Category: Policy News

The Department of Energy will honor "all" funding commitments. (Credit: DOE)

DOE Agency Will Honor ‘All’ Funding Commitments

The Department of Energy told its program offices yesterday that it would honor “all” funding commitments for “previously obligated” grants and cooperative agreements. The announcement — sent via memo to DOE officials — comes amid high anxiety about the future of DOE research programs.

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

Two Days After Averting Government Shutdown, Congress Releases Omnibus Spending Bill

Seven months into Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 and Congress (in what has become a too-common pattern) passed a week-long continuing resolution (CR), H.J.Res.99, to keep the federal government open while they scrambled to put the finishing touches on an omnibus spending bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the fiscal year. Congress has until midnight on May 5 to approve the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2017 (H.R. 244), which consists of the 11 unfinished FY 2017 appropriations bills. The omnibus, which was released at 2am Monday morning, provides $1.07 trillion in base spending for FY 2017 ($1.16 trillion including Overseas Contingency Operations funding).

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science passed their FY 2017 bill by voice vote (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Marching Through April: This Month’s Ocean And Science Related Legislation

The big science story of the month was the March for Science on Earth Day, during which droves of lab-coated scientists and allies across scientific disciplines took to the streets around the globe in support of science and evidence-based decision making. Congress was busy as well, despite a two-week spring recess. Upon their return to session, H.Res.273 was immediately introduced to recognize the principles and goals of the March for Science and to show support for evidence-based policymaking; scientific research; and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education — adding to a list of science legislation that was introduced or moved through the chambers this month.

The U.S. Navy base in Norfolk, Virginia, is one of the many U.S. military bases located on the coast. (Credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott/Wikipedia)

Why The Military Plans For Climate Change

In a world where terrorism and nuclear arms races abound, many Americans don’t link climate change and national security. However, military leaders want you to know that changing climate conditions do pose a threat to our nation — as they acknowledged in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review — and that we can’t prepare properly for its effects without knowing more about the ocean and atmosphere. In a joint briefing Thursday held by the Center for Climate Security and the American Security Project, “Climate Change and the Risks to National Security,” senior military and national security experts Vice Admiral Dennis McGinn, USN (Ret.), Brigadier General Stephen Cheney, USMC (Ret.), and Brigadier General David McGinnis, USA (Ret.) discussed how climate change effectively alters the environment in which the military operates.

During a briefing for stakeholders on the President’s FY 2017 budget request for NOAA’s National Ocean Service (NOS), the office highlighted a planned expansion of the Regional Coastal Resilience Grants. (Credit: NOAA's National Ocean Service)

Ocean Studies Board Holds 87th Meeting

The 87th meeting of the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board hosted many distinguished ocean leaders. Moderated by Susan Roberts, Ocean Studies Board Director, the meeting participants spent two days discussing our ocean’s future. The last panel, Ocean Priorities for 2017, was moderated by RADM Jon White (ret.), President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership. White opened by citing the current renaissance in ocean science. He named a few blossoming fields within marine studies where new strides are being made, such as understanding the ocean’s role in national security, recovering reefs, monitoring IUU fishing, and improving food safety. Referring to COL’s National Ocean Sciences Bowl, White suggested high school students learning ocean science are building “a dynamic future workforce centering on the betterment of our environment by focusing on ocean data.”

Aerial view of braided wetlands and tundra that is typical in the pristine Bristol Bay region. (Credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)

Woes With WOTUS

As Finding Nemo taught us, “All drains lead to the ocean.” This truth extends beyond drains; however – all rivers, tributaries, streams, and ponds eventually lead to the ocean, bringing with them every pollutant and contaminant they carry. The management of these waters and who has jurisdiction over them is a subject of contention under the Clean Water Rule: Definition of ‘‘Waters of the United States’’ (commonly referred to as WOTUS), which was discussed in a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.

Big Sur coastline, part of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Credit: NOAA/Wikipedia Commons)

Trump Signs Executive Order On Offshore Drilling And Marine Sanctuaries

President Trump signed an executive order Friday that aims to expand offshore drilling for oil and gas, in a move welcomed by the oil and gas industry and greeted with alarm by environmental groups. “Renewed offshore energy production will reduce the cost of energy, create countless new jobs, and make America more secure and far more energy independent,” Trump said before signing the document. He said previous restrictions on exploration and production deprive the U.S. of “potentially thousands and thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in wealth.” The order directs Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to review a five-year plan in which President Obama banned drilling in parts of the Pacific, Arctic, and Atlantic Oceans.

The Fiscal Year 2017 spending bill was signed into law last week. (Credit: The White House)

Trump Order Could Roll Back Public Lands Protections From 3 Presidents

The order, which Trump signed at the Interior Department, could lead to the reshaping of 24 national monuments, including Grand Canyon-Parashant National Monument, Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and Basin and Range National Monument, as well as a host of Pacific Ocean monuments, including the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a new advisory board be established to "root out bad behavior" in research. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

U.s. Report Calls For Research Integrity Board

The U.S. research community needs to do a better job of both investigating misconduct allegations and promoting ethical conduct—or the government might act unilaterally in ways that scientists won’t like. (From Science / By...

Hurricane Jeanne affected countries around the world, including the U.S. (Credit: Kakela/Flickr)

Congress Sends Weather Forecasting Bill To The White House

After a slew of contentious hearings and controversial bills last week, there was finally something upon which both members of Congress and scientists could agree– two decades is too long to wait for updated legislation on weather radar. Yet the last major weather bill was passed in the 1990s, and some cities are still not receiving timely, critical information needed to prepare for disasters.