ESA Policy News: May 15, 2023

In this issue:

Apply for a Badge to Attend COP28 as an Observer via ESA
COP28 will take place Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 in Dubai.

House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Republican colleagues express concerns that the Energy Department deprioritizing basic research.

Executive Branch
Biden administration issues proposed rule to limit emissions from power plants.

Supreme Court decision about California’s pork regulations could impact state climate regulations.

A report from Chesapeake Bay Program science advisors questions long-standing approach to Chesapeake Bay clean up.

UAE spokesperson says that the world is not ready to “switch off” fossil fuels ahead of COP28.

Scientific Community
National Academies to hold a workshop titled Beyond Broadening Participation: Research to Progress to Impact.

Federal Register

Apply for a Badge to Attend COP28 as an Observer via ESA

ESA is accepting expressions of interest from members to receive an ESA “observer status” badge to attend the Conference of Parties (COP) 28 Climate Change Conference, which will take place from Nov. 30 – Dec. 12 at the Expo City Dubai, UAE.

ESA may be able to issue a limited number of “observer status” badges to ESA members. Those receiving a badge would not be formally representing ESA. This summer, the UN will inform ESA about the number of observer badges it will provide. Last year, ESA received 5 badges to share for the two weeks and we were able to give 10 members a badge for one week.

Members would be responsible for all associated travel costs and expenses to attend COP28 if offered an ESA badge. Additionally, those selected to receive a badge would be required to meet all vaccine and other requirements set by the COP28 organizers and the host country and to submit any information that organizers request to register recipients such as passport information.

Please complete this form to express your interest in receiving an ESA badge. This form can be used for groups of individuals interested in receiving an ESA “observer status” badge led by an ESA member.

ESA held a Water Cooler chat with ESA members who attended COP 26, the recording is linked here.

Read reflections on COP26 and COP27 from ESA members on the ESA blog.


Senate: The full Senate voted to pass resolutions nullifying two endangered species rules finalized by the Biden administration. One rule repeals a Trump-era definition of habitat under the Endangered Species Act. The other rule lists the northern long-eared bat as an endangered species. Previously, the species was listed as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. Both resolutions passed 51-49 margin. All Senate Republicans and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) voted for both measures. Sen. Angus King (I-ME) voted for the habitat resolution and Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) voted for the northern long-eared bat measure. President Joe Biden has pledged to veto both resolutions.

Conservation: Nine bipartisan Senators and Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) signed on as co-sponsors of the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (S. 1149). This bill provides $1.4 billion in annual mandatory funding to state and tribal fish and wildlife agencies for the conservation of at-risk species and the implementation of state wildlife action plans. Lawmakers have introduced different versions of this bill since 2016 but have struggled to agree on a funding source for the bill. Last year, the full House passed this legislation by a 231-190 margin. The bill has attracted bipartisan support in the Senate but failed to pass the full Senate during the 117th Congress. A broad collation of organizations, including ESA, sent a letter of support for the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act to Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in April. The bill now has 12 sponsors in total, six Republicans, five Democrats and Sinema.

Energy Department: House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK), Energy Subcommittee Chairman Brandon Williams (R-NY) and other Republican members of the House Science Committee sent a letter to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm expressing concerns that the Energy Department is deprioritizing the Office of Science over applied energy programs in the Energy Department. The Office of Science funds and conducts basic energy research, including the national laboratories. The letter from Members of Congress claims that the increased focus on applied energy activities has led to the neglect of research infrastructure needs.

Legislative updates:

  • The full House approved Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME)’s Coastal Communities Ocean Acidification Act (H.R. 676) by a wide bipartisan basis. This bill requires the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to collaborate with state and local governments and Indian Tribes on vulnerability assessments related to ocean acidification.
  • The House also passed Rep. Max Miller (R-OH)’s Advanced Weather Model Computing Development Act (H.R. 1715). The bill directs NOAA and the Department of Energy to conduct collaborative research to advance numerical weather and climate prediction. Miller is the chair of the House Science Committee’s Subcommittee on the Environment.
  • The House Agriculture Committee approved a bill (H.R 1713) from House Science Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-OK) and Science Committee Ranking Member Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) aimed to increase research collaborations between the Energy and Agriculture Departments. 

More News:

Executive Branch

EPA: The Biden administration unveiled its latest iteration of regulations limiting emissions from power plants. This proposed rule requires power plants to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions by 90% between 2035 and 2040 – or shut down. The Obama Administration finalized a similar regulation, known as the Clean Power Plan, in 2015, but red state attorneys general challenged the rule in the courts and the Trump administration ultimately withdrew the regulation. It will likely take the administration another year to finalize this rule and the rule will be open for public comment once it is published in the Federal Register.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) has already announced plans to introduce a Congressional Review Act resolution to nullify the rule. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has pledged to block all EPA nominees unless the proposed rule is withdrawn.

USGS: The agency, in collaboration with Canadian and Mexican agencies and the Udall Foundation, is preparing a two-year (2023–2025) regional assessment of biodiversity and climate change, culminating in the first-ever assessment report addressing these two challenges together for the United States, Canada, Mexico and U.S. territories. The USGS is seeking public comment on the draft prospectus for the assessment, nominations for membership on the assessment authoring team and expressions of interest in serving on the Biodiversity and Climate Change Assessment Guidance Committee which will be convened by the Udall Foundation. Congress mandated this report in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget. Comments and nominations for the authoring team must be submitted by July 7, 2023. Expressions of interest in the Guidance Committee are due no later than June 2, 2023. For more information, see the Federal Register Notice.

More News:



Chesapeake Bay: A new report from the Scientific and Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) for the Chesapeake Bay Program finds that existing efforts to reduce non-point sources of nutrients are insufficient to achieve pollution reduction goals and that reductions in nutrient pollution have not led to the expected level of improvement in water quality in the bay. The report authors argue that the legal requirements of the Clean Water Act to reduce nutrient levels in the Chesapeake Bay prevent states and the EPA from investing in other approaches to improving the Chesapeake Bay, such as habitat improvement projects. Authors also suggested that it is unrealistic for bay cleanup efforts to aim to return to past bay conditions, given urban development in the watershed and the impacts of climate change.

The STAC is seeking nominations of candidates for at-large membership positions. This committee provides scientific and technical advice and guidance to the Chesapeake Bay Program Partnership on measures to restore and protect the Chesapeake Bay and its watershed and serves as the liaison between the scientific community and the Chesapeake Bay Program. The committee is seeking members with expertise in Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, estuarine living resources, climate change and more. For more information, see the STAC website and the nomination form. The call for self-nominations will stay open through Sept. 1, 2023. Applications will be reviewed as they are received on the following dates: May 31, June 29, July 28 and Sept. 1.

More News:


Scientific Community

NASEM: The Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences will hold a hybrid workshop titled Beyond Broadening Participation: Research to Progress to Impact May 17-18, 2023. This workshop focus on issues raised by the recently released report Advancing Antiracism, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in STEMM Organizations. The National Academies has invited national researchers and practitioners to speak on the ways that research can inform practice, evaluation can measure progress, and how the community interested in antiracism, diversity, equity and inclusion can increase a sense of belonging in learning and working environments. RSVP 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.