ONW: Week of March 31, 2014 – Number 233

2016-06-28T19:29:59+00:00 April 4, 2014|

Congressional News

CONGRESSIONAL CALENDAR

CONGRESSIONAL CALENDAR

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
10:00 AM
1324 Longworth Bldg.

House Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing on Endangered Species Act amendments (H.R. 4315, H.R. 4316, H.R. 4317, and H.R. 4318).

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
2:00 PM
1324 Longworth Bldg.

Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs of the House Natural Resources Committee will hold a legislative hearing regarding the John H. Chafee Coastal Barrier Resources System (CBRS) (H.R. 187, H.R. 277, H.R. 1810, H.R. 1811, H.R. 2057, H.R. 3226, H.R. 3227, H.R. 3572, and H.R. 4222).

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
2:15 PM
222 Russell Bldg.

Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing on the role of the Department of Defense science and technology enterprise for innovation and affordability in review of the FY 2015 Defense Authorization Request and the Future Years Defense Program.

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
9:15 AM

Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of Senate Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing on proposed fiscal 2015 appropriations for the EPA.

More information on this hearing can be found here

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
2:00 PM
H-309 Capitol

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of House Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on proposed fiscal 2015 appropriations for the Department of Commerce.

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014
2:30 PM
253 Russell Bldg

The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation will hold an executive session to consider legislation and nomination including S.2030 – the National Sea Grant College Program Amendments Act of 2014

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Thursday, April 10, 2014
1:00 PM
B-308 Rayburn Bldg.

Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of House Appropriations Committee will hold hearings on proposed FY 2015 appropriations for agencies, programs and activities under its jurisdiction (Public and Outside Witness Hearing).

More information on this hearing can be found here.

 


Ocean Leadership submits testimony to house appropriations subcommittee

President and CEO, Dr. Robert Gagosian, provided testimony to the House Appropriations Committee on behalf of Consortium for Ocean Leadership, addressing the FY 2015 federal science budget for National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The testimony outlines the role of ocean science in addressing climate change, prioritizes funding for basic research at NSF and earth sciences at NASA, and addresses needed resources for NOAA’s education programs.

View past testimony here


Weather forecasting improvement act Passes House

The House of Representatives passed legislation this week that would prioritize weather-related activities at NOAA in order to strengthen weather predictions and to better inform the public of extreme weather events. The House passed the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013 (H.R. 2413) by voice vote. The bill aims to redirect resources at NOAA to a “focused program of investment on near-term, affordable, and attainable advances in observational, computing, and modeling capabilities” to improve forecasting of extreme weather events. The original bill stated that NOAA make weather-related activities a “top priority,” but after a change in language the final bill stipulates that NOAA “shall prioritize” weather-related activities. Although NOAA scientists won’t be prohibited from studying climate patterns, they would be required to “prioritize weather-related activities” in their work.  Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) stated “During the committee process we heard from witness after witness who stressed that weather forecasting involves many different scientific disciplines, and this integrated, multi-disciplinary approach reflects an understanding that we cannot choose to strengthen one area of research at the Office of Oceans and Atmospheric Research (OAR) without endangering the progress in the other areas because they are all interconnected.  Physical and chemical laws do not respect OAR’s budgeting boundaries of climate, weather, and oceans and this bill only addresses organizational issues in weather at NOAA.”

In December of last year, Consortium for Ocean Leadership delivered a letter to Senate Commerce Committee Members emphasizing how the ocean influences weather and storms. The letter also encouraged Members to increase “longer-term sustained observations of both the ocean and the atmosphere.”


House PASSES BILLs TO CLEAN UP TSUNAMI DEBRIS

The House of Representatives passed two bills this week that would help West Coast states remove marine debris from the tsunami that caused the Fukashima Daiichi nuclear plant meltdown.  H.R. 1491, would allow NOAA to refund states for the cost of tsunami cleanup using $5 million donated by Japan.  H.R.1425, would allow NOAA to prioritize grant applications from communities facing severe marine debris events.  Both bills were included as part of a larger package of legislation approved by the House.  “The 2011 tsunami that struck Japan continues to threaten Oregon’s coastal areas by bringing debris and non-native species into delicate ecosystems.” said Representative Bonamici (D-OR) “Many residents in my district rely on our beaches and waterways to earn a living. Oregon’s coastal areas are already suffering from the effects of invasive marine organisms, which compete with, prey on, and crowd out native plants and animals. The introduction of additional aquatic invasive species into our coastal ecosystems could be devastating. This legislation ensures that in the future, coastal communities in Oregon and wherever there is a marine debris emergency will be able to access critical resources to fund timely clean-up and recovery operations in tsunami related environmental emergencies.”


FY 2015 Funding Hearings

Several hearings regarding the fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget occurred this week and will continue throughout the Spring.  When pressed about lack of funding, most agency representatives highlighted the President’s Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative, which Congress is unlikely to include in its appropriations measures.


National Science foundation

The Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing on the President’s FY 2015 budget request for the National Science Foundation (NSF). President Obama is proposing $7.255 billion for the science agency, an increase of $83.08 million (1.2 percent) over the FY 2014 enacted level. Dr. Cora Marrett, Acting Director, said that given the current funding constraints, the FY 2015 request “provides robust support for core programs in fundamental research and education in all fields of science and engineering.” Marrett pointed to the $552 million proposed through the Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (OGSI) for NSF, as a means to promote current programs and future opportunities. Chairman Frank Wolf [R-VA] expressed concern over the lack of research and development investment, noting that the US is falling behind other countries like China. Marrett said that although we still are ahead in terms of science and international competitiveness, our rate of progress is trailing. This prompted Wolf to inquire about the increase of STEM education spending and priority. According to Marrett, STEM education is a high priority for NSF, especially in FY 2015, and the President’s request proposes to add 2,000 additional graduate fellowships, as well as a larger stipend for fellows. Ranking Member Chaka Fattah [D-PA] and Representative Andy Harris [R-MD] stressed the need for continued investment in basic research and its ability to operate as an engine for major scientific breakthroughs.

More information on this hearing can be found here.

NSF funding charts for FY 2015 can be found here.    


Office of Science and Technology Policy (Science agencies)

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee received testimony from John Holdren, Director of White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, on the President’s FY 2015 budget request for federal science agencies. President Obama’s FY 2015 proposal of $66 billion for nondefense science programs was scrutinized by Committee Republicans who feel the administration is spending too much money, time, and effort on climate change. Holdren is optimistic for the President’s $56 billion Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative (OGSI) and hopes it will fund additional priorities that could not be met by the FY 2015 request. Chairman Lamar Smith [R-TX] criticized the fact that the administration proposed only $13 billion in total for the Office of Science, NSF and NIST, while the Bush administration proposed $13.3 billion in today’s dollars for the same three agencies.  Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson [D-TX] noted that Obama had to operate within a $1.4 trillion spending cap, something Bush did not face. Johnson also asked Holdren to elaborate on the impacts of social and behavioral sciences, which takes a huge cut in the FIRST Act, introduced by Smith.  Holdren noted the documented benefits of social science to society such as risk communication and communicating geographic information systems. Smith also probed the NSF grant process and asked if awardees should be required to submit justification for their research in order to deem it worthy of funding. Holdren said NSF now has new guidelines on transparency and posts all grant justification on its website. Representative Donna Edwards [D-MD] encouraged her colleagues to look beyond the titles for grants and to review the justifications.

More information on this hearing can be found here.

Science funding charts for FY 2015 can be found here.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Subcommittee on Space of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held a hearing to review the FY 2015 President’s budget request for NASA. The Committee discussed international partnerships, space exploration initiatives, and funding for planetary science programs.  Representative Suzanne Bonamici [D-OR] expressed her wish to prioritize an increased funding for Earth sciences to help understand climate change. Bonamici also encouraged NASA Administrator, Charles Bolden to continue working with other agencies like NOAA to better utilize weather-monitoring technology. The Committee also discussed NASA’s proposal to end the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) in FY 2015. 

More information on this hearing can be found here.

NASA science funding charts for FY 2015 can be found here.    


Department of Defense (Science and Technology Programs)

The Intelligence, Emerging Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee held a hearing to review the President’s FY 2015 budget request for Department of Defense’s science and technology programs. Ranking Member Jim Langevin [D-RI] expressed confusion with the decrease in the national defense education programs and expressed a need for robust STEM education. Witnesses countered the concern by informing Committee Members that DOD supports science efforts in other agencies rather than housing them within their own programs. Representative Susan Davis [D-CA] recommended that the America COMPETES Act be reauthorized expediently in order to further promote STEM. 

More information on this hearing can be found here.

DOD and Navy RDT&E funding charts for FY 2015 can be found here.    


United States Army Corps of engineers

The Energy and Water Development Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations held a hearing to review the President’s FY 2015 budget request for the Army Corps of Engineers. The FY 2015 budget request by the Administration for the Corps of Engineers is approximately $4.5 billion.  This request is less than what was requested in previous budgets and almost 20 percent less than what was appropriated by Congress for FY 2014. Ranking Member Marcy Kaptur [D-OH] addressed the need for funding to reduce invasive species, such as the growing Asian Carp population in the Great Lakes. The recent Obama Administration proposal to clarify which waters receive protection under the Clean Water Act was also discussed. Appropriators warned Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works Jo-Ellen Darcy, that acquiring the funds to enforce the proposed ruling would be difficult.

More information on this hearing can be found here

The Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held their own hearing to review the President’s FY 2014 budget request for the Corps. Chairman Bob Gibbs [R-OH] expressed concern over the budgets lack of “funding for construction of shore protection projects nationwide.” Gibbs also pointed to “an ecosystem restoration construction budget that is three times larger than its coastal navigation construction budget.” He suggested slowing environmental restoration projects until the economy improves. Representative John Garamendi [D-CA] added that ecosystem restoration projects are lifesaving, such as the Hamilton City project which sets back the Sacramento River levee create habitat and flood protection for the area.

More information on this hearing can be found here.


Department of interior

The Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee held a hearing to discuss the President’s FY 15 budget request for the Department of Interior (DOI). President Obama has proposed $11.9 billion in appropriations for the Department, 2.4 percent above current enacted levels. The proposed 2.4 percent increase discussed in the hearing includes an increase in the Department’s firefighting budget, full and permanent funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, National Park Service funding, and an increase in youth education and employment programs.

More information on this hearing can be found here.


Environmental Protection Agency

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held an oversight hearing on the President’s FY 15 budget request for the EPA. Chairwoman Barbara Boxer [D-CA] voiced concern over proposed cuts to the Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds and the Diesel Emissions Reduction grant program, which she believes are critical to protecting public health. Even so, Committee Democrats were optimistic about EPA’s climate change priorities, especially the outlined funding for risk and adaptation planning. Nonetheless, the climate change debate continued between Committee Republicans and Democrats.

More information on this hearing can be found here.

The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Subcommittee of the House Committee on Appropriations held their own hearing to review the President’s FY 2015 budget request for the agency. Chairman Hal Rogers [R-KY] expressed concern over a newly proposed rule from the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers that would place a number of streams and the wetlands under federal jurisdiction.

More information on this hearing can be found here.


NOAA’s National Ocean Service holds Constituent briefing on FY 2015 Budget

Dr. Holly Bamford, Assistant Administrator of the National Ocean Service (NOS) opened a constituent briefing last Tuesday at the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, saying that “science is the underpinning of what we do” at NOS. The FY 2015 president’s budget request for NOS is $519 million, including priorities for coastal intelligence; place based conservation, and coastal preparedness, response, recovery, and resiliency. Highlights from the budget include an additional $4 million for LiDAR programs, $5 million to increase capacity to respond to extreme events, $5 million in coastal resilience grants, $4 million for ecological forecasting, $6 million for coastal ecosystem research and development, $1.3 million for Arctic oil spill preparedness, $1 million for marine sensor innovation, and $6 million in National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science competitive research. There were also cuts to several programs, including  $3.8 million for disaster response, $2 million for marine sanctuaries, $4 million for geospatial modeling, and a proposal to close the Pivers Island Lab in Beaufort, North Carolina.

More information on the NOAA FY 2015 Budget is available here.


OCEAN Caucus Holds Briefing on ILLEGAL, UNREPORTED, AND UNREGULATED (IUU) Fishing

On Wednesday, the Oceans Caucus Foundation held a workshop discussing illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing. Opening remarks were made by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse [D-RI], who is a co-sponsor of the International Fisheries Stewardship and Enforcement Act (S. 267). This bill, along with the Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing Enforcement Act (H.R. 69) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) Port State Agreement, attempts to address illegal fishing. IUU threats to national security, the livelihood of legal US fishermen, and ocean health were discussed.   Panelist Dr. Jean-Pierre Pie, acting director of international affairs at NOAA Fisheries, explained that IUU fish are not accounted for in scientific stock assessments. The lack of data on fisheries in developing countries was stressed by Tania Taranovski, director of the sustainable seafood program at the New England Aquarium, who also recommended increases in seafood sustainability research. Dr. Kausch Arha, member of the International Conservation Caucus Foundation, ended the workshop by stating that although progress is being made, “compared to what we do on the terrestrial side, we are still a long way away.”

More information on this briefing can be found here.


BOB DETRICK, ASSISTANT ADMINISTRATOR OF OAR TO LEAVE NOAA END OF APRIL

Bob Detrick, Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) announced that he will be leaving the agency at the end of this month. Detrick will serve as the new President and Chief Executive Officer of Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), a consortium of over 100 research universities in the U.S. dedicated to advancing research and education in seismology. Detrick was named OAR’s Assistant Administrator in January 2012. Prior to joining NOAA, Detrick was Director of the National Science Foundation’s Division of Earth Sciences. He joined NSF in 2008 following more than 20 years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI).