependence on foreign sources of oil. The Act gave the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) the authority to license the construction, ownership, location, and commercial operations of OTEC facilities. Under the Act, OTEC facilities are not required to obtain leases or pay royalties to the federal government, a provision intended to encourage commercial development of the energy source.
The Act gave the U.S. Coast Guard the responsibility of ensuring safe construction and operation of OTEC facilities, preventing pollution, cleaning up any discharged pollutants, and ensuring that the discharged pollutions did not change the thermal gradient of the ocean region. Due to relatively low fossil fuel prices and the high perceived risk of investing in new technology, NOAA had not received any license applications as of 1998.
- Ocean Energy and Minerals: Resources for the Future (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)