Policy News: July 12, 2021

In this issue:

House Passes NSF and DOE Reauthorization Bills
NSF for the Future Act increases authorizing funding for the National Science Foundation to $17.9 billion by 2026.

House Appropriations Committee Proposes $9.63 billion in FY 2022 in FY 2022
Bill includes an 11% increase for NSF’s research and related activities account.

House approves transportation and water infrastructure bill.

Executive Branch
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack names new Forest Service chief.

Maine bans offshore wind in state waters.

Canada and EU pass climate legislation. 

Scientific Community

Federal Register opportunities

House Passes NSF and DOE Science Reauthorization Bills 

The full House passed the NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) and the Department of Energy Science for Future (H.R. 3593) with wide bipartisan support.

Both bills are authorizing legislation that give appropriators permission to provide funding amounts, but the appropriators may choose to decrease yearly funding. Additionally, the bills provide guidance for agency policies.

The bills reauthorize the Department of Energy Office of Science and the National Science Foundation through 2026. The NSF for the Future Act is the House’s response to the Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260), formerly known as the Endless Frontier Act. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act passed the full Senate in early June. The House NSF bill creates a new Science and Engineering Solutions Directorate within NSF and authorizes funding for this directorate at $1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2022. The Directorate’s budget reaches $3.4 billion in FY 2026. In total, the NSF for the Future Act increases authorized funding for NSF to $17.9 billion by FY 2026. The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act increases authorized NSF funding to $29 billion by FY 2026.

The Department of Energy Science for the Future Act increases recommended funding levels for the Office of Science to $11.1 billion by 2026. Congress funded the DOE Office of Science at $7 billion in FY 2021.

Lawmakers will have to reconcile the differences between the House reauthorization bills and the Senate bill in the coming months. The House Foreign Affairs Committee is also considering its own China policy bill, titled the Ensuring American Global Leadership and Engagement Act (EAGLE Act, H.R. 3524) to address some of the China provisions in the Senate bill. Meanwhile, House Democrats Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and Judy Chu (D-CA) held a House Oversight Committee Roundtable criticizing the Department of Justice’s China Initiative for its overreach, which seeks to stop Chinese espionage in U.S.-funded research.

House Appropriations Committee Proposes $9.63 billion for NSF in FY 2022

Amid competing House and Senate proposals to increase funding levels for the National Science Foundation, the House Appropriations Committee released its fiscal year (FY) 2022 spending bill covering NSF, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA.

The bill includes $9.63 billion for NSF, a 13% increase over last fiscal year. The Biden administration requested $10.2 billion for NSF, a nearly 20% increase over the FY2021 funding level of $8.5 billion. ESA and the scientific community requested a similar amount in letters and meetings with lawmakers. The agency’s research and related activities account receives $7.7 billion, an 11% increase.

In recent years, NSF has received modest increases, falling short of amounts requested by the scientific community.

The bill includes $25 billion for NASA, including $7.97 billion for the Science Directorate and $2.25 billion for earth science.

Lawmakers include $6.26 billion for NOAA, a 19% increase over FY 2021 levels.

Separately, the House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee proposed $7.32 billion for the Department of Energy Office of Science, a 4% increase.

The Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee will now hold a mark-up this bill this afternoon to advance the bill to the full House Appropriations Committee.

House Democratic leadership plans to pass all appropriations bills by the end of July. The Senate still has not yet released any FY 2022 funding bills. Fiscal year 2022 begins Oct. 1, 2021. It is likely that Congress will pass a temporary stop gap measure to buy more time for funding negotiations and avert a government shutdown.


Infrastructure: The full House approved a $715 billion reauthorization bill for transportation and water infrastructure programs, setting the chamber’s priorities amid negotiations between Congress and the White House about an infrastructure package. The bill includes $400 million for wildlife crossings, $2.5 billion for state water pollution programs and $1 billion for municipalities to implement treatment standards for PFAS and other emerging containments. The Senate could pass its own infrastructure bill leading the two chambers to reconcile the differences between the House and Senate infrastructure bills in conference committee. Only two House Republicans voted for the House bill.

The full Senate could vote on an infrastructure bill as early as the week of July 19.

Appropriations: The House Appropriations Committee advanced spending bills funding the Departments of Interior, Agriculture and EPA. The full House is expected to take up these bills later this month. The bills provide large increases for non-defense, discretionary programs, including ecological science programs.

  • The U.S. Geological Survey receives an 18% increase to $1.6 billion in FY 2022. This includes $355 million for the ecosystem mission area, a 27% increase. It also includes $27 million for the Cooperative Research Units, a $2 million increase and doubles funding for the National and Regional Climate Adaption Centers to $82 million.
  • House Appropriators increase funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to $1.9 billion, a 17% increase.
  • The Bureau of Land Management receives an 18% increase, and the National Park Service receives an 11% increase.
  • Lawmakers provide $363.8 million for Forest Service research programs, a 27% increase, including a 26% increase for the Forest Inventory and Analysis program.
  • The Agricultural Research Service receives $1.76 million, a 15.5% increase, and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture receives $1.654, a 5.4% increase. In addition, appropriations allocate $450 million to the Agriculture and Food Research Institute, the USDA’s primary competitive research grants program.

The bill report includes language supporting establishing a Civilian Conservation Corps and directing the BLM, USGS and BLM to discuss the potential to collaborate on efforts to better understand the potential carbon capture and geological storage on federal lands and the possibility of using this information in land management plans. Across agencies, appropriations provide $16 million to the BLM, USFWS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Climate Conservation Corps, including $10 million for a Tribal Conservation Corps.

Appropriators largely reject the Biden administration’s proposal to create an Advanced Research Projects Agency-Climate (ARPA-C). They provide $60 million for ARPA-C through the USGS but do not provide funding for ARPC-C through the Department of Agriculture and the EPA, as requested in Biden’s budget.

Legislative updates:

  • Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) reintroduced the Women and Minorites in STEM Act (H.R. 4366) while provides grants to programs dedicated to increasing women and minorities participation in STEM. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) is introducing a companion bill in the Senate.

More news:

Executive Branch

White House: A prominent critic of the Trump administration’s scientific policies, Gretchen Goldman, has joined Biden White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy. Goldman’s title is assistant director for environmental science, engineering, policy and justice. Prior to taking this role, Goldman worked at the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Center for Science and Democracy for the past ten years. The Union of Concerned Scientists criticized the Trump administration’s decision to disband the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee Particulate Matter Review Panel and reconvened the scientists on this panel to conduct an independent review of the EPA’s air quality standards for particulate matter. Goldman has a Ph.D. in environmental engineering.

NOAA: The agency is accepting public comments and holding public meetings about designating a new national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario. In the Federal Register Notice, NOAA includes two potential boundaries for the marine sanctuary  – the larger proposed sanctuary area includes at least 64 identified shipwrecks. The proposal is open for public comments through Sept. 10, 2021.

Forest Service: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that Randy Moore will be the next Chief of the U.S. Forest Service. Current Chief Vicki Christiansen announced last month that she will retire on July 26 . Moore has led the Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, which covers California, Hawaii and the Pacific Islands since 2007. He will be the first African American to hold this role.

More news:


Maine: Governor Janet Mills (D) signed a law permanently banning offshore wind development in state waters. This law came in response to the fishing industry’s concerns that offshore winding would hurt lobster harvests. Mills said that offshore wind and fishing can coexist in federal waters. Her administration is supporting a wind research area in federal waters. The majority of the state’s lobster harvests come from state waters closer to shore.

More News:



Scientific Community

NASEM: As part of a monthly climate webinar series, the National Academies will hold a conversation about the connections between climate change and national security July 15.  

NOAA: Following the 2021 National Weather Service-Academia Partners Roundtable, NWS is sharing a few follow-up items.

All materials for this and other NWS Partner Meetings are always available at the Weather-Ready Nation Calendar Website.

NWS is also sharing the recording and webinar slides from a NWS partners discussion about leveraging the cloud for numerical weather prediction.

More news:

Federal Register Opportunities


Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:

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.

Send questions or comments to Alison Mize, director of public affairs, Alison@nullesa.org or Nicole Zimmerman, public affairs manager, Nicole@nullesa.org

Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership.