ESA Policy News: February 6, 2023
In this issue:
Congressional Leadership Releases Committee Rosters
House Science Committee, House Natural Resources and other committees fill out leadership rosters and add freshmen members for the 118th Congress.
Bipartisan members of Congress ask White House to provide $425 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative in 2024 President’s Budget Request.
Biden administration finalizes rule reinstating roadless protections for the Tongass National Forest.
Republican-led state sue to block environmental, social and governance retirement investing rule.
New Mexico lawmakers advance climate legislation.
Nigerian National Assembly advances bill to increase penalties for illegal wildlife trade.
National Academies of Science releases provisional committee for Research at Multiple Scales: A Vision for Continental Scale Biology.
Federal Register opportunities
Congressional Leadership Releases Committee Rosters
House and Senate Republican and Democratic leadership continue to announce the members of key natural resources and science committees for the 118th Congress, which began in January.
House Appropriations Committee
Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) will be the ranking member of the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. The subcommittee funds the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Forest Service. Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) will be ranking member of the House Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee, which funds the National Science Foundation, NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, among other agencies.
Meanwhile, Rep. Ryan Zinke (R-MT) will serve on the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee. Zinke formerly served as the Secretary of the Interior during the Trump administration.
Senate Appropriations Committee
Republican Senators Katie Britt (R-AL) and Deb Fischer (R-NE) will join the Senate Appropriations Committee. Britt was elected to succeed longtime Senate Appropriations Chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL), who retired at the end of the 117th Congress. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) is the top Republican on the committee in the 118th Congress.
House Natural Resources Committee
Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-AR) announced the committee leadership. Rep. Pete Stauber (R-MN) will chair the Subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources, Rep. Tom Tiffany (R-WI) will chair the Subcommittee on Federal Lands and Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-OR) will chair the Subcommittee on Water, Wildlife and Fisheries. Freshman Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) will chance the Subcommittee on Indian and Insular Affairs. Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) will chair the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. Gosar was previously removed from the House Natural Resources Committee by Democrats after he posted a video depicting violence against Democratic members of Congress.
Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez (D-NY), Kevin McMullin (D-CA), Val Hoyle (D-OR), Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-CA) and Seth Magaziner (D-RI) joined the House Natural Resources Committee. Ocasio Cortez will serve as the ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources and Kamlager-Dove will be the vice ranking member of the full committee. Rep. Melanie Stansbury (D-NM) will also join the committee leadership as the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.
Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) will be the top Republican on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, which drafts policy for National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic Administration and more. Former Ranking Member Roger Wicker (R-MS) is now the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Cruz previously served as the chairman of the Subcommittee on Space, Science and Competitiveness during the 115th session of Congress.
New Sens. Tedd Budd (R-NC) and J.D. Vance (R-OH) will join also join the committee.
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee
Freshman Sen. John Fetterman (D-PA) will join the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and Sen. Alex Padilla (D-CA) will take on a new role as the chair of the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water and Wildlife.
On the Republican side, freshman Sens. Markwayne Mullin (R-OK) and Pete Ricketts (R-NE) will join the committee.
House Science Committee
Committee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) released the Democratic roster for the House Science Committee. New members include freshman Reps. Summer Lee (D-PA), Maxwell Frost (D-FL), Yadira Caraveo (D-CO), Andrea Salinas (D-OR), Eric Sorenson (D-IL), Valerie Foushee (D-NC), Kevin Mullin (D-CA) and Jeff Jackson (D-NC). Notably, the committee roster does not include longtime committee members Reps. Bill Foster (D-IL), Don Beyer (D-VA), Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Sean Casten (D-IL). Foster is one of few Ph.D. scientists in Congress. There are still two Democratic vacancies on the committee.
Rep. George Santos (R-NY) recused himself from serving on the House Science Committee amid on-going investigations into his campaign finance irregularities and other issues. Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) previously announced that Santos would join the committee.
Great Lakes: Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), Mary Kaptur (D-OH), Bill Huizenga (R-MI) and David Joyce (R-OH) sent a letter to the White House Office of Management and Budget requesting that the administration include $425 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative its fiscal year 2024 president’s budget request. The $425 million amount would represent a $57 million increase over FY 2023 levels. These members of Congress are the bipartisan co-chairs of the House Great Lakes Taskforce and Kaptur and Joyce are both members of the House Appropriations Committee. Last year, the Biden administration released its president’s budget request in late March.
Conservative Climate Caucus: Chair John Curtis (R-UT) announced that Rep. Marianne Miller-Meeks (R-IA) will serve as the Conservative Climate Caucus’ vice-chair during the 118th Congress. This caucus is a group of Republican lawmakers who are interested in climate solutions. The group is primarily focused on educating House Republicans on climate and energy issues through briefings and trips.
House Science Committee: Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) sent a letter to White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director Arati Prabhakar requesting information about how the White House has responded to a scientific integrity scandal involving OSTP Deputy Director for Climate and Environment Jane Lubchenco. In this scandal, the National Academies of Science found that Lubchenco violated its code of conduct by accepting an article into the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science that relied on outdated data and failing to recuse herself from reviewing the article because of the authors is her brother-in-law. Lubchenco is ban from participating in National Academies activities and publications for five years, starting in August 2022. Lucas notes in the letter that the House Science Committee will continue its oversight of the matter under his leadership. This is the third letter that Lucas has sent to the White House about Lubchenco’s scientific misconduct.
Climate: Twenty-seven Democratic members of Congress wrote to US Climate Envoy John Kerry asking him to push the United Arab Emirates to remove Sultan Al Jaber as the head of this year’s U.N. climate talks. The United Arab Emirates is set to host the United Nations Framework on Climate Change Conference of Parties 28 (COP 28) in November 2023. Al Jaber is the head of the state-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. Kerry has previously made remarks supportive of Al Jaber’s role in the climate talks. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), who is a senior member of the House Natural Resources Committee, led the letter.
For the past three COPs, ESA has received official observer status at the international climate talks and badged ESA members to attend the conference. ESA member Morgan Rogers recently submitted a blog post to ESA about her experience at COP27 in Egypt. ESA will announce the process for badging ESA member for COP28 in the coming months.
- The full House passed a bill (H.R. 139) requiring federal agencies to return to telework policies in effect at the end of 2019, largely along party lines with almost all House Republicans supporting this bill and almost all House Democrats opposing the bill. The number of federal employees primarily working from home has declined since 2021, telework is more common for federal employees today than before the pandemic. Federal worker unions urged members of Congress to oppose the bill.
- Reps. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced a bill (H.R. 724) to permanently protect the National Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas development. A press release from Huffman notes that while the Biden administration has taken steps to stop drilling in the refuge, the area is still at risk from drilling due to provisions in the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act requiring the federal government to offer oil and gas lease sales in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Sens. Ed Markey, Maria Cantwell, Martin Heinrich and Michael Bennet reintroduced companion legislation in the Senate.
- Reps. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) and Michael Waltz (R-FL) introduced the Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act (H.R. 676), which aims to improve NOAA’s collaboration with state, local and tribal governments in ocean acidification efforts and maintains the Ocean Acidification Information Exchange to support data sharing on ocean acidification research, data, and monitoring efforts.
- Republicans insist they have a climate plan – E&E News
- House Science chair seeks to carve out an independent NOAA – Axios
White House: Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Deputy Director for Science and Society Alondra Nelson will leave the White House at the end of this week to return to Princeton University. Nelson has been a part of OSTP since the beginning of the Biden Adminstration and she led of the office for most of 2022 after former Director Eric Lander resigned in February 2022.
Forest Service: The Biden administration finalized a rule reinstating protections for Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. This move reverses a 2020 Trump administration rule which removed protections for around 9 million acres of the Tongass National Forest, effectively re-opening these areas to logging. The rule reinstates protections created by the Forest Service’s 2001 Roadless Rule. During the Trump administration, ESA submitted comments opposing the Forest Service’s proposal to exempt the Tongass National Forest in Alaska from the 2001 Roadless Rule, noting that the Tongass stores a large amount of carbon and fuels productive and commercially important marine ecosystems.
Interior: Secretary Deb Haaland signed a public land order withdrawing 225,000 acres of land near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness from mining for the next twenty years. This order effectively stops a proposed copper-nickel mine near Ely, MN.
The Obama administration previously recommended a mining withdrawal in this area in 2016, but the Trump administration stopped that process.
Shortly after Haaland signed this order, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) introduced a bill (H.R. 668) to permanently protect the area from mining.
USDA: Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that his deputy, Jewel Bronaugh will depart the agency in the coming weeks. Bronaugh was the first African American to serve in this role. She started at the USDA in May 2021. President Biden will now have a nominate someone to fill this role, which requires Senate confirmation. Politico report that Xochitl Torres Small is a top contender for the role. Torres Small represented a rural New Mexico district in Congress from 2018 to 2020 and is the USDA’s current undersecretary for rural development.
EPA: The Science Advisory Board is seeking nominations for new board members. This board provides independent scientific and technical peer review, consultation, advice, and recommendations to the EPA Administrator on the scientific bases for EPA’s actions and programs. The board captured public attention during the Trump administration when it questioned the underlying science in several high-profile agency rules. Area of scientific expertise sought include ecological sciences and ecological assessment, ecological risk assessment, ecosystem services, forestry and environmental justice. Nominations are due March 2, 2023.
EPA: The agency issued a rare Clean Water Act veto, further stopping the proposed Pebble copper and gold mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska. The veto finds that mining discharges would cause unacceptable damage to area’s fisheries. This watershed is home to the world’s largest sockeye salmon fishery. This follows an Army Corps of Engineers decision made late in the Trump administration to block Clean Water Act permits for the mine.
- Readout: OSTP Stakeholder Listening Sessions on Climate Services – White House
- Depleted Under Trump, a ‘Traumatized’ E.P.A. Struggles With Its Mission – The New York Times
- How the White House found EJ areas without using race – E&E News
- Agency delays protections for imperiled bat, prairie chicken – Associated Press
- Administration Expected to Endorse Limited Drilling in Alaska Project – The New York Times
- U.S. refuses calls for immediate protection of North Atlantic right whales – Mongabay
- Watchdog group says White House science integrity measure amounts to a ‘gag rule’ – The Hill
- Feds act to protect critically endangered New Mexico butterfly – Courthouse News Service
- The Vanishing of Biden’s Biodiversity Agenda – The New Republic
- New Mexico lawmakers advance bill to fund response to climate change, extreme weather – The Carlsbad Current Argus
- Tony Evers takes control of Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources – Associated Press
- The state is defending its climate record. These kids aren’t buying it (and they’re suing) – Hawaii News Now
- New City Council kicks off 2023 with UN biodiversity pledge – Austin Monitor
- States miss deadline to address Colorado River water crisis; pressure builds on California – The Los Angeles Times
- Georgia representatives push to make Okefenokee Swamp a UNESCO World Heritage Site – Savannah Now
- Portugal agrees to swap Cape Verde’s debt for environmental investment – Reuters
- Silencing Science: How Indonesia Is Censoring Wildlife Research – Yale Environment 360
- EU sets out green industry deal to take on U.S. and China – Reuters
- Investigation faults Liberian agency protecting rainforest – Associated Press
- Bill to protect endangered species, wildlife passes first reading – Business Day Nigeria
- Iranian researchers fear for science after hardline cleric takes important post – Science
- Germany pledges $222 million for Brazil environment, Amazon – Associated Press
NASEM: The National Academies is now accepting formal comments on the provisional committee selected for the upcoming report Research at Multiple Scales: A Vision for Continental Scale Biology. This committee will conduct a consensus study to identify important themes and theory for biological research connecting micro to macro scales and describe how such research would most effectively be structured. The study is commissioned by the National Science Foundation. The formal comment period on the provisional committee slate ends Feb. 16, 2023, submit a comment here.
NASEM: A consensus study report Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations: Beyond Broadening Participation will be released Feb. 14. The report will review the literature on bias and racism in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medicine workplaces; approaches to increase racial and ethnic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in STEM organizations; and offer best policies and practices for DEI and anti-racism initiatives, as well as outline goals for relevant, future research and for organizational strategic planning. The study’s co-chairs and committee members will host a report release webinar Feb. 14 at 11 am eastern to overview of the report and a discussion of the conclusions and recommendations. RSVP here.
NASEM: The Jefferson Science Fellowship Program will host a lecture by Dr. Travis Marisco titled “Biodiversity’s Foundational Role in Planetary and Human Security” tomorrow, Feb. 7 at 11:00 am eastern. Marisco is a professor of botany at Arkansas State University. The description of the lecture on the National Academies website reads: “Human civilizations have developed in a time of stable climate and abundant biodiversity. These planetary conditions and resources have promoted unprecedented population growth and resulted in unsustainable (and sometimes criminal) extractive practices. Destabilized natural systems caused by biodiversity loss, species redistribution, and rapid climate change threaten lives and livelihoods around the world. In addition to a thematic overview, Marisco will provide specific policy-relevant examples.” Register to attend the lecture online or in-person in Washington, DC here.
Climate: An article published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences found that the world could cross critical climate thresholds sooner than previously predicted. The world could pass 1.5 degrees C of warming in a decade and surpass two degrees of warming by mid-century. The authors reached these conclusions using machine learning.
Diversity: The National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, a part of the National Science Foundation, released its Diversity and STEM: Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities 2023 report. According to the NSF website, the report contains statistical information about the representation of women, minorities, and persons with disabilities in STEM employment and science and engineering education. New data show that the STEM workforce is growing, employing nearly a quarter (24%) of individuals in 2021, up 20% from 2011. In addition to growth, the STEM workforce continues to diversify; underrepresented minorities accounted for 24% of the STEM workforce in 2021, up from 18% in 2011, while representation of women reached 35% in 2021, up from 32% in 2011.
NSF: E&E News reported that scientific staff at the National Science Foundation are in “revolt” over a plan to increase their pay by 1% annually, rather than the 4.6% cost of living increase approved by the Biden administration for most federal employees. The 1% pay increase applies to 334 employees who are largely program directors and are paid under an “administratively determined” pay scale, rather than the general schedule pay scale used for most federal employees. E&E News published both a list of comments from employees impacted by the decision and a letter from American Federal of Government Employees National President Everett Kelley to NSF Director Sethuraman Panchanathan.
Shortly after the E&E News report, NSF leadership reversed this decision and told employees that they will “NOT be implementing the proposal that prematurely went to staff last week” and all employees will receive “the full 4.1% increase plus any appropriate locality pay, which totals 4.6% total for the D.C. area.”
ESA Correspondence to Policymakers
- ESA – ESA Urges All Nations to Take Climate Action at COP27 (Nov. 8, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2024 Letter to White House OMB and OSTP (Oct. 27, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2023 Conference Committee Appropriations Letter (Oct. 27, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter of Support for Agricultural Research Appropriations (Oct. 17, 2022)
- ESC – Letter of Support for the DOE Foundation for FY 2024 (Sept. 20, 2022)
- ESC – FY 2024 Funding Request (Aug. 11, 2022)
- CNSF – Statement on Passage of the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 (Aug. 2, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of Appropriations for Agricultural Research (July 13, 2022)
- ESC – FY2023 Department of Energy Office of Science Appropriations Statement (June 14, 2022)
- ESA – Testimony in Support of FY 2023 Appropriations for Forest Service Research and Development (June 10, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of FY 2023 Appropriations for the DOE Foundation (identical letters sent to both the House and Senate) (May 20, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter about Appropriations for USDA Agricultural Research and Climate (May 11, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of FY 2023 302(b) Allocation for Commerce, Science and Justice Appropriations (May 11, 2022)
- ESA – Letter to the Forest Service about Managed Wildland Fire (May 3, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in Support of Appropriations to the Agricultural Research Service (April 25, 2022)
- CNSF – FY 2023 Appropriations Letter (identical letters sent to both the House and Senate) (April 7, 2022)
- Multiorganization Letter in support of appropriations for EPA Science and Technology and Science to Achieve Results program (identical letters sent to both the House and Senate) (April 4, 2022)
View more letters and testimony from ESA here.
Federal Register Opportunities
Upcoming Public Meetings:
- BLM – Public Meetings of the Idaho Resource Advisory Council and the Lava Ridge Wind Project Subcommittee (Feb. 8)
- BLM – Public Meetings of the Western Oregon Resource Advisory Council (Feb. 14-15)
- BLM – Public Meeting for the Southeast Oregon Resource Advisory Council (Feb. 28, March 1)
- EPA -Public Meetings of the Science Advisory Board Hexavalent Chromium Review Panel (Feb. 15)
- Forest Service – Shasta County Resource Advisory Committee (Feb. 8)
- Forest Service – Ravalli Resource Advisory Committee (Feb. 22)
- Forest Service & USFWS – Alaska Subsistence Regional Advisory Council Meetings for 2023 (Feb. 22)
- NOAA NMFS – Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council Public Meetings (Feb. 7-9)
- NOAA NMFS – North Pacific Fishery Management Council Public Meeting (Feb. 7-13)
- NOAA NMFS – North Pacific Albacore United States Stakeholder Meeting (Feb. 15)
- NOAA – Public Meeting of the National Sea Grant Advisory Board (Feb. 26-27)
- NOAA- Evaluation of American Samoa Coastal Management Programs (Feb. 28)
- NOAA – Evaluation of New York State Coastal Management Program (March 1)
- NPS – Public Meetings for the Acadia National Park Advisory Commission (Feb. 6)
- NPS – Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument Advisory Council Notice of Public Meeting (Feb. 15)
- NPS – Public Meetings of the National Park Service Alaska Region Subsistence Resource Commission Program (March 1, 8)
- NPS – Public Meeting of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park (March 2)
- NSF – Advisory Committee for Polar Programs Meeting (Feb. 13)
- NSF – Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering Meeting (Feb. 16-17)
- USDA NRCS – Urban Agriculture and Innovative Production Advisory Committee Meeting (Feb. 23)
Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:
- Bureau of Reclamation – Call for Nominations for the Glen Canyon Dam Adaptive Management Work Group Federal Advisory Committee. Nominations must be postmarked by Feb. 13, 2023.
- EPA – Call for Information on the Integrated Science Assessment for Oxides of Nitrogen-Health Criteria. All communications and information should be received by EPA Feb. 7, 2023.
- EPA – Pesticide Registration Review; Proposed Interim Decisions for the Rodenticides; Notice of Availability. Comments must be received on or before Feb. 13, 2023.
- EPA – Proposed Consent Decree, Clean Air Act Citizen Suit.Written comments on the proposed consent decree must be received by Feb. 23, 2023.
- EPA – Request for Nominations to the EPA Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee. Nominations should be submitted in time to arrive no later than Feb. 27, 2023.
- EPA – Water Quality Standards Regulatory Revisions To Protect Tribal Reserved Rights. Comments must be received on or before March 6, 2023.
- EPA – Notice of Public Comment Period for the Biofuels and the Environment: Third Triennial Report to Congress External Review Draft. Comments must be received on or before March 6, 2023.
- Forest Service – Secure Rural Schools Resource Advisory Committees. Written nominations must be received by Feb. 10, 2023.
- Forest Service – Nebraska National Forests and Grasslands; Nebraska and South Dakota; Undesirable Plant Management EIS. Comments concerning the scope of the analysis must be received by Feb. 10, 2023.
- NOAA – Nominations for the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission Permanent Advisory Committee. Nominations must be received no later than Feb. 23, 2023.
- NPS – Request for Nominations for the National Park Service Alaska Region Subsistence Resource Commission Program. Nominations must be postmarked by Feb. 8, 2023.
- NSF – Agency Information Collection Activities: Comment Request: Survey of Earned Doctorates. Written comments on this notice must be received by Feb. 7, 2023 to be assured consideration.
- OSTP – Request for Information; Digital Assets Research and Development. Interested individuals and organizations are invited to submit comments on or before 5 p.m. ET on M 3, 2023.
- USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service – Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Impact Statement for the West Fork Battle Creek Watershed Plan, Carbon County, Wyoming. The NRCS will consider comments that received by Feb. 13, 2023.
- USFWS – Draft Habitat Conservation Plan and Draft Categorical Exclusion for the Santa Barbara County Distinct Population Segment of the California Tiger Salamander; Kelt Reservoir Project, Santa Barbara County, CA. Written comments should be received on or before Feb. 9, 2023.
- USFWS – General Provisions; Revised List of Migratory Birds The FWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Feb. 10, 2023.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Reclassifying Fender’s Blue Butterfly From Endangered to Threatened With a Section 4(d) Rule. This rule is effective Feb. 13, 2023.
- USFWS – Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants; Designation of Critical Habitat for `I`iwi .The FWS will accept comments received or postmarked on or before Feb. 27, 2023.
- USFWS – Migratory Bird Hunting; Proposed 2023-24 Frameworks for Migratory Bird Hunting Regulations You must submit comments on the proposed migratory bird hunting frameworks by March 1, 2023.
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
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