Policy News: July 27, 2021

In this issue:

House Moving Forward with FY 2022 Spending Bills, Bill Report Includes Funding for Climate Science
Bill includes $1.2 billion for climate research at the National Science Foundation.

Senators reintroduce Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Executive Branch
White House Task on Scientific Integrity told hold a series of listening sessions.

Judge rules Maui County, Hawaii must receive a Clean Water Act permit in a case that reached the Supreme Court.

Maine law banning PFAS takes effect.

Convention on Biodiversity releases draft agreement ahead of Conference of Parties.

Scientific Community
NASA to hold Earth Science Applications Week.

Federal Register opportunities

House Moving Forward with FY 2022 Spending Bills, Bill Report Includes Funding for Climate Science

The full House expects to vote soon on ten spending bills for fiscal year (FY) 2022, including bills funding the Department of the Interior, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture and more this week. All of these bills were passed by the House Appropriations Committee.

The Commerce Justice Science bill provides $9.63 billion for the National Science Foundation, including $1.2 billion for climate and clean energy-related research. This includes research about atmospheric composition, water and carbon cycles, computational modeling of climate systems, renewable energy technologies, materials sciences, and social, behavior and economic research on human responses to climate change.

Echoing provisions in both the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA) (S. 1260) and the NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), the report for the Commerce, Justice and Science spending bill directs NSF to create a Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships funded within the Research and Related Activities account. NSF’s Research and Related Activities account provides most of the funding for existing NSF directorates, including the Biological Science Directorate. In addition, the House Appropriations Committee allocates up to $3.1 billion for investments in advanced manufacturing, advanced wireless, artificial intelligence, biotechnology, clean energy technology, microelectronics and semiconductors, quantum information science and the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Most of these areas are named as “key technology focus areas” in the USICA. The NSF for the Future Act does not name specific technology areas for investments.

Lawmakers direct $284 million towards NOAA, NASA, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and NSF programs designed to broaden participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields among underrepresented groups.

NOAA receives $6.46 billion, a nearly 20% increase over FY 2021 levels. This includes a 39% increase for climate research and a 29% increase for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Lawmakers include $25 million for NOAA to launch the Climate-Smart Communities Initiative. This program is designed to scale up, accelerate the pace, and reduce the cost of climate resilience-building, inclusively and equitably, in communities across the United States. The House report also directs NOAA to expand the Regional Integrated Climate Sciences and Assessment program with the long-term goal of providing high-quality climate information and extension services to state, local and private decision-makers across the country.

On the Senate side, Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) said that the Senate may release three of its spending bills before the Senate leaves for its August recess. Still, Congressional leaders say that it is likely that Congress will pass a temporary stop-gap measure to buy more time for funding negotiations and avert a government shutdown when the new fiscal year starts on October 1, 2021.

See ESA’s budget tracker for more details about the House appropriations bills and information about the appropriations process


Nominations: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted 10-10 to advance Tracy Stone-Manning’s nomination to the full Senate. The even vote allows Senate Democrats to bring Stone-Manning’s nomination to a vote. Stone-Manning’s nomination has come under fire from Republicans, who question her role in a tree-spiking case in 1980s and 1990s.

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). The Bureau of Land Management has not had a Senate-confirmed director since the end of the Obama administration.

Conservation: Sens. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) reintroduced the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 2372). This bill provides an additional $1.4 billion annually in combined, dedicated funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies to implement state wildlife action plans and conserve at-risk species. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) and Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) reintroduced the House version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R. 2773) in April 2021. Dingell and Fortenberry have also introduced similar legislation in 2017 and 2019.

The Senate bill directs funds from penalties paid by polluters and those convicted of environment crimes towards wildlife conservation. The House bill does not include a specific funding source – instead, it directs the Treasury Department to transfer funds from the general treasury fund each year. Both bills are intended to supplement funds already received by state wildlife agencies under the Pittman-Robertson Act and the Dingell-Johnson Act, which direct funds from excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment toward conservation.

ESA has supported the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act in the previous session of Congress. The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing for House version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act this Thursday, July 29.

Climate: More than 80 House and Senate Democrats signed onto a letter outlining their vision for a Civilian Climate Corps. This program would put American to work on projects to reduce carbon emissions, build climate resilience and implement natural climate solutions. The program would pay a living wage and include a ‘robust’ education award for college costs or student loans. Funding for the Civilian Conservation Corps is included Senate Democrats budget reconciliation bill.

PFAS: The full House passed legislation (H.R. 2467) addressing PFAS pollution. The PFAS Action Act directs the EPA to designate two PFAS chemicals, PFOA (PFAS perfluorooctanoic acid) and PFOS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid), as a hazardous substance under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act.  Furthermore, the legislation directes the EPA to determine if other PFAS chemical should be designated as hazardous substances within the next five years. The bill also requires the EPA to determine whether PFAS should be designated as a toxic pollutant under the Clean Water Act. This would require the EPA must establish standards to limit discharges of PFAS from industrial sources into the waters of the United States.

The bill passed with bipartisan support – all House Democrats and 22 House Republicans voted for the bill. Michigan Reps. Debbie Dingell (D) and Fred Upton (R) are the bill’s lead sponsors. A similar bill passed the House in January 2020.

Legislative Updates:

  • Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) introduced the Keeping Ecosystems Living and Productive (KELP) Act (H.R. 4458). This bill authorizes a $50 million grant program to fund conservation, restoration and management projects focused on kelp forest ecosystems. Huffman is a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee. This bill is also included in the Oceans Based Climate Solutions Act (H.R. 3764), which the House Natural Resources Committee passed out of committee July 14. The House Natural Resources Committee will consider this bill Thursday, July 29.
  • Rep. John Rutherford (R-FL) reintroduced the SAVE Right Whales Act (H.R. 4487), which provides grants for collaborative research projects between states, nonprofits, and the fishing and shipping industries to restore North Atlantic right whale populations. Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) and Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced similar legislation during the 117th Congress.
  • Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA) proposed a bill (H.R. 4534 and S. 2378) that would impose a carbon fee on imports from countries that have lower standards for greenhouse gas emissions.
  • The full House passed the Desert Locust Control Act (H.R. 1079), which directs the White House to establish an interagency working group to coordinate U.S. response to the desert locust outbreak in East Africa.

More news:

Executive Branch

White House: The Task Force on Scientific Integrity is organizing a series of virtual listening sessions to hear from members of the public who produce, communicate, and use scientific and technical information, as part of effort to improve scientific policies as mandated in the Presidential Memorandum on Restoring Trust in Government Through Scientific Integrity and Evidence-Based Policymaking. Sessions will focus on scientific communication, science and education and the use of scientific and technical information and will take place July 28-30.

Climate: The Biden administration named Allison Crimmins to lead the preparation of the next National Climate Assessment (NCA). Crimmins previously worked as a scientist in the EPA’s air office. She replaces Betsy Weatherhead, who was appointed by the Trump administration in November 2020. Weatherhead is an atmospheric scientist with mainstream views about climate science. Crimmins told Axios that she hopes to make the fifth edition of the National Climate Assessment “usable and useful to more people.”

The fifth edition of the NCA is set to be released in fall 2023. The most recent NCA was released in November 2018. The Global Change Research Act requires the federal government to submit a report to Congress and the White House on the current state of climate science, the impacts of climate change, trends in climate change and projected trends for the next 25-100 years every four years.

Forest Service: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced the Forest Service will end large-scale old growth timber sales in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

The Trump administration finalized a rule exempting the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule in late 2020, opening over 9 million acres to logging and road construction.  The agency will initiate the rule rulemaking process to reverse this rule this summer. The Biden administration paused the rule’s implementation to ensure consistency with Biden executive orders in February 2021.

In 2019, ESA submitted comments opposing the Forest Service’s proposal to exempt the Tongass National Forest from Roadless Rule. The comments note that the Tongass stores a large amount of carbon and fuels productive and commercially important marine ecosystems.

USFWS: The agency released a proposed rule withdrawing a last-minute Trump administration rule that reduced Endangered Species Act critical habitat for the northern spotted owl by 3.4 million acres. Instead, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing removing 205,000 acres in Oregon from the species’ designated critical habitat. The proposed rule is open for public comment through Sept. 20, 2021.

More news:


Ethanol: A federal appeals court sided with environmentalists and ruled that the EPA failed to consult with federal wildlife agencies about the impact of the 2019 Renewal Fuel Standard on endangered species.

Clean Water Act: A federal judge ruled that the County of Maui, Hawaii must receive a Clean Water Act permit to discharge wastewater that eventually makes its way to in the Pacific Ocean. This ruling follows a 2020 Supreme Court ruling determined that Clean Water Act requires a permit if a point source of pollution adds pollutants to navigable waters through groundwater, when the pollutants added are “the functional equivalent of a direct discharge” from the source into navigable waters.

More news:




U.N.: The Convention on Biodiversity (DBD) released a draft agreement setting biodiversity goals and targets ahead of the CBD Conference of Parties in Kunming, China. This summit is current scheduled for October 2021, but could be delayed to early 2022 due to the coronavirus pandemic. The draft agreement sets a target of protecting 30% of the world land and sea areas and preventing and reducing the rate of introduction and establishment of invasive species by 50% by 2030 among other goals.

More news:

Scientific Community

U.N.: The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services is seeking expert nominations for two thematic assessments. One assessment is about the interlinkages among biodiversity, water, food and health. Another assessment is about underlying causes of biodiversity loss and the determinants of transformative change and options for achieving the 2050 Vision for Biodiversity. Interested experts wishing to be nominated by a government are encouraged to contact their IPBES National Focal Point regarding any country-specific processes or deadlines and are requested to fill out their application form by Sept. 13, 2021.

NASA: The Earth Applied Science Program will hold a weeklong celebration of the ways NASA Earth Science is being utilized to make the world a better place. Earth Science Applications Week highlights experts and end-users from within and outside the agency, speaking about everything from space-borne to boots-on-the-ground solutions to our planet’s most pressing concerns. Daily plenary sessions provide insight into NASA’s Applied Sciences projects and people, followed by flash talk sessions and opportunities to network and engage.

Science Communication: The Kavli Foundation and the Department of Energy’s Office of Science will hold a free, virtual conference July-27-28 for scientists and professionals to explore “the why, what and how of the relationship between the public and basic science.”

More news:

Federal Register Opportunities

Upcoming Public Meetings:

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

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