U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen endorses ocean exploration

Congresswoman slams plans to close undersea lab

Published On: Aug 05 2012 08:34:58 AM EDT   Updated On: Sep 13 2012 02:01:01 PM EDT
fish at Great Barrier Reef, Australia
MIAMI -

A South Florida congresswoman says the government's plan to end manned ocean exploration will cause "irreparable damage to vital ocean investigations."

U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., met with the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration this week to discuss funding options for Aquarius. The undersea lab in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has allowed scientists to live and work underwater for days at a time.

After meeting with NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ros-Lehtinen said neither the agency's nor the White House's budgets include funding for Aquarius.

Ros-Lehtinen said remote research takes the humanity out of science. But she also said she was encouraged that Lubchenco will explore other funding for Aquarius.

A private foundation also is raising money to keep the lab running.