Policy News: January 10, 2022

In this issue:

ESA Water Cooler Chat: COP 26 Debrief
Join ESA in sharing lessons learned from COP26 in Glasgow, Scotland.

Scientific Community
The USCRP seeks ecologists feedback on outline of NCA5 chapter outlines.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) signals willingness to support climate provisions of the Build Back Better Act.

Executive Branch
White House seeks feedback about the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas.

Judge temporarily blocks geothermal plant construction in Nevada.

North Carolina governor signs emissions reduction executive order.

A draft of IPBES’ thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control is open for review.

Scientific Community
The National Academics seeks experts for the Strategic Group on COVID-19 and Ecosystem Services in the Built Environment.

Federal Register opportunities

ESA Water Cooler Chat: COP 26 Debrief

Please join ESA in sharing lessons learned from the 2021 United Nations Conference of the Parties Meeting (also known as COP26) in Glasgow, Scotland, and actions we can take going forward as a professional society Jan. 27 at 11:00am eastern. Panelists will share their experience at COP26 and together we will discuss what actions ESA members can take to help society mitigate and adapt to climate change in a just and equitable way.

ESA President Dennis Ojima will share some introductory remarks and Pamela Templer will facilitate the discussion. Join COP 26 attendees Kaydee Barker, Andrew Barton, Fabio Berzaghi and Andrea Swei to hear their insight and perspectives.

You can also read Andrew Barton’s blog posts from the event here.

The webinar will take place on Jan. 27 at 11:00am eastern. Register here

Scientific Community

NCA: The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USCRP) and the authors of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) are hosting a series of virtual public engagement workshops to inform the development of this federal climate report. The Ecosystems Chapter public engagement workshop will take place on Jan. 11, 2022, from 12-4 pm eastern time. The information gathered in this workshop will help authors decide which topics to cover in their chapter of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, a major U.S. Government report on how climate change affects people and places in the United States. To register for the event, click here.

The USCRP also released an annotated outline of the NCA5 and is seeking public feedback on the annotated outlines of each chapter report. The annotated outlines can be accessed by visiting USGCRP’s Review and Comment System. The feedback received through this public comment period will be used by author teams as they develop their draft chapters. The outlines are open for public comment through Feb. 20, 2022.

The National Climate Assessment is a congressionally mandated quadrennial report led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report evaluates the effects of climate change on regions and sectors of the United States and reports on trends in climate change for the next 25 to 100 years. The Fifth National Climate Assessment will highlight advances in scientific understanding of human-induced and natural processes of climate change and the resulting implications for the United States. Major themes will be presented through the lens of vulnerability, impacts, risks, and adaptation. The report is expected for release in late 2023.

NSF: The National Science Board will publish The State of U.S. Science and Engineering Jan. 18, 2022.

Part of NSB’s congressionally mandated Science & Engineering Indicators, the report summarizes data on K-12 science and math education, higher education in science and engineering, the Labor Force, R&D, production and trade, innovation, and more. NSB will host a briefing to introduce the report. Speakers will highlight key trends and their implications for the country – including what is needed to ensure that the U.S. has the science and engineering workforce it needs to compete globally – and will lay out areas for action for the U.S. to remain at the forefront of innovation. NSB is the policy making body of the National Science Foundation and an independent advisor to the President and Congress. Register here.

NOAA: The application period for the John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship program is now open. The Sea Grant Knauss Fellowship provides a unique educational and professional experience to graduate students who have an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources. The Fellowship, named after one of Sea Grant’s founders and former NOAA Administrator John A. Knauss, matches highly qualified graduate students with “hosts” in the legislative and executive branch of government located in the Washington, D.C. area, for a one year paid fellowship.  

This is a great opportunity for ecologists who may want a policy career. One unique aspect for the program is that indivduals may stilpursuing a PhD and Masters level ecologists qualify.

Environmental Justice: Resources for the Future and the Urban Institute will host a webinar about environmental justice and community partnerships Jan. 19. Effective partnerships between researchers and community organizations can advance understanding of the nature of environmental problems and underlying vulnerabilities in disadvantaged communities, as well as help to identify policy and program solutions. The expert panel will discuss how to make these partnerships work to advance environmental justice knowledge and work toward equitable solutions to environmental problems. Register here.

More News:


Reconciliation: The Build Back Better Act (H.R. 5376), also known as the reconciliation bill, appears stalled in the Senate, with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) announcing that he cannot support the bill shortly before the holiday recess. The bill will need all Senate Democrats to support the bill to pass.

However, Manchin signaled Jan. 4 that he “probably” can come to agreement with other Senate Democrats regarding the climate and clean energy provisions of the bill. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) told reporter that the Senate is currently focuses on voting rights legislation and will revisit the Build Back Better after they pass a voting rights bill.

In December, Senate committees released details of the scientific and environmental provisions of the bill (see ESA Policy News, December 20, 2021).

Legislative updates:

  • Sens. Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced the Alaska Salmon Research Task Force Act (S. 3429). This bill would create a panel of salmon stakeholders and researchers to study Pacific salmon trends and create a coordinated research strategy in Alaska to support salmon management.
  • Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA) introduced the Climate Solutions Act (H.R. 6351), which requires that 100 percent of electricity sold in the United States be generated from renewable sources by 2035. The bill also requires the U.S. to reduce greenhouse gases emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: An interagency working group, led by the Interior Department, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the Department of Agriculture and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration issued a request for comments from the public about the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas can best serve as a useful tool and how it should reflect a continuum of conservation actions in the America the Beautiful initiative. The America the Beautiful initiative refers to the Biden administration’s commitment to preserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030. The conservation atlas bill be used to assess the country’s progress towards that goal. The administration said in December 2021 that it will be at least a year before a beta version of the atlas is released. The agencies will hold virtual listening sessions to receive public comments Jan. 13, Jan. 19, and Jan. 21.

In late December, the administration issued a progress report, touting their progress towards the 30% goal. The report cites the restoration of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase Escalante National Monuments, which the Trump administration shrunk and reinstating Roadless Rule protections for the Tongass National Forest.

PCAST: The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology will meet virtually Jan. 20-21 to discuss measuring and monitoring greenhouse gases and accelerating innovation in energy technologies.

Research Security: The White House Office of Science Technology (OSTP) and the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released its guidance for federal science agencies to implement National Security Presidential Memorandum 33 (NSPM-33). This guidance sets guidelines for research security policies across the government. Chaired by OSTP Director Eric Lander, the Subcommittee on Research Security is an interagency group organized under the NSTC Joint Committee on the Research Environment (JCORE).

Lander wrote in its forward:

“The research security challenges we face are real and serious: some foreign governments, including China’s government, are working hard to illicitly acquire our most advanced technologies. This is unacceptable.

At the same time, if our policies to address those actions significantly diminish our superpower of attracting global scientific talent — or if they fuel xenophobia against Asian Americans — we will have done more damage to ourselves than any competitor or adversary could. So we need a thoughtful and effective approach.

As a next step, I am now directing federal research agencies to work together within the next 120 days to develop model grant application forms and instructions that can be used (and adapted where required) by any federal research funding agency. The goal is for the government to clearly describe what it needs to know and for researchers to be able to report the same information in the same way to the greatest extent possible, regardless of which funding agency they’re applying to.”

Ecologists and others submitting grant applications will need to follow the new instructions once completed.

USFWS: The agency is proposing listing the ferruginous pygmy-owl (Glaucidium brasilianum cactorum), which is found in Mexico, Arizona and Texas, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. USFWS finds in the proposed rule that Endangered Species Act protections are necessary due to habitat loss for the species and climate change, which is resulting in hotter, more arid conditions throughout much of the subspecies’ geographic range. The agency finds that designating critical habitat for the species is “prudent, but not determinable at this time.” Public comments on the proposed rule close Feb. 22, 2021.

DOE:  The agency announced Dec. 21 it has established the Department of Energy Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations to oversee $20 billion toward fulfilling President Bidens climate pledge. This office received its initial funding through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, also known as the bipartisian infrastructure bill. Overall, DOE received $62 billion in funding from the bill.

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IPBES: A draft of the chapters and the summary for policymakers of the thematic assessment of invasive alien species and their control is open for review. This second external review is addressed to governments and interested and qualified experts, including scientists, decision-makers, practitioners and other knowledge holders. To ensure this assessment’s highest scientific quality and policy relevance, the Multidisciplinary Expert Panel seeks the widest possible participation from experts from all relevant disciplines and backgrounds. Expert reviwers can register on the IPBES website. The draft is open for review through Feb. 15, 2022, and IPBES will hold an online workshop for reviewers Jan. 20, 2022.

More News:

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers

View more letters and testimony from ESA here.

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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