ESA Policy News: January 23, 2023

In this issue:

House Republicans name new members and leadership for the House Appropriations Committee, House Science Committee and House Natural Resources Committee with the start of the 118th Congress.

Executive Branch
Biden administration releases a National Strategy to Develop Statistics for Environmental Economic Decisions.

States and industry groups challenge new Biden Waters of the U.S. rule in the courts.

Democrats in Minnesota pledge to use new trifecta to require 100% renewable energy by 2040.

UAE named oil chief to lead COP28 talks.

Scientific Community
NSF declines to include question about sexual orientation in workforce surveys.

Federal Register opportunities


Appropriations Committee: With the start of the 118th session of Congress and a new Republican majority in the House, House Appropriations Chair Kay Granger (R-TX) announced new appropriations subcommittee chairs. Rep. Hal Rogers (R-KY) will lead the Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee. Rogers is a long-time appropriator who previously served as the chair of the Appropriations Committee. The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee drafts the bill that funds the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA, among other agencies. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) is leading the Interior and Environment Subcommittee, which funds the Interior Department, the US Forest Service and the Environmental Protection Agency. Rep. Chuck Fleishman (R-TN) is the chair of the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. Fleishman’s district includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD) chairs the Agriculture, Rural Development and Food and Drug Administration subcommittee.

House: The full House voted 365-65 to establish a new Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the U.S. and the Chinese Communist Party. Among other US-China issues, the committee is expected to address US-China science and technology collaboration and research security. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) is the chair of the committee. Several Democrats, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), have expressed interest in being the committee’s ranking member. Khanna was the original House sponsor of the Endless Frontiers Act, a predecessor to the Chips and Science Act.

Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) Chair Rep. Judy Chu (D-CA) released the following statement:

“As a caucus, CAPAC remains neutral regarding the creation of the Select Committee. We strongly support strengthening our economy and protecting our national security, and we have always recognized that there are legitimate concerns with the actions of the government of the People’s Republic of China.

“However, because of the known risks of xenophobic rhetoric intensifying anti-Asian hate here in the United States—and my belief that the work of this Select Committee can be done by existing committees in the House—I voted against H.Res. 11.

“We cannot forget that rhetoric used around economic competition with Asian countries has resulted in the verbal and physical harassment and even murder of Asian Americans here at home.  Since March 2020 and former President Trump’s sustained references to the coronavirus as the ‘China virus,’ over 11,500 hate crimes and incidents against Asian Americans have been reported.

“As the House of Representatives embarks on the formation of this committee, CAPAC reminds all members that this committee should not be used as an open invitation to engage and traffic in blatantly xenophobic anti-China rhetoric that we know historically results in physical violence and emotional harm against Asian Americans across the country. Further, this committee cannot be used to promote policies that result in the racial profiling of our communities, but rather it must be directly focused on specific concerns related to the government of the People’s Republic of China.

“Throughout the 118th Congress, CAPAC will remain vigilant in overseeing the committee’s work, hearings, and rhetoric. What we say and how we say it matters. And we know how dangerous the consequences can be if we don’t get this right.”

House: The Republican House Steering Committee announced new committee assignments for Republicans for the 118th Committee. Led by Chair Frank Lucas (R-OK), the new Republican members of the House Science Committee are Reps. Dale Strong (R-AL), Max Miller (R-OH), Rich McCormick (R-GA), Mike Collins (R-GA), Brandon Williams (R-NY), George Santos (R-NY) and Tim Kean (R-NJ). Strong is a freshman member who represents a district that includes NASA facilities in Huntsville, AL.

Returning Republican members of the House Science Committee are Reps. Randy Weber (R-TX), Brian Babin (R-TX), Jim Baird (R-IN), Daniel Webster (R-FL), Mike Garcia (R-CA), Stephanie Bice (R-OK) and Jay Obernolte (R-CA). Baird is an agricultural scientist and one of few Ph.D. scientists in Congress.

The new Republican members of the House Natural Resources Committee are Reps. Mike Collins (R-GA), John Duarte (R-CA), Harriet Hageman (R-WY), Wesley Hunt (R-TX), Jen Kiggans (R-VA), Anna Luna (R-FL) and James Moylan (R-Guam). Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR) is the House Natural Resources Committee chair. Westerman served as the committee’s ranking member during the previous session of Congress and has a professional background in forestry.

Interior: The Bureau of Land Management is revising sage grouse conservation plans. The agency first revised management plans to protect sage grouse habitat and avoid an Endangered Species Act listing for the bird in 2015 during the Obama administration. The Trump administration amended the plans in 2019. The Biden administration is expected to revisit the Trump administration changes to the original conservation plans and review new scientific information published since 2015. The Bureau is now expected to release new proposed resource management plan revision during summer 2023.

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: The Office of Science and Technology Policy released a scientific integrity roadmap aimed at standardizing and improving scientific integrity policies across the federal. The framework includes a definition of scientific integrity and a model scientific integrity policy for agencies to use as they build and update their policies. The document requires all agencies to designate a scientific integrity office and requires agencies that fund, collect or oversee research to designate a chief science officer. A National Science and Technology Council subcommittee will oversee the implementation of this framework.

White House: The Biden administration released a National Strategy to Develop Statistics for Environmental Economic Decisions. This document will guide federal efforts to account for natural assets, such as land, water, minerals, animals and plants and track the role of natural capital in driving economic growth. The administration announced its plans to create natural capital accounts along with a National Nature Assessment in April 2022.

According to the White House fact sheet, the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the U.S. Department of Commerce led the development of the final National Strategy, working with more than 27 federal departments and agencies at the table, and incorporating input received from across sectors during a public open comment period.

“Natural assets, like land and water, underpin businesses, enhance quality of life, and act as a stabilizing force for economic prosperity and opportunity. They also help counteract the destabilizing risks to our environment and markets caused by climate change and nature loss. Yet the connections between nature and the economy are not currently reflected in our national economic statistics,” wrote OSTP Director Arati Prabhakar, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and OMB Director Shalanda Young, in a letter introducing the report. “The National Strategy gives us a path to change that. Clearly measuring the quantity and value of natural capital will enable more accurate economic growth forecasts and facilitate a more complete picture of economic progress to inform how we prioritize investments.”

NSF: President Joe Biden named eight new members to the National Science Board (NSB). The NSB oversee the National Science Foundation and advise the President on science and technology issues. These new members replace members who previously rotated off the board. Members serve six year, staggered terms. The new members areUniversity of Michigan education researcher Deborah Lowenberg Ball, Minerva University plant geneticist Vicki Chandler, Ohio State University geodetic engineer Dorata Grejner-Brezinska, Boeing engineer Marvi Ann Mators Rodriguez, Vanderbilt University astronomer Keivan Stassun, Oak Ridge National Laboratory materials scientist Merlin Theodore, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign psychologist Wanda Ward and Virginia Tech engineering education expert Bevlee Watford.

USDA: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the Biden administration will invest $490 million, with funding coming from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, towards reducing wildfire risk in 11 landscapes in California, Arizona, Idaho, Nevada, Oregon, Utah and Washington. All of the projects are in areas that the Forest Service as identified as high priority “firesheds” in its Wildfire Crisis Strategy.

More News:




Scientific Community

White House: The US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is holding two in-person public engagement sessions about the National Nature Assessment in Washington, DC next week.

One event will take place at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History Jan. 31 from 3:00-5:00. The speakers include Dr. Rebecca Johnson (Smithsonian), Dr. Jane Lubchenco (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) and Dr. Heather Tallis (USGCRP). The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required and will be capped at 200 people. Register at this link:

The second event is hosted by the American Society of Civil Engineers takes place at the Reservoir Center for Water Solutions (301 Water Street SE) from 10:00am to 12:00pm. The speakers include American Society for Civil Engineers President Maria Lehman, Mike Connor (Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works), Dr. Jane Lubchenco (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) and Dr. Heather Tallis (USGCRP). The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required and will be capped at 150 people. Register at this link:

In April 2022, the Biden administration announced the launch of the first-ever U.S. National Nature Assessment (NNA). 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. USGRP is currently seeking input from the scientific community, stakeholders and the public about the scope of the National Nature Assessment. For more information about the National Nature Assessement, see the ESA website.

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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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