Policy News: June 20, 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.

House passes Recovering America’s Wildlife Act.

Executive Branch
President Joe Biden is set to name new Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.

Rhode Island passes renewable energy bill.

Biden administration halts US-Russian scientific collaborations.

Scientific Community
The Climate Overshoot Commission holds its first meeting.

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.


Appropriations: The House Appropriations Committee released the first spending bills for the federal FY 2023 appropriations cycle.

Earlier in June, the full House passed a deeming resolution setting $1.6 trillion limit on overall discretionary spending. The resolution passed with the support of only House Democrats. Now, the House Appropriations Committee will determine how they will divide this amount across the 12 spending bills. The House Appropriations Committee has not yet released information about they will divide spending across the subcommittee but they have started to release appropriations bills, with more bills to come this week. The top Democratic and Republican members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees have not yet reached an agreement on overall spending.

The first set of bills is Financial Services, Agriculture-Rural Development-FDA, Homeland Security, Legislative Branch, Defense and Military Construction-Veterans Affairs. The committee will release Interior-Environment and Commerce-Justice-Science spending bills this week.

The House Agriculture spending bill includes nearly $3.6 billion for the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, including record-high funding for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative, the USDA’s primary competitive grants program.

Nominations: The full Senate voted to confirm Chavonda Jacobs-Young to be the US Department of Agriculture undersecretary of Research, Education and Economics, the top scientific position at the USDA. Jacobs-Young previously served as the administrator of the Agricultural Research Service and she has led the National Institute of Food and Agriculture on a temporary basis. The undersecretary for Research, Education and Economics oversees the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, among other agencies. Jacobs-Young has a Ph.D. in wood and paper science.

The Senate and Nature Resources Committee advanced the nomination of David Applegate to be U.S. Geological Survey director. Applegate is a career USGS employee who has served as the acting USGS director for the past year.

Water Infrastructure: The full House approved the Water Resources Development Act (H.R 7776) with wide 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 version of the biennial legislation in May.

Conservation: The full House passed the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (H.R 2773).  This bill provides annual mandatory funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies for conservation and the implementation of state wildlife action plans. In a compromise with some Senate Democrats, House lawmakers modified the bill to redirect some of the $1.3 billion allocated in the bill to National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and US Fish and Wildlife Service programs. This compromise addresses concerns that federal conservation programs, especially programs helping endangered species need additional funding. ESA and other scientific societies have endorsed previous versions of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act. 

The bill passed with the support of almost all House Democrats and sixteen House Republicans. The Senate version of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 2372) has the backing of 19 Senate Democrats and 17 House Republicans.

Immigration: The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizen and Border Safety held a hearing about immigration reform for international and undocumented students at U.S. colleges and universities. Witnesses included Bernard Burrola of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities and Dalia Larios, a medical resident and a recipient of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Senators from both parties supported proposals to make more green cards available to advanced STEM degree holders but expressed concerns about favoring graduates over less-educated workers and espionage in U.S. research enterprise.

Legislative updates:

  • The Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the Eliminate, Neutralize and Disrupt Wildlife Trafficking Reauthorization and Improvements Act (S. 3211). The bill, sponsored by Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), reauthorizes the Presidential Taskforce on Wildlife Trafficking, provides additional legal authorities to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prosecute wildlife trafficking and prevents funds from benefitting security forces that commit human rights violations.

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: In a series of announcements for National Ocean Month, the Biden administration announced that the White House Climate Office and the Ocean Policy Committee will develop a whole-of-government Ocean Climate Action Plan. This plan will guide ocean-based climate mitigation and adaptation actions. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy also released an Environmental Justice Position Statement, which commits the federal government to advancing environmental justice across ocean science and technology activities and investments.

White House: President Joe Biden is set to name Arati Prabhakar as director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the president’s top science advisor. Prabhakar is an applied physicist who previously led the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. She would replace former OSTP Director Dr. Eric Lander, who resigned in February 2022 amid reports that he bullied staff and created a hostile work environment. The OSTP director position requires Senate confirmation but Prabhakar could start as the science advisor to the President as soon as possible. If confirmed, Prabhakar would be the first woman and first person of color to be permanent OSTP director. Dr. Alondra Nelson has served the acting OSTP director since Lander resigned.

NOAA: The Biden administration is proposing designating the Hudson Canyon, an area about 100 miles off the coasts of New York and New Jersey, as a national marine sanctuary. The Wildlife Conservation Society formally proposed designating the area as a national marine sanctuary in 2016. In the Federal Register Notice, NOAA notes that large scale and diverse structure of the canyon steep slopes make it an ecological hotspot for a vast array and abundance of marine wildlife. The area provides habitat for a range of endangered, protected, and sensitive species including the sperm whale, sea turtles, and unique and diverse seep communities. NOAA is seeking comments about designation and holding virtual public meetings about the designation June 23 and August 4. Comments are due August 8, 2022.

USFWS: A new rule proposes removes language restricting the introduction of experimental populations of endangered species to only the species’ “historical range.” This change would allow for the introduction of populations into habitats outside of their historical range for conservation purposes. The agency says that this change is necessary due to changes in suitable habitats caused by climate change and invasive species, among other threats. Comments on the proposed rule are due Aug. 8, 2022.

Forest Service: A draft Wildlife Crisis Strategy Implementation Plan calls treating, with mechanical thinning or prescribed burns, an additional 20 million acres of National Forest System land for wildfire risk over the next ten years, treating 30 million acres of other federal, state, tribal and private lands and developing a plan for long-term maintenance after those ten years. The agency will focus its efforts in the western US, where it says wildfire risk is the highest. In the plan, the Forest Service also identified high-risk fire sheds. The agency is seeking public comments on the plan through July 6, 2022.

During a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing with Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, Senators questioned the administration’s budget proposal to reduce funding for deferred maintenance and the agency’s current 90-day pause on prescribed burns.

EPA: The Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC) agreed to review the underlying science regarding the EPA’s decision during the Trump administration to not strengthen ozone pollution standards. An EPA draft staff policy assessment, released in April 2022, supported the decision to retain current ozone standards. The CASAC’s review could delay the EPA’s final decision about ozone pollution standards until 2024.

DOE: The Office of Clean Energy Demonstration declared its intent to issue a funding opportunity announcement for regional clean hydrogen hubs. The Department of Energy intends to fund between six and ten hubs, each will receive up to $1.25 billion in federal funding. These hubs were established by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. They are tasked by Congress with aiding the achievement of the clean hydrogen production standards and demonstrating the production, processing, delivery, storage, and end use of clean hydrogen.

The overall mission of the Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations is to deliver clean energy and industrial decarbonization demonstration projects at scale in partnership with the private sector, labor unions, and other stakeholders and communities, putting the country on the path to net-zero emissions by 2050. This office was also funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

More News:



White House: The Biden administration issued guidance regarding US-Russian scientific collaborations, determining that the administration will wind down all collaborations and funding to Russian government-affiliated research institutions and individuals. All projects predating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 may be concluded, but new projects in affected subject areas will not be initiated.

Ukraine: The leaders of the Polish Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, the ALLEA European Federation of Academies of Sciences and Humanities and the Royal Society of the United Kingdom released a statement identifying action steps to rebuild science and research in Ukraine.

More News:

Scientific Community

Climate: The newly-formed Climate Overshoot Commission held its first meeting June 9. This commission will develop a strategy to reduce risk if United National global warming goals are exceeded and identify the risks and benefits and governance challenges of climate interventions like carbon dioxide removal and sunlight reflection methods. This body includes former cabinet ministers and heads of governments from across the world, including former Mexican President Felipe Calderón.

Earlier in June, the American Geophysical Union announced that it is creating an ethics framework for climate interventions, to be available before the United Nations Convention of Parties in Egypt in November.

National Academies: This year’s US-UK Scientific Forum focused on Bringing Nature into Decision Making June- 16-17. The objective of the forum was to advance system-wide integration of biodiversity and nature’s benefits to people into decision-making. The recorded live-stream is available online here.

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

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