Policy News: May 9, 2022

In this issue:

The National Nature Assessment, Nature Based Solutions and Natural Capital Accounts
The recording of the White House roundtable is now available on YouTube.

Apply for a Badge to Attend COP27 as an Observer via ESA
ESA is accepting expressions of interest from members to receive an ESA “observer status” badge to attend COP27 in Egypt.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee approves Water Resource Development Act of 2022.

Executive Branch
White House to hold two public listening sessions for its climate and economic justice screening tool.

USFWS agrees to designate critical habitat for ten species and issue endangered species findings for 14 species.

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis vetoes bill to end solar incentives.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee approves ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol.

Scientific Community
NSF and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation sign Memorandum of Understanding.

Federal Register opportunities

The National Nature Assessment, Nature Based Solutions and Natural Capital Accounts

On April 21st,  the White House hosted a roundtable on Knowledge in Nature: How Nature Can Help Grow A Better Future. Three expert panels talked about on the importance of nature-based solutions, the initiation of Natural Capital Accounts, and the launch of the first-ever U.S. National Nature Assessment. Remarks were given from Dr. Alondra Nelson and Chair Brenda Mallory, as well as exciting announcements from Secretary Gina Raimondo about the U.S. initiative to establish Natural Capital Accounts and Secretary Deb Haaland about the first ever National Nature Assessment. These announcements are the start of a renewed commitment to and increased ambition on nature and people across the federal government. The recording of the roundtable is now available on the White House YouTube channel.

The three announcements shared in the webinar were also included in the forests Executive Order that President Biden signed Friday, April 22. The White House has also published a blog and a fact sheet about the three initiatives and their importance to our efforts to better understand, account for, and find solutions in nature. You can access these at the links below:

Video: Knowledge in Nature: How Nature Can Help Grow a Better Future Roundtable

Blog post: Accounting for Nature on Earth Day 2022

White House Fact Sheet: President Biden Signs Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Global Deforestation

Nature Based Solutions: Compendium of Federal Nature-Based Solutions for Coastal Communities, States, Tribes, and Territories

Apply for a Badge to Attend COP27 as an Observer via ESA

ESA is accepting expression of interest from members to receive an ESA “observer status” badge to attend the Conference of Parties (COP) 27 Climate Change Conference, which will take place from  Nov. 7-18 in Sharm el-Sheikh, South Sinai, Egypt.

ESA may be able to issue a limited number of “observer status” badges to ESA members. Those receiving a badge would not be formally representing ESA. This summer, the UN will inform ESA about the number of observer badges it will provide. Last year, ESA received 5 badges to share for the two weeks and we were able to give 10 members a badge for one week.

Members would be responsible for all associated travel costs and expenses to attend COP27 if offered an ESA badge. Additionally, those selected to receive a badge would be required to meet all vaccine and other requirements set by the COP27 organizers and the host country and to submit any information that organizers request to register recipients such as passport information.

Please complete this form to express your interest in receiving an ESA badge. This form can be used for groups of individuals interested in receiving an ESA “observer status” badge led by an ESA member.

ESA held a Water Cooler chat with ESA members who attend COP 26, the recording is linked here.

ESA member Andrew Barton posted blogs from COP26, which ESA reposted here.


Mining: House Natural Resources Committee Chair Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Sen. Martin Heinrich introduced legislation (H.R. 7580 & S. 4083) to overhaul the country’s hardrock mining law. Among other provisions, the bill establishes a 12.5% royalty on new mining operations, creates a fund for cleaning up abandoned hardrock mines and requires tribal consultation for mine permitting.

Senate Environment and Public Works Committee:  The committee passed the Water Resource Development Act of 2022 (S. 4137) with bipartisan support. Among other provisions, this biennial legislation authorizes ecosystem restoration projects across the county and encourages the Army Corps of Engineers to consider measures to restore swamps and other wetland forests in studies for water resources development projects. The bill also creates a Tribal and Economically Disadvantaged Communities Advisory Committee, which will advise the Army Corps of Engineers about the delivery of projects and programs to disadvantaged communities. The legislation is expected to pass the full Senate easily.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is working to develop its own version of the bill.

House Natural Resources Committee: The Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations held a hearing about wildlife disease surveillance and preventing future pandemics. U.S. Geological Survey Associate Director for Ecosystems Anne Kisinger presented the agency’s current wildlife disease work. Disease ecology experts Dr. Colin Carlson, Georgetown University; Dr. David Stallknecht, Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Disease Study, the University of Georgia testified and Dr. Julie Thorstenson, Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.

USICA: Senators formally approved instructions to conferees for legislation reauthorizing the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy Office of Science, among provisions addressing jobs and competitiveness. The Senate legislation is the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act (S. 1260) and the House bill is the America COMPETES Act (H.R. 3593). Both bills increase authorized funding for the National Science Foundation but differ on the exact amounts (see ESA Policy News, March 28, 2022). . The conference committee will work to resolve the differences between the bills before sending the legislation back to the House and Senate. Over 100 lawmakers were named to the conference committee, see the list of House and Senate lawmakers.

Appropriations: Federal agency leaders presented budget requests for FY2023 during congressional committee hearings:

  • Members of the House Science Committee from both parties criticized the Department of Energy budget request for not matching authorized spending levels in the America COMPETES Act. The administration’s budget request for the Department of Energy Office of Science includes $7.8 billion for DOE Science, while the American COMPETES Act authorizes $8.8 billion for the agency in FY 2023. The House Appropriations Committee will hold a hearing about the FY2023 Office of Science budget request Thursday, May 12.
  • NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan and NASA Administrator Bill Nelson appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee May 3. This week, Panchanathan will appear before the House Appropriations Committee May 11.
  • Forest Service Chief Randy Moore testified before the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Executive Branch

White House: The Council on Environmental Quality will hold two public listening sessions about the its proposed climate and economic justice screening tool May 10 and 21. 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 administration has drawn criticism for not including race in the tool. The draft tool is also open for public comment through May 25, 2022.

OSTP: The National Academies of Science will host a discussion with Acting Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Alondra Nelson about equitable community participation in federally funded research Thursday, May 12. Dr. Nelson’s talk on this multi-dimensional science policy issue will be followed by an interactive forum featuring the experiences and perspectives of community members, researchers, funders and other stakeholders. The event will be live-streamed online starting at 4:00pm with in-person participation in Washington, DC.

A new report details how the federal government uses of prize competitions and challenges and crowdsourcing and citizen science. Examples of the federal government’s use of citizen science include citizens scientists using environmental DNA to aid Forest Service research about lamprey population size and distribution in Oregon and U.S. Geological Survey scientists collaborated with citizen scientists to sample aquatic insects in the Grand Canyon.

BLM: The Interior Department reverted to a 2013 management plan for Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve. This plan prohibits drilling in 11 million acres of the reserve, including areas of important habitat for migratory birds, caribou, bears and wolves. The Trump administration had approved a newer management plan for this area that opened 82% of the reserve to drilling.

EPA: In a letter to EPA Administrator Michael Regan, the Scientific Advisory Board indicated that it will review the science supporting the proposed revised definition of Waters of the United States Rule. The review will include an analysis of continued exclusion of sub-surface waters from Waters of the United States is supported by sound science.

EPA: A draft policy assessment for the reconsideration of current Ozone air quality standards finds that there is insufficient scientific evidence that there would be a public health benefit to stricter ozone regulations. This conclusion matches the conclusion of another analysis of ozone air quality standards released in 2020 during the Trump administration. The EPA is accepting public comments on the policy assessment through May 31, 2022.

Environmental Justice: Attorney General Merrick Garland EPA Administrator Michel Regan jointly announced an environmental justice plan. Actions including creating a new Department of Justice Office of Environmental Justice and a comprehensive environmental justice strategy. Garland promised that the Department of Justice will prioritize environmental enforcement in overburdened and underserved communities.

NFWF: The National Fish and Wildlife Foundation released a Request for Proposals for America the Beautiful Challenge. The goal of this grant program is to streamline funding opportunities for new voluntary conservation and restoration projects around the United States. The US Forest Service, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Defense are all expected to provide funding for this grant programIn the program’s first year, the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation anticipates awarding approximately $85 million in grants for projects to connect and restore lands, waters, and wildlife.

President Biden’s America the Beautiful initiative aims to preserve 30% of U.S. lands and waters by 2030.

More News


Endangered Species: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Center for Biological Diversity reached an agreement wherein the USFWS agrees to designate critical habitat for ten species and issue endangered species finding for 14 species. Most notably, the USFWS agrees to issue either a warranted or not warranted finding for the monarch butterfly by Sept. 30, 2024. In December 2020, USFWS made a determination that listing the monarch butterfly under the Endangered Species Act is “warranted but precluded.”

More News:



Senate: The Senate Foreign Relations Committee voted to advance a measure ratifying the Kigali Amendment to the Montreal Protocol. This is an international agreement to phase down the use of hydrofluorocarbons that emit potent greenhouse gases.  The measure received bipartisan support in committee. The agreement needs 67 votes in the Senate to be ratified by the U.S. The Obama administration negotiated this agreement in 2016 and the Trump administration did not send it to the Senate for ratification.

More News:

Scientific Community

ESA: In response to the Forest Service chief’s annual letter of intent for wildfire, ESA wrote to Chief Randy Moore urging the agency to prioritize resource benefit fires and prescribed burns over mechanical thinning. This letter was also sent to Senate Appropriators ahead of a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing about the Forest Service’s FY 2023 budget.

NSF: The Directorate for Biological Sciences and the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation signed a memorandum of understanding focused on conservation research. NSF and the private foundation will partner to accelerate biological research and data collection to support conservation efforts and further actions to address global biodiversity loss. The new agreement will complement existing NSF programs like Organismal Response to Climate Change and Biodiversity on a Changing Planet. The late Paul G. Allen was the co-founder of Microsoft.

NAS: Former White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren received the National Academies of Science Public Welfare Medal, the National Academies’ highest award, during the Academies’ 2022 annual meeting. See Holdren’s public address online here.

NAS: The ResilientAmerica program and the Committee on Benefits, Applications and Opportunities of Natural Infrastructure will hold a hybrid workshop May 10 and 11. The Workshop will feature four themes:

  1. Application of Natural Infrastructure – Context, Features, and Benefits
  2. Elements for Implementation – Physical, Ecological, Social, and Economic Considerations
  3. Making Timely Progress – Needs for Descriptive Methods, Manuals, and Standards
  4. Synching with Policies – Required Efforts and Partnerships to Scale Up

Visit the event page for more information about the workshop and to view the agenda and speaker bios. The in-person components of the workshop will take place in Athens, GA.

NSB: A new Science and Engineering Indicators report finds that public confidence in science and scientists remains high. The percentage of American adults with great confidence in scientists increased between 2016 and 2020.

President Joe Biden extended the appointments of Victor McCrary and Julia Philips to the National Science Board. McCrary is the vice president for research and graduate programs at the University of the District of Columbia and Phillips is a materials physicist who retired from Sandia National Laboratories. The National Science Board is the oversight body for all of NSF and the board serves as independent science advisors to the president and Congress.

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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