Register Now! March 8, 2017

Nomination hearings for Department of Transportation and Defense secretaries reveal support for technological innovation, maritime infrastructure, and U.S. Presence in the Arctic. (Credit: Architect of the Capitol)

Smooth Sailing And Bipartisan Support For Transportation and Defense Secretaries

The Capitol was abuzz this week with the first nomination hearings for President-elect Donald Trump’s cabinet. While many of these spurred contentious debate, Ms. Elaine Chao, nominee for secretary of the Department of Transportation and cabinet veteran of both Bush administrations (deputy transportation secretary and secretary of labor), did not face significant opposition in Wednesday’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee.

The budget resolution provides a spending blueprint for federal agencies while taking aim at the affordable care act. (Credit: Pexels)

Congress Creates Plan For Next Decade Of Federal Spending

With the future of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) dominating congressional news this week, one important tidbit might have slipped by – Congress passed a budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 3) that would increase the deficit by $9 trillion from Fiscal Years (FY) 2018-2026.

Six new areas have been added to the California Coastal National Monument from Santa Cruz County to Orange County. (Credit: Wikimedia commons)

Obama Adds Six Sites To California Coastal National Monument

President Obama on Thursday added six areas to the California Coastal National Monument, including a prized parcel on the Santa Cruz County coast and some small islands off the coast of Orange County. All of the sites, totaling 6,230 acres, are currently managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The monument designation adds another layer of protection by closing the areas to new development, such as gas and oil drilling.

BOEM denied six pending permits for seismic surveys in the Atlantic Ocean. (Credit: International Association of Geophysical Contractors)

BOEM Denies Airgun Seismic Surveys In Atlantic From Virginia To Florida

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has denied six pending permits for airgun seismic surveys in Atlantic Ocean planning areas from Virginia to Florida, pleasing conservationists and irritating industry groups. In announcing the decision Friday, BOEM Director Abigail Ross Hopper said there was no immediate need for such tests now that the Atlantic Program Area was removed last year from President Barack Obama’s Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022. She said the move was also based on an “abundance of caution.” “We believe that the value of obtaining the geophysical and geological information from new airgun seismic surveys in the Atlantic does not outweigh the potential risks of those surveys’ acoustic pulse impacts on marine life,” Hopper said in a statement.

President Obama Authors Science Article on Clean Energy and Climate Change. (Credit: Dept. of Energy)

The Irreversible Momentum Of Clean Energy

The release of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) due to human activity is increasing global average surface air temperatures, disrupting weather patterns, and acidifying the ocean (1). Left unchecked, the continued growth of GHG emissions could cause global average temperatures to increase by another 4°C or more by 2100 and by 1.5 to 2 times as much in many midcontinent and far northern locations (1). Although our understanding of the impacts of climate change is increasingly and disturbingly clear, there is still debate about the proper course for U.S. policy—a debate that is very much on display during the current presidential transition. But putting near-term politics aside, the mounting economic and scientific evidence leave me confident that trends toward a clean-energy economy that have emerged during my presidency will continue and that the economic opportunity for our country to harness that trend will only grow. This Policy Forum will focus on the four reasons I believe the trend toward clean energy is irreversible.

The House Republican Conference officially elected leadership positions for the next Congress. (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Federal Regulations And Rulemaking Process Targeted In Bills Introduced In First Days of 115th Congress

It took a matter of hours after the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3 for bills to be introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21) and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) both passed the House (along nearly party-line votes) less than 56 hours after the start of the session.

A new rule aims to protect marine mammals from becoming bycatch. (Credit: Boyd Amanda/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Fishing Rule Aims To Do For All Marine Mammals What It Did For The Dolphin

The vaquita is a small porpoise found only in the northern Gulf of California, in Mexico. Today, the species is critically endangered, with less than 60 animals left in the wild, thanks to fishing nets to catch fish and shrimp for sale in Mexico and America. The animal is an accidental victim of the fishing industry, as are many other marine mammals.

NOAA announced a recovery plan for Beluga whales in Alaska. (Credit: Mike Johnston/Flickr)

NOAA Releases Plan for Alaska Endangered Beluga Whales

A federal plan for the recovery of an endangered Alaska beluga whale calls for a reduction in threats of high concern while scientists try to pinpoint what has kept the population from growing. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Wednesday announced its recovery plan for Cook Inlet beluga whales, a population listed as endangered since 2008.

Jon White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership in Washington, D. C. (Credit: Randy Showstack)

Scientists Ponder The Way Forward Under Incoming Administration

The recent U.S. presidential election loomed large last week at the world’s largest annual gathering of Earth and space scientists, the American Geophysical Union’s (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco, Calif. When Eos asked some of the more than 20,000 scientists at the meeting what they thought the election’s outcome means for the Earth and space sciences, we heard a wide range of responses, from dismissal of the election’s importance to deep concern.

The Obama administration announced moves to ban oil and gas leasing in 125 million acres of the Arctic Ocean. (Credit: NASA Goddard Space Flight Center/Flickr)

Obama Administration To Block Drilling In Parts Of Atlantic, Arctic Oceans

The Obama administration announced Tuesday that it would indefinitely block oil and natural-gas drilling in vast swaths of the Arctic Ocean and smaller parts of the Atlantic Ocean, the latest in a string of last-minute actions in the face of President-elect Donald Trump’s vows to undo President Barack Obama’s environmental agenda.