Policy News: February 28, 2022
In this issue:
Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee leaders introduce legislation to reauthorize the Department of Energy Office of Science.
White House announces new leadership for the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Supreme Court to hear climate case.
Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approves new PFAS standards.
UN report warns of unavoidable climate hazards with 1.5 degrees of warming.
ESA Traditional Ecological Knowledge section to hold webinar with Office of Science and Technology Policy staff.
Federal Register opportunities
Nominations: The full Senate voted to confirm Martha Williams as the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Williams joined the Biden administration in January 2021 and is currently serving as the agency’s principal deputy director. She previously worked as the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks director from 2017–2020 and was an assistant professor of law at the University of Montana.
Appropriations: Congress approved a measure to keep the government open through March 11. President Biden signed the Further Additional Extending Government Funding Act (H.R. 6617) Feb. 18. In early February, House and Senate Appropriators announced that they reached an agreement on a framework for domestic and defense spending, setting the stage for Congress to complete appropriations for fiscal year (FY) 2022. The federal government has been operating under a continuing resolution since October 2021. Congress has not passed appropriations bills since December 2020.
Department of Energy: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chair Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Ranking Member John Barrasso (R-WY) introduced legislation reauthorizing the Department of Energy Office of Science (S. 3699). The bill is the Senate companion to the House’s Department of Energy Office of Science for the Future Act (H.R. 3593), which was included in the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 4521). The House passed the America COMPETES Act earlier this month. Similar to the House bill, the Senate bill authorizes the creation of up to six bioenergy research centers and climate and earth modeling research. The House and Senate bills authorize slightly different funding levels for the Office of Science. The House bill authorizes annual budget increases for the Office of Science, reaching $11.1 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2026. The Senate bill authorizes $12 billion in FY 2026.
Sen. Manchin says that the Senate bill complements the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (USICA, S. 1260), which the Senate passed in June 2021 and addresses competitiveness with China and science and technology policy.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to consider the Department of Energy Office of Science for the Future Act March 1 as well as legislation to modernize the national laboratories.
Natural Resources: The House Natural Resources Committee advanced a group of bills of interest at Feb. 16:
- The Keeping Ecosystems Living and Productive Act (Kelp Act, H.R. 4458), from Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), authorizes a $50 million grant program to fund conservation, restoration and management projects focused on kelp forest ecosystems.
- The Combatting Online Wildlife Trafficking Act (H.R 1546), sponsored by Rep. Earl Carter (R-GA), reauthorizes the Presidential Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and requires this group to develop recommendations to address wildlife trafficking on the internet and on social media.
- The Chesapeake Bay Science, Education and Ecosystem Enhancement Act (H.R. 3540), from Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD), reauthorizes the NOAA Chesapeake Bay Office through 2025.
- A bill (H.R. 5973) from Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reauthorizes the Great Lakes Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act of 1990. This bill reauthorizes the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work with states and other agencies to develop and execute proposals to conserve, restore and manage fish and wildlife populations and habitats in the Great Lakes.
The House Natural Resources Committee also held a subcommittee hearing to consider Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)’s legislation (H.R. 6654) to reauthorize the U.S. Geological Survey’s Climate Adaptation Science Centers. Grijalva’s bill permanently reauthorizes the National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers and increases the authorized funding level for the Climate Adaptation Science Centers from $97 million in FY 2023 to $145 million in FY $145 million in FY 2027.
- Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Rep. Seth Moulton (D-MA) introduced the Right Whale Coexistence Act (S. 3664, H.R. 6785), which creates a new grant program to fund collaborative research between government agencies, non-governmental organizations and maritime industries to reduce human impacts on North Atlantic right whales.
White House: President Joe Biden’s first State of the Union address will be held March 1. To watch the State of the Union speech live, visit WH.gov/sotu.
President Biden announced that Francis Collins and Alondra Nelson will replace former Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director Eric Lander temporarily. Collins will serve as the science advisor to the president and Nelson will be the acting Office of Science and Technology Policy director. Lander served in both roles. Collins is a geneticist who recently retired from his position as the director of the National Institutes of Health. Nelson is a sociologist who has been the OSTP deputy director for science and society since 2021.
Interior: As part of the Biden-Harris administration’s work to prioritize equity and inclusion across the federal government, Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland today established the first-ever Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) Council to incorporate these practices into the Department’s work across its many bureaus. Read the entire press release.
The Interior Department announced a list of candidate replacement names for more than 660 geographic features on federal lands with the name “squaw,” which was officially declared a derogatory term as a result of Secretary’s Order 3404. The Department has initiated Tribal consultations and an opportunity for public comment to recommend and review proposed replacement names. Read the entire press release.
Environmental Justice: The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released a beta version of its Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool. Federal agencies will use this tool to implement the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative goal. This goal directs 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments in environmental cleanup, climate mitigation and clean energy to disadvantaged communities.
The Biden administration drew criticism for not including race in the tool. The administration excluded race from the tool’s consideration due to legal concerns. CEQ Chair Brenda Mallory said the race-neutral approach will lead to same results as a race-based approach.
CEQ is accepting public comments on the beta tool through April 25, 2022.
USGS: The U.S. Geological Survey, along with the rest of the Department of the Interior, has released its spend plan for investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The largest geoscience investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is to the USGS Earth Mapping Resource Initiative (Earth MRI).
These resources are detailed in the newly released spend plan from the U.S. Geological Survey that details how the agency will invest the funds appropriated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
The USGS Bipartisan Infrastructure Law spend plan can be found here. More information on the Department of the Interior’s Infrastructure Law investments can be found here.
More information about the USGS Earth MRI initiative can be found here.
More information about the USGS National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program can be found here.
- EPA says U.S. met Obama-era climate pledge – E&E News
- Biden touts $1 billion in funding for Great Lakes restoration, during trip to Ohio – The Washington Post
- Biden administration announces mineral supply chain push – The Hill
- Feds propose protection for a Texas border plant – E&E News
- Biden administration suspends right of way for Alaska mining road advanced by Trump officials – The Washington Post
- White House science office to hold first event on countering climate change denial and delay – The Washington Post
- Groundbreaking Study Finds Widespread Lead Poisoning in Bald and Golden Eagles – USGS
- Analysis: Trump’s targeting of Chinese academics likely will not last after DOJ review – Reuters
- Readout of White House Climate Science Roundtable on Countering “Delayism” and Communicating the Urgency of Climate Action – White House
- Biden Administration Halts New Drilling in Legal Fight Over Climate Costs – The New York Times
- Supreme Court rejects Dakota Access NEPA battle – E&E News
- Supreme court case could restrict Biden’s effort to tackle climate crisis – The Guardian
States and Tribes
- Tribes to Receive $1.7 Billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to Fulfill Indian Water Rights Settlements – Interior Department
- Maryland Department of Environment is failing to protect the Chesapeake Bay, critics say – The Washington Post
- Muscogee (Creek) Nation, conservationists seeking to establish first national park and preserve in Georgia – The Washington Post
- An Illinois bill aims to counteract a decades-long trend: The decline of the Black farmer – Investigate Midwest
- Wisconsin Natural Resource Board votes to weaken standard for PFAS in drinking water – Wisconsin Public Radio
- Massachusetts’ roadmap bill created an environmental justice advisory council. Where is it? – The Boston Globe
UN: A new report from the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that world faces unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5 degreees Celsius (2.7°F). Even temporarily exceeding 1.5 degrees C of warming will result in additional severe climate impacts, some of which will be irreversible.
Another report from the United Nations Environment Program, released ahead of the UN Environment Assembly in Nairobi, warns that the number of global wildfires will rise by 50% by 2100. The report authors also find that the likelihood of unusually intense wildfire seasons will increase between 31 to 57 percent by 2100. The publication recommends that governments allocate most of their spending to wildfire planning, prevention, preparedness, and recovery, rather than wildfire response.
- UN climate report: ‘Atlas of human suffering’ worse, bigger – Associated Press
- Climate Change Is Harming the Planet Faster Than We Can Adapt, U.N. Warns – The New York Times
- Seawalls alone won’t save coastal cities, major UN report says – The Verge
- US, Egypt launch group to prepare for COP27 climate summit – The Washington Post
- Locals fret as Colombia to declare hippos invasive species – Associated Press
- Energy agency: Methane emissions higher than countries claim – Associated Press
NASEM: Submissions will be accepted from March 1 – April 3 for the National Academies Eric and Wendy Schmidt Awards for Excellence in Science Communication. The award aims to encourage high-quality science communication and build a diverse community of science journalists, research scientists, and institutions that will help society meet the challenges and opportunities posed by climate change, future pandemics, human genome editing and other issues that can only be understood and navigated with the help of effective science communication.
The awards will present prizes to science journalists and research scientists who have developed creative, original work that addresses issues and advances in science, engineering, and/or medicine for the general public. Up to 24 awards will be given in amounts ranging from $20,000 to 40,000.
Submissions are accepted in six categories: freelance journalists, early career journalists, and reporting at the local/regional level (science journalism); and graduate students, early career researchers, and later career researchers (science communication by research scientists). Submissions may include a single work, a series of works, or as many as six unrelated works.
Visit this link for more information.
Entries must be submitted through the online submission form.
ESA: The Traditional Ecological Knowledge Section is hosting a webinar series to facilitate a virtual space to welcome and hear from Indigenous voices who work to help sustain and nurture TEK within their communities. The speakers share tools, processes and practices they have learned through activities that work for them in their journey to utilize TEK.
The March 11 webinar will feature Gretchen Goldman, assistant director for environmental science, engineering, policy and justice, and Haley Case-Scott, junior policy advisor, from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, who will present about the Biden-Harris Administration’s initiative to elevate Indigenous TEK in federal decision making.
- ‘A step to nowhere’: Russian scientist organizes protest of Ukraine war – ScienceInsider
- Under bombing, Ukraine’s climate scientists withdraw from global meeting – Politico
- Eric Lander’s resignation for bullying raises questions for the White House – Nature Editorial
- The giant plan to track diversity in research journals – Nature
ESA Correspondence to Policymakers
- Multiorganization letter about FY2022 Agricultural Research Appropriations (Feb. 23, 2022)
- Multisociety letter urging Congress to complete 2022 Appropriations (Feb. 4, 2022)
- ESC – Statement to the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board On the Critical Role the DOE Office of Science Plays in Responding to the Climate Challenge and Clean Energy Transition (Jan. 18, 2022)
- ESC – Statement in support of Asmeret Berhe to be the Director of the DOE Office of Science (Jan. 18, 2022)
View more letters and testimony from ESA here.
Federal Register Opportunities
Upcoming Public Meetings:
- BLM – Colorado Southwest District Resource Advisory Council Meeting (March 2-3)
- EPA – Public Meeting of the Chartered Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and CASAC Particulate Matter Panel (March 4)
- EPA – Environmental Justice Considerations for the Development of the Proposed Per- and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS) National Primary Drinking Water Regulation Public Meeting (March 2)
- EPA – Public Meeting of the Chartered Science Advisory Board (March 2-7)
- Forest Service – Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (March 1)
- Forest Service – El Dorado County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (March 3)
- Forest Service – Dixie Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (March 10)
- Forest Service – Shasta County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (March 16 & 22)
- NOAA – National Sea Grant Advisory Board Meeting (March 7)
- NOAA NMFS – East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning Webinars (March 2)
- NOAA NMFS – Western Pacific Fishery Management Council Public Meetings (March 8-11)
- NOAA NMFS – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Scientific and Statistical Committee Meeting (March 15)
- NOAA NMFS – Caribbean Fishery Management Council Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management Technical Advisory Panel Meeting (March 16)
- NOAA NMFS – North Pacific Albacore United States Stakeholder Meeting (April 5)
- NPS – Cedar Creek and Belle Grove National Historical Park Advisory Commission Meeting (March 17)
- NPS – Alaska Region Subsistence Resource Commission Program Public Meetings (Aniakchak National Monument SRC – March 1, Lake Clark National Park SRC – March 30)
- NPS – Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Advisory Council Public Meeting (March 2)
- USFWS & Forest Service – Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Meetings for 2022 (Feb. 8 – March 24)
- USDA AMS – National Organic Program Public Listening Session (March 21)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- BLM – Notice of Proposed Withdrawal and Public Meetings; San Juan County, NM. Comments and public meeting requests must be received by April 6, 2022.
- BLM – Notice of Preparation of a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Willow Master Development Plan. The BLM requests input concerning the scope of the analysis, and identification of relevant information, studies, and analyses to be considered in the SEIS, which must be received by March 9, 2022.
- BLM – National Call for Nominations for Site-Specific Advisory Committees. All nominations must be received no later than March 11, 2022.
- CEQ – Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Sequestration Guidance. CEQ must receive comments by March 18, 2022.
- EPA – Request for Nomination of Experts for the Biofuels and the Environment: Third Triennial Report to Congress Peer Review Panel. Nominations should be submitted by March 3, 2022.
- EPA – Welch Group Environmental Fair Play Superfund Site Fair Play, South Carolina; Notice of Proposed Settlement. The EPA will consider public comments on the proposed settlement until March 28, 2022
- EPA – Proposed Stipulated Partial Settlement Agreement, Endangered Species Act Claims. Written comments on the proposed stipulated partial settlement agreement must be received by March 28, 2022.
- EPA – Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Texas Trustee Implementation Group Draft Restoration Plan/Environmental Assessment #2: Restoration of Wetlands, Coastal, and Nearshore Habitats; Nutrient Reduction; Oysters; Sea Turtles; and Birds. The Texas TIG will consider public comments received on or before March 28, 2022.
- Forest Service – Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Advisory Panel Nominations. Nominations must be received by March 7, 2022.
- Interior Department – Request for Information To Inform Interagency Efforts To Develop the American Conservation and Stewardship Atlas. Interested persons are invited to submit comments by 11:59 p.m. on March 7, 2022.
- Interior Department – Hunting and Wildlife Conservation Council Charter Renewal; Request for Nominations. Nominations for the Council must be submitted by March 21, 2022.
- Interior Department – Invasive Species Advisory Committee; Request for Nominations. Nominations must be received by March 28, 2022.
- NOAA – Draft Revised Management Plan for the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. Comments are due by March 4, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – International Fisheries; Pacific Tuna Fisheries; Purse Seine Observer Exemptions in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. Comments on the proposed rule must be submitted in writing by March 7, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – Fisheries of the Northeastern United States; Atlantic Spiny Dogfish Fishery; 2022 Specifications and Trip Limit Adjustment. NMFS proposes Atlantic spiny dogfish specifications for the 2022 fishing year, and an Comments must be received by March 14, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – Pacific Island Fisheries; Rebuilding Plan for the American Samoa Bottomfish Fishery. NMFS must receive comments by March 21, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – Notice of Availability of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Alabama Trustee Implementation Group Draft Swift Tract Living Shoreline Supplemental Environmental Assessment. The Alabama TIG will consider public comments received on or before March 28, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Initiation of 5-Year Status Reviews of 35 Species in the Southwest. To ensure consideration, USFWS is requesting submission of new information no later than March 4, 2022.
- USFWS – Migratory Bird Hunting; 2022-23 Frameworks for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations. USFWS must submit comments on the proposed migratory bird hunting frameworks by March 4, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassification of the Red-Cockaded Woodpecker From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before March 7, 2022.
- USFWS – Draft Environmental Assessment for Amendments to the Candidate Conservation Agreement/Candidate Conservation Agreement With Assurances for the Lesser Prairie-Chicken (Tympanuchus pallidicinctus) and Dunes Sagebrush Lizard (Sceloporus arenicolus) in New Mexico. To ensure consideration, written comments must be received or postmarked on or before March 11, 2022.
- USFWS – Draft Environmental Assessment and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan; Receipt of an Application for an Incidental Take Permit, Headwaters II Wind Farm, Randolph County, Indiana. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before March 11, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Draft Recovery Plan for the New Mexico Meadow Jumping Mouse. USFWS must receive any comments on or before March 14, 2022.
- USFWS – St. Martin’s Habitat Conservation Plan and Categorical Exclusion for the Yelm Mazama Pocket Gopher, Thurston County, Washington. Please submit written comments by March 14, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Species; Receipt of an Incidental Take Permit Application for the California Condor; Availability of Draft Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Pine Tree Wind Farm, Kern County, California. To ensure consideration, please submit written comments by March 21, 2022.
- USFWS – Implementing the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Updates Following the Eighteenth Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (CoP18) to CITES. This rule is effective May 24, 2022 without further action, unless USFWS receives significant adverse comment that provides strong justifications as to why this rule should not be adopted or why it should be changed by March 25, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Sacramento Mountains Checkerspot Butterfly. The agency will accept comments received or postmarked on or before March 28, 2022.
- USFWS – Safe Harbor Agreement and Enhancement of the Survival Permit for the Gopher Tortoise and Red-Cockaded Woodpecker, Covington County, MS; Categorical Exclusion. The agency must receive written comments on or before March 28, 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.
Send questions or comments to Alison Mize, director of public affairs, Alison@nullesa.org or Nicole Zimmerman, public affairs manager, Nicole@nullesa.org
Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership