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.
Tagged: Science Funding
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.
On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the $53.4 billion Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2018 (S.1662) bill in a 30-1 vote. “The committee has made difficult but responsible decisions to produce a bill that strikes a financial balance between the competing priorities of law enforcement, national security, scientific advancement, and economic development,” declared Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Richard Shelby (AL). In the Senate bill, the National Science Foundation (NSF) would be funded at $7.31 billion, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) at $5.59 billion, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at $19.5 billion, representing cuts from FY 2017 of 2.2 percent, 1.5 percent, and 0.6 percent, respectively. The total reductions in the bill amount to $3.2 billion below the FY 2017 enacted level, but overall funding remains $4.4 billion above the president’s budget request.
The nation’s water infrastructure is in a truly dire state; with a D+ grade from the American Society of Civil Engineers, it is time for an update. Last week, the House and Senate held hearings to address this issue. The House Transportation Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment focused on the Army Corps of Engineers (Corps). Chairman Garret Graves (LA-6) said the Corps has an “absolutely critical mission,” which centers around building and maintaining infrastructure that bolsters the economy while integrating environmental sustainability. However, both sides of the aisle were concerned with the Corps’ backlog of unfinished projects and lack of implementation guidance for the Water Resources Reform and Development Act of 2014 (P.L.113-121) and the Water Resources Development Act of 2016.
On Wednesday, the House Appropriations committee approved the Interior and Environment appropriations bill for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 in a 30-21 vote. This budget represents an $824 million decrease from the FY 2017 enacted level, which Subcommittee Ranking Member Betty McCollum (MN-4) said she was “deeply disappointed” about, although the president’s budget request would have provided $4.3 billion less. The bill’s $31.4 billion includes $114.2 million for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (matching the president’s request), $108.5 million for the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (a more than 30 percent increase from FY 2017), and $1.039 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey ($46 million less than the FY 2017 level).
Focus on Justice, Not Climate Science, In House Commerce, Justice, and Science Bill — Which Drastically Cuts NOAA Funding
Last week, the House Appropriations Committee passed their version of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations bill, which includes funding proposals for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). During the full committee markup of the bill, which covers a vast array of other agencies and largely prioritizes law enforcement issues like terrorism, cybersecurity, espionage, the opioid epidemic, and border security, both subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (TX-7) and Ranking Member José Serrano (NY-15) expressed their appreciation for each other’s collaboration and friendship during the drafting of the bill, despite their dissimilar policy stances.
House Appropriators Advance Interior and Energy-Water Appropriations Bills – With National Ocean Policy Riders
President Obama’s 2010 Executive Order 13547, Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes, commonly referred to as the National Ocean Policy (NOP), is designed to protect, maintain, and restore the health of ecosystems and resources of the oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes; to enhance the sustainability of ocean and coastal economies; to preserve maritime heritage; to support sustainable uses and access; and to coordinate with our national security and foreign policy interests. Since its inception, it has been a controversial topic, with Democrats lauding its science-based decision making, benefits to stakeholders, economic growth, and sustainable development and Republicans considering it as executive overreach and a vehicle for new regulations.
Earth Science Given “Low Priority” Status In House Appropriations Bill That Would Also Reduce NOAA Funding?
While President Trump proposed some of the most dramatic budget cuts in recent history, Congress ultimately has the responsibility of appropriating funds. Last week, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, and Science marked...