ESA Policy News: Science groups discuss climate on the Hill, Smith seeks more NOAA data, Interior publishes invasive threat framework

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here. 

POLICY ENGAGEMENT: ESA SCIENTISTS MEET ON CAPITOL HILL TO DISCUSS CLIMATE SCIENCE

In February, ESA participated in Climate Science Days, an annual outreach event sponsored by the Climate Science Working Group (CSWG) to advance understanding of climate change research among lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  ESA is a CSWG member as are other scientific associations.

Multiple teams of scientists, paired by geographic location, met with over 100 House and Senate offices and committee staff. Meetings with Republican Senate and House members were given priority along with lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over climate science issues.

ESA member participants included Matthew Hurteau (University of New Mexico), Knute Nadelhoffer (University of Michigan) and Adam Rosenblatt (Yale University).

Other participating CSWG organizations included the American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Society of Agronomy, American Statistical Association, the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, the Geological Society of America, the Soil Science Society of America and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

HOUSE: SCIENCE COMMITTEE EXPANDS REQUEST FOR NOAA CLIMATE SCIENCE DOCUMENTS

On Feb. 22, House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) sent a letter to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) demanding more documents related to the agency’s analyses of global temperature data. This follows a previous subpoena sent to NOAA by the Committee on October 13, 2015. So far, NOAA has given the committee 301 pages of emails between NOAA officials (excluding scientists’ emails) regarding a study published last year in the journal Science.

“The integrity of federal scientists’ research published in the journal Science is being questioned despite a lack of public evidence of scientific misconduct. The progress and integrity of science depend on transparency about the details of scientific methodology and the ability to follow the pursuit of scientific knowledge,” the letter states.

Although the Committee is no longer seeking communications from NOAA scientists, the sparring between NOAA and the House Science Committee is likely to continue. So far, NOAA has not made a public statement about the recent request although the original deadline of Feb. 29 to submit the documents to the Committee has passed.

INTERIOR: NEW FRAMEWORK SEEKS TO IMPROVE FEDEARL RESPONSE TO INVASIVE THREATS

The Department of the Interior (DOI) released a report on Feb. 18: Safeguarding America’s Lands and Waters from Invasive Species: A National Framework for Early Detection and Rapid Response. 

The National Invasive Species Council (NISC) assisted DOI in the report’s development, including the US Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, the Environmental Protection Agency, State Department, and Department of Defense.

The report aims to improve federal agency coordination for early detection and rapid response (EDRR) efforts to eradicate invasive plant and animal species before they become established. It makes five recommendations for federal action:

  • Establish a multi-stakeholder EDRR Task Force
  • Convene high-level decision makers to assess funding mechanisms for a nationwide preparedness and emergency response initiative
  • Advance pilot projects targeted for high priority areas
  • Scale partnerships across government and with private, non-profit and scientific communities
  • Foster the development and application of innovative scientific and technical approaches to EDRR

EPA: SUPREME COURT REJECTS CHALLENGE TO CHESAPEAKE BAY CLEAN-UP RULE

On Feb. 29, the US Supreme Court declined to hear a case challenging the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Chesapeake Bay clean-up plan. Farming and agricultural industry groups had sought to have the lower court ruling overturned.

The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the ruling of the 3rd US District Court of Appeals that the EPA is within its authority, under the Clean Water Act to enforce and oversee the pollution-reduction progress within the 64,000 square mile watershed. Stormwater pollution from impervious surfaces and agricultural runoff dump large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment into the Bay causing algal blooms, that create dead zones.

Representatives from conservation organizations lauded the ruling as a pivotal step towards  Chesapeake Bay restoration efforts.

EPA: NOTICE ISSUED TO BAN PESTICIDE HARMFUL TO AQUATIC ENVIRONMENTS

On March 1, the US Environmental Protection Agency issued a Notice of Intent to Cancel registration of the pesticide flubendiamide, which research suggests poses risks to aquatic invertebrates.

According to the EPA, the company that manufactures the pesticide, Bayer CropScience LP and Nichino America Inc., failed to comply with the condition to discontinue the product when a scientific study issued by the agency on Jan. 29 found the pesticide was harmful. EPA had requested that the company cancel the product by Feb 5.

Click here to read the full notice.

Author: Terence Houston

Science Policy Analyst for ESA.

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