Policy News Update

There’s been a lot of buzz in Washington these past few weeks, and a good deal of it is about science. Here are highlights from today’s issue of the ESA Policy News Update, written by ESA’s Policy Analyst, Piper Corp.

Science in the Economic Stimulus Bill. An $825 billion economic stimulus package, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, is set to go to vote in the U.S. House of Representatives next week. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said there are four words to describe this bill: “science, science, science and science.” As proposed, the bill would provide billions of dollars for science, including $3 billion to NSF, $1.2 billion for NOAA (half of which is dedicated to climate research), $200 million to repair and modernize the USGS, and $550 million to the U.S. Forest Service.  The bill also proposes $79 billion for relief at the state level, including public colleges and universities.  You can read more details about the bill in ESA’s Policy News Update. ESA urges ecologists to contact their representatives and senators and express their opinions on the bill.

Review of midnight regulations. Obama’s Chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, ordered a freeze Tuesday on all pending federal regulations, allowing the new White House team to review—and possibly reverse—many of the Bush administration’s last-minute rule changes. These “midnight regulations” include revisions of the Endangered Species Act, the removal of the gray wolf from the endangered species list in several states, the leasing of 2 million acres of western lands for oil shale research and development, and the modification of air pollution permits and mountaintop mining standards (the new regulation would allow mining companies to dispose of waste in rivers). Several Congressional Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (NV), have also vowed to take action against the last-minute regulations.

Deadline set for House climate change bill. House Energy and Commerce Chairman Henry Waxman set a Memorial Day deadline for moving comprehensive climate and energy legislation through his committee. Representative Ed Markey (D-MA), chairman of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee, will play a lead role in writing the climate legislation. The specifics of the bill have not yet been revealed, but suggested legislation has already been received with some resistance by committee Republicans, who are either skeptical of climate change science or concerned with the economic implications of the bill.

Omnibus bill passed. On January 15, following a months-long battle between Democratic leaders and Republican Senator Tom Coburn (OK), the Senate passed an omnibus package including more than 160 water, resources and public lands bills. The bill was considered largely uncontroversial. To read more, see today’s ESA Policy News Update.

Author: Christine Buckley

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