Policy News: March 28, 2022

In this issue:

Biden Releases Budget Request
Request proposes increasing non-defense discretionary spending and spending on climate and clean energy across the government

Senate to agree to send the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act to conference committee.

Executive Branch
USFWS proposes listing the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species.

Appeals court revives Biden administration’s social cost of carbon metric.

California Governor Gavin Newson (D) proposes creating a fund for Native American tribes to purchase ancestral lands.

National Academies of Science launches Safe Passage Fund for Ukrainian researchers.

Scientific Community
National Academies of Sciences to release Gulf Coast ecosystem restoration report.

Federal Register opportunities

Biden Releases Budget Request

President Joe Biden released the federal government budget request today, March 28. The president’s budget request serves as a starting point for fiscal year (FY) 2023 appropriations. Now, House appropriators will draft budget bills for FY 2023, which starts October 2022.

Congress completed appropriations for FY 2022 in March 2022 (see ESA Policy News, March 14, 2022). Ultimately, Congress appropriated significantly less for agencies of interest to ESA members than proposed in President Biden’s FY 2022 budget request. Most notably, the National Science Foundation (NSF) received a 4% increase, significantly less than proposed in Biden’s FY 2022 budget request and in authorizing House and Senate authorizing bills. President Biden proposed a nearly 20% increase in his FY 2022 budget.

For FY 2023, President Biden proposes increasing non-defense discretionary spending and increasing spending on climate and clean energy across the government:

  • The president’s budget request includes $10.5 billion for NSF, a $1.6 billion increase over the FY 2022 level. This includes $880 million for a Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships and $1.6 billion for climate research and development.
  • The request includes $17.5 billion for the Department of the Interior. The U.S. Geological Survey receives $1.9 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey, a $250 million increase over FY 2022. The request also includes $375 million for climate science in the Interior Department and $5 billion for climate adaptation and resilience.
  • The Department of Energy Office of Science would receive $7.8 billion. Congress funded the Office of Science at $7.475 billion in FY 2022 and $7.026 billion in FY 2021.
  • Biden includes $28.5 billion for the Department of Agriculture. This includes $24 million for the USDA climate hubs, which link USDA climate science and agricultural producers, and $4 billion for USDA’s research, education and outreach programs.
  • The EPA receives $11.9 billion, a $2.34 billion increase over FY 2022.
  • NOAA receives $6.9 billion, a $1 billion increase over FY 2022 levels. This includes $92 billion for competitive climate research grants.
  • The request provides $26 billion for NASA, including $2.4 billion for earth-observing satellites and climate research.

ESA will update the federal budget tracker with more details as agencies release more detailed requests over the coming days.


NSF: After clearing several procedural votes, the full Senate is expected to send the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) to conference committee to reconcile the difference between the Senate bill and the House’s America COMPETES Act (H.R. 3593). Both bills increase authorized funding for the National Science Foundation but differ on the exact amounts. It is worth noting that authorizing bills set guidelines for appropriators to fund the programs and agencies under its jurisdiction, but it does not actually allocate funds. The Senate will resume consideration of this bill on the afternoon of March 28.

The America COMPETES Act authorizes Congress to allocate $17.9 billion over five years for NSF, cumulatively providing $35.6 billion in additional funding over five years. The bill also creates a Science and Engineering Solution Directorate, focused on “societal challenges”, that include but are not limited to work on strategic technologies.

The U.S. Innovation and Competition Act creates a Technology and Innovation Directorate, focused on “key technology focus areas” and recommends Congress provide this new NSF directorate with $29 billion over five years, with its annual budget ramping up from $1.8 billion to $9.3 billion. The bill also increases the annual budget of the rest of NSF from to $12 billion over the same period.

The Fiscal Year 2022 appropriations bill, finalized in March 2022, funded NSF at $8.84 billion and created a new Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships.

Great Lakes: Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) and other House Democrats from Great Lakes states introduced a bill (H.R. 7131) to create a Great Lakes Authority. This new agency would be charged with promoting economic development in the region, restoring and protecting the Great Lakes and funding clean energy, green infrastructure and water infrastructure projects. The bill authorizes $30 million for the agency in FY 2023 and $50 million a year in subsequent years.

Climate: Reps. David Rouzer (R-NC) and Jason Crow (D-CO) introduced a bill (H.R. 7178) that would create a grant program for states and tribes to create and maintain climate resiliency offices and programs. To be eligible for the program, the state or tribe must develop a resiliency framework that identifies the current and projected risks and vulnerabilities in the area of the environment, natural hazards, economy, infrastructure, housing and health and social services. The legislation authorizes $200 million each year for six years.

Legislative updates:

  • The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to advance the Right Whale Coexistence Act (S. 3664). This bill, sponsored by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), 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.

More News:

Executive Branch

USFWS: Citing the impacts of white-nose syndrome on the species, the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) is proposing classifying the northern long-eared bat (Myotis septentrionalis) as an endangered species. The species is currently protected under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species. White-nose syndrome is a deadly fungal infection that was first discovered in New York in 2006. According to USFWS, White-nose syndrome has “caused estimated northern long-eared bat population declines of 97–100 percent across 79 percent of the species’ range.” The agency will hold a virtual public informational meeting and a public hearing April 7 and is accepting public comments through May 23, 2022. USFWS will issue a final rule in November 2022.

USFWS also proposes listing the sand dune phacelia (Phacelia argentea), a coastal herb, as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and designating 252 acres in southern Oregon and northern California as critical habitat. The species is mainly threatened by competition with invasive species. The proposed rule is open for public comment through May 23, 2022.

White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) 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.

OSTP 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.

The White House Office of Management and Budget and OSTP will hold a virtual summit on evidence for action April 7.  According to the annoucement, this summit will kick off a Year of Evidence for Action, focused on building and strengthening partnerships between evidence communities within and outside of the federal government. RSVP here.

PCAST: The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology held a meeting March 24 focused on dectecting, tracking, mitigating and preventing wildfires and improving science communication.

More News:


Executive Branch

California: Governor Gavin Newsom (D) is proposing creating a $100 million fund for Native American tribes to purchase ancestral lands in his budget request to the state legislature. This proposal is part of Governor Newsom’s pledge to conserve 30% of California’s lands and waters by 2030.

Michigan: Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) and the state legislature announced a deal to spend $4.7 billion in state surplus and federal funding on infrastructure, including $450 million for state and local parks, $669 million for clean water projects and funds for PFAS clean-up.

More News:


National Academies: The U.S. National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has launched a fund to support the Polish Academy of Sciences’ work to resettle Ukrainian researchers and their families who have fled Ukraine. NAS is also considering options to resettle these researchers in the United States, should they not be able to return to Ukraine in the near term.

The Safe Passage Fund is currently accepting donations from the public.

UN: The International Panel on Climate Change plans to release the next and final installment of the Sixth Assessment report on April 4. The final installment will focus on climate mitigation. The second installation of the Sixth Assessment Report, released in February 2022, analyzed climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability and warned that the world faces unavoidable climate hazards over the next two decades with global warming of 1.5°C (2.7°F).

Conservation Finance: The World Bank priced $150 million of five-year Sustainable Development Bonds to protect black rhinos in South Africa. Bond funds will be used to finance conservation projects and bondholders will be paid out based on the rate of the rhino’s population growth in the Addo Elephant National Park and the Great Fish River Nature Reserve. The Zoological Society of London and Conservation Alpha will independently calculate the rhino growth rate.

More News

Scientific Community

NAS: The Polar Research Board of the National Academies of Science (NAS) is organizing a workshop to foster community-wide discussion about harnessing cutting-edge technological innovations to (1) advance, facilitate, and transform Antarctic and polar research; (2) increase the reach of Antarctic and polar research while reducing the environmental footprint of these operations; and (3) facilitate broader, more diverse participation in Antarctic and polar research. The goal of this workshop is to look forward and consider new technology frontiers, along with strategies for building innovative partnerships with technology developers not yet engaged in polar research.

As input to this workshop, the National Academies is seeking creative ideas regarding: 

  • existing technologies that hold great potential to advance some key aspects of Antarctic/polar research, but that have not yet been applied for this purpose.
  • new technological advances that could plausibly (both technologically and operationally) be developed to advance some key aspects of Antarctic / polar research.
  • research questions you would like to pursue but currently cannot due to technological limits or constraints.

Comments are due Wednesday, April 20, 2022. Submit research input here and register for the workshop here.

NAS: A new National Academies’ report, The Physics of Life, presents a compelling vision for the next decade of science in biological physics. Biological physics, or the physics of living systems, brings the physicist’s style of inquiry to bear on the beautiful phenomena of life.  The report outlines how federal agencies, policymakers, and universities can strengthen the field’s future and offers recommendations on research directions, funding, workforce, and education. Read the press release here.

NAS: The Committee on Long-Term Environmental Trends will be releasing their report entitled An Approach for Assessing U.S. Gulf Coast Ecosystem RestorationA Gulf Research Program Environmental Monitoring Report on March 31, 2022. The report assesses the cumulative effects of multiple restoration projects along the U.S. Gulf of Mexico coast; considers the effects of acute events and long-term physical changes on restoration projects; discusses synergistic and antagonistic effects of long-term restoration activities; and recommends adaptive management strategies. The report also assesses the relevant existing resources, including available data, for informing decision-making and considers what additional efforts are needed.

There will be an upcoming report release webinar on Thursday, April 7, 2022, from 2-3 p.m. ET. During the webinar, members of the committee will give an overview of the report, including discussing the key conclusions and recommendations, and also take questions from the audience.

NSF:  The National Science Foundation is seeking nominations for the National Medal of Science from February 7 through May 20, 2022

NSF: Applications due March 29 to attend workshops to “hack” the Rules of Life – to consider how we might use those Rules to tackle pressing societal challenges.

NSF is hosting a series of virtual events centered on Using the Rules of Life to Address Societal ChallengesThe goal is to bring together researchers with diverse perspectives — including those from all scientific disciplines, with various levels of experience (from senior scientists to postdocs), from different types of institutions or organizations, and from historically underrepresented groups in STEM — to share ideas about how Rules of Life approaches and data might be harnessed by multidisciplinary teams to tackle pressing societal challenges.

There are opportunities for senior scientists to post docs to participate, but you must apply to attend. Applications to attend the workshop at due March 29. NSF opened the call March 21, leaving a short window of time for applications. Postdocs will have the opportunity to engage in focused professional networking opportunities (Incubators) in addition to the Workshops with established scientists. 

The NSF describes the 4 workshops as based around the following themes:

  1. Stewarding an Integrated Biodiversity-Climate System
  2. Achieving a Sustainable Future
  3. Harnessing Microbiomes for Societal Benefit
  4. Leveraging AI and Data Science for Predicting Mechanisms

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers

View more letters and testimony from ESA here.

Federal Register Opportunities

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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.

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