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.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack names new Forest Service chief.
Maine bans offshore wind in state waters.
Canada and EU pass climate legislation.
House Passes NSF and DOE Science Reauthorization Bills
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.
- 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.
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.
- Dispossessed, Again: Climate Change Hits Native Americans Especially Hard – The New York Times
- Whistleblowers Expose Corruption in EPA Chemical Safety Office – The Intercept
- ‘Orange skies’: Biden raising federal pay to fight wildfires – Associated Press
- EPA recommends that Army Corps of Engineers not grant Mountain Valley Pipeline stream crossing permit – Virginia Mercury
- Plan for development near San Pedro River hits obstacle as government suspends permit – Arizona Republic
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.
- In Maine, residents rise up against industrial-scale aquaculture – Ag Insider
- No wolf hunt in Minnesota this year – Minnesota Public Radio
- How Bill C-12 aims to guide Canada to net-zero – Toronto Star
- EU countries approve landmark climate change law – Reuters
- Climate scientists take swipe at Exxon Mobil, industry in leaked report – Politico
- German biologist appointed head of Europe’s basic science agency – Science
- ECB presents action plan to include climate change considerations in its monetary policy strategy – European Central Bank
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.
- Summary Report: NWS-Academia Partners Roundtable
- Webinar Recording – Day 1: Research for a Weather-Ready Nation
- Webinar Recording – Day 2: Education for a Weather-Ready Nation
- NOAA Education Handout
All materials for this and other NWS Partner Meetings are always available at the Weather-Ready Nation Calendar Website.
- Black scientist network celebrates successes — but calls for more support – Nature
- Pacific Northwest heat wave was ‘virtually impossible’ without climate change, scientists find – The Washington Post
Federal Register Opportunities
- BLM – State of Arizona Resource Advisory Council Meeting (July 22)
- BLM – Southern New Mexico Resource Advisory Council Meeting (August 5)
- BLM – San Rafael Swell Recreation Area (Utah) Advisory Council Meeting (August 10-11)
- BLM – Notice of Public Meetings of the Idaho Resource Advisory Council (August 11)
- BLM & NASA – Notice of Application for Withdrawal; and Notification of Public Meeting; Nye County, Nevada (July 19, comments due July 28)
- EPA – National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting (August 18-19)
- Forest Service – El Dorado County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (California) (July 13)
- Forest Service – Shasta County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (July 14, 28)
- Forest Service – Southwest Idaho Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (July 15, 29)
- Forest Service – Del Norte County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (July 20-22)
- Forest Service – Ketchikan Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Alaska) (July 22)
- Forest Service – Eastern Idaho Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (July 27)
- Forest Service – White Pine-Nye Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Nevada) (July 29)
- NOAA – Science Advisory Board (July 20 & 22)
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Fishery Management Council; Public Meetings (July 12-16, July 26-30)
- NOAA NMFS – Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Amendment 13 to the 2006 Consolidated Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Fishery Management Plan; Bluefin Tuna Management Webinars (July 14)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting (July 14)
- NOAA NMFS – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting (July 21)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (July 21)
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (July 22-23)
- NOAA NMFS – South Atlantic Fishery Management Council Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting (July 28)
- NPS – Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park Commission Meeting (July 15)
- NSF – STEM Education Advisory Panel Meeting (August 2)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- APHIS – Agrivida, Inc.; Availability of a Draft Plant Pest Risk Assessment, Draft Environmental Assessment, Preliminary Determination, and Preliminary Finding of No Significant Impact for Determination of Nonregulated Status of Maize Developed Using Genetic Engineering for the Production of Phytase Enzyme. APHIS will consider all comments received on or before July 26, 2021.
- BOEM – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Empire Offshore Wind, LLC’s Proposed Wind Energy Facilities Offshore New York. Comments should be submitted no later than July 26, 2021.
- BOEM – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for Proposed Wind Energy Facility Offshore Virginia. Comments are due to BOEM by August 2, 2021.
- BLM – Call for Nominations for the National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board. Nominations must be post marked or submitted no later than July 26, 2021.
- BLM – Notice of Availability of the Whitewater River Groundwater Replenishment Facility Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement, Riverside County, CA. The BLM must receive written comments on the Draft EIS by July 27, 2021.
- BLM – Notice of Realty Action: Application by US Magnesium LLC for Conveyance of Federally Owned Mineral Interests in Tooele County, UT. Interested persons may submit written comments to the BLM on or before July 30, 2021.
- Bureau of Ocean Energy Management – Request for Interest in Commercial Leasing for Wind Power Development on the Gulf of Mexico Outer Continental Shelf. Submissions providing comments on commercial leasing within the RFI Area must be received no later than July 26, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations of Candidates for the Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) Particulate Matter (PM) Panel. Nominations should be submitted by July 16, 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 July 20, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations for the Science Advisory Board; PFAS Review Panel. Nominations should be submitted by July 21, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations to the Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee. Nominations must be received on or before July 23, 2021.
- EPA – Request for Nominations for the Science Advisory Board 2021 Scientific and Technological Achievement Awards Panel. Nominations should be submitted by July 27, 2021
- EPA – Notice of Intention To Reconsider and Revise the Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification Rule. Written feedback must be received on or before August 2, 2021.
- Justice Department – Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Clean Water Act. All comments must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days after the publication date of this notice (July 17, 2021).
- Justice Department – Notice of Lodging of Proposed Consent Decree Under the Oil Pollution Act. All comments must be submitted no later than thirty (30) days after the publication date of this notice (July 24, 2021).
- NOAA – Draft Revised Management Plan for the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve. Comments must be received on or before August 2, 2021.
- NOAA and USFWS – Marianas Trench Marine National Monument Management Plan. Comments must be received by July 26, 2021 (comment period extended).
- NOAA NMFS – Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Cook Inlet Salmon; Amendment 14. Comments must be received no later than July 19, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Notice of Initiation of a 5-Year Review of the Sperm Whale. NMFS must receive information no later than July 26, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Nominations to the Marine Fisheries Advisory Committee. Nominations must have an email date stamp on or before July 29, 2021.
- Office of Science and Technology – Request for Information To Improve Federal Scientific Integrity Policies. Interested persons and organizations are invited to submit comments on or before 5:00 p.m. ET on July 28, 2021.
- TVA – Environmental Impact Statement for Kingston Fossil Plant Retirement. Comments on the scope and environmental issues must be postmarked, emailed or submitted online no later than July 15, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Status Reviews of 76 Species in California and Nevada. USFWS is requesting submission of new information no later than July 19, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for Nipomo Mesa lupine (Lupinus nipomensis). USFWS must receive any comments on the draft recovery plan on or before July 19, 2021.
- USFWS – Reclassification of the Hawaiian Stilt From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before July 23, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Revised Recovery Plan for Houston Toad. USFWS must receive written comments on or before July 27, 2021.
- USFWS – Lesser Prairie-Chicken; Threatened Status With Section 4(d) Rule for the Northern Distinct Population Segment and Endangered Status for the Southern Distinct Population Segment. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before August 2, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designating Texas Hornshell Critical Habitat. USFWS will accept comments on this proposed rule or draft economic analysis that are received or postmarked on or before August 9, 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.
Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership.