December 17, 2014

In This Issue

APPROPRIATIONS: CONGRESS PASSES FY 2015 ‘CROMNIBUS’ FUNDING PACKAGE

On Dec. 11, the US House of Representatives passed an omnibus bill to continue funding for most federal agencies through the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2015. The Senate then passed a two-day continuing resolution (CR) to avoid a government shutdown. In a rare evening session on Dec. 13, the Senate passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 56-40.

Dubbed the “CRomnibus,” (a play on the words continuing resolution and omnibus), the bill funds most federal agencies throughout the remainder of FY 2015 ending on Sept. 30, 2015. The sole exception is the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded under a CR until Feb. 2015. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rodgers (R-KY) negotiated the compromise agreement.

During House floor consideration of the measure, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) stated that he was unwilling to revise the bill’s text. If Congress could not pass the bill this year, the House would take up a CR to fund the government through early next year when Republicans controlled both the House and Senate. This helped influence a small, yet pivotal number of Democrats to conclude that supporting the current funding package was preferable to negotiating an FY 2015 appropriations bill in a political climate where Democrats had little leverage in both chambers.

Despite having concerns with certain provisions in the bill, the White House actively lobbied Congressional Democrats to support the legislation. The top two Democrats in the House were divided on the measure. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) voted against the bill while Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD) voted for it.

Republicans were successful in including language delaying the US Fish and Wildlife Service from making a determination to list the sage grouse as an endangered species for a year as well as strengthening Clean Water Act exemptions for the agricultural industry. However, the bill did not include language prohibiting the US Environmental Protection Agency from implementing the administration’s climate action plan. It also did not include restrictions on research into the social and behavioral sciences.

Under the measure, most federal agencies enjoyed only modest increases due to spending caps set forth under the Murray-Ryan budget agreement. The FY 2015 spending levels for federal agencies and programs of interest to the ecological community in comparison to FY 2014 enacted spending are as follows: 

Agriculture Research Service: $1.8 billion, a $55.1 million increase.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: $871 million, a $49 million increase.

Bureau of Land Management: $1.1 billion, a $13.7 million increase. 

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: $72.4 million, a $3.4 million increase.  

Bureau of Reclamation: $1.1 billion, a $25.8 million increase.

Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: $81 million, a $2.4 million increase.

Department of Energy Biological and Environmental Research: $592 million, an $18.2 million decrease.

Department of Energy Office of Science: $5.1 billion, level with FY 2014.

Environmental Protection Agency: $8.1 billion, a $60.1 million decrease.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration: $18 billion, a $364 million increase.

National Science Foundation: $7.3 billion, a $172.3 million increase.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $5.4 billion, a $126 million increase.

Natural Resources Conservation Service: $858.4 million, a $33.5 million increase.

National Park Service: $2.6 billion, a $53.1 million increase

Smithsonian Institution: $819.5 million, a $14.5 million increase.

US Army Corps of Engineers: $5.5 billion, a $15 million increase.

US Forest Service: $5.1 billion, a $423.4 million decrease.

US Fish and Wildlife Service: $1.4 billion, a $12.4 million increase.

US Geological Survey: $1 billion, a $13 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the FY 2015 omnibus bill:

http://www.appropriations.senate.gov/news/summary-fiscal-year-2015-omnibus-appropriations-bill

Click here for summaries of individual appropriations bills included in the FY 2015 omnibus:

http://appropriations.house.gov/files/?CatagoryID=34785

Click here for the White House Statement of Administration Policy:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/sites/default/files/omb/legislative/sap/113/saphr83h_20141211.pdf

SENATE: COMMITTEE CHAIRS, RANKING MEMBERS ANNOUNCED FOR 114TH CONGRESS

With the Senate set to change hands in January, Democrats and Republicans announced their picks for top committee positions for the 114th Congress.

The Senate will change from a 55-45 governing Democratic majority to a 54-46 Republican majority (Independents Angus King (ME) and Bernie Sanders (VT) will continue to caucus with Democrats). Committee membership rosters are proportional to the number of party members in the Senate, so committees will lose Democratic members while gaining a few Republican seats on most committees. 

Republicans will gain two seats while Democrats will lose two seats on these Senate Committees: Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; Appropriations; Budget; Commerce, Science and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Environment and Public Works; and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

Below is a list of chair and ranking member positions for Senate committees with jurisdiction over legislation of interest to the ecological community:

Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee: Pat Roberts (KS), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

Appropriations: Thad Cochran (R-MS), Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)

Budget: Republican TBD, Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Commerce Science and Transportation: John Thune (R-SD), Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Energy and Natural Resources: Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

Environment and Public Works: James Inhofe (R-OK), Barbara Boxer (D-CA)

Health, Education, Labor and Pensions: Mike Enzi (R-WY), Patty Murray (D-WA)

NSF: CENSUS CONSIDERS REMOVING FIELD OF DEGREE QUESTION

The US Census Bureau has identified the “Field of Degree” question as a candidate for removal from its American Community Survey (ACS), which tracks population demographics that help determine how federal and state resources are directed. The National Science Foundation’s (NSF) National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) relies on this question to identify scientists and engineers in the US population and to compile and track statistical data trends in the science and engineering workforce.

NCSES has reached a preliminary conclusion that it would be difficult, if not impossible, to achieve the same level of quality data collection through alternative means without significant additional costs to the federal government and burden to survey respondents.

NSF’s National Science Board is urging stakeholders to respond to the US Census Bureau’s call for public comment, published in the Federal Register. The public comment period expires Dec. 30, 2014.

Click here for additional background information. Click here to comment on the proposal. For more background on the American Community Survey, click here.

PUBLIC LANDS: DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION INCLUDES WILDERNESS, NATIONAL PARKS BILLS

On Dec. 12, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2015 National Defense Authorization Act. The bill includes an omnibus package of bipartisan public lands bills supported by outgoing Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and retiring House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA).

The 450-page public lands package is the largest federal lands initiative passed by Congress since the Omnibus Public Lands Management Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11). Retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) sought to strip the public lands provisions from the defense authorization bill, but his motion failed by a strongly bipartisan vote of 18-82. The president is expected to sign the bill.

The compromise agreement both designates new protected areas while opening other areas to logging and energy development. The bill designates approximately 245,000 acres as wilderness in wilderness in Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado, Washington and Montana and protects 140 miles of rivers.  It also releases 26,000 acres of wilderness study areas for private development.

The bill includes language authored by Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) on the Tongass National Forest. About 70,000 acres of old-growth forest will be transferred to Sealaska, an Alaska Native corporation, settling the longstanding debt owed to southeast tribes under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. The bill would also put 150,000 acres of Tongass old-growth in new conservation areas. Murkowski will chair the committee in January when Republicans take control of the Senate.

It also incorporates a bill by Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) to authorize a land swap between the federal government and mining company Rio Tinto PLC. The move opens up 2,400 acres of Arizona’s Tonto National Forest to copper development.

Its location near sacred tribal land spurred strong opposition from Native Americans. Reps. Tom Cole (R-OK), a member of the Chickasaw Nation and Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), a member of the Cherokee Nation, broke with a majority of their party to oppose the legislation. The Obama administration also opposed the Arizona land swap language.

Click here for additional information on the public lands provisions:

http://naturalresources.house.gov/legislation/?legislationid=397951

CLIMATE CHANGE: VAN HOLLEN TO CO-CHAIR BICAMERAL TASK FORCE

Congressman Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) has been selected to succeed retiring Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA) as the House co-chair of the Bicameral Climate Change Task Force at the start of the 114th Congress. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) will continue as the Senate co-chair.

Rep. Waxman and Sen. Whitehouse established the group to draw congressional and public attention to climate change and push for policy action. The group periodically releases fact sheets on alternative energy sources and makes public statements about national policy developments or actions related to climate change.

Congressman Van Hollen is the current Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee and serves as Vice-chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. He has sponsored H.R. 5271, the Healthy Climate and Family Security Act, which would charge carbon-emitting industries to cut their emissions 80 percent by 2050 to 2005 levels. The revenue generated would be returned to the public in the form of a “Healthy Climate Dividend.”

Click here for additional information on the Bicameral Climate Change Task Force.

FEDERAL REGISTER PUBLIC COMMENT OPPORTUNITIES

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

Solicitation: Nominations due Jan. 9, 2015

NOAA is requesting nominations for members of its Science Advisory Board. 

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/10/2014-28939/solicitation-for-members-of-the-noaa-science-advisory-board

Notice: Public comment period closes Jan. 26, 2015

National invasive lionfish prevention and management plan

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/12/2014-29199/national-invasive-lionfish-prevention-and-management-plan

Proposed rule: Public comment period closes Mar. 9, 2015

Critical Habitat Designation for the Arctic subspecies (Phoca hispida hispida) of the ringed seal (Phoca hispida)

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/09/2014-28808/endangered-and-threatened-species-designation-of-critical-habitat-for-the-arctic-ringed-seal

US Fish and Wildlife Service

Draft Recovery Plan: Public comment period closes Feb. 9, 2015

Draft recovery strategy for four Santa Rosa Plain CA animal and plant species.

https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/11/2014-29123/endangered-and-threatened-wildlife-and-plants-draft-recovery-plan-for-four-species-of-the-santa-rosa

CURRENT POLICY

Passed Senate

S.Res. 564, honoring conservation on the centennial of the passenger pigeon extinction – Introduced by Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), the nonbinding resolution commemorates the 100th anniversary of the passenger pigeon extinction and recognizes the importance conserving natural habitats for bird populations and preserving biodiversity.

H.R. 5771, the Tax Increase Prevention Act – Introduced by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI), the bill extends a number of tax cuts and credits that expired in 2013 and 2014, including the research development tax credit. The bill extends these measures only through the end of this year to make 2014 tax filing easier. The White House threatened to veto a more comprehensive long-term bill, arguing it extended breaks for businesses while failing to include certain extensions that affect low-income and middle-class workers. The bill passed the Senate Dec. 16 by a vote of 76-16 after passing the House Dec. 3 by a vote of 378-46. The president is expected to sign the measure.

 1800, the Bureau of Reclamation Transparency Act – Introduced by Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), the bill would require biannual reports on repair needs for the nation’s federally owned dams and other Bureau of Reclamation-managed facilities. The bill passed the Senate by unanimous consent Dec. 16.


Sources: National Science Foundation, US Census Bureau, House Appropriations Committee, House Natural Resources Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Greenwire, the Hill, National Journal, Roll Call

August 9, 2014

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
August 9-10, 2014
Sacramento, CA 

Members Present
Jill Baron                     President
Scott Collins               Past-President
David Inouye              President-Elect
Leslie Real                  VP for Finance
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Valerie Eviner             VP for Science
Julie Reynolds            VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham         Secretary
Carmen Cid                 Member at Large
Stephen Jackson        Member at Large
Michelle Mack             Member at Large

Staff Present
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs          Directory of Finance
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
Alison  Mize                Director, Public Affairs
Regina Przygocki       Publications Office

Incoming Board Members
Evan Delucia
Monica Turner
Ana Elisa Perez Quintero

Guests Sunday, August 10, 2014
Hal Balbach    2014 Program Chair
Carol Brewer   2015 Program Chair
Jing Duan        EHS Managing Editor for China
Aaron Ellison  Editor in Chief, Ecological Monographs
Nancy Huntly Centennial Implementation Committee
Ed Johnson     Editor in Chief, ESA Bulletin
Debra Peters    Editor in Chief, Ecosphere
Josh Schimel   Publications Committee Chair
Don Strong     Editor in Chief, Ecology
Yonglong Lu   Editor in Chief, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

9:00 am, August 9, 2014, meeting called to order by President Jill Baron 

  1. Roll Call and Agenda
  1. Adopt Agenda
    Sharon Collinge moved and David Inouye seconded a motion to approve the agenda.  All aye.
  2. Ratification of Vote-Minutes from May 2014
    David Inouye moved and Sharon Collinge seconded ratification of the minutes of the May 2014 meeting.  All aye.

 

  1. Reports

 

  1. Report of the President

Jill Baron reserved comments for later in the meeting, and thanked ESA staff for all of their efforts on behalf of the Society.  She also stressed the importance of retention and recruitment of members.

 

  1. Report of the ESA Staff

Katherine McCarter previewed reports that will be provided by staff during the meeting.

Alison Mize summarized efforts of the Public Affairs office, particularly with reference to activities in Congress.  David Inouye suggested doing more to inform members of letters sent to Congress from the Society.  Sue Silver thanked the Frontiers editorial board for their efforts to keep the quality of articles high.  David Baldwin has been on leave in Mexico, and thanked Regina Przygocki and Publication Office staff for the smooth running of the journals in his absence.   Cliff Duke reviewed efforts by the Science Office, focusing on the new program on “Sustaining Biological Infrastructure” to offer short courses on non-profit management.  He also updated the board on activities related to the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services.   Michelle Horton gave the board an update on the Sacramento meeting.  Growth in the size of the meeting program has required use of nearby hotels for some sessions.  Teresa Mourad noted that approximately 30 SEEDS students will be participating in the 2014 meetings.  She provided details of the recent SEEDS program review and noted that results will be presented in both a poster and an oral session during the meetings.  She summarized approaches for funding the program. A video will be shown in the opening plenary to encourage member donations to the program.  Regina Przygocki reviewed activities in the Publications Office, including major updates in the software infrastructure for the journals.  Elizabeth Biggs reviewed membership trends over the past 18 years.  There was an increase in membership following the launch of Frontiers in 2003.  Since then membership has fluctuated, but dropped below 9000 in 2013.  There was discussion of a number of new initiatives to strengthen the sense of community among professional ecologists, and recent efforts to increase participation by students and early career ecologists in activities of the Society.

 

  1. Financial Update

 

  1. Fourth Quarter Financials

Elizabeth Biggs and Katherine McCarter reviewed the budget and fourth quarter financial report.   Katherine noted that this is the first budget in many years that does not include a surplus that can be allocated to reserves.  Financial challenges with scientific publications continue to put pressure on the budget.  Subscription revenue over the past year was significantly below budget, in part because of restructuring of subscription fees that reduced subscription costs to a number of institutional subscribers.  Total revenue was more than $400,000 below budget, but expenses were lower by a similar amount, so it is anticipated that there may only be a small draw on unrestricted funds to balance the budget.

 

III. Discussion/Action Items

 

  1. FY 2014-2015 ESA Budget

 

  1. Proposed ESA FY 2014-2015 Budget

Les Real moved and Sharon Collinge seconded recommending to the Council the approval of a revised 2014-2015 budget.  All aye.

 

  1. Board Strategic Initiatives

There was discussion of two specific ideas for use of board strategic initiative funds, as well as discussion of the process by which resources from the Opportunity Fund are used for strategic initiatives.  There was sentiment that the topic should be discussed each year, but without a sense that the funds need to be used each year rather than accumulated over time for more substantive initiatives (such as the strategic review of publications).

 

Sharon Collinge moved and Steve Jackson seconded that $5,500 be allocated to support the Ad Hoc Certification Committee and $4,500 be allocated to complete SEEDS fundraising efforts begun last year.  All aye.

 

  1. Long-Range Planning Grant Subcommittee

Katherine McCarter reviewed guidelines the governing board adopted last year for awarding long-range planning grants to sections, chapters and committees.  Jill Baron appointed the Governing Board Members-at-Large to serve as the committee to review proposals for long-range planning grants.

 

  1. Discussion of Council Presentation

Katherine reviewed topics to be presented at the Council meeting on Aug. 10, 2014.

 

  1. Fundraising

Charlie Canham reviewed the fundraising strategy, with particular emphasis on the Opportunity Fund.  Discussion focused on identifying a limited list of the most compelling needs.   Coordinating fundraising efforts with Centennial activities was also discussed.

 

  1. Review of Governing Board Annual Meeting Activities

Katherine reviewed the schedule of events for the Governing Board during the Sacramento meeting.

 

  1. Sustainability Science Award

Sharon Collinge moved and Julie Reynolds seconded that the Society accept the recommendation of the Sustainability Science Award subcommittee to establish a second award in this category, entitled “The ESA Innovation in Sustainability Science Award”.  All aye.

 

  1. Annual Meeting 2019 – Recommendation

Meetings Co-Chair Kiyoko Miyanishi joined the meeting to present the recommendation that New Orleans be selected as the site for the 2019 Annual Meeting.  She summarized the pros and cons of the site.  In particular, the hotels are willing to guarantee room rates in 2019 that are lower than current hotel rates in Sacramento.  Valerie Eviner moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to approve the selection of New Orleans as the site for the 2019 Annual Meeting.   All aye. There appears to be a consensus that the most popular meeting sites should be used repeatedly.

 

  1. Environmental Offsets

Susan Ustin, local host for the 2014 meetings has recommended that the environmental offset funds generated by the Sacramento meeting be awarded to the Yolo Basin Foundation, a local non-profit founded to assist in establishing the Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area located in the flood bypass for the Sacramento River.  Steve Jackson moved and Julie Reynolds seconded awarding the environmental offset funds to the Yolo Basin Foundation.  All aye.

Julie Reynolds offered to draft a paragraph to provide more guidance to the local hosts about the environmental offsets.  She will have it for the fall meeting.

 

  1. Public Policy Recommendations

Sharon Collinge introduced the recommendations of the Public Affairs Office and Public Affairs Committee for public policy priorities for the coming year.  The Committee met in May and generated a list of issues in eight general areas: (1) energy and climate, (2) water quality and quantity, (3) disasters affecting ecosystems, (4) STEM education, (5) endangered species, (6) invasive species, (7) urban ecosystems, and (8) federal investment in natural resource and research agencies.  The list is not designed to exclude action on other issues.

Charlie Canham moved and Les Real seconded adopting the public policy priorities.  All aye.

 

  1. Earth Stewardship Update

Jill Baron reviewed the history of ESA activities that led to the Earth Stewardship Initiative, and summarized activities at the 2014 Annual Meeting that are motivated by the Initiative.

 

  1. Ad Hoc Certification Committee

During the May 2014 Governing Board meeting, the Board asked President Jill Baron to name and charge an ad hoc committee to review ESA’s certification program.  This request resulted from a discussion that was initiated by Linda Heath, former chair of the Board of Professional Certification. She noted that the program had not been reviewed since its inception in the 1980’s. Carmen Cid was appointed chair of the committee, and presented a synopsis of the charge to the committee, and a timeline for their work.

 

  1. Strategic Review of Publications

ESA has engaged Rising Tide to conduct a strategic review of ESA publications.  Katherine McCarter provided an update on the effort.

 

  1. Actively Engaging with NEON—Discussion

Jill Baron discussed the idea of creating an ad hoc committee to provide input from the ecological community to NEON.

 

The Governing Board went into Executive Session at 4:00 pm, and adjourned at 5:00 pm.

 

Sunday, August 10, 2014 – meeting called to order at 8:30 am

 

III. Discussion/Action Items (continued)

 

  1. 2014 Annual Meeting

Hal Balbach, 2014 Program Chair, gave an update on changes in the program planning process.  He thanked Susan Ustin for serving as the local host and coordinating field trips.  Jill Baron thanked Jennifer Riem for her extraordinary work on the program.

 

  1. Centennial

Nancy Huntly, Chair of the Centennial Implementation Committee, reported on activities related to the Centennial year.  A call for proposals has been distributed for funding available to Sections and Chapters for activities they would like to propose.   Huntly and Carol Brewer, 2015 Program Chair discussed changes to the meeting structure for the Centennial.  The Board encouraged them to be creative but cautioned that changes should not reduce the opportunities for members to make presentations.

 

  1. Publications Meetings

 

  1. Publications Committee

Josh Schimel gave an update on work of the Publications Committee during the past year. Several editors-in-chief were reviewed and reappointed during the year, and an effort is underway to recruit a new editor-in-chief for Ecological Monographs.  Dr. Yonglong Lu, Editor-in-Chief of the new journal Ecosystem Health and Sustainability, was introduced.

 

  1. Ecology

Don Strong, Editor-in-Chief of Ecology reported that Ecology is on an even keel, and that submission, acceptance, and rejection rates are stable, with acceptance rates in low to mid-20% level.  He is concerned about staffing support in the Publication Office and publication delays for the Journal.  He feels that the problems are structural and related to staffing.  He thinks there is an opportunity to pursue tighter linkages between Ecology and Ecosphere.

 

  1. Ecological Monographs

Aaron Ellison, Editor-in-Chief of Ecological Monographs echoed Don Strong’s comments that acceptance, and rejection rates are typical of 5-year averages, but that submission rates are down substantially during the past year.  The journal has experimented with Twitter, with some success.

 

  1. Ecological Applications

David Baldwin gave a report on Ecological Applications, including announcement of the first paper in a new format for “virtual invited features”, in which papers in invited features are published as they are ready, and will then be linked into a virtual special feature electronically.  Submissions during 2013 were up 15% over the previous year, and have been steady during the first half of 2014.   Ecological Applications has instituted a data archiving requirement for accepted papers.

 

  1. Ecosphere

Debra Peters, Editor-in-Chief of Ecosphere noted that the journal has its first impact factor to report.  Submissions are increasing, and the first special feature has been published, and can be done as “virtual” features that are linked once all of the individual papers have been published.

 

  1. Ecosystem Health and Sustainability

Dr. Lu gave a thorough presentation on the status and future of the new journal, with the first issue slated for January, 2015.  There was extensive discussion of the challenges of launching the new journal and achieving the goals of rapid publication of very high quality research.

 

  1. Frontiers

Sue Silver, Editor-in-Chief of Frontiers reviewed the year at Frontiers, including efforts to reduce costs.

 

  1. Bulletin

Ed Johnson, Editor-in-Chief of the Bulletin reviewed plans for the next 4 issues of the Bulletin related to the Centennial celebration.  He would like to receive histories from sections and chapters.

 

Meeting adjourned at 12:00 pm.

 

 

 

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,

August 15, 2014

Sacramento, CA

 

Members Present

David Inouye              President

Jill Baron                     Past-President

Evan Delucia               VP for Finance

Valerie Eviner             VP for Science

Julie Reynolds             VP for Education and Human Resources

Charles Canham          Secretary

Carmen Cid                 Member at Large

Ana Elise Perez Quintero        Member at Large

 

Members Absent

Monica Turner President-Elect

Scott Collins               VP for Public Affairs

Leah Gerber                Member at Large

 

Staff Present

Katherine McCarter    Executive Director

Cliff Duke                   Director, Science

Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings

Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity

Sue Silver                    Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers

Alison  Mize                Director, Public Affairs

 

Visitors

Kate Gallagher            Student Section Co-Chair

 

Meeting called to order by President David Inouye at 8:30 am

 

  1. Information

David Inouye welcomed new board members, and thanked Jill Baron for her service during the past year.  He reviewed 2014-2015 meeting dates.  He described early planning for the program for the Centennial meeting.   Kate Gallagher described plans by the Student Section for a monthly newsletter, and liaisons with other sections.

 

  1. Discussion/Action Items

 

  1. Audit Committee

David Inouye appointed Jill Baron to serve on the Audit Committee.

 

  1. Meetings Format Recommendations

There was discussion of ideas for increasing the numbers of early and mid-career members attending the meetings, including high-profile named (and sponsored) lectures.

 

  1. Current Issues

 

  1. Centennial Celebration

Evan Delucia described fundraising efforts with foundations and corporations for support of activities at the Centennial meeting.

 

  1. Earth Stewardship

The landscape design project led by Alex Felson was a very active and visible activity during the meeting.   There is hope that a similar activity will be scheduled for the Centennial meeting.  Carmen Cid mentioned that the faith communities are expected to be active in the coming year in activities related to earth stewardship.

 

  1. Publications Strategic Review

An initial report from the strategic review of publications is expected for the November board meeting.

 

III. Other

 

Jill Baron mentioned contacts from other professional societies requesting that ESA provide booths at their annual meetings.

 

Meeting adjourned at 9:45 am

 

May 5, 2014

Minutes of the ESA Governing Board,
May 5-6, 2014
Washington, DC

Members Present
Jill Baron                     President
Scott Collins               Past-President
David Inouye              President-Elect
Leslie Real                  VP for Finance
Sharon Collinge          VP for Public Affairs
Valerie Eviner             VP for Science
Julie Reynolds             VP for Education and Human Resources
Charles Canham          Secretary
Carmen Cid                 Member at Large
Stephen Jackson          Member at Large
Michelle Mack            Member at Large

Staff Present
Katherine McCarter    Executive Director
Elizabeth Biggs           Directory of Finance
Cliff Duke                   Director, Science
Michelle Horton          Director, Administration and Meetings
Teresa Mourad            Director, Education and Diversity
Sue Silver                   Editor-in-Chief, Frontiers
Alison  Mize                Director, Public Affairs
Regina Przygocki         Publications Office

9:00 am, May 5, 2014, meeting called to order by President Jill Baron

I. Agenda and Approval of Minutes 

  1. Adopt Agenda
    David Inouye moved and Carmen Cid seconded adopting the agenda.  All aye.
  2. Approval of the Minutes of the August 2013 Governing Board Meetings.
    David Inouye moved and Val Eviner seconded approval of the November 2013 minutes.   All aye.
  3. Ratify vote – Regional Policy Award
    Steve Jackson moved and Scott Collins seconded a motion to approve the recommendation of Darrell Steinberg, California State Senate Majority Leader as the winner of the 2014 Regional Policy Award.   All aye.

II. Reports

  1. Report of the President
    Jill Baron reported on activities related to the Earth Stewardship Initiative, including the project entitled “Integrating Ecological Science into Landscape and Urban Design” to be conducted during the 2014 meetings in Sacramento.
  2. Report of the Executive Director and Staff
    Katherine McCarter introduced the staff reports contained in the board packet.  Cliff Duke highlighted several new projects, including a 2-year grant to increase the visibility of the Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services within the scientific community.  Michelle Horton gave an update on preparation for the 2014 annual meeting.  They have retained a company to prepare an iPhone, Droid, and tablet app for the program of the meeting.   Alison Mize, the new Director of the Public Affairs program, reviewed recent efforts, including bringing graduate students to DC for meetings with congressional representatives.   She noted that The National Climate Assessment will be released this week.

Sue Silver reported on recent special issues of Frontiers.  They are introducing new open access components of Frontiers.  Teresa Mourad presented highlights of the Office of Education and Diversity Programs.  She summarized a recent SEEDS leadership meeting, and thanked Jill Baron for her help with the meeting.  There are several field trips scheduled for students in the program, including to the Trout Lake and Mountain Lake field stations.  Results of the SEEDS evaluation report will be presented later in the board meeting.  Regina Przygocki reported on activities of the Publication Office while David Baldwin is working part time from Mexico.  The Office is looking for new software for management of the production process.  Elizabeth Biggs gave a brief update on finances, since there will be an in-depth review of finances later in the meeting. Membership numbers and institutional subscriptions are both up slightly over the same time last year.

  • Financial Update
    Elizabeth Biggs, Director of Finance, reviewed the Society’s third quarter financial status.  Both dues and subscription revenue are going to be below budget for the fiscal year.  But both salary and benefits are also below budget, in part because the position of Director of the Public Affairs Program was vacant for part of the year.  As a result, total revenue was above expenses but at a much lower level than at the same time last year.  Liz also reported on the status of our investment accounts.  The Society has investments managed by both Merrill Lynch and Towneley Capital Management and both portfolios are performing well.

 

III. Discussion/Action Items

  • Report of the Audit Committee
    Steve Jackson moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to accept the Audit Committee report.  All aye.
  • Program Review – Financial Status
    Liz Biggs reviewed the financial status of the Society, focusing on sources of unrestricted net income.  She began by reviewing the balance of income (less investments) versus expenses for the past 9 years.  Balances have been positive in all years from 2005-2013.  Including investments, the cumulative effect has been a $2.3M net balance which has resulted in unrestricted net assets of $2.9M.  In contrast, as recently as 1999, the society’s unrestricted net assets were negative ($126,363).   The Governing Board has set a goal of $5M in unrestricted net assets.  Liz then reviewed how the different categories of revenue and expenses have changed since 2005.  Dues revenue varies significantly year-to-year, largely because of variation in meeting attendance, while the long-term average has increased slightly because of built-in and gradual increases in membership dues.  Subscription revenue has declined slightly from a peak in 2009, despite increases in institutional subscription rates.  The numbers of institutional subscriptions has declined in 6 of the 7 last years, from a peak of 2,015 in 2006 to 1,791 in 2013.  Member subscriptions have also dropped, in part attributed to online institutional subscriptions.  There was extensive discussion of strategies for retaining and expanding institutional subscriptions, particularly at smaller institutions and government agencies.  The Annual Meeting is an important source of net income.  The Board has set a target of a minimum of $80,000 in net income from the meetings, and this target has been met in each of the last 9 years.  The actual net income varies from $96,000 to $432,000, and is a function of both attendance and expenses associated with the site.  Julie Reynolds suggested that the Board increase the expected net income from meetings.  There was discussion of the perennial issue of selecting locations for meetings to balance issues related to maximizing attendance and net revenue versus geographic diversity.  Scott Collins noted that the most fundamental goal of the meeting is to encourage the largest number of members to attend and interact.  There has been strong sentiment to set up a rotation in which certain cities are used repeatedly.

    Les Real moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to set the minimum expected net income from the annual meeting at $125,000, beginning in 2019.  All aye.

    Liz Biggs then reviewed page charge revenue.  This typically amounts to close to $500,000/yr (including income from special features in Frontiers).  Income relative to expense for Ecosphere is projected at about $20,000 for 2014.

  • Proposed FY 2014-2015 ESA Budget

    1.Budget and Assumptions
    Katherine McCarter introduced the Fiscal Year 2014-2015 Budget Proposal.  Highlights include changes in journal subscription policies that are designed to bring institutional subscription revenue back to 2012 levels.  Membership dues are also expected to increase based on anticipated annual meeting attendance.   Per Council vote of August 2007, membership dues will increase by 2% for all members in 2015.  In lieu of the normal annual allocation of $50,000 to unrestricted funds, that money will be devoted to Centennial activities.  There are no significant capital expenses in the draft budget.   The budget will be reviewed again at the August meeting before bringing it to the Council for approval.
    2. Board Strategic Initiatives
    There was discussion of a number of ideas for use of the Board Strategic Initiative funds, including reserving the monies so that they accumulate in the Opportunity Fund for future initiatives.  The strategic review of ESA journals being considered during this meeting would likely be funded from the Opportunity Fund.

  • Strategic Review of the ESA Journals
    For several years, the Governing Board has been discussing the future of ESA’s publication program. Stresses on journal publishing include open access, declining library subscriptions, and the demand for new technology. The publication program has been a major source of funding for ESA and the Board is aware of the decline in revenue due to fewer institutional subscriptions.

    As a follow up to these conversations, President Jill Baron and Executive Director Katherine McCarter are recommending that Bill Burke of Rising Tide be engaged to do a Strategic Review of ESA’s journals. The effort will take no less than three months and no more than six months. The review would:

    * Review ESA’s publication portfolio (peer review, production practices, use of technology, mode of access, etc)
    * Conduct a competitive review of the standing of ESA’s journals in relation to their direct and major competitors
    * Benchmark ESA against like publishers and identify practices that have led to their success
    * Determine what actions ESA needs to take to be successful in the future – include a range of operational options to pursue

    Bill Burke joined the meeting via speakerphone to summarize their proposal and take questions from the Governing Board.  There was extensive discussion of the review.  Julie Reynolds noted that it would be desirable to have bids from other sources.

    Charles Canham moved and Sharon Collinge seconded a motion to approve soliciting a formal bid from Rising Tide, with a maximum budget of $75,000.  All aye.

  • Ecosystem Health and Sustainability Update
    Sue Silver and Regina Przygocki updated the Board on progress with the development of the joint journal with the Ecological Society of China, Ecosystem Health and Sustainability.  A journal website was launched in March 2014 and the Ecotrack portion of the journal is to be available by June 2014.  They hope to have the first papers published in January 2015.
  • Fundraising Update
    Charles Canham reviewed efforts to increase the number and average size of donations to the Fund for the Future.  He thanked board members for the e-mails they sent to ESA members last winter.  In the coming year fundraising efforts will be coordinated with planning for the Centennial year.  Michelle Mack suggested developing posters that can be displayed at the annual meeting to illustrate the need for and use of donations to the Fund for the Future.
  • Mid-term Review – Education
    Teresa Mourad, Director of Diversity and Education and Julie Reynolds, Vice President for Education and Human Resources updated the Board about education and diversity program priorities since the last review.  She presented initial results from the NSF-funded review of the SEEDS program, including surveys and compilation of data from both current students and alumnae.  She reviewed 2013-2014 priorities for the Committee for Diversity and Education.  These include preparing for the Centennial, the annual diversity luncheon, the sustainability of SEEDS funding, and vision and change in undergraduate biology education.
  • New Generation Report – Implementation Update
    The Ecology for a New Generation Committee made its final report to the Governing Board at its May 2012 meeting. While the Board did not specifically approve all the recommendations, it encouraged ESA staff, sections and chapters to review the report and implement the recommendations as appropriate. Director of Education and Diversity Teresa Mourad has sent a survey to sections and others to gather information for the update. She presented results to the Board, noting that many of the recommendations are being addressed by the Society and by individual sections, chapters, and committees.
  • Early Career Ecologist Section Petition
    Daniel Scholes and an organizing committee have submitted a petition to establish an Early Career Ecologist Section. The petition contains a statement of general scope, proposed bylaws, and the names of at least 50 members.

    Staff review of the proposed bylaws indicates that they are in accordance with the requirements of the ESA Constitution and Bylaws and also confirm that 50 members have signed the petition.

    Scott Collins moved and Julie Reynolds seconded approval of the Bylaws of the Early Career Ecologist Section.  All aye.

    Scott Collins moved and Julie Reynolds seconded recommending that the Council approve the formation of the Early Career Ecologist Section.  All aye.

  • Proceedings of the National Vegetation Classification
    The ESA Panel on Vegetation Classification has been collaborating to develop the standards for a national classification and construction of the classification itself since 1994. In 2009, the ESA Council amended the ESA By-laws to grant the Panel standing committee status.

    ESA’s panel on Vegetation Classification is proposing that ESA agree to house the Proceedings of the National Vegetation Classification (NVC), an online resource that would document changes in the NVC.

    The National Vegetation Classification is dynamic—it can be changed in response to new information from the field. In the last several years, the Federal Government has relied on ESA’s Vegetation Panel to develop a peer review process to review proposed changes. ESA is being asked to house the review materials and products. After completion of the NVC (anticipated in 2015) proposed changes will begin to be submitted and the ESA Panel will maintain the leadership of the review process.

    Scott Collins moved and Les Real seconded a motion to approve that ESA will house the Proceedings of the National Vegetation Classification in an online format.  All Aye.

    Tuesday, May 6, 2014
    The Governing Board met in executive session from 8:00 – 9:00 am.

  • ESA Professional Certification – Review
    Linda Heath, former chair of the ESA Certification Program has provided a background document on the Professional Certification program and a suggestion that the program, established in 1981, would benefit from a review including an update of its criteria and consideration of new directions.   Heath’s document not only contains the argument for the need for an update of the certification program, but also contains the kinds of questions and concerns that should be addressed.

    Steve Jackson moved and Julie Reynolds seconded a motion to approve the appointment by ESA President Jill Baron of an Ad Hoc Committee to review the certification program. A charge, time frame, and selection of members will be determined by the President.

  • Automatic Section Membership
    During the November 2013 Governing Board meeting, the Board approved a motion to “recommend to the Council increasing the Student Membership by $2, with the additional funding dedicated to Student section activities”.   There was also discussion of the issue of whether all student members should be automatically enrolled in the Student Section, and whether all membership classes should include membership in a section of the member’s choice.  Currently about 60% of ESA members pay the $5 fee to join a section.  Attendees of the annual meetings will, beginning this year, be able to join a section while at the meeting.

    Julie Reynolds moved and Val Eviner seconded that the Board recommend to the Council that all membership categories be increased by $5 and that all members are invited to select one section or chapter as part of their basic membership.  Additional section or chapter memberships can still be selected for $5 each.  Student dues would increase by the $2.00 going to the student section and the $5.00 fee for a section or chapter of their choice. All aye.

  • Centennial Implementation – Update
    The Centennial Implementation Committee, chaired by Nancy Huntly, was charged to oversee the implementation of various activities approved for funding by the Governing Board as part of the Centennial celebration during 2015. These activities include Centennial Papers in ESA journals, a video production, efforts by the Past Presidents and Historical Records Committees, and allocation of funds for activities organized by Chapters, Sections, and Students. The Committee Chair also communicates with ESA Staff, the 2015 Program Chair, the Historical Records Committee Chair, the Past Presidents Chair, and Section Chairs to coordinate and promote the Centennial.

    Nancy Huntly provided a written update on activities of the committee.

  • 2015 Centennial Theme
    Carol Brewer, Program Chair for 2015, in consultation with Nancy Huntly, Chair of the Centennial Implementation Committee, and others has submitted a suggested theme for the ESA 2015 Centennial meeting in Baltimore, Maryland.   The board discussed feedback to provide to the Program Chair for revision of the theme.  Jill Baron will pass on comments from Governing Board members to Carol Brewer.
  • Report of the Nominations Committee
    Scott Collins announced the slate of candidates for the 2014 ESA Governing Board elections.  Steve Jackson moved and David Inouye seconded approving the slate of candidates.  All aye.

    Les Real moved and Charlie Canham seconded the motion to appoint Scott Collins to serve a one-year term as Vice President of Public Affairs, to fill the vacancy from 2014-2015.  All aye.

  • Report of the Awards Committee
    The Awards Committee, chaired by Alan Hastings, has provided its recommendations for the ESA-wide awards to be presented during the Scientific Plenary at the 2014 Sacramento Annual Meeting. These recommendations also contain nominations for Fellows and Early Career Fellows and the Whittaker and Shreve awards.

    Scott Collins moved and Valerie Eviner seconded approving the slate of candidates for the awards.    10 votes aye, 1 abstention.

Meeting adjourned at 11:30 am,  May 6, 2014

Applications Scientist at LI-COR

Applications Scientist

Overview
1) Provide specialized technical support to researchers and scientists, especially for photosynthesis products, including plant gas exchange and leaf chlorophyll fluorescence, as well as canopy architecture, leaf area, and light measurement. 2) Provide scientific leadership in understanding and developing new products and product applications, 3) Present results to the scientific community in professional talks, workshops, and published manuscripts, 4) Write technical application notes and provide training to LI-COR customers and employees, 5) Actively participate in the technical sales process.

Professional Qualifications
Education
Ph.D. or equivalent experience in ecophysiology, environmental physics, plant physiology, agronomy or related field. Preferred experience in mathematical modeling or analysis of biological or environmental problems, turbulent fluxes, hydrologic systems, light propagation in canopies, or related processes.
Language
Ideal candidate will be fluent in Mandarin.
Experience
•Understanding and practical experience in ecophysiology, environmental physics, plant physiology, agronomy or related field.
•Familiarity with the techniques, instrumentation, and laboratory procedures fundamental to plant physiology, environmental physics, agronomy or related field.
•Understanding of mathematical and physical principles as they relate to instrumentation and biological or environmental issues.
•Demonstrated record of independent creative activity and expertise relating to plant physiology or environmental instrumentation.
•Experience in working with, teaching, or mentoring colleagues, students and/or customers.
•Demonstrated record of writing published scientific papers and/or posters or proven history of writing technical or marketing documents describing creative scientific activity of LI-COR products or applications.
•Ability to mentor others or lead teams to accomplish technical goals.
General
•Possess mature scientific judgment.
•Sustained record demonstrating initiative and motivation.
•Demonstrated creativity in generating and testing new products, applications or scientific ideas.
•Experience in mentoring individuals, team participation, facilitating small group activities, group teaching, seminar presentations or customer communication.
•Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills.
•Demonstrated ability to write scientific and technical documents.
•Demonstrated dependability, team player, positive attitude, and good attendance.
•Demonstrated high ethics, integrity, honesty and patience.

Position Responsibilities
Specific
Customer support
•Provide expert and sophisticated technical support to solve problems that require a high level of experience and understanding.
•Lead LI-COR in-house training courses for customers and distributors. Help organize and participate in offsite customer training and support.
Product development
•Recognize key scientific problems that must be addressed to develop and test new products, applications and protocols.
•Aid in the design and execution of experiments that address these problems.
•Lead and serve on new product development teams.
•Lead the testing and validation of new instrumentation. Conduct field experiments as needed.
•Participate in scientific meetings, travel to customer sites and read the scientific literature to understand customer requirements for instruments and their applications.
•Coordinate the logistics of Beta test sites and manage prototype and demo inventory.
Technical Sales and Marketing
•Develop and give technical presentations for customers, workshops and seminars.
•Participate in exhibitions (U.S. and International). Assist in on-site demonstrations.
•Take incoming sales calls/correspondence from customers and provide the necessary information and follow-up.
•Participate in developing and reviewing technical and promotional literature.
Scientific communication
•Write and review technical presentations and manuscripts for scientific meetings and journals.
•Write and review LI-COR technical documents such as manuals, application notes and protocols.
•Give oral technical presentations within LI-COR, to customer groups, and at major scientific meetings.
General
•Read journal articles, newsletters, product literature and other sources that present new protocols, ideas, and technologies in order to effectively implement strategies in the lab that require state-of-the-art science and technology.
•Moderate overnight and some international travel is required.
•Medium Work- Exerting 20-50 pounds of occasionally, and/or 10-25 pounds of force frequently, and/or greater than negligible up to 10 pounds of force constantly to move objects.
•Other job related duties as assigned.

APPLY: https://home.eease.adp.com/recruit2/?id=7514051&t=1

November 22, 2013

 

In this Issue

SCIENCE: SUBCOMMITTEE REVIEWS LEGISLATION TO REAUTHORIZE NSF

 

On Nov. 13, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research considered the Frontiers in Innovation Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act, draft legislation to reauthorize programs in the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as various Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education programs.

Committee Democrats were concerned about provisions of the bill that would supersede NSF’s existing merit review process. Chief among Democrats’ concerns was Section 104 of the bill, which requires the NSF director to provide a written justification for each grant verifying that it meets certain requirements, including furthering “the national interest,” being “worthy of federal funding,” furthering economic competitiveness and advancing the health and welfare of the general public. The requirements are similar to those laid out in a previous draft bill authored by science committee Republicans, the High Quality Research Act, which was opposed by the scientific community. The Ecological Society of America joined the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) in sending a letter to the science committee expressing concerns with such efforts earlier this year. 

House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-LA) states that the language is necessary to ensure accountability to the American taxpayer over federal funding decisions. “They [government employees] should explain why grants that receive taxpayer funding are important research that has the potential to benefit the national interest. It’s not the government’s money; it’s the people’s money,” asserted Smith. “Enhanced transparency and accountability isn’t a burden; it will ultimately make NSF’s grant award process more effective.”

Research Subcommittee Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) noted the importance of funding for behavior research, which has also been targeted by conservatives. “Social and behavioral sciences have played a critical role in strengthening our response to disasters, improving public health, strengthening our legal system, and optimizing the use of federal resources,” said Lipinski. “I believe any reauthorization of NSF should provide sustainable funding to all scientific disciplines and not impose any unique restrictions or conditions on any specific type of research.”

There was also concern regarding the bill’s lack of provisions to promote women and minority participation in STEM education fields. Alternative legislation sponsored by House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) includes such a provision. Her bill also functions as a comprehensive reauthorization for all federal science agencies in stark contrast to the piecemeal multiple bill approach taken by House Republicans.

The Republican bill also includes a provision to require public posting of the written justification used to award a grant before it is awarded. Testifying witness Vice President for Research at Purdue University Richard Buckius stated this provision would “severely compromise the process and add tremendous administrative burden.”

The draft is the second bill House Republicans have put forward to reauthorize the AMERICA COMPETES Act. Several weeks ago, the committee considered a bill to reauthorize Department of Energy science initiatives. For additional information, see the Nov. 11 edition of ESA Policy News.

To view the CNSF letter to Chairman Smith, click here. For more information on the hearing, click here.

SENATE: COMMITTEE APPROVES SCIENCE AGENCY NOMINEES AHEAD OF RULE CHANGE

On Nov. 12, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved several of President Obama’s choices to lead key positions at the administration’s science agencies.

The committee approved Kathryn Sullivan for the position of National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator, Jo Handelsman to be Associate Director for Science for the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), and Robert Simon for Associate Director for Environment and Energy for OSTP. Sullivan has previously served as NOAA’s chief scientist and assistant secretary for observation and predictions. If approved by the full Senate, Sullivan would succeed Jane Lubchenco, a former president of the Ecological Society of America.

The upcoming Senate floor confirmation votes for the nominees were made easier this week when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) held a procedural vote to allow most presidential appointments to be approved by a simple majority vote. The rule change effectively denies the Senate minority party the power to filibuster such nominees. The rule change does not apply to legislation or US Supreme Court nominees.

The rule change is often referred to as the “nuclear option” in the media, due to its unprecedented restrictions on the power of the Senate minority party. The move was prompted by Senate Republicans’ recent attempts to hold up three of President Obama’s nominees to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals for partisan purposes. The change comes as Senate Republicans have sought to hold up a historically large number of President Obama’s nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) warned that Reid may regret invoking the option, arguing that it could lead to the eventual elimination of the power of the Senate minority to filibuster. The rule change also sets a new precedent for Senate Republicans to implement similar limits on the minority’s power, should they take the majority in the future.

HOUSE: ENVIRONMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEES SHUFFLE LEADERSHIP

The recent death of House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense Chairman Bill Young (R-FL) spurred a slight reorganization of chairmanships at the subcommittee level, including two committees that oversee funding for several key energy and environmental federal agencies.

Former Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) will now chair the Defense Subcommittee in Young’s place. Former Interior and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-ID) will now head the Energy and Water Subcommittee. Congressman Ken Calvert (R-CA) will take Simpson’s former spot as chairman of the Interior and Environment Subcommittee.

The Interior and Environment Subcommittee has primary jurisdiction over funding the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Council on Environmental Quality and the US Forest Service. The Energy and Water Subcommittee funds the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Reclamation, the US Army Corps of Engineers, the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Delta Regional Authority, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

One of the first major tasks for the new subcommittee chairmen will potentially be to outline spending levels of the agencies under their jurisdiction for the remainder of Fiscal Year (FY) 2014, which began Oct. 1. The existing continuing resolution runs out Jan. 15, 2014. The spending levels set in a new appropriations bill will in part depend on the details of a budget agreement between House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senate Budget Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and to what degree such an agreement nullifies the existing sequestration cuts, which have carried over from FY 2013. The two chairs have until Dec. 13 to produce a budget deal.

FWS: NEW REPORT DOCUMENTS CONTINUED COASTAL WETLAND LOSS

On Nov. 21, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released a report concluding the United States is now losing over 80,000 acres of coastal wetlands per year, up from 60,000 in a prior study.

Coastal areas around the Gulf of Mexico accounted for 71 percent of the wetland loss. The study attributed wetland loss predominantly to losses of saltwater wetlands in the Gulf due to coastal storms in combination with freshwater forested wetland loss due to urban renewal development. The report concludes that rising ocean levels are also affecting coastal wetland loss.

According to the report, coastal wetlands provide a home to 75 percent of the nation’s waterfowl and other migratory birds. Also, over half of all fish caught for commercial and recreational purposes depend on coastal wetlands at some point in their lives.

The data used in this report will be used in the development of policies and initiatives to promote environmental stewardship of coastal resources such as the National Ocean Policy. View the full report here.

POLICY ENGAGEMENT: APPLY FOR 2014 ESA GRADUATE STUDENT POLICY AWARD

ESA invites applications for its 2014 Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA). This award, offered annually to up to three winners, provides graduate students hands-on science policy experience in Washington, DC including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials, and others engaged in science and public policy. 

ESA covers travel and lodging expenses associated with this event for GSPA recipients. The two-day event will occur April 9 and 10, 2014. The application deadline is Monday, January 6. For more information, click here.

CURRENT POLICY

Introduced in House

H.R. 3533, the Endangered Species Management Self-Determination Act - Introduced Nov. 19 by Rep. Mark Amodei (R-NV), the bill would allow states to opt-out of regulation under the Endangered Species Act. The bill also requires approval of a congressional joint resolution for the addition of new federally protected species. The bill has been referred to the House Natural Resources Committee.

Considered by House Committee

On Nov. 21, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulation held a hearing on several bills related to the federal government shutdown, including the following:

H.R. 3286, the Protecting States, Opening National Parks Act – Introduced by Rep. Steve Daines (R-MT), the bill would direct the Secretary of the Treasury to reimburse states that opened national parks during the Oct. 2014 federal government shutdown. The bill has 26 bipartisan cosponsors. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) has introduced companion legislation in the Senate (S. 1572) that also has bipartisan support. 

H.R. 3311, the Providing Access and Retain Continuity Act – Introduced by Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT), the bill would automatically reimburse states if they operate parks during a shutdown. The bill would also call on the Secretary of Interior to preemptively work with states to ensure they can ably take over park operations in the event of a federal government shutdown. The bill’s 17 cosponsors are all Republicans.

H.R. 3294, the State-Run Federal Lands Act – Introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the bill would authorize a state to petition the federal government to enter in agreement to allow state control of federal lands managed by the National Park Service, the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the US Forest Service.

Approved by House Committee

H.R. 2824, the Preventing Government Waste and Protecting Coal Mining Jobs in America Act – Introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson (R-OH), the bill would prevent the US Department of Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining from implementing a stream protection rule intended to protect water and wildlife from detrimental effects of mountaintop removal mining projects in the Appalachian region. The House Natural Resources Committee approved the bill Nov. 14 by vote of 24-14.

Passed House

H.R. 1965, the Federal Jobs and Land Security Act – Introduced by Rep. Doug Lamborn (R-CO), the bill would set deadlines for the Bureau of Land Management to make leasing and permitting decisions for oil and gas development on federal lands. The bill sets a 60 day limit for review of such permits. The bill passed the House Nov. 20 by a vote of 228-192.

The White House issued a Statement of Administration Policy (veto threat) against the bill. Among its concerns, the administration noted the bill would “direct that federal lands be managed for the primary purpose of energy development rather than for thoughtfully balanced multiple uses.” View the full statement here.

H.R. 2728, the Protecting States’ Rights to Promote Energy Security Act – Introduced by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), the bill would prohibit DOI from enforcing federal hydraulic fracturing standards if states currently have their own guidance governing the practice. The bill passed Nov. 20 by a vote for 235-187 with 12 Democrats joining all but two Republicans in voting yes.

The White House issued a veto threat against the bill, asserting the president would veto the measure, noting the bill would “require [the Bureau of Land Management] to defer to existing state regulations on hydraulic fracturing on Federal lands, regardless of the quality or comprehensiveness of the State regulations – thereby preventing consistent environmental protections.” View the full White House statement here.

H.R. 1900, the Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act – Introduced by Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), the bill would expedite approval of natural gas permits through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The legislation sets a deadline of one year for FERC to reach a decision on whether to approve new gas pipeline applications. Failure of the agency to meet the review deadlines outlined in the bill will result in a permit being automatically deemed approved. The House passed the bill Nov. 21 by a vote of 252-165 with 26 Democrats joining Republicans in support of the bill.

The White House issued a veto threat against the bill, asserting “the bill’s requirements could force agencies to make decisions based on incomplete information or information that may not be available within the stringent deadlines.” View the full statement here.


 Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, ClimateWire, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Greenwire, the Hill, House Natural Resources Committee, House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, US Fish and Wildlife Service, the White House

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, c.chiquet@staffs.ac.uk
Meeting Website: http://www.staffs.ac.uk/research/greenwall/conferences/index.jsp

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 http://www.staffs.ac.uk/research/greenwall/conferences/index.jsp or from the organisers: Caroline Chiquetc.chiquet@staffs.ac.uk and Prof. John Dover j.w.dover@staffs.ac.uk.

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