Tagged: Science Authorization

Geoscience plays a critical role in seaport infrastructure.

We’d Face A Rocky Road Without Geoscience

When most people enter a hiking trail with several days’ worth of food, they’re at the start of a camping adventure. For residents of Big Sur, California, they’re making one of many weekly trips back from the grocery store. Four months ago, a mudslide collapsed a bridge, making the small hiking path the only access to the outside world for much of Big Sur.

A true-color NASA satellite mosaic of Earth. (Credit: NASA)

A Rose By Any Other Name Would Smell As…Thorny?

When the Environmental Protection Agency finalized the Clean Power Plan in 2015, the agency posted online (as per their norm) hundreds of pages of technical documents, including underlying data, calculations, analyses, and memorandums. Their documentation, such as the Regulatory Impact Analysis, includes review of peer-reviewed literature, and the rule itself (which also used peer-reviewed science to underpin it) received unprecedented input through a number of outreach efforts, including 4.3 million public comments submitted during the six-month public comment period. For an agency so committed to transparency and the use of science for the public good, it should seem surprising that there are efforts by some in Congress to increase this transparency, public participation, and use of good science – but at the expense of allowing EPA to effectively do its job.

Meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology lays out legislative jurisdiction and includes a promise for fewer subpoenas from Chairman Lamar Smith. (Credit: Kirt L. Onthank/ Wikimedia Commons)

House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Framework For 115th Congress

It’s hard to keep up with the overabundance of news coming out of D.C., so it would be easy to miss last week’s organizational meeting of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. During this time, the committee approved their Authorization and Oversight Plan (which broadly lays out their framework for the 115th Congress) and committee rules.

A flurry of confirmation hearings before inauguration day and the first cabinet member confirmed. (Credit: David Burnett/Contact Press Images)

President’s Cabinet Begins To Take Shape

Multiple Senate confirmation hearings overlapped last week, forcing members to scurry to and from simultaneous committee meetings. A confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee for Representative Ryan Zinke, nominee for Secretary of the Department of Interior (which includes the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Park Service), was one of the more contentious ones. Rep. Zinke vowed not to sell nor lease public lands and emphasized support for allowing for extraction activities within them. He acknowledged the changing climate while stepping back from an earlier, stronger stance that called it a ‘threat multiplier’ in respect to national security and committed to maintaining science funding levels with particular interest in more research into “clean coal.”

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce secretary nominee. (Credit: NOAA)

What Role Will NOAA Play In The New Administration?

What does the Department of Commerce, most often regarded for its responsibility in creating conditions for economic growth and opportunity, have to do with the ocean? Within the department lies the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), placed there by an irate President Richard Nixon to keep it out of the control of the Secretary of the Interior (with whom he was feuding). The result is a commerce department with a wide-ranging spectrum of duties that include monitoring weather, enforcing international trade agreements, and regulating exports. On Wednesday, the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a confirmation hearing for Wilbur Ross, President Donald Trump’s Department of Commerce secretary nominee. Mr. Ross is a billionaire investor and a political newcomer with a long history in the steel, textile, automotive, and coal industries.

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.

Both the House and Senate have passed the the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084). The bill will soon be sent to the President's desk for President Obama to sign into law. (Credit: Pete Souza/The White House)

Conferenced American Innovation and Competitiveness Act Lands On The President’s Desk

While students around the country were recalling organic chemistry processes and physics formulas during their end-of-semester exams last Friday, Congress was also at work. Following in the Senate’s footsteps, the House passed the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084), a reauthorization of the America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology Education and Science Act of 2007, or America COMPETES, which was last reauthorized in 2010. The 2016 bill outlines policies for the National Science Foundation (NSF); the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST); and other federal science and innovation programs, including science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education programs.

National Science Board sets priorities for the National Science Foundation (Credit: NSF)

NSF Meeting Highlights Accomplishments and Progress

What do that MRI you had after damaging your knee while running, knowing whether to bring an umbrella to work, and antifreeze in Antarctic fish have in common?MRIs, the Doppler radar, and the identification of “antifreeze” glycoproteins in Antarctic fish were made possible through research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition to its 66-year history of promoting scientific progress, the NSF funds 24 percent of federally-supported research at colleges and universities across the nation. The 24-member National Science Board (NSB) leads NSF and meets five times per year, most recently on November 8 and 9. NSF Director Dr. France Córdova opened the meeting by touting some of the agency’s monumental successes in 2016, including six NSF-supported scientists winning Nobel Prizes and 213 teachers being awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Votes advance key legislation. (Credit: Defense.gov)

Senate Moves On Defense Authorization Bill

The Senate voted 90 to 7 in favor of moving the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2017 (S. 2943) to conference committee, where senators will meet with representatives to create one bill from this and the previously-passed House version, H.R. 4909.