President Trump signed an executive order Tuesday that he said would streamline the approval process for building infrastructure such as roads, bridges and offices by eliminating a planning step related to climate change and flood dangers. Speaking in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Trump said that the approval process for projects was “badly broken” and that the nation’s infrastructure was a “massive self-inflicted wound on our country.” Trump said that “no longer” would there be “one job-killing delay after another” for new projects. But he did not provide any proposal on how his much-promised infrastructure program would be financed or what it would include.
Category: Policy News
The Pentagon has released its long-anticipated report detailing plans to restructure the organizations that manage acquisition and technology research for the Department of Defense. The so-called Section 901 report, officially titled “Restructuring the Department of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Organization and Chief Management Officer Organization,” was delivered to Congress on Aug. 1.
The Trump administration on Tuesday chose not to list the Pacific bluefin tuna as an endangered species, rejecting a petition by the largest global conservation group that the U.S. is a member of, with France, South Korea, Australia, and several other countries. The Commerce Department’s National Marine Fisheries Service announced the decision after a 12-month review of the request that started under the Obama administration.
A climate report based on work conducted by scientists in 13 federal agencies is under active review at the White House, and its conclusions about the far-reaching damage already occurring from global warming are at odds with the Trump administration’s views. The report, known as the Climate Science Special Report, finds it is “extremely likely” that more than half of the rise in temperatures over the past four decades has been caused by human activity — in contrast to Trump Cabinet members’ views that the mag nitude of that contribution is uncertain.
Making science-based decisions requires data and information. Ocean and coastal policies and management decisions also require current and robust observations and monitoring. All three bipartisan bills will advance monitoring and research of the ocean, Great Lakes, and fisheries through grants, linking programs (ICOOS and FOARAM) and topics (ocean observations with sound and with economy), and by updating important indices.
Despite broad agreement that the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (MSA) has worked incredibly well – currently, 90 percent of U.S. stocks fall below their annual catch limits, making the U.S. a world leader in fisheries management – there was disagreement on how to update the law to make it as effective as possible.
Nothing in COL’s legislative tracker was signed into law this month, but several items did pass out of committee, the House, or the Senate. Notably, the Save Our Seas Act of 2017 (S.756) passed the Senate with unanimous consent last week. The legislation (and its counterpart in the House (H.R. 2748)) reauthorizes and amends the Marine Debris Act (P.L. 109-332) “to promote international action to reduce marine debris.”
Dry weather continues to be problematic for Western states, and climate change predictions indicate droughts will only worsen. The president’s budget request for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 proposes funding cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by 16 percent – and the proposed four percent decrease to the agency’s National Weather Service would challenge the program. The National Weather Service plays a crucial role in understanding drought patterns, preparing communities for limited water availability, and helping scientists understand the changing climate. Stakeholders say forecasting research and technology innovations are key to future preparedness.
On Thursday, the House passed an appropriations “minibus” (H.R. 3219) in a mostly-partisan 235-192 vote. The minibus combines the Department of Defense, Military Construction and Veterans Affairs, Energy and Water, and Legislative Branch appropriations bills; Appropriations Committee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11) said the package “ensure[s] the safety of the homeland and the American people.” An effort from several Democrats, led by Representative Chellie Pingree (ME-1), to reverse the National Ocean Policy implementation funding prohibition was rejected 192-235.
Eight million tons of plastic enter the ocean each year – and in total, the amount already in existence outweighs each human by ten to one (approximately the same as a cow or female giraffe), according to Dr. Melissa Duhaime (Assistant Professor, University of Michigan). At a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard, lawmakers explored efforts to tackle marine debris in the ocean and Great Lakes. Marine debris refers to any kind of discarded human litter, including derelict fishing equipment; sunken vessels; and trash from fabrics, metal, cardboard, or other substances, but the most abundant – and problematic – form is plastic.