Policy News: July 18, 2022

In this issue:

House is expected to pass all fiscal year 2023 spending bills before the August recess.

Executive Branch
Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management seeking comments on the definition of old growth forests.

Court strikes down Trump administration Endangered Species Act regulations.

Virginia Governor appoints former EPA Administrator to regulatory office.

IPBES releases reports about valuing nature and the use of wild species.

Scientific Community
National Weather Service to hold partners webinar.

Federal Register opportunities


Appropriations: The full House is slated to consider a package of six spending bills, including bills funding the Departments of Agriculture, Interior and Energy this week. The spending bills largely include increases for ecological science programs, in line with the discretionary spending increases included in the President’s Budget Request (see ESA Policy News July 1, 2022ESA Policy News June 20, 2022 & Federal Budget Tracker).

Next week, the House is expected to consider another six spending bills, including a bill funding the National Science Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The House is aiming to complete all 12 spending bills by the August recess.

Top House and Senate appropriators are still in negotiations about overall topline spending for defense and non-defense spending.

Nominations: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will hold a confirmation hearing this Wednesday for Arati Prabhakar, President Biden’s nominee for Office of Science and Technology Policy Director.  Prabhakar is an applied physicist who previously led the National Institute of Standards and Technology and Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.  If confirmed, Prabhakar would be the first woman and first person of color to be permanent OSTP director. 

NDAA: The full House passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (H.R 7900). The bill authorizes $839 billion in annual defense spending and sets policy for the Department of Defense for the next year. The bill includes provisions creating a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency fellowship program for early career scientists and protecting public lands in Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona. The bill includes language permanently banning new mining claims in the area around the Grand Canyon.

House Natural Resources Committee: The full committee voted to advance a bill (H.R. 2764) blocking nickel and copper mining near Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, sponsored by Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN). The committee voted along party lines, with all Democrats voting to advance the bill.

Most recently, the Forest Service released a new environment assessment in late June 2022 finding that permitting mining on federal lands in the area will damage water quality in the area. The agency is requesting comments on the environmental assessment and a proposal to withdraw the area from new mineral leasing for 20 years. Comments must be submitted by July 28, 2022.

Mining in the area has been the subject of political controversy for years — President Obama recommended a mining withdrawal in this area in 2016, but the Trump administration stopped that process.

The committee also approved a bill (H.R. 6654) from Chair Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) permanently authorizing National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers. The bill increases the authorized funding level for the Climate Adaptation Science Centers from $97 million in FY 2023 to $145 million in FY $145 million in FY 2027.

Education: A new Congressional caucus focused on representing the interest of graduate researchers launched July 13. The GRAD Caucus will provide briefings on programs and policies important to graduate researchers, educate members of Congress on the work and impact of graduate researchers, and provide a forum for members to advance policy solutions needed to support these researchers. The group is co-chaired by Reps Mike Doyle (D-PA), Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and is seeking new members.

More News:

Executive Branch

NOAA: The Biden administration named Dr. Sarah Kapnick as the agency’s chief scientist. Kapnick most recently worked as a senior climate scientist and sustainability strategist for asset and wealth management at J.P. Morgan and was a deputy division leader at NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory until 2021. She has a Ph.D. in atmospheric and oceanic science from the University of California, Los Angeles.

Forests: The Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management are seeking public comments about how the agencies should define old growth and mature forests under a Biden administration executive order intended to protect forests. The executive order directs the Interior and Agriculture Departments to define, identify, and complete an inventory of old-growth and mature forests on federal lands, accounting for regional and ecological variations, as appropriate, and make the inventory publicly available. The agencies will hold a webinar on July 21 and public comments are due Aug. 15, 2022.

USFWS: The agency is proposing removing endangered species protections for the Puerto Rican boa, citing the species recovery. The proposed rule finds that the snake species is widely distributed across suitable habitats across Puerto Rico with a minimum population estimate of more than 37,000 boas island-wide. The proposed rule is open for public comment through September 12, 2022.

More News:


Endangered Species Act: A federal court struck down Endangered Species Act regulations finalized during the Trump administration. These 2019 regulations allowed the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service to consider the economic impacts of listing a species and limited agencies’ ability to consider the impact of climate change on species on species’ status. The Biden administration had requested to keep these regulations in place while agencies developed new regulations.

More News:



IPBES: A new report from the international body analyzes the use of wild species for food, energy, materials and more and offers tools to establish the more sustainable use of wild species of plants, animals, fungi and algae around the world. Seventy of the world’s poor are directly dependent on wild species and one in five people rely on wild plants, algae and fungi for their food and income. However, the world is on track to loss 12% of wild tree species, over a thousand mammal species and over 400 species of sharks and rays due to their unsustainable use.

IPBES: Another report approved by representatives of the 139 member states of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), finds that there is a dominant global focus on short-term profits and economic growth, often excluding the values of nature in policy decisions. The report offers tools and options to properly account for policymakers to properly value nature in decision making.

The report’s authors find that economic and political decisions have predominantly prioritized certain values of nature, such as those associated with food produced intensively. These market values do not adequately reflect how changes in nature affect people’s quality of life and the many non-market values associated with nature’s contributions to people, such as climate regulation and cultural identity.

NSF: The National Science Board newsletter reports, its new policy brief shows that international students and workers are an essential part of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise and includes new data suggesting that the country is becoming less attractive to this talent. To remain at the forefront of innovation, NSB recommends proactively and broadly attracting talent, including a streamlined and expanded visa system and a welcoming atmosphere for international students and workers.  All NSB One-Pagers are here: https://www.nsf.gov/nsb/publications/onepagers.jsp

More News:

Scientific Community

NCA: The U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Academies of Science are seeking nominations for the Committee for the Review of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5). The NCA5 is intended to provide an up-to-date evaluation and summary of the current and projected impacts of climate change on the United States, with detailed discussion of regional effects. A draft of the NCA5 is expected to be made available for review in late fall 2022. This new ad hoc committee of the National Academies will conduct an independent technical review of the NCA5 draft report. 

  • The National Academies is seeking individuals to serve on the committee with expertise in key areas addressed in the NCA5, including:
  •  Systems / sectors: Water; Energy; Forests; Ocean and Marine Resources; Coastal Effect
  •  Ecosystems, Ecosystem Services, and Biodiversity; Land Cover and Land Use Change
  •  Agriculture and Rural Communities
  •  Built Environment, Urban Systems, and Cities; Transportation
  •  Human Health; Air Quality
  •  Human Social Systems; Economics; Equity and Environmental Justice
  •  Tribal and Indigenous Communities
  •  Climate Effects on US International Interests
  •  Sectoral Interdependencies and Compounding Stressors
  •  Climate Mitigation, Adaptation, and Resilience
  •  Climate Science Communications; Data Visualization

Note: Individuals who have contributed to NCA5 in any of the following roles are not eligible to serve on the National Academies review committee: NCA5 authors, technical contributors, or review editors. Individuals who have served in these roles for prior NCAs, but not NCA5, are eligible for participating as reviewers for NCA5.

Submit nominations here.

NOAA: The National Weather Service will hold a partners webinar on Tuesday, July 19, 2022 from 1 pm – 2:30 pm eastern time. This webinar will provide an overview of proposed updates to the NWS Impact-based Decision Support Services (IDSS) – Service Description Document (SDD).

The IDSS SDD describes the NWS plans for providing IDSS to its Core Partners. The existing SDD, Version 1, which was published in 2018, can be accessed here.  NWS will provide a high-level overview of planned SDD content updates and the agency looks forward to engaging in discussion and answering questions about NWS IDSS, including the role that their Enterprise partners play in supporting their mission. Register here for the 7/19 webinar and plan to join through this GoogleMeet link.

NSEP: Recordings are available to part two of the National Ecosystem Service Partnership’s webinar series on natural capital accounts (NCA). The first covered piloting natural capital accounts for land, water, ecosystems, and urban ecosystem services. This second webinar covered three examples of policy applications for NCA. Eli Fenichel of the White Office of Science and Technology Policy shared the Biden Administration’s high-level vision for natural capital accounting and associated environmental-economic accounts; Carter Ingram (The Pollination Group) discussed opportunities for the private sector to utilize and support SEEA-aligned natural capital accounts; and Kirsten Oleson (University of Hawai’i) introduced Hawai’i’s water and coastal accounts and the potential pathways to using them in economic policy, sustainability dashboards, and conservation planning.

West Virginia v. EPA: On July 6, 2022, Georgetown Climate Center convened a webinar of Clean Air Act legal experts to explore questions arising in the wake of the Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA decision.

The webinar was attended by more than 350 participants, and a recording can be accessed here.

Discussion topics included: What does the opinion mean for EPA’s ability to require carbon emission reductions from existing power plants? What form can EPA’s forthcoming greenhouse gas regulations take? What role does the decision leave states? What does it reveal about the Court’s approach to environmental regulations ‌going forward?

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.