Special Policy News #7: The Transition
In this issue:
Biden administration requests 16% increase in domestic spending, $4 billion for climate and sustainability research
Budget request includes $10.2 billion for NSF.
Interior creates climate taskforce, rescinds Trump-era secretarial orders
The taskforce will “coordinate work across the [Interior] Department, including accelerating renewable energy development and identifying actions to foster investments in energy communities.”
Senate confirms Brenda Mallory as Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality.
Senate to hold confirmation hearings for NASA and OSTP nominees. Biden announces nominations for top Interior positions.
The first Nobel Prize Summit will focus on sustainability.
Biden administration requests 16% increase in domestic spending, $4 billion for climate and sustainability research
- A Big Budget for Biden – Inside Higher Ed
- First round of hearings by Congress back a more muscular NSF – News from Science
- Increasing equity and accessibility of research funds can help secure U.S. leadership in science – Federation of American Scientists
Interior creates climate task force, rescinds Trump-era secretarial orders
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed orders on Friday creating a climate task force and rescinding Trump-era secretarial orders that had made fossil fuel production on federal land a priority.
Details: The new task force will “coordinate work across the Department, including accelerating renewable energy development and identifying actions to foster investments in energy communities,” Interior said in a press release. The task force will include the deputy secretary, the position set to be filled by nominee Tommy Beaudreau, as well as the counselor to the secretary, Liz Klein, who’s nomination to the deputy secretary position faltered amid opposition in the Senate.
The task force will also work to improve and increase adaptation and resilience to the impacts of climate change, address current and historic environmental injustice, protect public health and conserve Department-managed lands, according to the order.
Among other things, the task force will review how to apply the social cost of greenhouse gas to environmental reviews of projects on Interior-managed land, according to the order.
A second secretarial order rescinds a dozen earlier orders from the Trump administration that pushed to expand energy production on public land and water, including measures that expedited permitting for fossil fuel projects and promoted offering as many federal acres as possible for oil production in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.
The Trump orders were “found to be inconsistent with, or present obstacles to, the policy set forth in” President Joe Biden’s January executive order directing agencies to focus on combating climate change and bolster clean energy jobs, the secretarial order states.
“I know that signing Secretarial Orders alone won’t address the urgency of the climate crisis,” Haaland said in a press release announcing the new orders. “But I’m hopeful that these steps will help make clear that we, as a Department, have a mandate to act.”
Context: The new orders come as the Biden administration prepares to host a climate summit with international leaders next week. Interior has been delaying and rescinding actions taken during the Trump administration that had emphasized fossil fuel production, instead seeking to bolster clean energy and conservation measures.
What’s next: Haaland is scheduled to present the administration’s budget request to the House this week.
Nominations: The full Senate confirmed Brenda Mallory as the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality by a 53-45 vote. All Senate Democrats and Republicans Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Rob Portman (R-OH) voted for Mallory’s confirmation. Mallory is an environmental attorney who worked in President Obama’s Council on Environmental Quality and most recently for the Southern Environmental Law Center. This White House office oversees the National Environmental Policy Act’s implementation and advises the President on other environmental review and environmental quality issues. Mallory has vowed to address environmental justice and climate change in this role.
Climate: Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Abigail Spanberger (D-VA) introduced a bills (S. 1072 & H.R. 2534) to create a Civilian Climate Corps, expand agricultural conservation programs, plant millions of trees and to expand wetland conservation.
- Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Department of the Interior – House Appropriations Committee – April 20
- Fiscal Year 2022 Budget Request for the Environmental Protection Agency – House Appropriations Committee – April 21
- Working Towards Climate Equity: The Case for a Federal Climate Service – House Science Committee – April 21
More headlines of interest:
- Senators Pump Brakes on Endless Frontier Act – FYI
- Panchanathan Makes Case for NSF Expansion to Appropriators – FYI
- House Democrats introduce carbon pricing measure – The Hill
- The American Farm Bureau Federation is publishing an article series that focuses on agriculture ecosystem credit markets. The hot topic is timely when coupled with the congressional conversation about carbon pricing.
See ESA’s Legislative Tracker for more updates on legislation relevant to the ecological community.
OSTP: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will be holding a confirmation hearing for Dr. Eric Lander’s nomination to serve as Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) on Thursday, April 29, 2021 at 10 am ET. The live stream will be available on this Senate hearing page.
NASA: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a hearing for NASA administrator nominee Bill Nelson who is the former senator from Florida April 21. Check the Senate hearing page for more information.
White House: President Biden nominated Tommy Beaudreau to be deputy secretary of the Interior. Beaudreau is a former Obama administration official who served as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and chief of staff to former Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. This nomination comes after the Biden administration withdrew Elizabeth Klein’s nomination to this post. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Joe Manchin reportedly opposed Klein’s nomination because she was too hostile to fossil fuels.
Biden also announced several other Interior and EPA nominations. All of these positions require Senate confirmation.
- Shannon Estenoz to be assistant secretary for Fish, Wildlife and Parks in the Interior Department. Estenoz led Everglades restoration initiatives in the Interior Department during the Obama administration and received ESA’s 2016 Regional Policy Award. She has been serving as the principal deputy assistant secretary of fish and wildlife and parks, a non-Senate-confirmed position since the beginning of the Biden administration. This position oversees the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
- Tanya Trujillo, to be assistant secretary for Water and Science in the Interior Department. Trujillo formerly led the Colorado River Board of California and worked for the Interior Department during the Obama administration. This position oversees the U.S. Geological Survey and the Bureau of Reclamation.
- Radika Fox to be the EPA’s assistant administrator for water. Before joining the Biden administration, Fox was the CEO of the U.S. Water Alliance, where she advocated for environmental justice and water equity. Fox has been the principal deputy assistant administrator for water since the beginning of the Biden administration.
Biden will reportedly nominate Tracy Stone-Manning, to be director of the Bureau of Land Management soon. The agency has not had a Senate-confirmed director since the end of the Obama administration. Stone-Manning is currently a senior advisor for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation and has been a top aide to former Montana Governor Steve Bullock (D) and Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT).
EPA: Administrator Michael Regan announced that the Biden administration will increase environmental efforts in underserved, overburdened and tribal communities. Regan also directed agency staff to take steps to incorporate justice consideration in regulatory processes and increase engagement with pollution-burdened and underserved communities.
More Headlines of Interest
- White House removes scientist picked by Trump official to lead key climate report – The Washington Post
- A Proclamation on National Park Week, 2021 – The White House
- Carbon dioxide levels in atmosphere reach record high – The Guardian
- US emissions dropped 1.7 percent in 2019, EPA says – The Hill
- Big Businesses Say They Want a Price on Carbon – Scientifc American/E&E News
- U.S. seeks to polish tarnished reputation with new climate change pledges – Reuters
- World whiffs on Biden’s pleas for bold climate pledges – Politico
- US climate research outpost abandoned over fears it will fall into sea – The Guardian
- EPA Watchdog to Probe Alleged Retaliation Against Scientists – Bloomberg Law
- U.S. Won’t Shut Dakota Access Pipe Amid New Environmental Review – Bloomberg Law
- Environmental group sues over protections for 20 species – Associated Press
- California unveils sweeping wildfire prevention plan amid record fire losses and drought – The Los Angeles Times
- New Mexico issues 2020 Forest Action Plan – Santa Fe New Mexican
The Intergovernmental Panel on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) has opened the second order draft of the chapters and the first order draft of the summary for policymakers of the sustainable use of wild species assessment for external review. The draft is open for expert review through June 10, 2021. IPBES will hold a stakeholder webinar on May 12 for all interested reviewers.
- How Canada is trying to protect its last three spotted owls – The Guardian
- Biologists defy Cyprus’ ethnic divide to protect environment – Associated Press
- How Mexico’s Vast Tree-Planting Program Ended Up Encouraging Deforestation – Bloomberg Green
The National Science Foundation (NSF) requests recommendations for membership on its scientific and technical Federal advisory committees.
- Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences, https://www.nsf.gov/bio/advisory.jsp
- Advisory Committee for Education and Human Resources, https://www.nsf.gov/ehr/advisory.jsp
- Advisory Committee for Geosciences, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/advisory.jsp
- Advisory Committee for Polar Programs, https://www.nsf.gov/geo/opp/advisory.jsp
- Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering, https://www.nsf.gov/od/oia/activities/ceose/
- Advisory Committee for International Science and Engineering, https://www.nsf.gov/od/oise/advisory.jsp
- Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education, https://www.nsf.gov/ere/ereweb/advisory.jsp
- STEM Education Advisory Panel, https://nsf.gov/ehr/STEMEdAdvisory.jsp
- Creating ‘intentional pipeline’: Raytheon supporting STEM program for students of color to help diversify workforce – USA Today
- Infrastructure Plan Lifts Tribes’ Hope of Turning on Water Taps- Bloomberg Law
- Tribal Lawsuit Halts Donlin Gold – Indian County Today
- Will Wildlife Refuge Benefit Heavily Polluted Albuquerque Neighborhood? – The Guardian
- How computer mapping could help Biden find and fix polluted neighborhoods – Reuters
- Seismic Shift’ At FERC Could Kill Natural Gas Pipelines – SEJ/E&E News
- The White House invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate on April 22 and 23 that will be live streamed. The Summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 percent of global emissions and global GDP.
- Cornell University’s Atkinson Center for Sustainability and Department of Biological and Environmental Engineering will hold a series of seminars this spring about climate change with topics ranging from implications for agriculture, ecosystems and food systems and economic, ethical, and policy insights on the issue.
- The Wilson Center’s Global Europe Program is partnering with the Smithsonian Institution and European embassies in Washington D.C. to launch an “Earth Optimism” conversation series focused on solutions and possibilities when it comes to climate risk, conservation and sustainability.
- The first Nobel Prize Summit will bring together Nobel Prize laureates, scientists, policymakers, business leaders and youth leaders to explore the question: “What can be achieved in this decade to put the world on a path to a more sustainable, more prosperous future for all of humanity?” The Nobel Prize Summit is hosted by the Nobel Foundation and organized by the National Academy of Sciences in partnership with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, and the Stockholm Resilience Centre/Beijer Institute. The virtual event takes place April 26-28. Register here.
- The spring meeting of the National Academies of Sciences’ Water Science and Technology Board (WTSB) will feature discussion with federal agencies and Congressional staff on their water priorities in the coming years, as well as the science research and policy issues that need to be addressed to support action on those priorities. There will also be cross-cutting discussions among the invited speakers and WSTB members on high-priority issues in water quality, water quantity, and climate-related water issues. The meet will take place virtually on May 24-25. Register here.
- The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the French government have agreed to hold the IUCN World Conservation Congress 2020 September 3-11, 2021 in Marseille, France. The event, originally scheduled for June 2020, was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This event IUCN brings together the global nature conservation community, including top international experts in conservation science, policy and practice. Held every four years, the Congress allows IUCN’s 1,400 Member organizations, including states, civil society and indigenous peoples, to democratically determine the most pressing issues in nature conservation and actions to address them.
Federal Register Opportunities
- BLM – Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council Meeting (Apr. 29 & 30, 2021)
- BLM – San Juan Islands National Monument Advisory Committee Meeting (Washington) (May 12)
- CDC – Board of Scientific Counselors, Center for Preparedness and Response (May 19)
- DOE – Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board Chairs Meeting (Apr. 20)
- DOE – Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Idaho Cleanup Project (Apr. 29)
- EPA – National Environmental Justice Advisory Council; Notification of Virtual Public Meetings (May 6)
- EPA – Board of Scientific Counselors Sustainable and Health Communities Subcommittee Meeting (Apr. 27)
- EPA – Public Meeting of the Environmental Financial Advisory Board (Apr. 21)
- EPA – Brownfields Stakeholder Discussion and Listening Session With Nonprofit Organizations and Community Foundations (Apr. 23)
- EPA – Board of Scientific Counselors Homeland Security Subcommittee Meeting-May 2021 (May 17-19, comments due May 16)
- Forest Service – El Dorado County Resource Advisory Committee (Apr. 27 & 28)
- Forest Service – North Central Idaho Resource Advisory Committee (Apr. 23 & 26)
- Forest Service – Missoula Resource Advisory Committee (Apr. 29)
- Forest Service – Lincoln Resource Advisory Committee (May 5)
- Forest Service – Central Idaho Resource Advisory Committee (May 6)
- NOAA – Meeting of the Advisory Committee on Commercial Remote Sensing (Apr. 27 & 28)
- NOAA – Evaluation of State Coastal Management Program; Public Meeting; Request for Comments (Apr. 28, comments due May 7)
- NOAA – Sanctuary System Business Advisory Council Public Meeting (Apr. 30)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Public Meetings (Apr. 20)
- NOAA NMFS – North Pacific Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (Apr. 20)
- NOAA NMFS – Western Pacific Fishery Management Council Public Meetings (Apr. 20-22, 28-29)
- NOAA NMFS – Virtual Meetings of the Advisory Committee to the U.S. Section to the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas’ Species Working Groups (Apr. 21)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (Apr. 27 & 28)
- NOAA NMFS – Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (May 3 & 5)
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings (May 3-7)
- NOAA NMFS – Recovery Planning Workshop To Inform Recovery Planning for 15 ESA Listed Indo-Pacific Coral Species (May 5-27, RSVP due Apr. 21)
- NPS – Gateway National Recreation Area Fort Hancock 21st Century Advisory Committee Notice of Public Meeting (Apr. 23)
- NSF – Advisory Committee for Polar Programs Meeting (Apr. 29 & 30)
- OEMB – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Ocean Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore New Jersey (Apr. 20, comments due Apr. 29)
- Tennessee Valley Authority – Meeting of the Regional Resource Stewardship Council (Apr. 20)
- US Geological Survey – Public Meeting of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (Apr. 27 & 28)
- USFWS – Threatened Species Status, Section 4(d) Rule, and Designation of Critical Habitat for Panama City Crayfish (May 4)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- Army Corps of Engineers – Notice of Intent To Prepare a Draft Integrated Feasibility Report and Environmental Impact Statement for the Charleston Peninsula Coastal Flood Risk Management Study, Charleston County, South Carolina. All comments must be received by Apr. 22, 2021.
- EPA – Multiple-Path Particle Dosimetry Model Software With Technical Support Documentation and User’s Guide (External Review Draft). The 30-day public comment period ends Apr. 22, 2021.
- EPA – Clean Air Act Advisory Committee: Request for Nominations. Applications are due by Apr. 30, 2021.
- EPA – Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent: Richardson Flat Tailings Site, Park City, Summit County, Utah. Comments must be submitted on or before May 3, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations of Candidates to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. Nominations should be submitted no later than May 3, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations of Candidates to the EPA’s Science Advisory Board. Nominations should be submitted no later than May 3, 2021.
- EPA – Pesticide Registration Review; Draft Human Health and/or Ecological Risk Assessments for Several Pesticides; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before May 7, 2021.
- EPA – Research, Development and Demonstration (RD&D) Rule for the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Landfill RD&D Project. Written comments must be received by May 10, 2021.
- EPA – JCC Environmental Superfund Site Picayune, Mississippi; Notice of Settlement. The Agency will consider public comments on the settlement until May 10, 2021.
- EPA – National Environmental Education Advisory Council. Applications are due no later than May 14, 2021.
- EPA – Regulation of Persistent, Bioaccumulative, and Toxic Chemicals Under TSCA Section 6(h); Request for Comments. Comments must be received on or before May 17, 2021.
- EPA – Pesticide Registration Review; Proposed Interim Decisions for Several Pesticides; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before May 17, 2021.
- Indian Affairs Bureau – Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Southern Bighorn Solar Projects, Clark County, Nevada. In order to be fully considered, written comments on the DEIS must arrive no later Apr. 26, 2021.
- Justice Dept. – Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). All comments must be submitted no later than Apr. 27, 2021.
- Justice Dept. – Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under CERCLA. All comments must be submitted no later than May 2, 2021.
- Justice Dept. – Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act. All comments must be submitted no later than May 16, 2021.
- NOAA – Hydrographic Services Review Panel Nominations. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is seeking nominations for members to serve on the Hydrographic Services Review Panel with nominations due by Apr. 26, 2021. Five vacancies for a four-year term will occur on Jan. 1, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish. All comments must be received by Apr. 21, 2021 (Comment period extended).
- NOAA NMFS – Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Recreational Management Measures for the Summer Flounder Fishery; Fishing Year 2021. Comments must be received by Apr. 21, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Halibut Fisheries; Catch Sharing Plan. Submit comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Louisiana Trustee Implementation Group Draft Phase II Restoration Plan: #3.2: Mid-Barataria Sediment Diversion. Louisiana TIG will consider public comments received on or before May 4, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Regionwide Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan #1/Environmental Assessment: Birds, Marine Mammals, Oysters, and Sea Turtles. The Regionwide TIG will consider public comments received on or before May 6, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – 90-Day Finding on a Petition To List Southern Oregon and Northern California Coastal Spring-Run Chinook Salmon as Threatened or Endangered Under the Endangered Species Act. Scientific and commercial information pertinent to the petitioned action must be received by May 17, 2021.
- NRCS – Proposed Revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices for the Natural Resources Conservation Service. The comment period will end on Apr. 22, 2021.
- NRCS – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Coon Creek Watershed Project (Wisconsin). NRCS will consider comments received by Apr. 23, 2021.
- NRCS – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the West Fork Kickapoo Watershed (Wisconsin). NRCS will consider comments received by Apr. 23, 2021
- NSF – Request for Recommendations for Membership on Directorate and Office Advisory Committees. See the Federal Register notice for contact information for each of the committees.
- USDA – Notice of Request for Public Comment on the Executive Order on Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time Apr. 29, 2021.
- USFWS – Draft Recovery Plans – Reticulated Flatwoods Salamander, Frosted Flatwoods Salamander, Fluted Kidneyshell and Kentucky Glade Cress . USFWS must receive comments on the draft recovery plans on or before Apr. 26, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink and Blue-Tailed Mole Skink; Osceola County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. USFWS must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 26, 2021.
- USFWS – Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Categorical Exclusion for the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander; Santa Maria Public Airport District Santa Maria Airport Commercial Center Project, Santa Barbara County, California. Written comments should be received on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of an Incidental Take Permit Application and Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Coastal California Gnatcatcher; Rancho Vista Seniors Project, City of Oceanside, San Diego County, California. To ensure consideration, please send your written comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS -Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Habitat Conservation Plan for the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly, Blanding’s Turtle, Spotted Turtle, Leafy Prairie Clover, and Lakeside Daisy, Will County, Illinois. They will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Draft Environmental Assessment and Habitat Conservation Plan; CPS Energy Programmatic Habitat Conservation Plan, Bexar County, Texas. To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or postmarked on or before 11:59 p.m. eastern time on Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Bitter Ridge Wind Farm, Jay County, Indiana. They will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink and Blue-Tailed Mole Skink; Osceola County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. They must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink and Blue-Tailed Mole Skink; Polk County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. They must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink, Orange County, FL; Categorical Exclusion.They must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink, Orange County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. They must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 28, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink, Lake County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. They must receive your written comments on or before Apr. 29, 2021.
- USFWS – Reclassification of Layia carnosa (Beach Layia) From Endangered to Threatened Species Status With Section 4(d) Rule. They will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 13, 2021.
Visit this page on ESA’s website for updates on opportunities from the Federal Register, including upcoming meetings and regulations open for public comment.
ESA’s policy activities work to infuse ecological knowledge into national policy decisions through activities such as policy statements, Capitol Hill briefings, Congressional Visits Days, and coalition involvement. Policy News Updates are bi-monthly summaries of major environmental and science policy news. They are produced by the Public Affairs Office of the Ecological Society of America.
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