Policy News: December 6, 2021
In this issue:
Apply for the 2022 Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award
Applications are due Dec. 10, 2021.
Congress passes stopgap measure to fund the government through Feb. 18.
USDA proposes reinstating roadless protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.
Maryland Attorney General Sues Monsanto.
The National Academics issues a call for nomination for a workshop about public and ecosystem health. National Science Board to meet Dec. 8-9.
Are you a science graduate student interested in the intersection between policy and science? ESA invites you to apply for the virtual 2022 Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA).
Offered each year, this award gives graduate students hands-on training and science policy experience including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials and ecologists who work in the science and public policy arena.
Many past recipients are currently working in public policy crediting the ESA GSPA as a stepping-stone to policy fellowships such as the AAAS Fellowship or the NOAA Knauss Fellowship. Other past recipients pursue a research career, but they find the public policy knowledge gained from the experience provides a foundation for interacting with policymakers.
Several 1-2 hour training and prep sessions will occur in late January and February 2022 over Zoom. Virtual Hill visits will be held Feb. 16-17. Participants are required to attend the trainings and must be available Feb. 16-17 for Hill meetings.
For more information and to apply, visit this page. Applications are due Dec. 10, 2021.
Nominations: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-9 to advance Christopher Frey’s nomination to be the EPAs assistant administrator for research and development. Frey is a former chair of the EPAs Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and he was a member of the CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel that former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler dismissed in 2018. He was a prominent critic of the EPA during the Trump administration. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) voted with the Committees Democrats to support the nomination.
The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee advanced the nomination of Jainey Bavishi to be the assistant secretary of oceans and atmosphere at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the second-most senior position at NOAA. Bavishi most recently led the New York City Office of Resiliency.
Appropriations: The House of Representatives and the Senate voted to pass a stop-gap funding measure to keep the government funded through Feb. 18, 2022, averting a government shutdown. The measure, known as a continuing resolution, generally keeps funding at fiscal year 2021 levels.
- Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Blue Carbon for Our Planet Act (S. 3245). This legislation establishes an Interagency Working Group on Coastal Blue Carbon and authorizes $15 million through FY2026 for the working group’s initiatives, including developing a national map of coastal blue carbon ecosystems. The House Natural Resource Committee held a hearing for the House version of this bill (H.R. 2750) in June 2021.
- Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-OR) introduced the Northern Spotted Owl Habitat Improvement Act (H.R. 6019), which codifies a Trump administration rule that removed 3.4 million acres from the species’ critical habitat. The Biden administration withdrew this rule in November 2021.
- Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member Shelly Moore Capito (R-WV) and other Republican committee members introduced a bill (S. 3277) to codify a Trump administration regulation that limited states’ ability to block fossil fuel projects under the Clean Water Act. The Trump administration proposed this regulation after coastal states, such as Washington state and New York, have used their authority under section 401 to block fossil fuel export facilities and pipelines in their states, citing air quality and climate concerns.
- Democrats want to prevent new oil and gas drilling in most U.S. waters. Their plan might work. – The Washington Post
- U.S. is top contributor to plastic waste, report shows – The Washington Post
White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) announced that it is creating an energy division, which will work to develop national clean energy innovation plans and ensure the United States reaches net-zero emissions by 2050. The division will be led by Sally Benson, a Stanford University climate and energy expert, and Costa Samaras, a Carnegie University associate professor of civil and environmental engineering. Benson will serve as deputy director for energy and chief strategist for the energy transition and Samaras will serve as principal assistant director for energy and chief adviser for energy policy. In addition, the office will work closely with White House National Climate Adviser Gina McCarthy and OSTP Deputy Director for Climate and Environment Jane Lubchenco.
Nominations: President Biden nominated Shalanda Young to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The Senate confirmed Young as OMB deputy director earlier this year. The Biden administration has not had a Senate-confirmed OMB director yet. Among other responsibilities, the Office of Management and Budget prepares the annual President’s Budget Request and reviews all new federal regulations through the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs. Along with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, OMB issues a yearly memo to agency heads outlining research and development budget priorities.
Forest Service: The Department of Agriculture issued a new proposed rule reinstating roadless protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Late in the Trump administration, the Forest Service exempted 9 million of Alaska’s Tongass National Forest from the roadless rule, effectively opening up these areas to logging. During the Trump administration, ESA submitted comments opposing the Forest Service’s proposal to exempt the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule, noting that the Tongass stores a large amount of carbon and fuels productive and commercially important marine ecosystems.
NOAA: The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) is considering Endangered Species Act protections for the Atlantic humpback dolphin (Sousa teuszii), in response to a petition for listing from environmental groups. The Atlantic humpback dolphin is a shallow water dolphin and is found off the coast of western African from Western Sahara to Angola. NMFS is seeking scientific information about the species’ habitat, abundance and population trends and distribution and population structure and more for its review of the species’ status. Scientific and commercial information must be received by January 31, 2022.
- ‘Soap opera’: How the never-ending fight over wetlands began – E&E News
- Biden sets out oil, gas leasing reform, stops short of ban – Associated Press
- ‘Cancer has decimated our community.’ EPA’s Regan vows to help hard-hit areas, but residents have doubts. – The Washington Post
- Maryland AG Sues Monsanto, Alleges Harm to Natural Resources – Associated Press
- World’s largest oyster restoration completed on Piankatank River – Virginia Mercury
- Michigan Senate approves $3.3B water infrastructure bill – Associated Press
- Key Mountain Valley Pipeline structure fails to get permit approval – Virginia Public Radio
White House: The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy request comments from the public on the draft prospectus of USGCRP’s upcoming decadal Strategic Plan. The prospectus can be accessed for review, and comments may be submitted through the USGCRP Review and Comment (R&C) System. Interested persons and organizations are invited to submit comments by Jan. 11, 2022.
NSF: The National Science Board will meet Dec. 8-9. Agenda items include current NSF-funded cool science, a panel on the uneven geography of K-12 STEM education and broadening the participation of the Missing Millions in STEM. The meeting will be livestreamed via YouTube and recorded for later viewing on NSB’s YouTube channel. For more details, see the NSB meeting announcement.
IPBES: The external review of the draft scoping report for the business and biodiversity assessment closes Dec. 13, 2021. The rolling work program of IPBES up to 2030, adopted by the Plenary in decision IPBES-7/1, includes a methodological assessment of the impact and dependence of business on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people. To serve as an expert reviewer, register on the IPBES website.
NASEM: The National Academies isssued a call for nominations, due Dec. 10, for a upcoming workshop about public and ecosystem health. From the project website, “The National Academies seeks nominations for committee members to organize a workshop, Integrating Public and Ecosystem Health Systems to Foster Resilience: A Workshop to Identify Research to Bridge the Knowledge-To-Action Gap. Ecosystems form the foundation upon which society can survive and thrive, providing food, clean water, clean air, materials, and recreation. These connections between people and their environments are being stressed by human-driven actions (e.g. climate change, pollution, resource exploitation, and others) that can alter ecosystems and the services they can provide. If ecosystems are not resilient in the face of these stressors, the subsequent ecological changes may affect human health.”
USGCRP: The National Academies’ Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) 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 has been 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 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. Individuals from boundary organizations, government, professional societies, academia, industry, nonprofits are encouraged to participate.
The final two listening sessions will focus on food and transportation/infrastructure:
- Monday, December 6: 3:30-5:00 pm ET
USGCRP Pilot Listening Session – Food
- Wednesday, December 8: 5:00-6:30 pm ET
USGCRP Pilot Listening Session – Transportation/ Infrastructure
- As U.S. Hunts for Chinese Spies, University Scientists Warn of Backlash – The New York Times
- The United States needs a department of technology and science policy – Nature
- Trial of Harvard chemist poses test for U.S. government’s controversial China Initiative – Science
ESA Correspondence to Policymakers
- Multiorganization letter in support of the Department of Health and Human Service (HHS) Office of Climate Change and Health Equity (Nov. 18, 2021)
- ESC – Recommendation to the White House Office of Management and Budget for FY 2023 Budget (Nov. 9, 2021)
- CNSF – Recommendations to the White House Office of Management and Budget for FY 2023 Budget (Nov. 5, 2021)
- CNSF – FY 2022 Appropriations Conference Committee Statement (Nov. 2, 2021)
View more letters and testimony from ESA here.
Upcoming Public Meetings:
- DOE – Environmental Management Advisory Board Meeting (Dec. 13)
- EPA – Board of Scientific Counselors Executive Committee Meeting (Dec. 8)
- EPA – Clean Air Act Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 15)
- EPA – Great Lakes Advisory Board Meeting (Dec. 15)
- EPA – Public Meetings of the Science Advisory Board Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) Review Panel (Dec. 16, Jan. 4, 6, 7)
- EPA – National Environmental Justice Advisory Council Meeting (Jan. 5)
- Forest Service – Sabine-Angelina Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 7)
- Forest Service – Siuslaw Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 10, 15)
- Forest Service – Del Norte County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 7-8)
- Forest Service – Shasta County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 8)
- Forest Service – Trinity County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 13)
- Forest Service – Southwest Montana Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 13-14)
- Forest Service – Sanders Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 14)
- Forest Service – Chippewa National Forest Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 14, 16)
- Forest Service – Tri-County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 15-16)
- NASA – Applied Sciences Advisory Committee Meeting (Dec. 7-8)
- NOAA – Science Advisory Board Meeting (Dec. 7-8)
- NOAA NMFS – New England Fishery Management Council Meeting (Dec. 7-9)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (Dec. 7-8)
- NOAA NMFS – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Meetings (Dec. 13-16)
- NOAA NMFS – Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council Ecosystem Technical Committee Meeting (Dec. 14-15)
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Fishery Management Council Ad Hoc Ecosystem Workgroup Meeting (Dec. 17)
- NSF – National Science Board Meeting (Dec. 8)
- NSF – National Artificial Intelligence Research Resource Task Force Meeting (Dec. 13)
- USGS – Public Meeting of the National Geospatial Advisory Committee (Dec. 7-8)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- BLM – Notice of Intent To Prepare the Bridge Creek Area Allotment Management Plans Environmental Impact Statement in the Andrews Field Office, Burns District, Oregon.Comments may be submitted in writing until Jan. 3, 2022.
- BLM – Notice of Application for Withdrawal Extension and Opportunity for Public Meeting; Alaska. Comments and requests for a public meeting regarding this withdrawal application must be received by Jan. 6, 2022.
- DOE – Stewardship of Software for Scientific and High-Performance Computing. Written comments and information are requested on or before Dec. 13, 2021.
- EPA – Release of the Draft Policy Assessment for the Particulate Matter National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Comments must be received on or before Dec. 14, 2021.
- EPA – Pesticide Registration Review; Proposed Interim Decisions for Several Pesticides; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before Dec. 21, 2021.
- EPA – Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit. Written comments on the proposed consent decree must be received by Dec. 23, 2021.
- EPA – Draft Human Health and/or Ecological Risk Assessments for Several Pesticides; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before Dec. 28, 2021.
- EPA – Proposed Settlement Agreement, Clean Water Act. Written comments on the proposed consent decree must be received by Jan. 3, 2022.
- FEMA – Request for Information on the National Flood Insurance Program’s Floodplain Management Standards for Land Management and Use, and an Assessment of the Program’s Impact on Threatened and Endangered Species and Their Habitats. Written comments are requested on or before Dec. 13, 2021.
- NOAA – Review of Nomination for St. George Unangan Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Written comments must be received by Dec. 17, 2021.
- NOAA – Request for Information on NOAA Actions To Advance the Goals and Recommendations in the Report on Conserving and Restoring America The Beautiful, Including Conserving At Least 30 Percent of U.S. Lands and Waters By 2030. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before Dec. 28, 2021.
- NOAA – Notice of Intent To Conduct Scoping and To Prepare a Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Chumash Heritage National Marine Sanctuary. Comments are due by Jan. 10, 2022. OAA will host virtual public scoping meetings on Dec. 8, Dec. 13 and Jan. 6.
- NOAA NMFS – Endangered and Threatened Species; Take of Anadromous Fish. Comments must be received no later than 5 p.m. Pacific time on Dec. 10, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Bluefish Fishery; 2022 and Projected 2023 Specifications. Comments must be received by Dec. 17, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Call for Nominations for the Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Advisory Panel. Nominations must be received on or before Dec. 17, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Establishment of Time-Area Closures for Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins Under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Comments on this proposal must be received by Dec. 27, 2021.
- NOAA NMFS – Fisheries of the Exclusive Economic Zone Off Alaska; Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands; Proposed 2022 and 2023 Harvest Specifications for Groundfish. Comments must be received by Jan. 3, 2022.
- NPS – Request for Nominations for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission. Written nominations must be postmarked by Dec. 13, 2021.
- NPS – Request for Nominations for the National Park Service Alaska Region Subsistence Resource Commission Program. Nominations must be postmarked by Dec. 20, 2021.
- NSF – Request for Information: Undergraduate Training in Biology Mathematics and Computer Science. Interested persons are invited to submit comments on or before Dec. 31, 2021.
- USFWS and NOAA NMFS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Listing Endangered and Threatened Species and Designating Critical Habitat. The agencies will accept comments from all interested parties until Dec. 12, 2021 (comment period extended).
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Regulations for Designating Critical Habitat. USFWS will accept comments from all interested parties until Dec. 13, 2021 (comment period extended).
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink, Lake County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. USFWS must receive written comments on or before Dec. 8, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Reviews of Eight Northeastern Species. To ensure consideration, please submit written information by Dec. 8, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered Species Status for Bog Buck Moth. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Dec. 13, 2021.
- USFWS – Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Green River Wind Farm, Lee and Whiteside Counties, Illinois. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Dec. 13, 2021.
- USFWS – Proposed Programmatic Safe Harbor Agreement for Viticultural Activities on Vineyards in the Santa Rosa Plain for the Sonoma County Population of California Tiger Salamander, Sonoma County, California. Written comments should be received on or before Dec. 17, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink, Lake County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. USFWS must receive your written comments on or before Dec. 17, 2021
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Southern Sierra Nevada Distinct Population Segment of Fisher. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Dec. 20, 2021.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Scrub-Jay, Volusia County, FL; Categorical Exclusion. USFWS must receive written comments on or before Dec. 20, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for the Miami Tiger Beetle (Cicindelidia Floridana). USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Dec. 23, 2021 (comment period extended).
- USFWS – Designation of Critical Habitat for the Coastal Distinct Population Segment of the Pacific Marten. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Dec. 27, 2021.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for the Diamond Y Invertebrates. USFWS must receive any comments on or before Jan. 3, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Status Reviews of Six Listed Animal and Plant Species. To ensure consideration, please send written information by Jan. 4, 2022.
- USFWS – Notice of Proposed Withdrawal and Opportunity for Public Meeting for the Bill Williams River National Wildlife Refuge, Arizona. Comments and requests for a public meeting must be received by Jan. 6, 2022.
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.