ESA Policy News: May 4, 2023

In this issue:

ESA Graduate Student Policy Award Recipients Visit Capitol Hill
Fifteen ESA members and graduate students visit Congressional offices for the first in-person Graduate Student Policy Award event since 2019.

ESA & ESAL Webinar “Protecting Waterways for Healthy Communities and Ecosystems” – Monday, May 8 at 2:00 pm
Join ESAL and ESA to learn how science and policy intersect to protect waterways, hear from local advocates for ecologically sound practices, and discuss the potential impact of an ongoing Supreme Court Case.

Bipartisan members of Congress introduce legislation to address harassment in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Executive Branch
President Biden signed environmental justice Executive Order.

Climate lawsuit filed by Hawai’i teens advances in state courts.

State legislatures consider bans on diversity, equity and inclusion programs at colleges.

IPBES launches call for Indigenous and local knowledge.

Scientific Community
National Academies to hold webinar series titled “Paving the Way for Continental Scale Biology: Connecting Research Across Scales” starting April 24-25.

Federal Register

ESA Graduate Student Policy Award Recipients Visit Capitol Hill

The 2023 Graduate Student Policy Award (GSPA) Cohort of 15 students flew in from around the country to learn about science policy and meet with lawmakers. Students met with 30 Congressional offices April 25 in Washington, DC. Students asked for increased funding for the National Science Foundation, shared the importance of NSF funding to their own careers and the value of their own research. The visits came as Congressional appropriations committees are starting work on the FY 2024 budget.

Despite talks of potential cuts in the House Republicans’ debt ceiling proposals, ESA members found almost universal support for science funding across the ideological spectrum. This was the first in-person Graduate Student Policy Award event in-person since 2019 and the first GSPA Hill visits since Congress passed the Chips and Science Act with bipartisan support in fall 2022.

Before the Hill visits, students received policy and communications training and developed messages about the value of ecological research with each other and ESA staff. The group also met with US Global Change Research Program Director Michael Kuperberg and newly appointed National Nature Assessment Director Phil Levin. Kuperberg and Levin discussed the National Nature Assessment, the National Climate Assessment and opportunities for ecologists to get involved in both assessment and their own careers at the science-policy interface.

Charlotte Levy (Carbon180), Cleo Chou (USAID), Brittany Marsten (NOAA), Amina Pollard (EPA), Karen Lips (NSF) and Rich Pouyat (US Forest Service emeritus) joined the GSPA cohort in the ESA office to discuss their careers as ecologists working in science and policy. Levy, Chou and Marsten all are GSPA alumni.

ESA selected 15 students to receive the award, the largest in-person cohort so far: Alicia L. Arrington-Thomas (University of Mississippi), Tira L. Beckham (North Carolina State University), Jonathan Behrens (Duke University), Elijah Catalan (University of California, Los Angeles), Scott M. Carpenter (Yale University), Chloe Y. Cho (Cornell University), Gina L. Errico (Oklahoma State University), Vanessa M. Lau (Columbia University), Shalimar G. Moreno (East Carolina University), Maria H. Park (University of Minnesota), Brandon A. Quintana (California State University, Fullerton), Sarah E. Rothman (University of Maryland), Veronica Manka’a Tangiri (Prince William Soil and Water Conservation District, Lund University), Aubrey Tingler (University of Maryland) and Tatjana Washington (University of Chicago).

See an album of the GSPA event here.

ESA & ESAL Webinar “Protecting Waterways for Healthy Communities and Ecosystems” – Monday, May 8 at 2:00 pm

Monday May 8
2:00 – 3:00 pm ET
RSVP here to receive instructions to join

Join Engineers & Scientists Acting Locally and the Ecological Society of America to learn how science and policy intersect to protect waterways, hear from local advocates for ecologically sound practices, and discuss the potential impact of an ongoing Supreme Court Case. 

Rain fills our rivers, lakes, and reservoirs, but how does it get there? Wetlands are vital to managing how water flows after storm events to protect human environments from floods and natural environments from soil erosion and habitat destruction. Sound ecological science data clearly shows the vital role of wetlands for nature and to also protect human health and property. Planning requires the expertise of ecologists, landscape architects, environmental planners, and environmental engineers, and can be incentivized by local regulations.

State and local waterway protections benefit communities by improving flood control, replenishing groundwater reserves, protecting biodiverse habitats, and supporting the maintenance of thriving outdoor spaces that everyone can enjoy. The Clean Water Act is a federal law that gives authority to states to protect the nation’s waters. An ongoing Supreme Court case (Sackett vs. EPA) has the potential to shape the scope of this law. In this panel, co-hosted by Engineers and Scientists Acting Locally and the Ecological Society of America, we will hear from legal experts and implementers who will discuss the role of policy, both federal and local, in effective ecosystem management.

Confirmed panelists:

Erika Harris- Senior Planner, Puget Sound Regional Council
Royal C. Gardner, JD– Professor of Law and Co-Director, Institute for Biodiversity Law and Policy, Stetson University College of Law.


Legislative updates:

  • Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and House Natural Resources Chairman Bruce Westerman (R-MO) reintroduced the Save Our Sequoias Act (R. 2989). Among other provisions, this bill codifies the already existing Giant Sequoia Lands Coalition, provides the National Park Service with authority to expedite projects that make sequoia groves more resilient to wildfire, insects or disease and creates an Interior Department grant program to support sequoia nurseries.
  • Reps. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL) and Resident Commissioner Jeniffer Gonzalez-Colon (R-PR) introduced a bill (H.R. 2990) to address sexual harassment and assault in the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The bill expands the coverage of NOAA’s sexual harassment prevention and response policy and directs NOAA to provide a secure reporting structure for survivors and a clean mechanism for anonymous reports of sexual harassment.
  • Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bill (S. 1380) creating a $2 billion fund for planting trees in urban areas, particularly lower-income areas. Both Brown and Bookers are members of the Senate Agriculture Committee and could work to include this legislation in 2023 Farm Bill.
  • Members of the House Science Committee introduced bipartisan bills aimed at increasing collaboration between NASA and the Department of Energy (R. 2988) and the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy (H.R. 2980).

More News:

Executive Branch

White House: President Joe Biden signed an executive order “revitalizing” the country’s commitment to environmental justice. Among other provisions, the executive order creates an Office of Environmental Justice within the White House, directs agencies to identify and address gaps in science, data and research related to environmental justice and establishes a new Environmental Justice Subcommittee within the National Science and Technology Council.

NOAA: The agency is soliciting nominations for members of the NOAA Science Advisory Board. This board advises all of NOAA about long- and short-range strategies for research, education, and application of science to resource management and environmental assessment and prediction. NOAA is seeking individuals with expertise in artificial intelligence and machine learning in the fields of weather and climate; environmental remote sensing; engineering for coastal resilience; social and behavioral sciences; and tropical cyclones. However, individuals with expertise relevant to any NOAA mission areas are also welcome to apply. Nominations must be received by June 15, 2023.

NSF: The agency released a request for information to inform the development of a roadmap for the new Technology and Innovation Partnership (TIP) directorate. The CHIPS and Science Act, passed in fall 2022, tasks the TIP Directorate to develop a roadmap to guide investment decisions in use-inspired and translational research over a 3-year time frame, working towards the goal of advancing U.S. competitiveness in the identified key technology focus areas and addressing the identified societal, national and geostrategic challenges. Responses to the request for information are due July 27, 2023.

EPA: The agency is now seeking public comment regarding its Draft National Strategy to Prevent Plastic Pollution. The EPA produced this document as a requirement of the Save Our Seas 2.0 Act, which is legislation intended to reduce plastic pollution in the oceans. In the report, the EPA identifies three objectives: (A) Reduce pollution during plastic production; (B) Improve post-use materials management; and (C) Prevent trash and microplastics from entering waterways and remove escaped trash from the environment. The request for information closes June 16, 2023.

More News:



Scientific Community

NASEM: The Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress – 2024 Biennial Review will hold its first virtual meeting May 8, 2023 from 12:30-4:00pm ET to identify priority topics. This meeting is part of a congressionally mandated study to review the progress toward achieving the restoration goals of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan. RSVP for the meeting here.

NASEM: The Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate will hold a webinar May 9 to release the proceedings from a September 2022 workshop about integrating public and ecosystems health. The workshop brought together public health, natural resource management and environmental protection experts to discuss what research can bridge the gaps in understanding between public health and ecological health systems. The new proceedings summarizes the workshop, and this webinar will feature members of the workshop planning committee as they share highlights and key takeaways from the event. RSVP here.

Immigration: The American Chemical Society will host a webinar May 11 with immigration lawyer Brian H. Getson aimed at helping foreign scientists maintain their immigration status in the U.S. and qualify for a green card. The webinar will cover what is the appropriate category to apply for a green card and the best time to apply and what evidence is needed to provide the highest possible chance for green card approval. Register here.

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.

SA’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.