ESA Policy News: November 21, 2022

In this issue:

White House Releases Draft Fifth National Climate Assessment, ESA to Hold Webinar Nov. 30
Comments on the draft must be submitted by Jan. 27, 2023.

ESA to Hold National Nature Assessment Webinar
Webinar will be Dec. 6 at 12 noon EDT.

Countries Agree to Create “Loss and Damage” Fund at COP 27
Final COP 27 agreement was released Sunday after two weeks of talks.

Democrats Hold on to Senate During Midterms, Republicans Take the House
Change in party control and retirements lead to new committee leadership.

Apply for the 2023 Katherine S. McArthur Graduate Student Policy Award
Applications are due January 1, 2023.

Congress working to pass spending deal before government funding expires Dec. 16.

Executive Branch
The US Fish and Wildlife Service reconsiders introducing grizzly bears to the North Cascade Ecosystem.

Midterm elections could lead to new state level climate and energy legislation.

The 19th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Florida convenes in Panama.

Scientific Community
The National Academies to hold a summit about evaluating the benefits of nature-based solutions.

Federal Register opportunities

Register Now for an ESA webinar about submitting comments to the Fifth National Climate assessment Nov. 30, noon EDT.

The White House US Global Change Research Program released a draft version of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), which is now available for a 12-week public review and comment period.

ESA will hold a webinar about the draft Fifth National Climate Assessment Nov. 30 at 12 noon eastern time. Attend this webinar to hear from Allison Crimmins, NCA director, who will provide an overview of the NCA 5 draft and answer questions about submitting a public comment. RSVP for the webinar here.

Additional information can be found in the Federal Register Notice and in the USGCRP Open Notice. All comments must be submitted by 11:59 PM ET on January 27, 2023 via the USGCRP Review and Comment System.

Key findings published in leading news outlets about the draft NCA include that the continental U.S. has experienced around 2.5 degrees Celsius of warming over the last 50 years. The rate of warming in the U.S. has been 68 percent faster than the average rate of warming across the world. Americans across the country are experiencing the impacts of climate change, from coastal flooding to decreased snowfall to drought and wildfire. Deep cuts to current emissions are needed to meet national and international commitments to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius of warming.

In addition to the ESA webinar, the US Global Change Research Program is holding two public webinars about the report and submitting comments about the report Nov. 29 and Dec. 1. For more information, see the White House announcement.

Concurrent with the public comment period, the NCA5 is being reviewed by a committee of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

The Global Change Research Act, passed in 1990, requires the US Global Change Research Program to complete a National Climate Assessment every four years. The most recent assessment was released in November 2018.

ESA to Hold US National Nature Assessment Webinar Dec. 6

In April 2022, the Biden administration announced the launch of the first-ever U.S. National Nature Assessment. Led by the U.S. Global Change Research Program, this report will assess the state of the U.S.’s lands, waters and wildlife and the specific benefits that they provide. The assessment will also allow the country to look ahead at how nature might change in the future and identify opportunities for investments in nature to help achieve climate, health, environmental justice and economic goals.

The Office of Science and Technology Policy is now soliciting feedback from the scientific community and the public about the scope of the assessment.

Director of the National Nature Assessment Heather Tallis will join a webinar hosted by ESA to introduce ESA members to the assessment and provide information about submitting comments about the scope of the assessment. The webinar will be held at Dec. 6 at noon EDT. RSVP here.

The request for information includes a series of questions:

  • What forms of engagement should the U.S. Global Change Research Program use to best inform the assessment?
  • How far back in time should the National Nature Assessment (NNA) explore observed trends and why?
  • What kinds of questions about the future should the NNA aim to answer? How far into the future should projections extend, and why?
  • What types of future scenarios would best support the recommended uses (e.g. quantitative time series, directional changes, stories)?
  • How should the information in the NNA be organized?

To view the full list of questions and submit a comment, see the Federal Register Notice. Comments are due by March 31, 2023.

Countries Agree to Create “Loss and Damage” Fund at COP 27

International diplomats completed annual climate talks at COP 27 in Egypt Sunday, working past the original deadline and after two weeks of climate talks.  The final agreement establishes a committee to work out the details of a climate “loss and damage” fund. This fund would provide money from wealthier nations to less developed nations to compensate for climate damages. Under the agreement, the committee will report back at COP28, which will be held in the United Arab Emirates Nov. 30 through Dec. 12, 2023. The agreement calls for a phase-down of coal but does not call for reductions in fossil fuels. Dozens of nations sought text calling for a phase-out of all fossil fuels, but they were met with stiff resistance from oil-producing countries, including Russia and Saudi Arabia.

Diplomats also called to tweak the mandates of multilateral development banks and financial institutions, such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund to better fund climate mitigation and adaptation projects. Countries also produced a framework for an international carbon market, which would allow corporations to buy carbon offsets from governments.

The climate talks also led to a few notable climate-related announcements:

  • Led by the U.S. and Japan, wealthy countries announced a $20 billion agreement to help Indonesia transition away from coal-fired power plants and to clean, renewable energy. Indonesia agreed to set a goal of net zero emissions by 2050. The country is currently the world’s top coal exporter and has new coal-fired power plants slated to go online. Indonesia is the world’s fourth most populous country.
  • Group of Seven economies, led by Germany, announced a new $200 million climate insurance program providing aid to vulnerable countries after climate-related disasters. The first countries to receive funds under the program include Bangladesh, Costa Rica, Fiji, Ghana, Pakistan and Senegal.

ESA received official observer status for COP 27 and members and their collaborators attended the climate talks. See their reflections on the ESA blog:

See more coverage of COP27:

Democrats Hold on Senate During Midterms, Republicans Take the House

After the midterm election, Senate Democrats held on to a narrow majority while Republicans won a narrow majority in the House. With the change in party leadership, retirements and leadership shuffles, the leadership of congressional committees relevant to science and the environment is slated to change for the 118th Congress, which begins in January 2023:

  • Current House Science Committee Ranking Member Frank Lucas (R-OK) is likely to become its new chairman. Lucas and retiring House Science Committee Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) had a strong bi-partisan partnership after Democrats retook the House in 2018. Lucas has said his focus as chair will be oversight of the implementation of the Chips and Science Act that sets funding levels for NSF among other provisions in the bill.
  • House Natural Resources Committee Ranking Member Bruce Westerman (R-AR) will take over as the chair of the committee. Westerman has criticized House Democrats’ climate legislation and pledged to increase congressional oversight of the Biden administration, including potential overreach by the Commerce Department, the Forest Service and the Council on Environmental Quality. A spokesperson also said that Westerman plans to use his new role to promote his Trillion Trees Act, which promotes reforestation to sequester carbon.
  • Both Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Ranking Member Richard Shelby (R-AL) retired this cycle. Sen. Patty Murry (D-WA) is likely to become to the new chair of the Appropriations Committee with Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) taking the top Republican spot. On the House side, House Appropriations Chair Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and Ranking Member Kay Granger (R-TX) are expected to flip positions.
  • Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) is set to replace retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. As a result of this shuffle, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will be the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.
  • House Select Committee on the Climate Crisis Ranking Member Garet Graves (R-LA) told E&E News that the House will discontinue the climate committee when Republicans take the majority in the House of Representatives. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) originally created the committee in 2007 and then revived it in 2019 when Democrats retook control of the House.

Apply for the 2023 Katherine S. McArthur Graduate Student Policy Award

Are you a science graduate student interested in the intersection between policy and science? ESA invites you to apply for the 2023 Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA). Apply and come to DC to meet with your lawmaker on Capitol Hill!

Offered each year, this award gives graduate students hands-on training and science policy experience including interacting with congressional decision-makers, federal agency officials, and ecologists who work in the science and public policy arena. ESA covers all travel expenses and plans to hold the event onsite at its Washington, DC office Tuesday, April 24-25 unless events beyond our control occur. Applications are due Jan. 1, 2023, 12PM EDT.

For more information and to apply, visit the ESA website.


Appropriations: Congress returned to Washington Nov. 14 after a recess for the election. During the lame-duck session, Congress is expected to reach a deal on spending for fiscal year 2023. The federal government is currently operating under a continuing resolution, which expires Dec. 16.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is also expected to revive his energy-permitting reform package and attach it to the annual National Defense Authorization Act. Manchin insisted on permitting reform in exchange for his support of the Inflation Reduction Act but was unsuccessful in attaching the measure to the stop-gap spending measure passed in Sept.

Legislative updates:

  • Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) and Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) introduced draft legislation to create a Chesapeake National Recreation Area. This area would combine existing National Park Service properties in the Chesapeake Bay and other properties contributed on a voluntary basis in one unified management unit. The lawmakers are accepting public comments about the proposed legislation through Feb. 12, 2023.
  • Alex Padilla (D-CA) and seven other Senate Democrats introduced a bill (S. 5081) to codify the Office of Environmental Justice in the Justice Department and authorize $1.4 million for the office to enforce environmental violations in underserved communities. The Biden administration established an Office of Environmental Justice in the Justice Department earlier this year, but the office lacks robust funding and staffing. Rep. Nannette Diaz Barragan (D-CA) introduced similar legislation (H.R. 9124) in the House last month.

More News:

Executive Branch

USGS: Michigan State University will host the new Michigan Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and the Wildlife Management Institute. This is the 42nd USGS Cooperative Research Unit, which facilitates research and technical assistance between natural resource agencies and universities.

Interior: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Park Service are re-opening a plan a to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades in Washington State. In 2020, former Interior Secretary David Bernhardt canceled plans to reintroduce grizzlies to the area, stating that the plan would hurt the bears and people in the state. The agencies will now develop a new environmental impact statement. They are accepting public comments and holding virtual public meetings Dec. 1 and 2. This area is part of the grizzly bears’ historic range, but the bear has not been sighted in the North Cascades Ecosystem since 1996. The agencies are accepting public comments through Dec. 14, 2022.

Department of Energy: The Office of Science is hosting a public webinar on Thursday, December 15, 4-5pm ET, to provide an overview of the research they support and to describe their efforts in the following initiatives and programs:

Researchers and research administrators who are new to the Office of Science are encouraged to attend.

The webinar will be recorded. The recording and slides will be posted on  by December 22, 2022.


Research Security: The National Science Foundation, along with the Director of National Intelligence, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Department of Transportation, the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the American Association of Universities, released a Safeguarding Science Toolkit. The toolkit aims to provide research stakeholders with security best practices and tools to protect researchers from risk to research integrity and security while allowing open international collaboration.

More News:



Wildlife Trade: Separate from COP27, diplomats and international observers are also attending the 19th Meeting of the Conference of Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES, COP19). This meeting, also known as the World Wildlife Conference, is taking place from Nov. 14-25 in Panama City. Diplomats are expected to take on regulations governing the commercial trade of hippo parts and sharks. Zimbabwe is also pushing to loosen elephant ivory regulations.

At the start of the meeting, the CITES Secretariat published its first ever World Wildlife Trade Report, which analyzes records, including CITES trade permits, to give insights and analysis into the global trade in animals and plants that are regulated under the treaty.

More News:

Scientific Community

NASEM: The National Academies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Water Institute of the Gulf will hold a one-day summit on Nov. 30 to discuss the comprehensive and equitable evaluation of benefits of nature-based solutions. This event will bring together government, nonprofit, academic, and private sector collaborators to share recent progress and identify key next steps for evaluation and planning. Both the National Academies and the Water Institute of the Gulf will present from recent projects with the Army Corps of Engineers and seek input from participants. The summit will be held both in person in Washington, DC and online. See the full agenda and register at the event website.

NASEM: In March 2022, the National Academies held a workshop exploring the long-term impact of COVID-19 on the future careers of women in STEM. NASEM has now published the proceeding of this workshop, view the publication here.

USGS: Public and private institutions of higher education, nonprofits, state government agencies and other organizations are invited to apply to host and, as applicable, serve as consortium partners for the Alaska, Northwest, and Southeast Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASCs).

Two information sessions will be conducted by the National CASC to accommodate inquiries from applicants about this program and the proposal review, evaluation and selection process on Dec. 5 and Dec. 13. Interested applicants should email to obtain connection information. For more information see the CASC website and the funding opportunity announcement.

Agriculture: Corteva Agriculture is offering up to $50,000 to scientists, engineers and organizations to collaborate on technologies to measure greenhouse gas emissions from agricultural soils. Learn more and submit a proposal at Submissions are due Nov. 30, 2022.

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, or Nicole Zimmerman, public affairs manager,

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