Policy News: June 6, 2022

In this issue:

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.

U.S. Global Change Research Program Seeks Comments about Decadal Strategic Plan, Review Editors for National Climate Assessment
Nominations for review editors must be submitted by July 1.

Senate confirms Christopher Frey as the EPA’s assistant administrator for research and development.

Executive Branch
EPA moves toward stopping proposed Bristol Bay gold and copper mine.

Supreme Court upholds social cost of carbon metric.

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection secretary to step down.

Egypt promises to allow protest during COP27.

Scientific Community
Scientific academies release statements ahead of G-7 summit.

Federal Register opportunities

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.

View the COP27 website here.

U.S. Global Change Research Program Seeks Comments about Decadal Strategic Plan, Review Editors for National Climate Assessment

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), in collaboration with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, is requesting comment from the public on its draft Decadal Strategic Plan.

USGCRP seeks feedback on program priorities and accompanying narrative in the strategic pillar sections. Respondents should consider (i) ideas on emerging, large-scale scientific questions related to global change and/or societal response, especially those where interagency collaboration will be critical; (ii) specific information on how science is or is not being used to inform societal response to global change, and why; and (iii) knowledge gaps and obstacles to implementing scientific tools or knowledge.

Individuals wishing to participate in the public review of the draft 2022–2031 USGCRP Strategic Plan must register via the USGCRP Review and Comment System to access the draft. The deadline to submit comments is 11:59 PM ET on July 15, 2022.

USGRP is also seeking review editors for the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). Review editors play a critical role in the assessment, ensuring that the author teams appropriately consider and respond to all public and peer review comments. Nominees should be technical experts with climate-related proficiency in at least one of the regions, sectors, or response topics outlined in the NCA5 Table of Contents.  Nominations must be submitted via the USGCRP Contribute site by 11:59 PM ET on July 1, 2022.


Nominations: The full Senate narrowly voted to confirm Christopher Frey as the EPA’s assistant administrator for research and development. Sens. Richard Burr (R-NC), Susan Collins (R-ME), Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Rob Portman (R-OH) joined all Senate Democrats in voting in favor of Frey’s confirmation. Frey is a former chair of the EPAs Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) and he was a member of the CASAC Particulate Matter Review Panel that former EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler dismissed in 2018. He is the first Senate-confirmed leader of the EPA’s Office of Research and Development in over ten years.

Legislative Updates:

  • Rep. Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced legislation (H.R. 7801) to reauthorize the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program at $60 million per year through 2026 and add climate change mitigation as one of the program’s goals. The bill also directs NOAA to designate at least five new National Estuarine Research Reserves and would increase the authorization for the program to $47 million to account for the increased number of reserves. The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL).
  • Sens. Ben Ray Luján (D-NM) and Alex Padilla (D-CA) introduced a bill (S. 4274) authorizing wildland fire science programs. The bill includes provisions to create a coordinated federal effort to improve the understanding of the impacts of climate change, drought and climate variability on wildland fire risk, frequency and severity. The House Science Committee passed similar legislation last fall.
  • The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water and Power held a hearing for the STREAM Act (S. 4231). This bill from Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), authorizes western water infrastructure projects, including $250 million for environmental restoration benefits and $50 million for natural water retention and release projects.

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy released a report about standardizing data repositories for federally funded research and identifying desirable characteristics of data repositories, based on input from agencies. Some of the desirable characteristics include free and easy access to repositories, clear use guidance and long-term technical sustainabilities.

EPA: The Biden administration moved towards banning a proposed gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska under the Clean Water Act. The area is home to the world’s most productive sockeye salmon fishery. The EPA finds in the proposed veto that the mine would destroy 100 miles of stream habitat and over 2,000 acres of wetlands.

In December 2020, the Trump administration unexpectedly denied an Army Corps of Engineers permit for the mining project. The Obama administration previously vetoed the mine in 2014.

The proposed veto is open for public comment through July 5, 2022. The EPA is also holding three public hearings about the determination June 16 & 17, including a virtual public hearing June 16.

Environmental groups are warning that the EPA’s veto only covers the pebble deposit area and leaves other parts of the Bristol Bay watershed vulnerable to future mining.

EPA: The agency released a proposed rule, reversing a Trump administration rule limiting states’ ability to block fossil fuel infrastructure under Section 401 of Clean Water Act. The regulation requires states and the federal government to collaborate to determine a “reasonable period of time”  to review the request for certification. If the state or tribe and the EPA do not reach an agreement within 30 days, it will default to 60 days from receipt of the request for certification. The proposed regulation also allows state and tribes to evaluate impacts from any aspect of the project activity, with the potential to affect water quality. The previous rule prevented states from considering concerns other than water quality during the certification process.

Coastal states, such as Washington state and New York, have used their authority under section 401 to block fossil fuel export facilities and pipelines in their states, citing air quality and climate concerns.

ESA joined other aquatic science societies in opposing the Trump administration’s Section 401 proposed rule in October 2019.

The new proposed rule is open for public comment for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register.

DOE: The Office of Science announced a $40 million initiative to provide research opportunities to historically underrepresented groups in STEM and diversify American participation in the physical and climate sciences through internships, training programs, and mentor opportunities. Funds from the program will go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions and other research institutions.  The program includes a Biological and Environmental Research Funding Opportunity Announcement. A series of webinars will be held for potential applicants and research administrators to learn more about each Funding Opportunity Announcement.

USDA:  The National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board is seeking applications for the board and its other committees and subcommittees, including the Specialty Crop Committee, Citrus Disease Subcommittee, and National Genetic Resources Advisory Council.

The NAREEE Advisory Board application closes on July 29. Application packages should be sent by email to nareee@nullusda.gov or for more information on the Board, committees and subcommittees’ roles, specific vacancies, and application process, go to the website.

USDA: The Animal Plant and Health Inspection Service is seeking stakeholder input to its new strategic plan framework to guide the agency’s work over the next 5 years. The framework is a summary of the draft plan; it provides highlights including the mission and vision statements, core values, strategic goals and objectives and trends expected to influence the agency’s work in the future. Comments must be received by July 1, 2022.

More News:


Climate: The Supreme Court rejected an appeal from red states in a case seeking to strike down the Biden administration’s use of the social cost of carbon metric in decision making. This decision allows the metric to stay in place. The administration currently estimates that the social cost of carbon is about $51 per metric ton of emissions. The Trump administration lowered the value of the social cost of carbon to $1 per metric ton.

More News:



Scientific Community

NAS: Ahead of the G-7 summit to be held in Germany in June, science academies from G-7 countries issued statements calling on governments to take urgent action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the ocean and cryosphere. The statements also call government to provide leadership in implementing a One Health approach to zoonotic disease.

NSF: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics released new longitudinal data from the Survey of of Doctoral Recipients (SDR).

The survey provides demographic, education, and career history information from individuals with a U.S. research doctoral degree in a science, engineering, or health field. This longitudinal data report contains technical documentation for the longitudinal subsample of the 2015 SDR (the LSDR 2015–25 panel), which is designed to provide information about employment changes among the population of U.S.-trained science, engineering, and health doctorate holders less than 65 years of age in 2015 over a 10-year period (2015–25). The first release of data from the LSDR 2015–25 panel includes survey data from three cycles of the SDR: 2015, 2017 and 2019.

Another report provides insights about the labor force transitions of U.S. trained doctoral scientists and engineers using Survey of Doctorate Recepients. In 2015, U.S.-trained doctoral scientists and engineers under age 66 participated in the labor force worldwide at a rate of 96%, which declined to 92% by 2019.

RFF: Resources for the Future will hold a Policy Leadership Series event Wednesday, June 15 with Dr. Andrew Steer, President and CEO of the Bezos Earth Fund. Born out of a $10-billion commitment from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the Earth Fund is a philanthropic organization that funds efforts to address climate change and protect nature.

RFF President and CEO Richard G. Newell will sit down with Steer to discuss the mission and goals of the Bezos Earth Fund; the role of philanthropy in transformational systems change; and the range of investments, policies, and technological innovations needed to accelerate decarbonization and protect nature. Their conversation will touch on a variety of topics, including data-driven solutions, innovation, and environmental justice and equity. Register for the webinar here.

More News:

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers

View more letters and testimony from ESA here.

Federal Register Opportunities

Upcoming Public Meetings:

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

Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership.