Policy News: May 23, 2022
In this issue:
NSF Biological Sciences Advisory Committee Meets
Recordings of the meeting and key takeaways are now available.
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 confirms Asmeret Asefaw Berhe as the director of the Department of Energy Office of Science.
Judge reverses Trump-era ESA sage grouse move.
Judge reverses Trump-era ESA sage grouse move.
Alaska Senate passes tribal recognition bill.
Watch the 33rd Goldman Environmental Prize Awards Ceremony.
FAS & The Pew Charitable Trusts Evidence Project solicit ideas rooted in science to improve policy outcomes across critical societal challenges
NSF Biological Sciences Advisory Committee Meets
NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) Advisory Committee met May 11-12. The recording of the meeting is available on YouTube (Day 1 and Day 2) and the meeting agenda is online here. The committee, composed of biological and ecological scientists from across the research enterprise, typically meets twice a year.
Highlights of the meeting include:
- Three of the meeting’s panels focused on use-inspired research, reflecting increased interest at NSF and in the administration in collaboration with industry and as well more applied science.
- The committee voted to approve decadal review of the Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) Network and will post the subcommittee’s report publicly. Possible areas for improvement for LTER better coordinating research across the network to allow more intentional synthesis of data across sites, rather than post-hoc analysis as well as better integration of social sciences. Strengths of the LTER network identified in the report include that the sites’ work educating students and leveraging NSF funding. The review committee also noted that the sites are well poised for research about the human impacts on ecosystems.
- BIO’s switch to no deadlines for core programs in 2018 did not impact the demographics of Principal Investigators (PI) receiving NSF grants, across race, general, career stage and type of home institution. NSF representatives urged grantees to the optional demographic information so NSF can better understand its grantee community. In response to a question from a BIO AC member, an NSF representative shared that the federal government is considering how to improve how it collects gender demographics at the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy level.
- Division of Environmental Biology Director Stephanie Hampton is leaving the agency after four years of service under NSF’s rotator program.
- BIO Assistant Director Joanne Tornow announced that she will retire.
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.
DOE: The full Senate voted to confirm Asmeret Asefaw Berhe as the director of the Department of Energy Office of Science by a vote of 54-45. Berhe is a professor of soil biogeochemistry and interim associate dean for graduate education at the University of California, Merced.
Water Infrastructure: The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee approved its version of the Water Resources Development Act (H.R 7776) with bipartisan support. This bill authorizes Army Corps of Engineers ecosystem restoration projects and includes measures to increase coordination with tribal, minority and Indigenous communities and address water resources needs in disadvantaged communities. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed its own version of the biennial legislation earlier this month.
- The full House passed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL)’s South Florida Clean Coastal Water Act (S. 66). This legislation tasks the Interagency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms with developing a plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling harmful algal blooms and hypoxia in South Florida. This bill previously passed the Senate.
- Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation (S. 4187) to reauthorize the Neotropical Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The bill increases authorized funding for the program from $6.5 million to $20 million. This program supports conservation, education, research, monitoring and habitat protection for migratory birds.
- Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced a bill to create an open-source software data platform to allow agency personnel and approved researchers to share research data to assist in decision making.
- Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) introduced the Water Data Act (H.R. 7792), which creates a national framework for sharing, integrating and using water data and creates a grant program for water data sharing tools. The bill has 13 co-sponsors, including two Republicans.
- Congress urged to ease immigration for foreign science talent – Axios
- Senators question Regan about ‘climate chaos’ – E&E News
White House: President Joseph Biden named University of Delaware President Dennis Assanis to the President’s Council on Science and Technology (PCAST). Assanis replaces nuclear engineer Marvin Adams, who now works for the Department of Energy. This group advises the president on “policy that affects science, technology and innovation, as well as science and technology information that is needed to inform public policy.” Biden signed an executive order in September 2021 expanding the size of the PCAST to 32 members from 26. There are currently 30 members of the PCAST.
Forest Service: In response to recent major wildfires, Forest Service Chief Randy Moore announced a pause on prescribed fire operations on National Forest System lands while the Service conducts a 90-day review of protocols, decision support tools and practices ahead of planned operations this fall. Read the statement here.
NSB: The National Science Board, the oversight body for NSF, has released a new policy brief regarding recruitment and retention of international STEM talent. The brief recommends streamlining and expanding the U.S. visa system for STEM students and workers and taking action to ensure the U.S. remains the world’s magnet for top STEM talent.
- EPA blocks bid to review basis for climate regs – E&E News
- What You Need to Know About Biofuels – PoliticoPro
- Black communities are last in line for disaster planning in Texas – The Washington Post
- New NSF program hopes to rev the nation’s ‘engines’ of innovation – Science
- Carter asks court to defend Alaska’s ‘unrivaled wilderness’ – Associated Press
- Judge reverses Trump-era ESA sage grouse move – E&E News
- A salty dispute: California Coastal Commission unanimously rejects desalination plant – Cal Matters
- Alaska Senate passes tribal recognition bill – Associated Press
The 33rd Goldman Environmental Prize Award Ceremony will be held May 25, and will be available to watch virtually. The Goldman Environmental Prize is the world’s foremost award honoring grassroots environmental activists, recognizing outstanding leaders from each of the world’s regions.
- Earth given 50-50 chance of hitting key warming mark by 2026 – Associated Press
- U.S. is monitoring war’s environmental toll – Axios
- ‘Dark mood’: Australian researchers lament state of science ahead of election – Nature
- Breaking climate vows would be ‘monstrous self-harm’, warns Cop26 president – The Guardian
- Mammoth UK research assessment concludes as leaders eye radical shake up – Nature
- World’s oceans at most acidic level in 26,000 years, climate report warns – Reuters
CSPO: The Consortium for Science, Policy & Outcomes is hosting a seminar on a participatory scenario planning project from Maui, Hawai‘i. Victoria Keener (Arizona State University) will discuss a multi-year stakeholder-intensive process on Groundwater Recharge. In this project, a participatory scenario planning process and modeling framework was used to demonstrate and communicate the consequences and tradeoffs of alternative land management strategies under a changing climate, and to serve as a tool for decision making under environmental and socioeconomic uncertainty on the island of Maui.
FAS: The Pew Charitable Trusts Evidence Project and the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) are inviting the broader science, technology, innovation, and research community to contribute ideas rooted in the production, use, and uptake of scientific evidence to improve policy outcomes across critical societal challenges including health, education and workforce, and climate and clean energy. If selected, FAS and Pew will work with the submitter to refine their idea, identify relevant government audiences, and engage decision-makers who are best-positioned to implement the idea. Submissions will be accepted through June 9, 2022. For more information and to submit, see this page.
FAS is also seeking scientific and technological experts interested in bringing their knowledge and skills into the federal government on a tour of public service. FAS’ Day One Talent Hub works with federal government agency partners by connecting them with qualified experts from our talent network and placing experts within roles as FAS Impact Fellows. To apply, visit the web page.
NSB: The board selected Dan Reed as the chair and Victor McCray as the vice-chair. The former chair Ellen Ochoa rotated off the board in May 2022. Reed is a University of Utah computer scientists and a former provost. McCrary is the vice president for research and graduate programs at the University of the District of Columbia. 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.
ESA Correspondence to Policymakers
- Multiorganization Letter about Appropriations for USDA Agricultural Research and Climate (May 11, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of FY 2023 302(b) Allocation for Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations (May 11, 2022)
- ESA – Letter to the Forest Service about Managed Wildland Fire (May 3, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of Appropriations to the Agricultural Research Service (April 25, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2023 Appropriations Letter (identical letters sent to both the House and Senate) (April 7, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in support of appropriations for EPA Science and Technology and Science to Achieve Results program (identical letters sent to both the House and Senate) (April 4, 2022)
- ESC – FY 2023 Appropriations Statement (March 28, 2022)
- Multi-organization letter in support of the immigration provisions of the America COMPETES Act (March 22, 2022)
- Agricultural and Food Research Intiative Coalition – FY 2023 Appropriations Letter (March 22, 202)
- Multisociety letter urging the White House and Congress urging action in response to the Ukraine crisis (March 11, 2022)
- 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 – Public Meetings of the San Rafael Swell Recreation Area Advisory Council, Utah (May 24-25)
- BLM – Northwest Resource Advisory Council Meetings (Colorado) (May 25-26)
- BLM – Colorado Southwest District Resource Advisory Council Meeting (June 1-2)
- BLM – Subcommittee Meeting for the Steens Mountain Advisory Council, Oregon (June 9)
- EPA – Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee Meeting (May 25-26)
- Forest Service – Eastern Idaho Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (May 23)
- Forest Service – Shasta County Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (May 25)
- Forest Service – Dixie Resource Advisory Committee Meeting (May 26)
- NOAA NMFS – Permanent Advisory Committee To Advise the U.S. Commissioners to the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Meeting (June 8, comments due June 3)
- NPS – Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Advisory Council Notice of Public Meeting (June 8)
- NPS – Acadia National Park Advisory Commission Meetings (June 6)
- USAID – Meeting of the Board for International Food and Agricultural Development (May 23)
- USFWS – Aquatic Nuisance Species Task Force Meeting (May 24-26)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- BLM – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Proposed Cross-Tie 500-kV Transmission Project, Beaver, Juab, and Millard Counties, Utah, and White Pine County, Nevada. All comments must be received by May 31, 2022.
- BLM – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement and Potential Resource Management Plan Amendments for the Greenlink West Project in Clark, Nye, Esmeralda, Mineral, Lyon, Storey, and Washoe Counties in Nevada. Comments on issues may be submitted in writing until June 1, 2022.
- EPA – Release of Draft Policy Assessment for the Reconsideration of the Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards. Comments must be received on or before May 31, 2022.
- EPA – Draft Recommended Aquatic Life Ambient Water Quality Criteria for Perfluorooctanoic Acid (PFOA) and Perfluorooctane Sulfonic Acid (PFOS). Comments must be received on or before June 2, 2022.
- EPA – Pesticide Registration Review; Spirodiclofen Proposed Interim Decision; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before June 6, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – Atlantic Highly Migratory Species; Initiation of 5-Year Essential Fish Habitat Review. NMFS must receive information no later than June 6, 2022.
- NOAA NMFS – NOAA Fisheries Draft Climate Science Regional Action Plans (2022-2024). Comments on the Draft Climate Science Regional Action Plans must be received by June 2, 2022.
- USDA – Request for Applications for Appointment to the National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board’s Pollinator Subcommittee. The NAREEE Advisory Board Office will accept applications until 5 p.m. Eastern Time on May 31, 2022.
- USDA APHIS – Standards for Birds Not Bred for Use in Research Under the Animal Welfare Act. The agency will consider all comments that are received on or before May 25, 2022 (comment period extended).
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for Northern Long-Eared Bat. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before May 23, 2022.
- USFWS – Receipt of Application for Renewal of Incidental Take Permit; Low-Effect Habitat Conservation Plan for the Threatened Coastal California Gnatcatcher, Los Angeles County, California. USFWS must receive written comments on or before May 23, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Species; Incidental Take Permit Application for the Desert Tortoise; Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Environmental Assessment; Bellefield Solar Energy Project, Kern County, CA. To ensure consideration, please submit written comments by May 25, 2022.
- USFWS – Conference of the Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES); Nineteenth Regular Meeting: Taxa Being Considered for Amendments to the CITES Appendices. USFWS will consider written information and comments received by May 26, 2022.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Sand Skink and Blue-Tailed Mole Skink; Polk County, FL; Categorical Exclusion USFWS must receive written comments on or before May 31, 2022.
- USFWS – Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan and Incidental Take Permit Application; Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Comments must be received no later than June 1, 2022.
- USFWS – Receipt of Incidental Take Permit Application and Proposed Habitat Conservation Plan for the Alabama Beach Mouse, Baldwin County, AL; Categorical Exclusion. USFWS must receive written comments on or before June 3, 2022.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Endangered Species Status for the Dixie Valley Toad. USFWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before June 6, 2022.
- USFWS – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the Elliott State Research Forest Habitat Conservation Plan in Coos and Douglas Counties, OR. Comments submitted online must be received by 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time on June 6, 2022.
- White House OSTP – Request for Information: Sustainable Chemistry. Interested persons and organizations are invited to submit comments on or before 5:00 p.m. ET on June 3, 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.
Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership.