Policy News: August 1, 2022

In this issue:

Congress Passes NSF, Department of Energy Office of Science Reauthorization Bill
The bill increases authorized funding for the National Science Foundation to $18.9 billion over the next five years.

Senate Releases FY 2023 Spending Bills
Bill includes an over 10% increase for discretionary, non-defense spending.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) reach an agreement on $369 billion energy and climate spending.

Executive Branch
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget release annual research and development spending memo.

Massachusetts passes climate bill.

IUCN adds the migratory monarch butterfly to the Red List of Threatened Species.

Scientific Community
President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology met July 28.

Federal Register opportunities

Congress Passes NSF, Department of Energy Office of Science Reauthorization Bill

After over a year of consideration, both the House and Senate passed the CHIPS and Science Act. The bill provides $52 billion for semiconductor research and development and manufacturing and increases authorized funding levels for the National Science Foundation to $18.9 billion over the next five years.

For science programs, this bill is authorizing legislation that permits appropriators to provide certain funding amounts, but the appropriators may choose to decrease yearly funding. Spending bills for fiscal years FY 2022 and FY 2023 have fallen short of appropriating the amount included in similar authorizing legislation.

The House and Senate had been negotiating a compromise between the America COMPETES Act and the Senate’s U.S. Innovation and Competition Act since May 2022. ESA endorsed the America COMPETES Act.

The final bill officially creates an NSF Directorate for Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP). Congress directs this new directorate to focus on five “societal, national, and geostrategic challenges” and ten “key technology focus areas,” merging the approaches of earlier House and Senate legislation. The lists of technology focus areas and societal challenges will be updated periodically. NSF established a TIP directorate earlier this year. The initial list of societal challenges includes climate change and sustainability and inequitable access to education, opportunity or other services. The new direction is authorized to receive $20 billion over five years.

The bill also requires NSF to eventually commit 20% of its funding to states and jurisdictions covered under the Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) program. EPSCoR aims to enhance the research competitiveness of jurisdictions receiving the smallest proportion of NSF funding. In 2021, EPSCoR jurisdictions received 12% of the NSF’s total budget.

The bill increases the authorized funding for the Department of Energy Office of Science to $10.8 billion. Congress funded the Office of Science at $7.4 billion in FY 2022. Lawmakers also include $4 billion to improve scientific infrastructure at the national laboratories in the authorized budget for other parts of the Department of Energy.

Senate Releases FY 2023 Spending Bills

The Senate Appropriations Committee released its draft fiscal year (FY) 2023 spending bills. The bills include an over 10% increase for discretionary non-defense spending and a nine percent increase for defense spending. The spending bills are largely Democratic bills – top Democratic and Republican appropriators have not yet reached an agreement on overall spending levels. Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) said that is likely that the government will have to operate on a continuing resolution when fiscal year 2023 starts on October 1, 2022.

The full House passed six spending bills July 20 (see ESA Policy News, July 18, 2022 & Federal Budget Tracker). House Appropriators were aiming to pass all 12 bill before the August recess, but that appears unlikely at this point.

Top line agency spending in the Senate spending bills include:

  • Senate appropriators provide $10.34 billion for the National Science Foundation, a 17 percent increase. This amount still falls short of the $11 billion number requested by the Coalition for National Science Funding, the coalition of universities and scientific societies that advocates for NSF funding.
  • The bill funds National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research at $776 million, a 20 percent increase. This includes a $33 million increase for climate research and an increase of $20 million for computing upgrades for climate modeling.
  • The EPA receives $10.6 billion, a $1.1 billion increase.
  • Senate appropriators allocated $6.4 billion for the US Forest Service, a nearly $500 million increase.
  • In the Interior Department, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service receives $1.8 billion, a 17% increase. This includes a $35 million increase for the Ecological Services for Endangered Species Act activities. The Bureau of Land Management receives $1.53 billion, a $120 million increase, and the National Park Service receives $3.578 billion, a $313 million increase. The U.S. Geological Survey receives $1.519 billion, a $124.929 increase, including a $37 increase for the Ecosystem Mission area.
  • For agricultural research programs, the Agricultural Research Service receives $1.9 billion, a $161 million increase. This includes increases for climate research. The National Institute of Food and Agriculture receives a $100 million increase to $1.7 million, including a $10 million increase for the Agricultural and Food Research Initiative.
  • NASA receives a 14% increase in its earth science budget.


Senate: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced that they have reached an agreement on a domestic policy bill, now named the Inflation Reduction Act. The bill includes $369 billion in energy and climate spending. According to a one-page summary from Senate leadership, the bill will reduce carbon emissions by 40% by 2030. The bill includes $60 billion for environmental justice, $3 billion for climate justice block grants and $27 billion for a new federal green bank.

House: The full House of Represenatives passed a package of about 40 wildfire and drought-related bills, named the Wildfire Response and Drought Resilency Act (H.R. 5118). The bill includes provisions increasing firefighter salaries, creating a 10 year wildfire strategy for the Forest Service and standardizing water data. The legislation passed largely along party lines.

House: The full House also passed a bill (H.R. 7025), sponsored by House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), that aims to stop U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) from funding conservation projects that violate human rights. The bill requires USFWS and the State Department to vet security forces involved in conservation efforts and requires foundations receiving USFWS funding to agree to not commit or fund human rights violations. The bill passed with wide, bipartisan support. Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AZ) is a co-sponsor.

Nominations: The Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee voted to advance the nomination of Arati Prabhakar to be director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. All committee Democrats and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) voted in favor of the nomination and all other Committee Republicans opposed Prabhakar’s nomination. 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 the permanent OSTP director.

The full Senate voted to confirm Michael Morgan as the assistant secretary for environmental observation and prediction at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Morgan will also serve as the agency’s deputy administrator. Most recently, he was a professor in the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

House Science Committee: The committee held a hearing about securing scientific literature from fraudulent academic papers. Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Rep. Bill Foster (D-IL) revealed that he spoofed a well-known physics paper from 1939 using a tool designed to disguise plagiarism and the paper passed muster with two well-respected plagiarism detectors. Witnesses called for changes in the incentive structures in academia and suggested increasing data sharing between journals and requiring manuscripts to be pre-registered as potential strategies to combat papermills.

House Natural Resources Committee: The full committee voted to advance the Environmental Justice for All Act (H.R. 2021) along party lines. The bill, sponsored by House Natural Resources Chairman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) and Rep. Donald McEachin (D-VA), requires federal agencies to consider cumulative health impacts under the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act while making permitting decisions and creates a fund to assist communities and workers as they transition away from “greenhouse gas-dependent economies.” The bill also provides $75 million annually to research and development to reduce health disparities and improve public health in environmental justice communities.

Legislative updates:

  • Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the North American Grasslands Conservation Act (S. 4639). This bill establishes a North American Grassland Conservation Strategy, establishes a Grassland Conservation Grant Program for voluntary conservation of grasslands, creates National and Regional Grassland Conservation Councils to oversee the grant program, and establishes research initiatives on native seed crop systems and regenerative grazing practices.
  • Rep. Salud Carbajal (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced two climate and ocean bills. The Coastal State Preparedness Act (H.R. 8455) provides grants to coastal states for climate change adaptation and mitigation. The Ocean Acidification Research Partnership Act (H.R. 8456) authorizes up to $5 million for grants for research about ocean acidification.

Executive Branch

White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy and Office of Management and Budget released their annual memo to agency heads regarding research and development spending in FY 2024, as agencies begin to prepare their FY 2023 budget requests. The memo directs identifies seven cross-agency priorities, including preparing for and preventing pandemics, tackling climate change, innovating for equity, cultivating an equitable STEM education, engagement and workforce ecosystem and promoting open science and community-engaged R&D.

Forest Service: The agency announced that it is taking undertaking emergency fuels treatment to protect giant sequoias in Sequoia National Forest from wildfire threats. The fuels treatments will include manual and mechanical removal of wildfire fuel, as well as prescribed burns. These projects are covered under National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) environmental reviews that have largely already been initiated – the agency predicts that it will complete the required NEPA reviews in April 2023 and November 2023. This action is similar to actions proposed in the Save Our Sequoia Act (H.R. 8168), sponsored by House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA).

USFWS: The Biden administration formally rescinded an Endangered Species Act regulation, finalized late in the Trump administration, that allowed the agency to exclude areas from critical habitat designations for endangered species if the critical habitat designation would cause negative economic impacts or harm national security or outdoor recreation opportunities.

More News:



IUCN: The international organization named the migratory monarch butterfly (Danaus plexippus plexippus) to the Red List of Threatened Species. The International Union for the Conservation Nature report finds that the migratory subspecies of the butterfly’s population has shrunk between 22% and 72% over the past decade. Logging and deforestation threaten the species in its winter habitat in Mexico and California as well as pesticides and agriculture across the species’ range and climate change. The monarch butterfly is not currently protected by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service under the Endangered Species Act.

The IUCN also declared that all of the world’s species of sturgeon are at risk of extinction and the number of tigers globally appears to be stable increasing, although the species is still at risk of extinction.

More News:

Scientific Community

White House: The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology held a meeting July 28 focused on science and innovation at the Department of Energy, featuring Geri Richmond, the undersecretary for science and innovation at the Department of Energy. View the meeting recording and documents here.

NASEM: The National Academies, Scientific American and Nature Portfolio held a webinar about increasing the use of climate-smart agriculture, featuring remarks from Reps. Sean Casten (D-IL) and John Curtis (R-UT).  Other panelists in included Mitchell Hora, a farmer and the founder and CEO of Continuum Ag, Colorado State University soil scientist Keith Paustian and South Dakota State University agricultural economist Deepthi Kolady. Watch the webinar here.

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers

View more letters and testimony from ESA here.

Federal Register Opportunities

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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.

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