Policy News: March 14, 2022

In this issue:

Lawmakers Pass Fiscal Year 2022 Spending Bills
NSF receives a four percent increase.

ESA Stands with Ukraine
ESA stands in solidarity with the scientists, the research community and all Ukrainian people.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee advances nomination of Asmeret Asefaw Berhe to lead Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

Executive Branch
White House solicits information about Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge and scientific integrity policy.

Supreme Court hears Clean Power Plan case.

Maryland State Senate Committee advances a bill to reduce the state’s greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S., Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden suspend their participation in the Arctic Council, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Scientific Community
NEON seeks applications for the Science, Technology and Education Advisory Committee.

Federal Register opportunities

Lawmakers Pass Fiscal Year 2022 Spending Bills

Congress passed an omnibus spending bill completing appropriations for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022. The government has been operating under a series of stop-gap measures since October 2021 and Congress has not passed a full-year budget since December 2020. The budget generally includes small increases for scientific and environmental programs – smaller increases than proposed in President Biden’s first Presidential Budget Request and in House and Senate bills this past summer and fall.

NSF is funded at $8.84 billion, a four percent increase above the fiscal year 2021 level. This amount includes $7.16 billion for NSF’s research and related activities account, an increase of $250 million above FY 2021 levels. The research and related activities account fund most NSF grants. The topline amount falls short of the amounts included in the House and Senate bills and House and Senate legislation reauthorizing NSF. Similar to provisions in the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) and the NSF Foundation for the Future Act (H.R. 2225), the bill establishes a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships. Lawmakers intend that this new directorate will help the U.S. stay ahead of international competition in key areas such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing and climate science.

The bill includes $20 million for the Civilian Climate Corps. This amount falls short of the $100 million proposed by House Appropriations and the $10 billion amount requested by the Biden administration.

Topline numbers for other agencies include modest increases:

  • The Department of Energy Office of Science receives $7.475 billion, a 6.4% increase.
  • Lawmakers allocate $7.8 billion for the U.S. Forest Service. This includes $296.6 million for Forest Service research, a nearly four percent increase, and $4 million for the Joint Fire Science Program. The Forest Service had not received dedicated funding for this program for years. The total funding for the Joint Fire Science Program increases from $3 million in FY 2021 to $8 million total from both the Interior Department and the Forest Service in FY 2022.
  • Agricultural research programs receive significant boosts. The Agricultural Research Service gets $1.761 billion, a 15% increase. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture gets $1.836 billion, a 17% increase. This includes a smaller 2.3% increase for the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, the USDA main competitive grants program.
  • In the Interior Department, the U.S. Geological Survey receives $1.39 billion total, a 5.6% increase. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives $1.65 billion, a four percent increase. The National Park Service gets a 4.5% increase to $3.26 billion and the Bureau of Land Management gets a 7.73% increase to $1.41 billion.
  • Lawmakers give the Environmental Protection Agency a 3.5% increase to $9.56 billion. The agency’s science and technology programs receive a $750 million, a nearly 3% increase.
  • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration receives $5.88 billion, an 8% increase.
  • Lawmakers allocate $7.6 billion for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, a four percent increase.

ESA Stands with Ukraine

On March 4, ESA issued this statement:

“The Ecological Society of America stands in solidarity with the scientists, the research community and all Ukrainian people who are doing their best to survive and resist in the face of a horrific and unprovoked invasion by Russia that has immediate consequences for human rights and human lives. Additionally, the potentially catastrophic environmental impacts of the war pose both immediate and long-term threats to human rights, health, welfare and livelihoods. We join the scientific and global community in vehemently calling for peace and an immediate end to this conflict.”

See link to ESA statement.


Nominations: The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance the nomination of Asmeret Asefaw Berhe to lead the Department of Energy’s Office of Science. Berhe is a professor of soil biogeochemistry and interim associate dean for graduate education at the University of California, Merced. Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) joined committee Democrats in supporting Berhe’s nomination.

Pebble Mine: Thirteen House Democrats, led by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), sent a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, expressing their disappointment in the EPA’s January 2022 announcement to restart the Clean Water Act review process for protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska. The area is the site of a proposed gold and copper mine and the home of the world’s most productive sockeye salmon fishery. In December 2020, the Trump administration unexpectedly denied an Army Corps of Engineers permit to the mining project. The lawmakers say that the Biden administration’s decision to restart the Clean Water Act review process will cause needless delays in protecting the area, against the express wishes of Tribes and fishing groups in the region to complete the process by the start of the fishing season in June.

Huffman is a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee. Other signatories include House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ).

Climate Adaptation: Both the House Science Committee and the House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis held committee hearings focused on climate adaptation.

The House Science Committee hearing focused on the federal government’s vulnerability to climate change and the status of federal climate adaptation and programs. The witness panel, which included NOAA Administrator Rick Spinard, Ingrid Kolb of the Department of Energy and Joel Carney of NASA, detailed the climate challenges confronting their agencies, along with the adaptation and resilience strategies the agencies have adopted to respond to them.

The House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis hearing featured testimony from William Solecki, a professor and founder director, emeritus, of the City University of New York Institute for Sustainable Cities, Lara Hansen of EcoAdapt, Lauren Alexander Augustine, of the National Academies’ Gulf Research Program and Matthew Jewell, the president of St. Charles Parish in Louisiana. The hearing examining the urgent need develop a national climate adaptation and resilience strategy.

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy and the Council on Environmental Quality are holding a series of tribal consultation and public comment sessions as they develop guidance on inclusion of Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge in federal decision making. Written public comments can be sent to ITEK@nullostp.eop.gov by the end of day Thursday, May 5, 2022.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy released a request for information to support the development of a federal scientific integrity policy. The information requested includes: (1) How scientific integrity policies can address important and emergent issues including diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility; new technologies; and emerging modes of science; (2) The criteria to evaluate scientific integrity policy content, implementation, outcomes and impacts in the agencies; (3) How to ensure that scientific integrity evaluation findings lead to effective iterative improvement of scientific integrity policy and practices; and (4) How to ensure the long-term viability and implementation of scientific integrity policies, practices and culture through future administrations.

Nominations: President Joe Biden nominated David Applegate to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) director. Applegate is a career USGS employee who has served as the acting USGS director for the past year.

USFWS: The agency is proposing listing two freshwater mussel species – the western fanshell and Ouachita fanshell – as threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. These species are found in Arkansas, Kansas and Missouri. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing designating 360 river miles as critical habitat for the western fanshell and 294 river miles of critical habitat for the Ouachita fanshell. The agency identifies habitat fragmentation, water quality degradation, altered flow and landscape change as the primary threats to the species. The proposed rule is open for public comment through May 2, 2022.

EPA: The agency’s Science Advisory Board agreed to review the science underlying the agency’s decision to revert the definition of the Waters of the U.S. under the Clean Water Act to the pre-2015 standard. In 2015, the Obama administration implemented the Clean Water Rule and in 2019, the Trump administration replaced the Clean Water Rule with the Navigable Waters Protection Rule. The Biden administration is developing its own rule but reverted to pre-2015 Clean Water Act regulations in the interim.

The EPA’s Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee is recommending that the EPA tighten regulations on soot pollution. This summer, the EPA will propose new soot regulations and issue a final rule by spring 2023. The science advisors recommended that the EPA revisit how they treat wildfire-related air pollution, given the increase in the number and severity of wildfires due to climate change.

NOAA: In a new priorities document, NOAA has identified the most immediate actions necessary to achieve the goals of Mission: Iconic Reefs. The initiative is a first-of-its-kind effort to restore seven coral reef sites in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Mission: Iconic Reefs 2022–2025 Priorities  provides guidance on these highest priority actions. 

NIFA: Current Director Carrie Castille will leave the agency to lead the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture. Former President Donald Trump appointed Castille in January 2021, shortly before Trump left office. National Institute of Food and Agriculture directors are appointed for six-year terms and are intended to be non-political, similar to the National Science Foundation directors.

More News:




Arctic: The United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden announced that they are suspending their participation in the Arctic Council, which coordinates on Arctic issues, including scientific cooperation, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Ecologists studying polar bears, migratory birds and more in the Arctic told ScienceInsider that the war has canceled their research plans and collaborations. Russia is the current chair of the Arctic Council.

UN: The German government, the United Nations Environment Program and the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity announced the establishment of a Multi-Partner Trust Fund on Nature for Health. The initial funding for the program is 50 million Euros or $54.5 billion. This fund will support fast-tracked implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity Global Action Plan on Biodiversity and Health, which is currently under development.

Wildlife Trade: In a Federal Register notice, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) said that it has not yet identified any issues which the United States is likely to submit for consideration at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora Conference of Parties in November in Panama City, Panama. The agency also said that it is undecided about how it will address 35 issues that will be discussed at the meeting, including zoonotic disease provisions. USFWS is accepting comments on the issues identified in the notice through April 6, 2022.

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Scientific Community

NEON: Applications are now open for the Science, Technology & Education Advisory Committee (STEAC). This committee is an advisory body to the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) Program that provides strategic advice to Battelle, the NEON Principal Investigator (PI), and NEON Program staff on the planning and operation of the NEON Program and other relevant programs. Apply here, there is no deadline for applications but the STEAC will begin reviewing applicants May 1.

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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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