ESA Policy News: November 8, 2021

In this issue:

Global Climate Talks Commence in Glasgow
Countries pledge to combat deforestation, cut methane emissions, transition away from coal and more.

House Releases New Reconciliation Bill Text, Includes Funding for Climate Science
Bill includes $668 million for National Science Foundation (NSF) research and training grants and $500 million NSF climate research.

Two New NSF BIO Directorate Broadening Participation Programs
The National Science Foundation recently launched two new programs with funding opportunities to broaden participation.

House passes Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework.

Executive Branch
Biden administration proposed repealing Trump administration Endangered Species Act regulations.

University of Florida professors barred from testifying as experts in voting rights court case.

Ruling allows the EPA to protect Bristol Bay.

Indigenous people seek more influence at COP26.

Scientific Community
National Academies holds listening sessions with researchers and users of global change information.

Federal Register opportunities

Global Climate Talks Commence in Glasgow

World leaders, diplomats and members of civic society from across the world convened in Glasgow, Scotland for the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26), Oct. 31- Nov. 12.

ESA has received official observer status for COP26 and ten members are attending COP26.

ESA member Andy Barton is posting daily observations from COP26 on his blog that ESA is reposting on Ecotone. Barton is a forest and fire ecologist at the University of Maine at Farmington.

World leaders have made several major commitments at the meeting to date:

  • Almost 90 countries joined an agreement to cut their methane emissions by 30% by 2030 from 2020 levels. The U.S. and the European Union are leading the policy commitments to reduce methane emissions. Half of the top 30 methane emitters have signed on to this pledge.
  • More than 100 countries pledged to halt deforestation by 2030. The countries in this agreement represent 85% of the world’s forests, including Brazil, Indonesia and Colombia. In addition, countries in the agreement will provide $12 billion to developing countries to restore degraded lands and address wildfire. Wealthy countries and global charities also pledged $1.6 billion to support Indigenous conservation of forests.
  • The U.S., the U.K., Canada and other countries pledged to stop public financing of fossil fuel projects abroad by the end of 2023. The pledge only includes new developments, so pipelines currently being built would not be impacted. The agreement also allows countries to continue to export liquefied natural gas. Japan, South Korea and China have not signed on to this agreement.
  • Over 40 countries pledged to rapidly scale up technologies and policies to achieve a transition away from unabated coal power generation in the 2030s for major economies and in the 2040s globally. The pact does not include some of the world’s biggest coal consumers such as the China, India, the United States and Australia.
  • The U.S. rejoined the High Ambition Coalition, which is calling to limit warming to 1.5 degrees C.

House Releases New Reconciliation Bill Text, Includes Funding for Climate Science

The House Rules Committee released the text for the Build Back Better Act. This bill is the House version of the Senate reconciliation bill. The timeline for when the House will vote on this bill is unclear.

The companion Senate reconciliation bill is stalled. It requires that all Senate Democrats vote to pass it and moderate Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) have expressed concerns over the total price tag of the budget reconciliation bill. 

The new draft of the bill from the House Rules Committee is smaller than the $3.5 trillion package proposed in Sept., but it includes funding for research and other environmental provisions.

  • The bill provides $1.52 billion to the National Science Foundation to start a Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships (TIP). The directorate is tasked with accelerating use-inspired and translational research in technologies and innovations of national importance. It mirrors proposals in the Senate U.S. Innovation and Competition Act ( 1260) and the House NSF for the Future Act (H.R. 2225) to create a new technology directorate. NSF also receives $668 million for research and training awards, $25 million to ensure broad demographic representation in NSF activities and $500 million for climate research.
  • Lawmakers also boost climate research at other agencies. The EPA receive $100 million for air quality and climate research and NASA gets $115 million for climate research.
  • Legislators provide $200 million to NOAA for weather, coasts, oceans and climate research, $100 million for NOAA competitive climate research grants and provides $100 million to NOAA for development and dissemination of climate science information products and services. NOAA also received $20 for climate change education activities.
  • The bill includes $985 million to support research at the Department of Energy’s Office of Science and $5 million to improve diversity across the Department of Energy’s research, development, and demonstration activities.
  • The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives $180 million for developing and carrying out Endangered Species Act recovery plan and a combined $19.4 million for conserving pollinators, freshwater mussels, desert fish and Hawaiian Islands plants. Lawmakers also allocate $9.7 million for mapping and restoring wildlife corridors.
  • The bill repels section 20001 of the 2017 Tax Act, which required the Bureau of Land Management to offer oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and cancels the leases sold in January 2021.

Two New NSF BIO Directorate Broadening Participation Programs

The National Science Foundation recently launched two new programs with funding opportunities to broaden participation. Its website describes the two new programs and opportunities in detail:


The Research and Mentoring for Post baccalaureates (RaMP) in Biological Sciences program invites the submission of proposals to establish networks to support full-time research, mentoring, and training for recent college graduates who have had few or no research or training opportunities during college in research fields typically supported by the Directorate of Biological Sciences (BIO).

The solicitation will support RaMP networks to engage 8-12 postbaccalaureate participants per year for 3 years (each award is expected to support a total of approximately 30 postbaccalaureate participants). Each participant will be supported by a stipend of at least $32,500 per year.


With a focus on enhancing research capacity and broadening participation of new faculty of biology at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), predominantly undergraduate institutions (PUIs), and other universities and colleges that are not among the nation’s most research-intensive institutions, the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) offers the Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO) program.

The BRC-BIO program aims to a) broaden participation by expanding the types of institutions that submit proposals to BIO, and b) expand opportunities to groups underrepresented in the biological sciences, including Blacks and African Americans, Hispanics, Latinos, Native Americans, Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, and persons with disabilities, especially those serving at under-resourced institutions. Awards will provide the means for new faculty to initiate and build independent research programs by enhancing their research capacity.

BIO Virtual Office Hours on RaMP and BRC-BIO

To help the community become acquainted with new efforts focused on broadening participation, NSF Program Directors from across the Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO) will hold a Virtual Office Hour on Nov. 18 at 1 pm E.T.

The programs to be covered are Building Research Capacity of New Faculty in Biology (BRC-BIO) and Research and Mentoring for Post baccalaureates in Biological Sciences (RaMP)

Register for this virtual office hour session at


Infrastructure: The full House voted to pass the Infrastructure and Jobs Act (H.R. 3684), commonly referred to as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework. The bill includes $550 billion in new spending. The Senate passed this bill in June. Some House Democrats had hoped to pass both the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework and the Reconciliation package at the same time, which delayed this bill’s passage in the House. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework includes some funding for environmental initiatives:

  • The Army Corps of Engineers receives $7 billion for flood mitigation projects.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration gets $1.5 billion for coastal mapping, resilience and related projects.
  • The bill includes the Senate’s drinking water infrastructure reauthorization bill (S. 914). This bill’s drinking water provisions include $15 billion for lead service line replacement, $10 billion to fight per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination and $3.5 billion toward water infrastructure for Native American tribes.
  • Lawmakers include a Senate bill (S. 866) authorizing the US Forest Service to increase reforestation efforts.

Wolves: Twenty-one U.S. Senators, led by Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Gary Peters (D-MI), sent a letter to Interior Secretary Debra Haaland requesting an emergency listing restoring temporary Endangered Species Act protections for gray wolves. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced in September 2021 an endangered species status review for the gray wolf in the western U.S. in response to a petition filed by environmental groups. Trump administration removed gray wolves from the endangered species list in November 2020.

Legislative updates:

  • House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) introduced the America Mitigating and Achieving Zero-emissions Originating from Nature for the 21st Century Act (AMAZON 21, H.R. 5830) which would authorize $9 billion to the State Department for international forest conservation efforts.
  • John Garamendi (D-CA) and Mark Amodei (R-NV) introduced the Stop the Spread of Invasive Species Act (H.R. 5692). This bill provides legal authority to federal land management agencies like the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service to conduct aquatic invasive species inspections on federal land. The bill also establishes a new U.S. Bureau of Reclamation grant program for inspection stations at federally managed reservoirs. This legislation is similar to a bill introduced by Sen. Michael Bennet in 2019 (S. 2975).

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) will meet Nov. 29. The meeting will include invited speakers who will discuss various aspects of biomanufacturing, the federal science and technology workforce and the National Nanotechnology Initiative. The PCAST will accept substantive oral and written public comments about the council’s work during the meeting, for more information see the Federal Register Notice.

Last month, the PCAST held a meeting a focused on climate, energy and the environment. Speakers included White House National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director Jane Lubchenco.

USFWS and NOAA Fisheries: The Trump administration had finalized two regulations that narrowly defined critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act and provided exclusions for economic impact, national security and outdoor recreation. The Biden administration seeks to replace the Trump regulations. According to the government press release: “To better fulfill the conservation purposes of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NOAA Fisheries) are proposing to rescind two critical habitat regulations finalized in December 2020. The proposed actions would rescind the Services’ joint regulatory definition of “habitat” and FWS regulations that govern critical habitat exclusions under 4(b)(2) of the ESA.”

Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks Shannon Estenoz said that if the agency finalizes these proposed rules, it will bring the implementation of the Endangered Species Act back into alignment with its original intent and purpose.

The proposed rules are open for public comment through Nov. 26, 2021.

EPA: Administrator Michael Regan announced ten new members of the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council, including representatives from academia, non-profits, tribal indigenous government and organization and state and local government.

The results of the EPA’s 2021 Scientific Integrity Survey find that over 60% of agency employees that responded to the survey disagreed that decision-makers made the scientific and/or non-scientific basis for policy decisions accessible. Similarly, 56% of respondents disagreed that scientists were able to do their work knowing they are protected from intimidation or coercion to alter scientific data or findings. However, when asked the same question about their specific program office or region, nearly 70% of respondents said that scientists could do their work knowing they are protected from intimidation or coercion to alter scientific data or findings. The survey was conducted in May 2021 and asked about employees’ experiences over the last two years.

NOAA: The agency released a request for information seeking public input about how NOAA should, using its existing legal authorities, conserve and restore America’s oceans, coasts and Great Lakes as part of the Biden administration’s goal of conserving 30% of the country’s land and waters by 2030. The agency will hold public listening sessions on Nov. 8 and 16. For more information, see the Federal Register notice.

More News:




Scientific Community

NASEM: According to announcement by the National Academies’ Committee to Advise the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), it is using its convening authority to support USGCRP’s engagement with a wide range of potential users in its work designed to begin new conversations with researchers and users of global change information and for the development of long-term engagement strategies with USGCRP.

The Committee is holding a series of listening sessions in November and December to help the USGCRP hear directly from groups and individuals who use or produce global change information. At these public sessions, participants will be able to learn about USGCRP, comment on how global change information is used or could be more useful in their sector and suggest forms of future long-term engagement with USGCRP. No previous knowledge of USGCRP is expected for participants.

The Committee seeks to connect with personally and professionally diverse groups at these sessions, in particular global change information users and researchers who may not have interacted with USGCRP before. This can include individuals from boundary organizations, government, professional societies, academia, industry, nonprofits, and more.

Each session is focused on one major theme: water, health, energy, food, and transportation, and infrastructure.

Register to attend USGCRP Pilot Listening Session – Water on Tuesday, November 9 from 2:00-3:30 pm ET and click here to learn more about the series. 

OSTP: Director Eric Lander and Deputy Director Alondra Nelson recently launched The Time is Now: Advancing Equity in Science and Technology Ideation Challenge, which is open for submissions until Nov. 19, 2021.

This challenge is designed to engage with and learn from all of America about one essential question, “How can we guarantee all Americans can fully participate in, and contribute to, science and technology?”

By almost every measure, the U.S. science, technology, engineering, and mathematics ecosystem is inequitable. We know progress is being made, and yet more remains to be done. The challenge is designed to foster input from all of America in a number of ways:

  • Submitting ideas and insights that could inspire transformational change across the U.S. science and technology ecosystem.
  • Highlighting examples of programs and initiatives that are already succeeding in advancing equity in science and technology.
  • Pitching a brand-new idea that could reshape the way science is done in our Nation, making it more eminent, equitable, and inclusive.
  • Sharing this #SciEquityChallenge with someone else through social media, video submissions, and email to help even more people contribute to the national goal of advancing equity in science and technology.

This critical input from the public will be part of a larger effort to gather ideas that can galvanize action and spur new efforts that benefit the entire Nation.

The White House distributed a press release shared publicly on social media through the WHOSTP Twitter account, and is using the #OSTPTimeIsNow and #SciEquityChallenge hashtags

CSLDF: The Climate Science Legal Defense Fund released a new edition of their report, “Research Protections in Open Records Laws: An Analysis and Ranking.” The publication includes a detailed breakdown of how 50 states and the District of Columbia treat scientific and academic research under their open records laws. Open records laws play a key role in promoting government transparency by enabling the public to request documents related to government-funded activities. However, these laws are often exploited by groups seeking to harass publicly funded scientists.

Federal Government: A new report from the Revolving Door Project outlines the consequences of declining STEM staff levels at federal agencies involved in climate change. The report finds that the loss of scientific staff likely negatively impacted existing employees’ ability to carry out responsibilities and implement new climate initiatives under the Biden administration. The report concludes with steps Biden could be taking right now to boost hiring efforts across the federal government.

IPBES: The international body announced that a draft of the chapters and a summary for policymakers of the thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control will be open for external review starting Dec. 15, 2021. To ensure the highest scientific quality and policy relevance of the assessment, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel seeks the widest possible participation of experts from all relevant disciplines and backgrounds.

NSF: A new report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics and the National Science Board tracks U.S. and international outputs of scientific publications. The report finds that China publishes more scientific papers than any other country in the world. In the United States, women and people in underrepresented groups are much less likely to publish papers before receiving a doctorate than their white, male counterparts.

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