Postdoctoral Position at the University of São Paulo (USP)

A 3-year post-doctoral fellowship is available as part of a FAPESP ( project entitled “Dimensions US-BIOTA-São Paulo: A multidisciplinary framework for biodiversity prediction in the Brazilian Atlantic forest hotspot” (FAPESP number process - 2013/50297-0; project website

The specific post-doctoral project of this announcement refers to the subprojec “Alpha, beta, phylogenetic and functional diversity of harvestmen (Arachnida-Opiliones) of the Atlantic Forest”. The goal of this subproject is to inventory several aspects of the diversity of harvestmen communities of the Atlantic Forest, and to relate those patterns with environmental and historical factors.

The candidate is expected to organize and perform field expeditions to collect arachnids, to manage and analyze large datasets, and to work in group and supervise graduate and undergraduate students. Familiarity with the taxonomy of Atlantic Forest Opiliones is also encouraged. Fluency in Portuguese is required to elaborate permit requests to national (ICMBIO) and regional environmental institutions, and applicants must have a driver’s license valid in Brazil.

In addition to the tasks inherent to this subproject, applicants will also have to develop activities related to the Dimensions US-BIOTA project, as preparing field expeditions and organizes and store biological material for DNA extraction.

Applicants must possess the following qualifications

-          A Ph.D. (concluded in the previous three years) in Zoology or Ecology;

-          Published works in the fields of community ecology and/or arachnid communities;

-          Applicants should not have other employment or income source.

To apply, candidates must provide: 1 – their curriculum vitae; 2 – two recommendations letters; 3 – a short statement (up to three pages) about their previous experience and works on the field, research interest and motivation for working in the present project.

Fellowship: R$ 70,905.60 per year (aprox. US$ 31,950.00); FAPESP fellowships are tax free (see details at

Application starts October, 1st, 2013 and ends November, 1st,, 2013. Documents must be sent by email to the coordinator of the project - Dr. Cristina Yumi Miyaki, Dep. of Biology – Institute of Bioscience - University of São Paulo.  For further information please contact Dr. Miyaki at


microCo-sponsored by NSF and modeled after the Woods Hole MBL, MicroTrop is an intensive, one month advanced course for PhD students and post docs. About 12 leading soil and microbiology scientists (e.g. Dan Buckley, Cornell Univ., stable isotope probing; John Reeve, Ohio State Univ., extremophiles/Archaea; Jean-Luc Chotte, French Institute of Res. and Devel., microbial ecology in African ag. soils) will lecture on the role and manipulation of soil organisms to deliver services for tropical ecosystems and present current methods for soil ecology research. Lectures reinforce hands-on training in classic microbiology, bioinformatics, and state-of-the-art “ -omics’ ” methods. Experimental design and methods that are cost-effective and appropriate for scientists working in developing countries and tropical soils are presented. The capstone is a tropical soil, mini-research project designed by each participant that includes field sampling, lab work, data analysis, and write up. The living arrangement and social events of MicroTrop provide a unique opportunity for participants to personally interact with lecturers.  Field trips inform participants of environmental and agricultural challenges, culture, and village life in Senegal. A 2012 MicroTrop participant stated “MicroTrop was an amazing experience to meet scientists from diverse cultures, develop a network for future international collaborations, learn about research in the tropics, and to be immersed in the culture and environment of Senegal.” Ten competitively selected US participants will join 10 Africans and receive airfare, accommodations, participation fee, and living expenses. Applications submitted by email are due by November 1, 2013. For program information contact Richard Dick, Ohio State Univ. ( and applications, Amanda Davey at 614-292-3963 (

International Conference On Green Walls ‘Meeting The Challenge Of A Sustainable Urban Future’

Date of Meeting: September 4-5, 2014.
Name of Organization Hosting the Meeting: Green Wall Centre
Contact: Caroline Chiquet, Research Officer, +44 1782 29 41 05,
Meeting Website:

September 4-5, 2014, Staffordshire University, Stoke-on-Trent, UK.

Green walls are an important component of Green Infrastructure – possibly the only cost effective approach to coping with some of the immense challenges currently facing urban areas: climate change (coping with extreme events e.g. heat-waves, flooding), pollution (including health impacts), lack of wildlife habitat, social problems (including mental health) resulting from high-density urban living. The green wall sector is exceptionally dynamic with new product developments and insights constantly emerging. For this reason we have convened this meeting to bring together researchers, manufacturers, installers, planners, architects, consultants, and developers to exchange information and learn of new developments in this exciting technology.

We have keynote addresses by Patrick Blanc who kicked-off the development of Living Wall technologies and published ‘The Vertical Garden: from Nature to the City (published by Norton Books)and Gary Grant a well-known consultant on green walls and living roofs who authored ‘Green Roofs and Façades’ (published by the Building Research Establishment).

Other talks confirmed so far include:

-          Ross WF Cameron, Jane E Taylor, Martin R Emmett (Sheffield University, UK): Green Facades - How does plant choice affect wall cooling?
-          Julià Coma, Gabriel Pérez, Cristian Solé, Albert Castell, Luisa F. Cabeza (Universitat de Lleida, Spain) Vertical Greenery Systems for energy conservation in buildings
-          Caroline Chiquet, John W. Dover, Paul Mitchell (Staffordshire University, UK) How the characteristics of living walls and green façades influence their animal biodiversity.
-          Sophie Cohen (Muséum National d'Histoire Naturelle, Brunoy, France) For a real integration of Biodiversity in Green Wall conception and maintenance.
-          Sean Farrell (Mobilane, UK). Title to follow.
-          Frédéric Madre & Philippe Clergeau (Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle de Paris, France) Arthropods on the walls: a comparison of 3 types of vegetated façades as habitats for spider and beetle communities
-          Luis Pérez-Urrestarazu, Gregorio Egea, and Rafael Fernández-Cañero (Universidad de Sevilla, Spain) Influence of different variables on living wall irrigation
-          Katia Perini and Paolo Rosasco (Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy) Vertical greening systems: social and private benefits and costs
-          Mary J. Thornbush (University of Birmingham, UK) The historic appearance of climbing plants (creeper or ivy) on walls and their impact in central Oxford, UK
-          Peter Vujakovic (Canterbury Christ Church University, UK) Gothic Horror: attitudes to Ivy (Hedera helix) and other wall plants and their implications for built heritage conservation and biodiversity management.

Other talks will be added to the programme, and we will also have a poster session.

Further information is available at or from the organisers: Caroline and Prof. John Dover

If you are interested in participating in the meeting, please contact me at with the email subject: "Green Wall conference 2014”.

May 2013

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
May 20-21, 2013
Washington, DC

Members Present:
Scott Collins               President
Steward Pickett          Past-President
Jill Baron                     President-Elect
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Deborah Goldberg      VP for Science
Julie Reynolds             VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Michelle Mack            Member at Large
Mimi Lam                   Member-at-Large
Stephen Jackson          Member-at-Large

Staff Present:
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Chief Financial Officer
Nadine Lymn              Director, Public Affairs
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity
David Baldwin           Managing Editor
Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Members Absent:  
Leslie Real                  VP for Finance

Josh Scholl                  Representative, Student Section                    


9:00 am, meeting called to order by President Scott Collins

I. Roll Call and Agenda

A. Adopt Agenda

Jill Baron moved and Deborah Goldberg seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  All aye.

B. Ratification of Votes

Stephen Jackson moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the minutes of the December 2012 Governing Board meeting and the e-mail vote to approve Ellen Anderson for the Regional Policy Award.  All aye.

II.  Reports

A.  Report of the President

Scott Collins reported on his activities since the December board meeting, including efforts to increase coordination among the REU programs at LTER sites to improve minority recruiting to the field.

B. Report of the Executive Director and Staff

Katherine McCarter summarized her report, and noted that publication issues have been a priority.   Michelle Horton gave an update on planning for the 2013 meeting.  Membership numbers and institutional subscribers are both down this year.   Elizabeth Biggs summarized work of the Finance office.  The budget will be discussed in detail later in the meeting.  Teresa Mourad reported that her program received a 1-year NSF grant to support the SEEDS program, and to survey SEEDS alumni.  The EcoEd Digital Library will merge with other programs to form a new resource called LifeEd Digital Library.  She is looking for new funding for this effort.  Cliff Duke summarized work in the Science Office.  The Vegetation Classification Panel met recently in Chapel Hill, NC.  He reported on progress on a number of new volumes in the Issues in Ecology series.  Nadine Lymn distributed copies of the ESA 2012 Annual Report, and then summarized events related to federal science funding, budgets, and proposed legislation.  Sue Silver reported on the status of Frontiers, with 4 special issues currently in the pipeline.  David Baldwin reported on two new hires in the Publications Office.  The May issue of Monographs will be posted shortly.  The requirement that Monographs authors upload their data has required effort by staff to enforce.  Advertising has been instituted on the issue alerts.  There remain problems with generating issue alerts and RSS feeds for Ecosphere.

C. Financial Update

Third quarter financial reports were distributed and summarized by Katherine McCarter and Elizabeth Biggs. Revenues are running ahead of YTD budget, and expenses below YTD budget, with a strong positive balance of revenue over expenses that is expected to carry over but at a lower level to the end of the budget year.  Much of this can be traced to the success of the 2012 meeting in Portland.  There has been a significant drop in membership year to date, but staff are working hard to raise membership by year’s end.  Liz Biggs gave an update on our investment accounts.  Thanks to a strong market, the investment accounts are up 5-12% since the beginning of the year. 

III. Discussion/Action Items

A. Report of the Audit Committee

Sharon Collinge moved that the Audit Committee report be approved.  Steve Jackson seconded.  All aye.

B. Proposed FY 2013-2014 ESA Budget

1. Budget and Assumptions

Katherine McCarter began the discussion of the FY 2013-2014 budget with a summary of the assumptions behind the budget.  Elizabeth Biggs stressed the continuing problem of declining subscription revenue and rising expenses.  These are long-term trends, but have been masked in recent years by better than expected revenue from meetings.  Pressure from open access puts additional uncertainty on budget projections. There was discussion of strategies to recruit and retain new members.  Teresa Mourad raised the issue of the desired scope of Society membership, and the continuing challenge of recruiting members outside of traditional academic careers.  Nadine Lymn mentioned the challenges of meeting needs of members in policy and NGO positions.

Deborah Goldberg suggested a new membership category above Level 3 at a higher income level.  She moved and Steve Jackson seconded creating a Level 4 at $100,000 annual income and a Level 5 at $150,000 annual income.  All aye.  New membership rates associated with these levels will be proposed by staff.

Deborah Goldberg, Josh Scholl, Jill Baron, Michelle Mack, and Mimi Lam volunteered to serve on an ad hoc committee to explore recruitment and retention of new members.

Steward Pickett encouraged the board to establish a strategic process for planning the Society’s response to long-term budget challenges.

Jill Baron moved and Steward Pickett seconded a motion to approve the draft budget.  All aye.

2. Board Strategic Initiative

Ideas for use of Board strategic initiative funds included (1) board fund-raising efforts, (2) increase the number of Graduate Student Policy Awards, (3) funds to support further work on contingent faculty initiatives, and (4) SEEDS program funding. 

C. Report of the Ad hoc Publications Visioning Committee

Scott Collins opened up a discussion of the report from the ad hoc Publications Visioning Committee.  The Committee consisted of Ted C. Bergstrom (University of California, Santa Barbara), Aimee T. Classen (University of Tennessee), Scott L. Collins, Chair (University of New Mexico), Mark Schildhauer (National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis), Diane C. Schmidt (University of Illinois), Don R. Strong (University of California, Davis), and Crispin Taylor (American Society of Plant Biologists), and 4 members of the ESA staff: Katherine S. McCarter, Executive Director, J. David Baldwin, Managing Editor, ESA Journals, Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, and Liz Biggs, Chief Financial Officer, ESA.

The report contained recommendations in the areas of (1) data accessibility, (2) development of Frontiers, (3) youthful exuberance, (4) pricing (5) Ecosphere, and (6) open access.

Manuscripts published by Monographs are currently required to post data.  The Board recommended changes to the process of ensuring that authors adhere to this requirement, to reduce the work-load on ESA staff.  Phasing the requirement in on other ESA journals will wait until further data have been collected on costs.

Efforts to create an App for Frontiers have been challenging, and experience suggests that it is very expensive to do well.  A digital version of the journal is currently being tested and evaluated.

A subcommittee developed recommendations for a variety of future directions for ESA publications in an evolving technology landscape.  One recommendation focused on methods for preprint distribution.

The section of the report on journal pricing recommended establishment of a pricing structure that accommodated smaller libraries and institutions.  Staff seconded this idea and are pursuing it.

There was extensive discussion of a proposal to facilitate transfer of papers rejected by other ESA journals for consideration by Ecosphere with quality control to be provided by the other journal’s EiCs.  No concrete recommendation was adopted, but it was suggested that once Ecosphere has an impact factor, to move towards a PlosOne model and to accept papers reviewed and rejected by the other journals and sent to Ecosphere by the EiCs.

Analysis of access to online versions of ESA journals suggests that the vast majority of full-text views happen within the first 12 months of publication, however the number of views remains high over the long term.  This suggests that open access to the journals after 12-18 months might not result in significant loss of subscription revenue.  Increases in page charges could replace some of revenue lost from subscriptions, but it would be difficult to have page charges cover any substantial portion of the full cost of publication in the current print journals.

We tabled the recommendation to make all ESA journals open-access until further data on the potential impact of lost subscription revenue is developed and presented to the Board.

D. Contingent Faculty Results/Recommendations

Mimi Lam summarized the results of a survey of the needs of “contingent faculty” members of ESA.   The survey received 536 responses.  The respondents appear to represent a broad range of stages and types of employment.  Based on the survey results the subcommittee recommended a number of actions the Society could take to support contingent faculty, including various forms of reduced fees, recruitment services, and professional development workshops.  Governing board members suggested a number of other possible efforts, including mentoring and networking opportunities.  The Committee on Diversity and Educatin will continue the discussion of Contingent Faculty and will report back by the Fall meeting of the Governing Board.

E. ESA Award Recommendations 

The Awards Committee, chaired by Alan Hastings, has provided its recommendations for the ESA-wide awards to be presented during the Scientific Plenary during the 2013 Minneapolis Annual Meeting.  Alan is setting up a subcommittee of the Awards Committee to work on increasing the diversity of nominees for Society awards.   The chair of the subcommittee for the new Fellows program noted that the overall number and quality of nominees was not quite as high as expected or hoped for (additional nominees were generated partly by the subcommittee itself).   The committee recommends that we explore ways to publicize this program more, especially since it is a way to increase diversity of awardees.

Steve Jackson moved and Charlie Canham seconded that the Governing Board approve the recommendations of the Awards Committee with the exception of the Senior Fellows who were on the board at the time of the approval of the policy.  All aye.

F. Update on New Generation Committee Implementation  

Teresa Mourad provided an update of activities and pointed out four areas of recommendations that staff are currently working on, based on the report of the New Generation Committee.  There will be a full report on activities during the August meeting.

Adjourned, 5:00 pm, May 21, 2013

May 22, 2013

Governing Board Executive Session, 8:00 – 9:00 am

Meeting called to order at 9:00 am, May 22, 2013

G. Public Affairs Midterm Review 

Sharon Collinge and Nadine Lymn presented the midterm review of the Public Affairs program.

H. Emerging Issues Conference

Cliff Duke summarized planning for ESA‘s third Emerging Issues Conference, Integrated Landscape Science for Agriculture, Biodiversity Conservation, and Poverty Alleviation.  Funding for the conference has been challenging, and conference organizers are exploring options for modifying the goals and products of the effort.

I. Centennial Implementation Update

Scott Collins led a discussion of the implementation of the recommendations of the Centennial Committee.

J. Earth Stewardship Application Ecological Action Plan: Designed Ecological Transect

Jill Baron reported on a proposed collaboration between ecologists, landscape architects, and urban planners focused on the themes of earth stewardship and sustainability.   The initiative, coordinated by Alex Felson and Jill Baron, would focus on efforts centered on the annual ESA meetings in 2014 and2015.  Jill also described efforts to train ecologists in communicating with the business community on issues of sustainability.   Activities planned for the annual meetings will require coordination with staff over issues of allocating space, etc.  Sharon Collinge volunteered to assist Jill Baron in providing feedback on the project.

K. Nominations

The Nominations Committee is chaired by Past President Steward Pickett. Members of the Nominations Committee include Members At Large Mimi Lam, Michelle Mack, and Stephen Jackson. Additional members appointed by Past President Pickett are Jessica Hellmann, University of Notre Dame, Bob R. Pohlad, Ferrum College, and Silvia Alvarez-Clare, University of Montana.  A slate of candidates was presented for approval by the Governing Board.   Charles Canham moved and Jill Baron seconded a motion to approve the slate of candidates proposed by the Nominations Committee.  All aye.

There was discussion of the nominating process, including the issues of pairing of candidates for individual slots, and ensuring diversity within the Board.  Steward Pickett addressed the role of the Nominations Committee in leadership development within the Society, and was encouraged to summarize ideas from the committee in an informal document that can be distributed to future Nominations Committees.

L. ESA Code of Ethics

Patricia Flebbe, chair of the Professional Ethics and Appeals Committee (PEAC), presented a proposed addition to the ESA Code of Ethics.  The addition would insert after Item 6 in The “General” Section (and renumber successive items):

“7. Ecologists will, to the extent practicable, engage meaningfully with the communities in which they practice to promote teaching, learning and an understanding of their study; broaden the participation of underrepresented groups; enhance local infrastructure for research and education; and disseminate results broadly to benefit the local community.”

Deborah Goldberg moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to approve the proposed addition to the ESA Code of Ethics.  All aye.

M. Annual Meeting Issues

1. Environmental Offsets

Sharon Collinge moved and Julie Reynolds seconded approving Great River Greening for use of Environmental Offset funds from the Annual Meeting.  All aye.

2. 2014 Annual Meeting theme

Program Chair Hal Balbach has submitted a recommendation for the theme of the 2014 Annual Meeting in Sacramento, CA. He is recommending “From Microbes to Mountains: It‘s All Ecology”.  There was discussion of the need for a scope that ranged from local to global, using opportunities provided by the specific meeting location to illustrate meeting themes.  Scott Collins will discuss ideas for revising the theme with the Program Chair.

3. Local Host 2015

Steve Jackson moved and Jill Baron seconded a motion to approve Chris Swan as 2015 Local Host.  All aye.

4. Local Host 2016

Deborah Goldberg moved and Steve Jackson seconded a motion to approve Frank Mazzotti as the 2016 Local Host.  All aye.

5. 2017-2018 Annual Meeting Sites

The Program Committee, through its chair Kiyoko Miyanishi, is recommending Portland OR for the 2017 meeting and Louisville KY for the 2018 meeting.  Charles Canham moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve the recommendations.  All aye. 

N. ESA/ESC Joint Journal Update

Katherine McCarter reported on the status of the development of a joint ESA/ESC journal.  An agreement has been signed covering the functioning of the new journal.  Applications are being received for the position of Editor-in-Chief.   Candidates are being screened by a search committee with members from both Societies.

Meeting adjourned at 12:00 pm, May 22, 2013


European Biomass Conference and Exhibition News No. 22

22nd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition

European Biomass Conference and Exhibition News No. 22

Call for abstracts! Submit your work by 28 October 2013






David Baxter 
European Commission, JRC
Technical Programme Chairman

"On behalf of the scientific committee and the new industry committee, it is great pleasure to invite you to be part of the 22nd European Biomass Conference and Exhibition (EU BC&E). As you will probably know, the conference series started more than 30 years ago. You will also probably know that the conference has a great scientific tradition which now extends from biomass itself, to conversion processes for biofuels, bioenergy and biorefineries and to industrial applications and impacts on the environment." Read more...


Kyriakos Maniatis 
European Commission, DG ENER
Industry Committee Coordinator

"Only the biomass & bioenergy industry can bridge the gap by undertaking reliable and well reasoned investments with social responsibility and political accountability[....]. It's perhaps the first time that the biomass and bioenergy industry has wrought such a pivotal role in such a complex debate but also the only stakeholder that can steer the way out of the muddle. With this, I invite the biomass and bioenergy industry to participate in the debate during the 2014 EU BC&E by showing how the above issues can be dealt with, dependably and consistently."

What you could expect from participating:

  • Opportunity to have your paper Peer Reviewed and eventually published in the Biomass and Bioenergy journal by Elsevier
  • Have your work evaluated by ascientific committee composed of renowned members of the science and research fields of biomass
  • Exchange and learn about developments, share results and get inspired by new ideas
  • Find future business partners tovalorize your research


What you could expect from participating:

  • Newly appointed industry committee to review industry abstracts and organize industry-specific events
  • Attain increased visibility in the industry
  • Contribute to the development of the biomass industry
  • Perform networking on a global scale
  • Reinforce your organization with scientific findings

Take a look at:

Conference Subjects

Citability of Papers



Peer Review Process

Prizes and Awards

May 3, 2013

In this Issue


A letter to National Science Foundation (NSF) Acting-Director Cora Marrett from House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) received a sharp rebuttal from Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX).

In his letter, Chairman Smith expressed concern with how NSF prioritizes scientific research. “Based on my review of NSF-funded studies, I have concerns regarding some grants approved by the foundation and how closely they adhere to NSF’s ‘intellectual merit’ guideline,” he wrote.  “To better understand how NSF makes decisions to approve and fund grants, it would be helpful to obtain detailed information on specific research projects awarded NSF grants.” He then cited several social science studies, including research projects entitled “Picturing Animals in National Geographic,” “Comparative Network Analysis: Mapping Global Social Interactions,” and “Regulating Accountability and Transparency in China’s Dairy Industry” as “studies of interest” to the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. 

Ranking Member Johnson’s response letter addressed to Chairman Smith came the following day. “Like you I recognize that NSF grants have a responsibility back to the taxpayers,” she noted. “But I also believe that: 1) the progress of science itself – across all fields, including the social and behavioral sciences – is in the interest of the taxpayer; and 2) that NSF’s Broader Impact criterion is the right way to hold the individual grantee accountable.”

Her letter included a sharp criticism of the chairman’s move as entirely unprecedented in modern history. “In the history of this committee, no chairman has ever put themselves forward as an expert in the science that underlies specific grant proposals funded by NSF. In the more than two decades of committee leadership that I have worked with – Chairmen Brown, Walker, Sensenbrenner, Boehlert, Gordon, and Hall – I have never seen a chairman decide to go after specific grants simply because the chairman does not believe them to be of high value.”

During recent remarks commemorating the 150th anniversary of the National Academy of Sciences, President Obama highlighted the importance of maintaining existing scientific merit peer review standards. “And what’s true of all sciences is that in order for us to maintain our edge, we’ve got to protect our rigorous peer review system and ensure that we only fund proposals that promise the biggest bang for taxpayer dollars.  And I will keep working to make sure that our scientific research does not fall victim to political maneuvers or agendas that in some ways would impact on the integrity of the scientific process,” said the president. “That’s what’s going to maintain our standards of scientific excellence for years to come.”

Recently, the Coalition for National Science Funding, in partnership with the House Research Caucus, sponsored a briefing that emphasized the importance of sustained investment in social and behavioral scientific research focusing on victims of natural and human-made disasters. For additional information on the briefing, click here: 

To view Chairman Smith’s letter, click here:

To view Ranking Member Johnson’s rebuttal letter, click here:

To view President Obama’s full remarks before the National Academy of Sciences, click here:


On April 24, the Senate Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee convened for a hearing examining the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) budget request for FY 2014.

Committee Democrats expressed concern over proposed cuts to clean water and brownfield programs while Republicans, specifically Sens. Roy Blunt (MO) Mike Johanns (NE), took issue with agency surveillance programs. EPA Acting Director Bob Perciasepe testified that the aerial surveillance is used to monitor Clean Water Act violations and is not used to obtain information on law-biding citizens.

“I’m disappointment with the overall budget level. This is the fourth year in a row that the agency’s budget request has contracted,” noted Subcommittee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI). Chairman Reed cited clean and drinking water state revolving funds, beach cleanup, brownfields clean up, and environmental education programs as troubling proposed cuts that would endanger public health and stifle economic and infrastructure productivity. While acknowledging that more funding is needed for water infrastructure overall, Perciasepe noted that past investment, including funding through the Recovery Act, has helped sustain funds. EPA will continue to work with states and local agencies to make better use of the funds, given current fiscal concerns, said Perciasepe.

Subcommittee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) expressed concern with certain EPA rulemakings and asserted that she hears more complaints from Alaskans about the agency than about any other federal agency. She asked about the status of Alaska’s Bristol Bay Watershed assessment, which seeks to identify the impacts of large scale mining on the Bay. Murkowski specifically inquired when the agency would be able to provide the committee with the overall cost of the assessment. Her concerns about getting the overall assessment completed in a timely fashion were echoed by Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK). Perciasepe said that a cost assessment should be available sometime in May.

View the full hearing here:

Additional information on the Bristol Bay assessment is available here:


On April 25, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment convened for a hearing entitled “Policy Relevant Climate Issues in Context.” The hearing was the first of the subcommittee to focus on climate science for the 113th Congress.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Chris Stewart (R-UT) re-emphasized the contention among some congressional Republicans that there is debate as to the degree to which the planet is warming and the factors at play. “The number and complexity of factors influencing climate—from land and oceans to the sun and clouds—make precise long-term temperature predictions an extremely difficult challenge.  Contrary to the predictions of almost all modeling, over the past 16 years there has been a complete absence of global warming,” said Stewart. “When we encounter those who claim to know precisely what our future climate will look like, and then attack any who may disagree with them, we have stepped out of the arena of science and into the arena of politics and ideology.”

House Science, Space and Technology Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) was slightly more reserved in his skepticism in his opening statement. “Climate change is an issue that needs to be discussed thoughtfully and objectively. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes surrounded by claims that conceal the facts and hinder the proper weighing of policy options,” he asserted. “I believe in the integrity of science. And I find it unfortunate that those who question certain scientific views on climate have their motives impugned. Challenging accepted beliefs through open debate and critical thinking is a primary part of the scientific process. To make a rational decision on climate change, we need to examine the relevant scientific issues along with the costs and benefits and better understand the uncertainties that surround both.”

Full Committee Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), while not present at the opening of the hearing, released a statement for the record criticizing global warming skeptics.  “The science surrounding this issue reached a consensus a long time ago, and that consensus is that the world is warming and most of that warming is being caused by humans…Unfortunately, many of my colleagues in the majority don’t seem to have gotten the memo.  Many openly dispute the science or allude to some unspecified but supposedly vast scientific conspiracy.  Others, while less conspiratorial, insist that nothing can be done about the problem.  This is a failure of leadership of the highest order.”

The majority of witnesses testifying during the hearing said that existing federal efforts to address climate change were harmful to the economy and of marginal benefit. Bjørn Lomborg, president of the Copenhagen Consensus Center, criticized the Kyoto treaty and carbon tax proposals and stated that the US should fund research for new carbon capture technologies that would be less expensive than conventional fossil fuels. Judith Curry, Professor of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Institute of Technology, echoed concerns that there is inadequate understanding of the cause and nature of climate change to assess the costs and benefits of taking policy action.

The lone witness invited by committee Democrats was William Chameides, Dean at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University, who argued that uncertainty should not be used as a roadblock against taking action. “We, as individuals and as a society, often act in the face of uncertainty.  And often we choose to take a conservative path, and rightly so,” he argued. “I, for example, cannot predict if, let alone when, there will be a fire in my house, but I pay for fire insurance.  Similarly, in the face of uncertain but substantial risks from climate change, a prudent course of action is to develop and implement a risk-based and flexible response to the climate change challenge.”

Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamci (D-OR) illustrated various examples, peppered with a local perspective, of how climate change is affecting the economy. She noted the role of wine grapes in Oregon’s economy and how even minor temperature changes can adversely impact production of pinot noir wine grapes. She also pointed to the negative impacts of increased ocean acidification, caused by climate change, on the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry.

“As a nation, we are becoming too familiar with the consequences of waiting until the eleventh hour to develop solutions to the problems we face,” stated Bonamici. “Let’s not make that mistake with something as serious as climate change. And even though we may have differences of opinion about what is causing climate change, but we can still discuss the economic gains we can make by investing in a clean energy economy, modernizing our infrastructure, and seeking energy independence.”

View the full hearing, here:


On May 2, President Obama announced Chicago billionaire Penny Pritzker as his pick to lead the US Department of Commerce. Pritzker, a longtime fundraiser for Obama, is also the daughter of the founder of the Hyatt Hotel chain. If confirmed, Pritzker would be the wealthiest secretary in Obama’s cabinet, with a net worth of $1.85 billion.

Pritzker currently serves as Chief Executive of PSP Capital Partners and its affiliate, Pritzker Realty Group. She has previously served as a member of the president’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness and also worked on the administration’s Skills for America’s Future initiative, an effort to improve industry partnerships with community colleges to develop job skills for students. Pritzker attended Harvard University and received law and business degrees from Stanford.

As Commerce Secretary, Pritzker would oversee the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, one of the federal government’s key science agencies and the single largest federal bureau under the department’s jurisdiction. Several key positions have remained vacant at NOAA in the time between the final year of the administration’s first term and the onset of his second-term. Foremost among them is the position of NOAA administrator, left vacant by the departure of Jane Lubchenco, a former president of the Ecological Society of America.

Both industry and environmental advocates expressed optimism about the nomination. “Manufacturers welcome the nomination of Penny Pritzker to lead the Department of Commerce,” said National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President and CEO Jay Timmons in a press statement. “Penny brings to the table an extensive business background and understands what it takes for businesses to create jobs. She comes from a family with a rich history in manufacturing as her uncle, Bob Pritzker, served as chairman of the NAM.”

“The direction and vision set by the Commerce Department are crucial to managing our nation’s fisheries,” stated John Mimikakis, Associate Vice President of the Environmental Defense Fund’s Oceans Program. “EDF looks forward to Ms. Pritzker’s leadership as secretary and will continue to work with fishermen, regional councils and NOAA to develop solutions that will end overfishing while protecting the business and sport of fishing for future generations.”


The US Fish and Wildlife Service recently began efforts to remove the gray wolf from protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Federal protections would be removed for most wolves across the continental United States. Protection would remain in place, however, for a subspecies of Mexican wolves in Arizona and New Mexico. The removal would be the culmination of a series of regional and state efforts that have been enacted in recent years. Members of Congress from western states that represent hunters and ranchers have also frequently pushed delisting efforts over recent years. 

Environmental groups have expressed dismay regarding FWS’s intention. In a press statement, Defenders of Wildlife President and CEO Jamie Rappaport Clark accused the Obama administration of “giving up on gray wolf recovery before the job is done.” Defenders of Wildlife contends the move is premature given that recovery efforts in the Pacific Northwest are just beginning and the fact that there are no wolves in the states of Colorado and Utah. “Gray wolves once ranged in a continuous population from Canada all the way down to Mexico, and we shouldn’t give up on this vision until they are restored,” contended Clark.

Federal protections for the gray wolf are expected to be lifted this year. Once delisted, wolf management efforts are predominantly provided by individual state governments. Federal agencies will continue to monitor the status of the species and have the capability to reinstate federal protection if numbers dwindle to a point that scientists consider dangerously low.

To view the Defenders of Wildlife press release, click here:

For additional information on FWS gray wolf recovery and monitoring efforts, click here:


The National Science Foundation (NSF) has awarded the Ecological Society of America’s (ESA) “Diverse People for a Diverse Science” project with a $183,158 grant.

The ESA initiative seeks to increase diversity participation in the field of ecology. In addition to funding existing program components such as research fellowships, the grant will also support an independent evaluation of ESA’s Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity and Sustainability (SEEDS) program.

The professional evaluation will assess SEEDS program activities between 2002-2012, documenting outcomes, effectiveness of program components and identifying opportunities to strengthen the program. The evaluation will determine to what degree program participants’ knowledge of ecology as increased, how it has buttressed career opportunities and influenced ESA members who have served as mentors during its existence.

Formative Evaluation Research Associates (FERA) is conducting the SEEDS program evaluation. FERA is a woman-owned firm with experience evaluating NSF-supported and other science education programs focused on engaging underrepresented groups. 


On May 3, the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its five year research and development (R&D) plan.

 The plan provides a roadmap for research implementation at NOAA from 2013-2017 in support of goals related to monitoring the status of climate, weather, oceans and coastal areas. The plan will help NOAA and partnering organizations understand how to adapt and respond to change, provide a common understanding between NOAA and its various stakeholders of the purpose of NOAA R&D as well as develop a framework for making mission-oriented decisions and setting targets on how to measure progress and the degree of stakeholder engagement.

 For additional information on the plan, click here:

 To provide comments go here:


On April 24, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it was considering adding new amphibians in the Sierra Nevada region for protection under the Endangered Species Act.

The Yosemite toad and the mountain yellow-legged frog would be listed as “threatened” under the proposed rule. The distinct population segment of the Sierra Nevada yellow frog would be included in this listing. FWS cites these three species as being threatened by “habitat degradation, predation, climate change, and inadequate regulatory protection.” The proposal would also designate a combined two million acres of critical habitat for the animals, largely across California and 16 counties in the Sierra Nevada.

Public comments will be accepted through June 24, 2013. Comments can be submitted via email at using docket number FWS–R8–ES–2012–0100 for the listing and docket number FWS–R8–ES–2012–0074 for the critical habitat rule.  Comments can also be mailed to the following address:

 Public Comments Processing

Attn:  FWS–R8–ES–2012–0100 or FWS–R8–ES–2012–0074
Division of Policy and Directives Management
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
4401 N. Fairfax Drive, MS 2042-PDM
Arlington, VA 22203                            

For additional information, click here:


Considered by House Committee/Subcommittee

On April 25, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Insular Affairs held a hearing on the following bills:

H.R. 638, the National Wildlife Refuge Review Act – Introduced by Fisheries, Wildlife and Insular Affairs Subcommittee Chairman John Fleming (R-LA), the bill would require congressional approval of any expansion of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

H.R. 1300, to reauthorize the volunteer programs and community partnerships for the benefit of national wildlife refuges – Introduced by Rep. Jon Runyan (R-NJ), the bill reauthorizes community partnerships and volunteer programs for the National Wildlife Refuge System. The bill is cosponsored by Subcommittee Ranking Member Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (D-Northern Mariana Islands).

H.R. 1384, the Wildlife Refuge System Conservation Semipostal Stamp Act of 2013 – Introduced by Subcommittee Ranking Member Sablan, the bill would provide for the issuance of a Wildlife Refuge System Conservation Semipostal Stamp. 

Approved by House Committee

On April 24, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the following bill:

H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act – Introduced by Rep. Terry Lee (R-NE) – the bill would remove the  requirement of a presidential permit for approval of the XL Keystone pipeline. The bill would deem the environmental impact statement issued by the Secretary of State on August 26, 2011, coupled with a final evaluation report, sufficient to satisfy all requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and of the National Historic Preservation Act. The bill was approved in committee by a vote of 24-17.

Considered by Senate Committee

On April 23, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on National Parks considered several bills, including the following:

S. 155, to designate a mountain in the State of Alaska as Denali – Introduced by Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the bill would rename a mountain named for President McKinley as Denali, the name it is referred to by Alaskan residents.

S. 156, Huna Tlingit Traditional Gull Egg Use Act – Introduced by Ranking Member Murkowksi, the bill would allow for the harvest of gull eggs by the Huna Tlingit people within Alaska’s Glacier Bay National Park. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) has cosponsored the bill.

S. 219, Susquehanna Gateway National Heritage Area Act – Introduced by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA) the bill would establish the Susquehanna Gateway National Heritage Area in Pennsylvania.

S. 225,  Buffalo Soldiers in the National Parks Study Act – Introduced by Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA), the bill would authorize the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a study of alternatives for commemorating and interpreting the role of the Buffalo Soldiers in the early years of the national parks.       

S. 349, Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Protection Act  -  Introduced by Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI), the bill would designate a segment of the Beaver, Chipuxet, Queen, Wood, and Pawcatuck Rivers in the states of Connecticut and Rhode Island for study for potential addition to the National Wild and Scenic Rivers System.

S. 486, Preserving Public Access to Cape Hatteras Beaches Act – the bill bars imposition of any additional restrictions on pedestrian or motorized vehicular access to any part of the Recreation Area for species protection beyond those outlined in an interim management strategy issued by the National Park Service in 2007.  The bill comes in response to a National Park Service plan issued in Feb. 2012 that bans off-highway vehicle use in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore in North Carolina for the purpose of protecting nesting sea turtles and birds.

For a full listing of bills considered during the hearing, click here:

On April 25, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on the following bills:

S. 340, the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act – Introduced by Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), the bill would transfer 70,000 acres of the Tongass National Forest to Sealaska Corp. Among its concerns with the bill, the Obama administration claims the legislation could imperil wildlife in the region, including wolves and goshawks.

S. 27, the Hill Creek Cultural Preservation and Energy Development Act – Introduced by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the bill would authorize a land swap intended to protect the cultural rights of the Ute Tribe in eastern Utah while allowing expanded access for oil and gas drilling.

S. 28, the Y Mountain Access Enhancement Act – Introduced by Sen. Hatch, the bill would provide for the conveyance of a small parcel of National Forest System land in the Uintah-Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah to Brigham Young University.

S. 159, the  Lyon County Economic Development and Conservation Act – Introduced by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV), the bill would designate the Wovoka Wilderness as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System and provide for certain land conveyances in Lyon County, NV to facilitate construction of a copper mine.

S. 241, the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area Establishment Act – Introduced by Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM), the bill would establish the Rio Grande del Norte National Conservation Area in New Mexico.

S. 255, North Fork Watershed Protection Act of 2013 – Introduced by Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT), the bill would protect the North Folk of the Flathead River in Montana from future mineral claims and oil and gas development.

S. 312, the Carson National Forest Boundary Adjustment Act of 2013 – Introduced by Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM), the bill would adjust the boundary of the Carson National Forest in New Mexico to incorporate 4,990 acres of land identified as the Miranda Canyon Boundary.

S. 341, San Juan Mountains Wilderness Act – Introduced by Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), the bill would designate certain lands in San Miguel, Ouray and San Juan counties in Colorado as wilderness.

S. 342, the Pine Forest Range Recreation Enhancement Act of 2013 – Introduced by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), the bill would designate the Pine Forest Range Wilderness area in Humboldt County, NV as a component of the National Wilderness Preservation System.

S. 353, Oregon Treasures Act of 2013 – Introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the bill would designate certain land in Oregon as wilderness and make additional wild and scenic river designations in Oregon.

For additional information on bills considered during the hearing, click here:

 Sources: ClimateWire, Defenders of Wildlife, Department of Interior, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Defense Fund, Greenwire, the Hill, House Natural Resources Committee, House Science, Space and Technology Committee, LA Times, National Association of Manufacturers, Senate Appropriations Committee, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the Washington Post, the White House

April 19, 2013

In This Issue


On April 10, the White House released its Fiscal Year (FY) 2014 budget proposal, which includes significant increases for scientific research. The proposal sets different priorities than the proposed budgets put forward by Congressional leaders, particularly those of the House majority.

The budget takes into account spending caps instituted through the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25). However, it does not take into account implementation of sequestration and compares program funding levels to those of FY 2012, before sequestration was implemented. Obama’s budget proposes to nullify budget sequestration with $1.8 trillion in deficit reduction. This would include $580 billion in revenue through closing tax loopholes, $400 billion in healthcare savings, $200 billion in mandatory spending programs that would include agriculture and retirement contributions and $200 billion in discretionary savings. The remaining $430 billion would come from cost-of-living adjustments and reduced interest payments on the debt. Congress needs to come up with $1.2 trillion in savings to eliminate the existing sequester cuts.

In total, the White House FY 2014 budget request includes $142.8 billion for federal research and development (R&D), a 1.3 percent increase over FY 2012. In his official message on the budget, President Obama sought to tie science investment to economic development. “If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas,” he asserted. “That is why the budget maintains a world-class commitment to science and research, targeting resources to those areas most likely to contribute directly to the creation of transformational technologies that can create the businesses and jobs of the future.”

The president touted the importance of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education. “To further ensure our educational system is preparing students for careers in the 21st Century economy, the budget includes additional measures to promote STEM education, such as launching a new STEM Master Teacher Corps, to leverage the expertise of some of America’s best and brightest teachers in science and mathematics, and to elevate the teaching of these subjects nationwide.” said Obama

Overall, STEM education programs would be funded at $3.1 billion in FY 2014, a 6.7 percent increase over FY 2012. However, the administration’s reorganization effort includes a 50 percent reduction in the total amount of STEM education programs. The proposed budget reduces the number of federal STEM education programs from 226 to 112. Programs are redirected to be primarily under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF). The Smithsonian Institution would also benefit from the reorganization, garnering $25 million to expand its non-classroom science education activities.

Other agencies, including the US Departments of Commerce, Defense, Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, would have their STEM education programs undergo significant cuts under the president’s FY 2014 budget proposal. Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren has said that priority STEM education programs that reach out to women and underrepresented groups would be maintained.

The president’s budget would provide OSTP with $5.65 million for FY 2014, an increase from $4.5 million in FY 2012. In the president’s proposal, many federal agencies that invest in scientific research would garner large boosts, compared to what was enacted in FY 2012:

  • National Science Foundation: $7.6 billion (an 8.4 percent increase)
  • US Geological Survey: $1.2 billion (a 9 percent increase)
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $5.4 billion (an 8 percent increase)
  • Department of Energy R&D: $12.7 billion (an 18 percent increase)
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration R&D: $11.6 billion (a 2.6 percent increase)
  • US Global Change Research Program: $2.7 billion (a 6 percent increase)


NSF’s $7.6 billion request includes $760.58 million for biological research, a 6.8 percent increase over FY 2012. Within that amount $148.97 million would be dedicated to environmental biology (a 4.5 percent increase over FY 2012) and $126.46 million would fund biological infrastructure (a 5.9 percent increase over FY 2012). The agency reports that the number of undergraduate students, graduate students, post-doctorate, researchers and other professionals involved in biological research was 17,439 in FY 2012 and is estimated to be 18,700 in FY 2014.

The proposed budget also includes $63 million for Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE), more than triple the $20.35 million enacted in FY 2012. The request includes $222.79 million for the Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability (SEES) program, a 65 percent increase over FY 2012. The FY 2014 budget request for the National Ecological Observatory Network is $98.2 million, an increase from $60.3 million enacted in FY 2012.


For FY 2014, NOAA would receive $5.4 billion, an 8 percent increase over FY 2012. A large portion of that funding is directed towards the agency’s satellites. NOAA R&D programs would receive $722 million, a 28 percent increase over FY 2012. The growth of funding for climate and weather satellites has drawn bipartisan concern from members of the House and Senate. The agency is currently working toward the development of the next-generation Joint Polar Satellite System set to launch in 2017.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), who also  chairs the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Subcommittee, stated that she intends to take several actions to address the growth of spending on NOAA satellites, including hosting a roundtable and possibly commissioning an independent review. Chairwoman Mikulski contends that increased funding for the satellites could eventually crowd out investment for other priorities.


DOE R&D would receive $12.7 billion for FY 2014, an 18 percent increase over FY 2012. For DOE’s Office of Science, the White House requests $5 billion, a 2.4 percent increase over FY 2012. For the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, the request includes $379 million, a 37.8 percent increase over FY 2012.

The budget proposal also includes $2.8 billion for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. This funding includes a 75 percent increase for development of advanced vehicles, a 42 percent increase for advanced biofuels and biofuel refineries and a 29 percent increase in clean and renewable energy projects.


USDA’s Agricultural Research Service discretionary spending would be funded at $1.3 billion under the president’s request, an increase from $1.095 billion in FY 2012. Within this amount $219 million is requested for environmental stewardship programs, an increase of $189 million enacted in FY 2012. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture would receive $1.293 billion in discretionary spending, an increase from $1.2 billion in FY 2012.

The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would receive $801 million in discretionary spending, down from $839 million in FY 2012. There has been concern from Members of Congress regarding this proposed reduction. During a recent budget hearing, Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME) specifically cited the $27 million reduction for APHIS’s efforts to mitigate pests of specialty crops and forests , asserting a reduction would hinders efforts to manage invasive species like the Emerald Ash Borer.

The US Forest Service would receive $4.858 billion in discretionary spending for FY 2014, a decrease from $4.846 billion enacted in FY 2012. The Natural Resources Conservation Service would receive $813 million in discretionary spending, a decrease from $1.067 billion in FY 2012.

Additional information on the White House FY 2014 budget request is available here:

Information specific to the White House’s scientific research budget proposals is available here:

Information specific to the White House’s proposal for STEM programs is available here:


Under the White House’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014, the US Department of Interior would receive $11.7 billion in discretionary spending, a four percent increase over FY 2012. Research and development at DOI would be funded at $960 million in FY 2014, an 18 percent increase over FY 2012.

The budget proposal would fund the US Geological Survey at $1.2 billion in FY 2014, an increase of $98.8 million over the enacted level in FY 2012. This would include $71.7 million for agency climate science programs and $18.6 million to fund research on  environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing. Other research initiatives include a $1.5 million increase in funding White-nose Syndrome research, and a $5.4 million increase in invasive species research.

The FY 2014 USGS budget also includes $180.8 million understand ecosystem functions to better manage natural resources and address hazards that affect the natural environment (a $22.5 million increase over FY 2012). For climate change and land use programs, the budget request would provide $156 million, a $14.6 million increase over FY 2012.

Additionally, under the president’s budget request, the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) would be funded at $900 million annually in mandatory spending funds. Traditionally, the program has relied on annual appropriations funding and royalties from offshore oil and gas production to fund its land management and conservation efforts. Mandatory annual LWCF spending would help provide stable funding for natural resource managers. The proposal is likely to be met with opposition from key House Republicans, including House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation Chairman Rob Bishop (UT).

Additional funding for bureaus and programs under Interior’s jurisdiction include:

  • America’s Great Outdoors: $5.3 billion, a $179.8 million increase over FY 2012.
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs: $2.6 billion, a $31.3 million increase over FY 2012.
  • Bureau of Land Management: $1.2 billion, a $32.6 million increase over FY 2012.
  • Bureau of Ocean Energy Management:  $169.4 million, a $71.5 million increase over FY 2012. 
  • Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: $222.1 million, a $24.8 million increase over FY 2012.
  • US Fish and Wildlife Service: $1.6 billion, a $76.4 million increase over FY 2012.
  • National Park Service: $2.6 billion, a $56.6 million increase over FY 2012.

The funding increases for Interior programs are paid for partly through increased fees on inspections for oil and gas drilling facilities, onshore oil and gas permits, surface mining and reclamation permits and administrative grazing. The proposed fee increases have already garnered opposition from House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) who maintains they will stifle energy production and consequently lower federal revenue.

Additional information on DOI’s budget is available here:


The White House’s proposed budget would fund the Environmental Protection Agency at $8.2 billion in Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, a 3.5 percent ($296 million) cut from FY 2012.

This marks the fourth straight year the administration has proposed to lower overall funding for the agency. The administration’s budget would eliminate $54 million in funding for what it refers to as “outdated, underperforming, or duplicative EPA programs.”

Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds would receive $1.9 billion in FY 2014, a decrease of $472 million over FY 2012. The funds are geared toward water quality protection projects that treat wastewater and preserve groundwater and other potable water resources for communities across the United States. The administration states that it intends to target state revolving fund assistance towards smaller and underserved communities.

EPA’s research program would be funded at $554.1 million in FY 2014, a $13.4 million reduction from FY 2014. Specific agency research initiatives would see funding increases and decreases within this overall reduction. STAR Graduate Research Opportunity Fellowships would be reduced by $16.4 million, drinking water research would be reduced by $2.3 million and research on beaches would be reduced by $1.1 million. Hazardous chemical disposal research would be increased by $4.1 million, climate change research would be increased by $3.2 million, green infrastructure research would be increased by $1.8 million and biofuel production research would be increased by $1.3 million.

Another EPA initiative that would receive a funding increase is the agency’s  climate protection program. The program would receive $106.2 million in the president’s FY 2014 budget, an increase of $6.8 million over FY 2012. This would include a $2.4 million increase to the agency’s ENERGY STAR program and a $2.4 million increase for the greenhouse gas reporting program.

Programs that focus on several key US water bodies would also see funding increases under the president’s budget. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative would receive $300 million in FY 2014, a $500,000 increase over FY 2012. EPA’s Chesapeake Bay program would receive $73 million, a $15.7 million increase over FY 2012. Wetlands programs would receive $27.7 million, an increase of $6.5 million over FY 2012.

Additional information on EPA’s budget is available here:


This week, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held hearings to review the White House’s scientific research priorities in its proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2014.

During the morning of April 17, the committee heard from White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren on the administration’s proposed research initiatives, including one to consolidate and reorganize federal agency Science, Technology, Engineering  and Mathematics (STEM) education programs so that they are primarily implemented under the Department of Education and the National Science Foundation (NSF). That afternoon, the Research Subcommittee met with NSF Acting Director Cora Marrett and National Science Board Chairman Dan Arvizu to discuss NSF’s FY 2014 budget request.

 “As this Committee has long emphasized, the best approach to supporting across-the-board innovation and long-term economic growth is to invest in a broad and balanced research portfolio – one that will produce not just planned-for and predictable benefits to the Nation, but also the entirely unexpected windfalls for society and the world,” stated Director Holdren.

Among committee leadership, there was bipartisan support for science and the general mission of NSF. Majority committee leaders expressed qualified support for the agency. “The NSF has great potential to help American science flourish and thus contribute to our economy and the well-being of our country,” asserted Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). “Our focus should be on how the federal government, including the NSF, can maximize the returns from taxpayer-funded research,” he continued.

“I strongly support NSF funding in mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, cyber security, and STEM education,” stated Research Subcommittee Chairman Larry Bucshon (R-IN). “Although the scientific community is not facing an ideal fiscal environment, I still believe that America’s best and brightest scientists will continue to persevere and produce the innovations and discoveries of tomorrow. We should support the hard-working scientist who stays up all night to repeat her experiments and doggedly pursues her ideas, because she believes she is onto a great discovery and will answer the big questions in her field.”

However, committee Republicans took issue with certain initiatives, such as increased funding for climate research through the administration’s Global Change Research Program and investments in alternative energy research. There was also a general sentiment among Republican committee members that there is a need to weed out studies which appear frivolous at first glance. In his opening statement for the afternoon hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Buchson inquired, “Do we really need a study entitled ‘The International Criminal Court and the Pursuit of Justice’?”

Research Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) acknowledged the need to address the nation’s burgeoning debt, but hoped that policymakers account for the fact that prioritizing science funding has multifaceted payoffs for society. “Sometimes priority-setting means increasing investments in areas that deliver real returns for taxpayers by improving our quality of life, protecting our population from natural and man-made threats, and ensuring our economic competitiveness,” stated Lipinski.   “Therefore, I am pleased that the administration’s FY14 budget request continues to emphasize science, innovation, and STEM education generally, and the National Science Foundation in particular.”

To view the OSTP hearing, click here:

To view the NSF hearing, click here:


On April 12, Sally Jewell was sworn in as the 51st Secretary of the Department of Interior. Jewell will be responsible for 70,000 employees and a wide range of initiatives that include federally protected lands, fish and wildlife preservation, energy development and various conservation initiatives.

The Senate confirmed Jewell April 10 by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 87-11. All Democrats and Independents supported the nominee. Republicans who voted against her included John Barrasso (WY), Saxby Chambliss (GA), Tom Coburn (OK), Mike Enzi (WY), Deb Fischer (NE), Mike Johanns (NE), Mike Lee (UT), Mitch McConnell (KY), Marco Rubio (FL), Tim Scott (SC) and David Vitter (LA). Sen. Jim Risch (R-ID) had temporary placed a hold on the nominee out of concern over whether Interior would support Idaho’s sage grouse management plan. Sen. Risch removed the hold when outgoing Interior Secretary Salazar sent a letter to the state government, clarifying the agency’s support for the plan.

Secretary Jewell commented on her new role in a DOI press statement: “Our public lands are huge economic engines for the nation,” she said. “From energy development to tourism and outdoor recreation, our lands and waters power our economy and create jobs. I look forward to working with you all to ensure that we are managing our public lands wisely and sustainably so that their multiple uses are available for the generations to come.”

Secretary Jewell was sworn in at the US Supreme Court. Retired Justice Sandra Day O’Connor administered the oath of office. Jewell and O'Connor worked together on the National Parks Second Century Commission, an independent commission tasked with developing a 21st Century agenda for the National Park Service.


On April 16, the Obama administration released its plan for implementing its National Oceans Policy initiative. The plan outlines a strategy to improve coordination between federal agencies in the management of ocean and coastal resources as well as improve dissemination of scientific information for the betterment of industry and communities.

The goals of the plan include improving forecasting of ocean conditions to protect public safety, improving severe storm and sea level data sharing, improving prioritization in regional marine planning, habitat restoration and improving capability to predict various impacts of climate change. The plan also includes a goal to develop regional marine plans by 2017.

The plan has already been met with opposition on Capitol Hill. “What is certain is that this policy represents a significant step towards the mandatory zoning of our oceans and is a backdoor attempt to control the way inland, coastal and ocean activities are managed,” asserted House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) in a press statement.  “If implemented, it will inflict red tape and economic damage both onshore and offshore across a wide-range of activities including agriculture, fishing, construction, manufacturing, mining, oil and natural gas, and renewable energy.”

Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Chairman Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) praised the effort, noting its bipartisan origins. “I’m proud to have supported the Oceans Act in 2000 that led to sweeping bipartisan recommendations for a new and comprehensive national ocean policy,” he stated. “The administration’s thoughtfully revised implementation plan marks a new and practical step in over a decade of federal ocean policy efforts and I look forward to working together with the administration to move the implementation plan forward.”

For additional information on the plan, click here:


On April 11, 2013, biologists from across the US fanned out across Capitol Hill, visiting over 55 congressional offices to talk about how federal investment in science research yields benefits to society.  Organized each year by the Ecological Society of America (ESA) and the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS), co-chairs of the Biological Ecological Sciences Coalition (BESC), this springtime event helps raise awareness among policymakers about federal science programs, from NSF to NOAA to USDA. ESA’s President Scott Collins and this year’s four ESA Graduate Student Policy Award recipients, Matthew Berg, Lindsay Deel, Caitlin McDonough MacKenzie and Carlos Silva were among the 30 participants.

ESA President Scott Collins, together with AIBS President Joe Travis, presented the BESC Congressional Leadership Award to 2013 recipients Reps. Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) and David Reichert (R-WA). Both Members of Congress have been steadfast supporters of key science legislation such as the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 (P.L. 111-358) as well as various legislative efforts to maintain science’s role in informing biological policy decisions.

Participants in the BESC Hill visits came prepared with personal stories about how federal funding aids their research, how their work helps them advance their professional development and benefits the communities in which they reside. While firm commitments to support science funding varied office to office, the graduate students and other participants mostly received welcome receptions from Congressional staff and elected officials and were able to use their local commonalities to relate with the policymakers.

The day before the Hill visits, the students met informally with several federal agency scientists to learn more about their role and mission.   Federal entities represented at the briefing included the United States Geological Survey, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the US Botanical Garden and the National Science Foundation. The federal ecologists also gave tips on how to pursue careers in the federal government. That afternoon the scientists were briefed from representatives of ESA and AIBS on the federal budget process and protocols regarding meeting with congressional offices on Capitol Hill.

For more on the congressional visits, click here:

Sources:AAAS, ClimateWire, Department of Interior, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Protection Agency, Greenwire, the Hill, House Natural Resources Committee, House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, the Washington Post, the White House

April 5, 2013

In This Issue


With policymakers seemingly adapting to the implementation of the sequester budget cuts as a fact of life for the time being, many federal agencies are now faced with furloughs to compensate for the funding cuts they must implement. The cuts remain in effect until such time as Congress comes up with a deal to reach $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction over the next ten years, an unlikelihood in the immediate future at least.

On April 1st, the White House announced that 480 of the 500 Office of Management and Budget (OMB) employees have been notified that they will be furloughed for 10 days for the remainder of the current Fiscal Year (FY) 2013. For each pay period beginning April 21 and through Sept. 7, OMB employees will have to take one unpaid furlough day. In addition, less money is being spent on supply and equipment purchases and many agencies have instituted work-related travel restrictions.

The Environmental Protection Agency is planning to initiate four-day weekends over Independence Day and Labor Day and plans on a skeleton crew on May 24, the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. Its employees are expected to take as much as 13 furlough days through FY 2013.

In an effort to minimize staff furloughs, the United States Geological Survey has pulled back on a number of its popular educational initiatives. This summer, it will no longer hire 1800 college students it utilizes to help monitor flood forecasting data and earthquake seismic activity. The agency is also ending its tours for school groups and the two-week science summer camps for children ages 8-12 that it has hosted annually since 1996.

Many agencies are instituting hiring freezes to save money. Among them is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is already wrestling with staff shortages. Emergency managers within the agency have expressed concern that the unfilled positions will eventually lead to decreased capacity to issue warnings and weather forecasting. Such forecasting is also necessary in helping water managers monitor stream flow and area water supplies.

The next opportunity Congress has to reach a deal on the sequester will be when the temporary suspension of the debt ceiling expires. Under current law, the debt ceiling suspension will expire on May 19. However, the US Department of Treasury has indicated that the implementation of extraordinary measures may extend a government default on debt until late July or early August. The White House plans to introduce its budget proposal for FY 2014 on April 10 to nullify sequester cuts. The proposal is expected to include $1.8 trillion in savings through a mix of entitlement reforms and revenue increases.


On March 26, the Environmental Protection Agency released a report that finds that 55 percent of US rivers and streams are in poor condition for aquatic life.

Among its findings:  27 percent of rivers and streams have high levels of nitrogen and 40 percent of these water bodies have high levels of phosphorous. Excessive amounts of these chemicals causes nutrient pollution that increases oxygen-depleting algae that make waterways uninhabitable for aquatic wildlife.

The study also found that high concentrations of mercury and bacteria have adversely affected waterways. Nine percent of rivers and streams had high concentrations of bacteria that deemed them potentially unsafe for swimming and other forms of recreation. Over 13,000 miles of waterways contain fish with mercury levels that may make them unsafe for human consumption, according to the report.

The survey noted that human disturbance has attributed to approximately 24 percent of rivers and streams not having a healthy amount of vegetative cover. Such vegetation helps prevent erosion, maintain water temperature and remove pollution carried by rainwater. Loss of this vegetative cover also increases flooding risks for communities living near these rivers and streams. 

For additional information on the report, click here:


On March 26, key wildlife agencies within the Obama administration announced the publication of a national strategy that seeks to buffer wildlife from impacts of climate change.

The “National Fish, Wildlife and Plants Climate Adaption Strategy,”   notes the value of plants and wildlife and seeks to provide information about threats and potential courses of action to mitigate those threats. The goals of the strategy include habitat conservation, increasing knowledge of climate impacts on wildlife as well as raising awareness and motivating actions that protect animals and plants.

The strategy was developed through collaboration between the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the New York Division of Fish, Wildlife and Marine Resources. An intergovernmental steering committee comprising 15 federal agencies, five state wildlife agencies, two inter-tribal commissions along with the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies also contributed to the strategy.

To view the full strategy, click here:


National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) climate scientist James Hansen is retiring from the federal government after 46 years of service to the agency’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies (GISS).

Hansen, 72, is the GISS’s longest serving director, having served in the position since 1981. During his tenure, Hansen frequently reported on the threat of climate change. He was among the first scientists to identify the ways in which rising temperatures are affecting the planet and the impacts climate change has on human society. He testified before Congress in 1988 on the threats posed by climate change. His retirement will allow him to further his climate change advocacy without the restrictions placed upon federal government employees.

Hansen has engaged in activism in his off-time frequently over the years, appearing at climate protests and even allowing himself to be arrested or cited on six occasions. Early this year, he was arrested for protesting against the Keystone XL pipeline. He was first arrested in 2009, joining university students in a coal protest. His critics often label him as an “alarmist,” though even allied colleagues state some of his views can lean on the extreme side. He has once asserted that climate change could eventually lead to Earth having an uninhabitable atmosphere similar to Venus.

Hansen received his Masters’ in Astronomy and his Ph.D. in Physics from Iowa University. Distinguished honors include the American Meteorological Society’s Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal (2009), American Geophysical Union’s Roger Revelle Medal (2001) and the Heinz Award for the Environment (1995). He was also honored as one of the “World’s Most Influential People” by Time Magazine (2006).

In retirement, Hansen plans to take a more active role in lawsuits challenging federal and state governments over their failure to reduce green house gas emissions. The New York Times reports that he intends to start working out of his farm in Pennsylvania, but may also accept an academic appointment or start an institute.

View the full NASA release here:


On April 2, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) announced that former United States Geological Survey (USGS) Director Marcia McNutt has been named as the next editor in chief of its leading journal Science and its associated publications.

The first woman to head the journal, McNutt is among several scientists who departed their positions as agency heads at the start of the Obama administration’s second term. She served at the helm of the USGS from October 2009 until earlier this year. Prior to working at the agency, she was CEO of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California (1997-2009). McNutt received her Ph.D. in earth sciences from Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California.

Founded in 1880 by journalist John Michels and Thomas Edison, Science includes peer reviewed studies and news articles covering topics of importance to the scientific community.
McNutt’s tenure with the journal begins on June 1, 2013. She succeeds Bruce Alberts, who has served since 2009 and had planned to step down at the end of his five year term.

For more information, see the AAAS press release:


The National Marine Fisheries Service has published a notice requesting input on whether sperm whales inhabiting the Gulf of Mexico warrant a “distinct population segment” listing under the Endangered Species Act.

The notice comes after the environmental group WildEarth Guardians petitioned to recognize the Gulf population of sperm whales (numbering roughly 1300) as a discrete group as the whales spend most of their lives in the area rather the migrating, which is unique among the species. While the general population of sperm whales are already listed as endangered, the Gulf sperm whales face unique threats posed by oil and gas exploration and development and shipping traffic in the region.

According to WildEarth Guardians, the Gulf sperm whales are physically smaller and gather in smaller groups than their outside counterparts, which help them forage in shallower water than larger sperm whales. They also note that the Gulf whales have developed a unique “dialect” that is “culturally learned” in a manner similar to human language. These unique adaptations would make it unlikely that other sperm whales would or could colonize the area, the organization asserts.

Public comments will be accepted through May 28, 2013. For additional information on how to submit comments, click here:

Sources:AAAS, ClimateWire, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Protection Agency, Greenwire, the Hill, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, New York Times, US Fish and Wildlife Service, US Geological Survey, the Washington Post