ESA Policy News March 30: House committees review FY 2017 NSF, NOAA, Forest Service budget requests, ESA submits funding testimony to Capitol Hill
Mar30

ESA Policy News March 30: House committees review FY 2017 NSF, NOAA, Forest Service budget requests, ESA submits funding testimony to Capitol Hill

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here.  HOUSE: SCIENCE COMMITTEE EXAMINES NSF FY 2017 BUDGET On March 22, a House Science, Space and Technology Research Subcommittee hearing examined the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) FY 2017 budget. During the committee hearing, both Subcommittee Chair Barbara Comstock (R-VA) and Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) expressed general support for the work of the National Science Foundation. In her remarks, NSF Director France Córdova noted that since 2010, research funding for the agency in constant dollars has declined, which affects the number of NSF grants awarded. “The result is that the fraction of proposals that we can fund has decreased significantly. The funding rate was 30 percent in FY 2000 and is just over 20 percent now,” said Córdova. “Of great concern to us is that the situation is more challenging for people who haven’t previously received an NSF award, including young investigators. For them, the funding rate has gone from 21 percent in FY 2000 to 16 percent today.” Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL) voiced skepticism about new mandatory spending outlined in the agency’s budget request, but he remained hopeful that colleagues could support another bipartisan increase for NSF. He expressed support for continuing to give NSF discretion in how it prioritizes directorate funding, citing similar views recently iterated by House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX). Click here to view the Research and Technology Subcommittee NSF hearing. Click here to view the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee hearing. HOUSE: NOAA WEATHER FORECASTING, CLIMATE RESEARCH EXAMINED IN FY 2017 BUDGET REQUEST“] On March 16, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on the Environment convened for a hearing examining the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration’s FY 2017 budget request. Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) accused the budget request of prioritizing climate research over weather forecasting. “Instead of hyping a climate change agenda, NOAA should focus its efforts on producing sound science and improving methods of data collection.  Unfortunately, climate alarmism often takes priority at NOAA,” said Smith. “This was demonstrated by the agency’s decision to prematurely publish the 2015 study that attempted to make the two-decade halt in global warming disappear.” Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) used her opening statement to emphasize the importance of NOAA’s climate change research and how monitoring rising temperatures and changes in ocean chemistry and ecosystems helps us better manage our fisheries, coasts, and improves the resiliency of our nation’s coastal communities. She also took the opportunity to address Chairman Smith’s investigation into NOAA’s climate science research. “Before I yield back...

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ESA Position Statement on economic development

ESA released a position statement today on the proper place of ecological and environmental capital in the nation’s economy.  As the United States and much of the world try to recover from the current economic crisis, ESA recommends that long-term sustainability should be prioritized in the restructuring of business models and economic growth. A key to this task, the statement says, is to take natural capital into account. Natural assets and ecosystem services — such as water filtration, pollination and carbon sequestration — lack a formal market and are often overlooked in policy and business decisions. Yet, the statement asserts, healthy ecosystems are the foundation for sound economies, sustaining human life with services such as food, fuel, and clean air. The statement recommends that three things need to be recognized by policymakers and businesspeople in order to create an environmentally sustainable economy: (1)   The value and economic impacts of ecosystem services. The statement recommends that decision makers should take natural capital into account when making economic calculations, citing as an example the World Bank’s concept of adjusted net saving, which calculates an economy’s rate of savings after factoring in natural resource consumption, pollution-related damages, and other environmental impacts. This creation of markets that value natural capital would drive more environmentally and socially sustainable investments. (2)   Environmental externalities. Environmental impacts and resource shortages resulting from economic activity often impact people and communities far removed from the source; economists refer to these external effects as externalities. Agribusiness, for example, benefits from using nitrogen fertilizers but does not bear the costs associated with oxygen-depleted dead zones in aquatic ecosystems. Examples of internalizing these external affects include property rights for environmental assets, payments for ecosystem services and liabilities for environmental damage, including carbon tax or cap-and-trade systems. (3)   Improved predictive capacity. Currently, the statement says, the capacity to predict future environmental costs of public and private investments are weak at best. The statement recommends improving these abilities, and says that such measures already exist in many national regulations and international agreements concerning human, animal and plant health. A recent example is the World Trade Organization’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agreement. What are your opinions about environmental sustainability and economic development? Share your thoughts in the...

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