Category: Policy News

(Click to enlarge) U.S. Coast Guard. (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Operating On A Shoestring

In the dead of night, Aviation Survival Technician 2nd Class Darren Harrity swam steadily through 57-degree water, fighting five-foot waves and 30 mph winds. After a hoisting mechanism malfunctioned during a search-and-rescue operation, the rescue swimmer was forced to make four trips to pull as many men 250 yards to shore. His story was highlighted by Mr. John Acton (Chairman, Coast Guard Affairs Committee, Navy League of the United States) during a hearing reviewing U.S. Coast Guard infrastructure, improvements, and funding before the House Transportation and Infrastructure, Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation.

FEMA's Technical Mapping Advisory Council makes recommendations on flood maps. (Credit: Walter Jennings/Wikipedia)

Committee Picks Up Flood Insurance Reauthorization

If there was one thing Republicans and Democrats easily agreed on this week, it’s that being $24.6 billion in debt is no way to operate. In a hearing preparing for the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program, legislators on the House Financial Services Committee proposed changes to the program to help it gain sounder financial ground.

Aerial Photograph Of Palm Beach Proper, which is endangered by sea-level rise. (Credit: Michael Kagdis/Proper Media Group)

“Mother Nature Doesn’t Belong To A Party”

While most people acknowledge climate change as a significant issue, many do not realize the looming threat it poses to our national security. For many military experts, it’s a risk as pressing as nuclear weapons or terrorism, dramatically altering “the very geostrategic landscape in which the U.S. military operates” (Military Expert Panel Center for Climate and Security Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission). The Department of Defense (DOD) considers climate change a “threat multiplier,” amplifying instability by worsening stressors like food and water scarcity, poverty, and social tensions, which can drive political upheaval and threaten global stability, creating a security threat at home and abroad.

On Thursday, President Trump decided that the U.S. would leave the Paris climate agreement. (Credit: Moyan Brenn, Flickr)

Paris Climate Agreement: What It Means That Trump Is Leaving And What The World Will Look Like Because Of It

Now that President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Paris Agreement on climate change on Thursday, here’s what you need to know about the international effort and how the decision could impact the environment. The Paris Agreement is a deal reached between 195 countries to gradually reduce emissions that cause climate change in order to prevent a major increase in the global temperatures that could raise sea levels, spark major droughts, and lead to more dangerous storms.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed two bipartisan bills. (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

May’s Legislative Roundup

May brought with it the enactment of a bill seven months in the making — the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (H.R. 244). While there was not much movement of science-related bills on the chamber floors, members introduced a flurry of new legislation relevant to the ocean science and technology community.

Committee members highlight importance of geosciences, funding, and correct statistics on scientific integrity from previous hearing.

Advancing Understanding At NSF

The National Science Foundation (NSF) works with some impressive numbers. They receive over 50,000 research proposals each year, support 392,000 people, and have funded 223 Nobel Prize winners. Here’s a less impressive number – a proposed 11 percent decrease (totaling $776 million) in their budget for the coming fiscal year.

Platforms Ellen and Elly offshore near Long Beach, Calif in BSEE’s Pacific Region. Ellen (right) is a production platform connected by a walkway to Platform Elly (left), a processing platform for both Ellen and another platform, Eureka. (Credit: BSEE)

Administration Appoints New Director Of Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke tapped former Louisiana state official Mr. Scott Angelle to run the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), which is responsible for fostering safe and responsible energy production on the outer continental shelf. BSEE came into existence in 2011 following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill; Mr. Angelle will be only the fourth director in its short history.

Coast Guardsmen use a flat-bottom boat to assist residents during severe flooding around Baton Rouge, LA on Aug. 14, 2016. (Credit: Petty Officer 3rd Class Brandon Giles/Coast Guard)

Coast Guard And FEMA Bills On The Move

While most eyes last week were on news from the White House – the president’s budget request – Congress was still at work moving bills of its own. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed two bipartisan bills – the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2518) and the FEMA Reauthorization Act of 2017 (H.R. 2548).

The EPA and its regulations that protect human and environmental health are under scrutiny. (Credit: Peter Kratochvil/PublicDomainPictures.net)

States, Science, And The EPA

Early last week amidst the anticipated unveiling of the president’s budget proposal, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment discussed an equally contentious and ongoing topic – regulations promulgated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Arguments during the hearing echoed those heard before; committee Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) stated federal government regulations micromanage states and theorized a “unilateral environmental agenda,” while Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (OR-1) insisted they provide an even playing field for all Americans and are a response to “failure of the states to safeguard their residents from pollution in the from air, water, and soil.”

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to examine this overhead cost of federally-funded science research at universities (Credit: Getty Images)

The Indirect Costs Of Research

Science is hard enough, now imagine pipetting in the dark or using a microscope for advanced research that’s better suited for a fourth-grade class. To cover the “indirect” costs of doing federally-funded research, such as paying for laboratory bills, disposing of hazardous waste, and complying with federal regulations, each university and the government determine an overhead rate for research projects. Last week, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing to examine this overhead cost of federally-funded science research at universities.