Policy News: December 4, 2017


The Katherine S. McCarter
Graduate Student Policy Award

Applications now open.

ESA is now accepting applications for its 2018 Katherine S. McCarter Graduate Student Policy Award. Offered each year, this award gives graduate students an all-expense paid trip to Washington, DC for science policy training and meetings with lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Visit the ESA website for more information and details on application requirements.

The deadline to apply is January 10.


In This Issue:

NOAA Nominee Agrees, Humans Are Main Cause of Climate Change

“If the ice is melting, the ice is melting,” says Barry Myers

Trump Judicial Picks Could Ensure His Environmental Legacy

More vacancies, nominees more ideological, younger and less experienced

Continuing Resolution Expires this Week, Senate Releases Interior Spending Bill

Government funding runs out Friday; Senate bill rejects steep cuts to research

Quick Reads

Nominees advance, Interior report warns of climate impacts, Trump cuts Utah monuments, scientists “self-censoring,” federal R&D funding increases, Pruitt on Capitol Hill, and more

Get Involved

Comment on NCA4, provide input on research infrastructure needs, nominate members for NSF committees, other opportunities to provide comments and input

Legislative Updates

House overturns MN mining ban, bill introduced to save Colorado River Basin endangered fish, other legislation of interest

Opportunities from the Federal Register

Upcoming meetings and other opportunities for public involvement

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers


NOAA Nominee Agrees, Humans Are Main Cause of Climate Change

Barry Myers, nominee to serve as administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), faced a confirmation hearing of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on Wednesday, Nov. 29.

The hearing was notable because when pressed on climate change, Myers said, “If the ice is melting, the ice is melting, and one’s opinion about it is really not relevant, it’s a fact.” He continued, “I fully support the ability of scientists to do their work unfettered, that this information then needs to be made available. Science should take us wherever it takes us, and we can’t dispute the facts once they’re in front of us, and we need to act upon them.”

Sen. Edward Markey (D-MA) pressed Myers further, “So you agree humans are the main cause of climate change?” Myers replied, “Yes.” Myers characterized the recent Fourth National Climate Assessment, released Nov. 3, as “the current state of the articulated science,” in response to previous written questions by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), the ranking minority member of the committee.

Continuing in his written response to Sen. Nelson, Myers said, “Quality, peer reviewed, scientific research, and the underlying data, to provide an ongoing narrative about our environment, which can offer the scientific basis for policy considerations and ongoing scientific discussion and advancement, are national assets that should be disseminated to the nation.”

Myers’ climate comments, accepting the current scientific consensus, diverge sharply from other Trump administration appointees such as Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt, and Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who each questioned the role of human activity in climate change in their confirmation hearings. Under Administrator Pruitt, the EPA has scrubbed its website of “climate change,” according to a review by the Environmental Data and Governance Initiative. Interior and Energy have also scrubbed “climate change” from their websites and grants, as well as reassigning climate scientists to other duties.

Myers also committed to supporting climate research and information dissemination at NOAA, stating “I fully support the ability of scientists to do their work unfettered” in reply to Sen. Tammy Duckworth’s (D-IL) questioning on the issue.

Currently CEO of AccuWeather, Inc., a media company providing weather forecasts worldwide, Myers was also questioned by Sen. Nelson about his potential conflicts of interest, pointing to a 2005 bill introduced by then Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) that would have prohibited the National Weather Service (NWS) from offering products or services that could be provided by the private sector. “We work hard every day competing with other companies, and we also have to compete with the government,” Myers told ABC News in 2005. AccuWeather executives reportedly contributed $11,000 to Santorum’s campaigns and political action committees from 2003-2005. Myers himself made a $2,000 contribution, two days before the bill was introduced. “If the bill had passed, Americans’ access to free and lifesaving government weather forecasts would have been placed at risk,” Nelson said.

In a March 2017 interview with The Washington Post, Myers, before his nomination, pointed to the recently passed Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017, saying, “[it] will serve as a blue print for the next NOAA administrator.” The bill passed with broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate and includes a provision that urges NOAA to spend 30 percent of authorized funds for nonfederal research and development.

Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), who chaired the hearing, praised Myers’ testimony, “I think you’ve done an outstanding job at this hearing today… You’re very well qualified.” Sullivan introduced 40 letters supporting Myers’ nomination, including one from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. Committee Chairman Sen. John Thune (R-SD) told Myers, “We’ll look forward to moving your nomination along in the process.”

Opponents to Myers’ nomination include Greenpeace USA, the NWS Employees Organization, the Ocean Conservancy, and the Sierra Club. “If Myers is confirmed, he will be able to order the NWS to do what Congress was unwilling to do — which is to turn the Weather Service into a taxpayer-funded corporate subsidy of AccuWeather,” said Richard Hirn, legislative director of the NWS Employees Organization, in a May Washington Post interview.

A committee vote on Myers’ nomination has not been scheduled as of this writing and the Senate calendar is quite crowded through the end of the year. In the meantime, NOAA is led by Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., USN Ret., assistant secretary of Commerce for oceans and atmosphere, a former Navy oceanographer with extensive experience with climate change issues.

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Trump Judicial Picks Could Ensure His Environmental Legacy

President Trump faced 140 federal bench vacancies, out of 890 federal judgeships, when he took office, far more than any previous president. President Obama, by comparison, had 54 vacancies. These vacancies are occurring in a new political landscape, where since 2013 only a simple majority in the Senate is required to confirm many judicial nominees. Known as the “nuclear option,” that rules change was enacted by Democrats to clear a backlog of Obama administration nominees. Additionally, the Senate tradition of “blue slip” approval of judicial nominees from home-state senators has been abandoned by Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) for many nominees, following Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) use of a “blue slip” to block a Trump nominee.

As of this writing, there are 144 vacancies, with 16 judges confirmed by the Senate since April and an additional 44 nominations pending. Trump is likely to more than double the number of judicial nominations in his first year, more than any previous administration. Many of those vacancies are carried over from the Obama administration, which faced unprecedented obstruction of its judicial nominees, including the nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Once gaining control of the Senate in 2014, Republicans blocked almost all of Obama’s nominees, leaving 54 pending at the end of his term. The Administrative Office of the US Courts maintains a summary of current and future judicial vacancies.

“It’s such a depressing idea, that we don’t get appointments unless we have unified government, and that the appointments we ultimately get are as polarized as the rest of the country,” said Lee Epstein, a law professor and political scientist at Washington University in St. Louis, in a New York Times interview in mid-November. “What does that mean for the legitimacy of the courts in the United States? It’s not a pretty world.”

In March, White House counsel Donald McGahn notified the American Bar Association (ABA) that it would no longer be invited to do pre-nomination reviews of candidates, a tradition dating back to the Eisenhower administration. The one previous exception to that tradition was during the administration of George W. Bush.

Trump’s judicial nominees are younger on average than those of previous administrations, 48 years vs. 55 years. For example, Brett Talley, nominated for a life-time appointment to the US District Court for Alabama, is 36 years old and has never tried a case. The ABA has given him a rare “not qualified” rating, pointing to his lack of experience. Talley was nonetheless approved by the Judiciary Committee on Nov. 9 and is awaiting confirmation by the full Senate.

Eight percent of Trump’s judicial nominees have received a “not qualified” rating from the ABA, compared with levels of 0% to 1% for nominees dating back to the early 1960s.

These unprecedented court vacancies are occurring in an environment of unprecedented administrative disruption. The Trump administration’s focus on deregulation has seen 457 rulemakings withdrawn. The previous record was 386 rulemakings withdrawn in 2002 during the George W. Bush administration. The bulk of these withdrawals came under the purview of the Department of the Interior—144 according to a recent count. Many of the withdrawals appear to be inconsistent with the underlying statutes and are likely to be challenged in the courts.

Among the issues likely to come before federal courts are a variety of important environmental cases. These include:

  • National monuments – Can a president shrink or eliminate designations made in previous administrations?
  • Clean Water Act protections – Obama administration rules seeking to clarify definitions of wetlands and streams are targeted for repeal.
  • Clean Power Plan – This Obama administration rule is currently under a stay by the US Supreme Court. A core issue is whether the EPA has authority to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act.
  • Offshore drilling – Can the Trump administration rescind an Obama administration ban on drilling in sensitive areas of the Atlantic and Arctic oceans?
  • Fuel economy standard – Can states such as California enact standards that are more rigorous than those of the federal government?
  • Endangered Species – The Trump administration has targeted rollbacks of protections for many threatened and endangered species, such as the multi-state sage grouse management plan, through administrative and legislative actions. Most of these rollbacks will be challenged in federal court.

Opinion is divided on the potential impact of Trump’s unprecedented judicial opportunities. Richard Ayres, a co-founder of the Natural Resources Defense Council, is quite pessimistic. “Trump is going to appoint a lot of judges that will change the complexion of the court system for a long time,” said Ayres in an interview with E360, an online publication of the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He continued, “It very well could be the biggest impact he has on the environment. Imagine another 10 percent of the judiciary filled with Trump appointees. Environmental organizations will fight back and litigate and save some things, but there’s a whole lot of damage that will take forever to repair — if it’s repairable.” Others are more measured. “We’re going to win way more than we’re going to lose,” says Drew Caputo of Earthjustice.

Some conservative legal experts worry that disarray in the White House will result in lost opportunities. “Any other Republican could really make great headway in fashioning the judiciary,” says Jim Burling, of the Pacific Legal Foundation, also commenting in E360. “It depends on how much he gets distracted. Nobody has ever seen anything like the show that’s going on right now.”

The fall 2017 elections foretell a potential swing of the electorate back to Democrats in the 2018 mid-terms. Conservatives are pressing for a quickened pace of nominations and confirmations. “Obviously, who gets nominated and the pace of confirmations … changes dramatically if the Senate were to flip back to the Democrats,” said John Malcolm, of the Heritage Foundation, in a mid-November interview with Reuters news agency. Republicans, he continued, “should be paying particular attention to pushing through as many nominees as they can.”

Another potential disruption is a move to codify President Trump’s executive orders on regulatory reform, EO 13771 and EO 13777, into law. H.R.2623, Lessening Regulatory Costs and Establishing a Federal Regulatory Budget Act of 2017, introduced by Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), a leader of the conservative Freedom Caucus, was passed by a narrow vote of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform on Nov. 30. The bill will also be considered by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Regulatory Reform, Commercial and Antitrust Law before it could be considered by the full House, though the committee has not yet scheduled hearings and its future is uncertain.

“When the history books are written about the Trump administration, I believe perhaps the most long-lasting and significant legacy will be the men and women appointed and confirmed to the federal bench,” Republican Senator Ted Cruz said at a Nov. 13 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.

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Continuing Resolution Expires this Week, Senate Releases Interior Spending Bill

With the current continuing resolution (CR), the government is funded through Dec. 8. In order to avoid a government shutdown, Congress is planning to pass another stopgap funding measure to keep the government operating. According to Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), the House plans to pass two short-term measures to extend government funding. The House Appropriations Committee released the first measure over the weekend. This continuing resolution would keep the government operating through Dec. 22, and the House is expected to vote on it this Wednesday. A second continuing resolution would then extend funding until early 2018 to give lawmakers time to pass an omnibus appropriations bill.

The first CR includes a temporary, bipartisan spending authorization proposal for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), but otherwise contains no policy riders in order to facilitate passage. However, the second CR would likely include several riders that could set up partisan fights, like changes to the Affordable Care Act, budget caps, and hurricane recovery spending. It is further complicated by uncertainty injected by the president, who has pondered whether a government shutdown might be needed.

In tandem with crafting the CRs, Congress continues to work on appropriations to fund the government for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018. The House passed its omnibus appropriations package in September. Across Capitol Hill, following the release of its last four appropriations bills on Nov. 20 and 21, the Senate has released all twelve of its measures for FY 2018 funding. Eight of the twelve have been marked up in committee.

The Interior and Environment appropriations bill was one of these last four to be released. This bill provides funding for the agencies of the Department of the Interior, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Forest Service, among others. The Senate version largely rejects the steep cuts to research, in particular climate research, and Interior programs proposed in the president’s budget, and in many cases sets higher funding levels than the House bill. It provides a total of $32.6 billion, $1.2 billion above the House version and about $300 million above FY 2017 spending.

The EPA would see considerably less severe cuts, with a budget decrease of 1.9% as opposed to the 31.4% proposed by the president, but still faces a decrease of $149.5 million. Funding for the USGS is equal to FY 2017 funding, $1.085 billion, and reductions in funding for budgets within USGS are for the most part less significant than in the House bill. The Senate bill also increases funding for Geographic Programs within EPA, including flat funding of $300 million for Great Lakes Restoration. Other Interior agencies would see either flat funding or relatively minor reductions.

The Senate bill does, however, include several policy riders. It includes provisions that target Endangered Species Act protections, as well as language that allows repeal of the Clean Water Rule to bypass the Administrative Procedure Act. Similar to a provision in the House bill, this language could protect the administration from legal challenges to repeal of the act. Riders and specific funding levels will be finalized as the House and Senate versions are reconciled as part of a year-end spending package.

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Quick Reads

CEQ, EPA Nominees Advance
At a Nov. 29 business meeting, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee advanced two Trump nominees, moving them towards confirmation by the full Senate. On party-line votes, the Committee advanced the nominations of Kathleen Hartnett White to be chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and Andrew Wheeler to be deputy EPA administrator. Hartnett White has been criticized for her remarks questioning climate science and supporting fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions. Committee Democrats questioned Wheeler’s suitability for the deputy administrator position given his former role as a lobbyist for energy interests.

Interior Report Warns of Climate Impacts
The Department of the Interior’s Office of Inspector General released a report in November summarizing the most significant management and performance challenges facing Interior and naming climate change as one of these nine challenges. The report identifies continuing and emerging challenges related to climate effects, including wildland fire costs and strategy, impact on American Indian and Alaska Native tribes and lands, water scarcity, and impact on the Insular Areas. Among other top challenges identified in the report are energy management, information technology, water programs, and workplace culture and ethics.

Trump Announces Reductions to Utah Monuments
President Trump announced today during a trip to Utah his decision to reduce the size of two of Utah’s national monuments. Documents obtained in advance by The Washington Post show the administration’s plans to reduce both Bears Ears National Monument and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument. Bears Ears would be cut by nearly 85 percent, Grand Staircase-Escalante by almost 50 percent, and both would be split into multiple smaller monuments. These considerable reductions follow Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s recommendations, presented in his report to the president on Interior’s review of 27 national monuments, that both sites be cut. The administration’s efforts to reduce these sites—and any other national monuments—will be met by fierce legal challenges questioning the president’s authority to reverse national monument protections.

Scientists “Self-Censoring” Grants for Climate Research
An analysis by NPR has found that scientists seeking grant funding seem to be “self-censoring” by not referencing the phrase “climate change.” The study, which looked at grants awarded by NSF, saw a steady decrease in the number of appearances of “climate change” in grant titles or summaries, with a 40 percent drop in the number of grants with the phrase in 2017 compared to 2016. The administration’s open skepticism of climate change and hostility towards climate science seem to be behind the decrease, prompting scientists to remove the term to avoid politicized issues that might hurt their chances at receiving funding.

Federal R&D Funding Increases After 4-Year Decline
According to a brief from NSF’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, federal funding of higher education research and development (R&D) increased in 2017 for the first time in five years. Universities reported current dollar R&D expenditures of $72 billion in FY 2016, a 4.8% increase from the FY 2015 total of $68.6 billion. When adjusted for inflation, the increase is equivalent to 1.4% between FY 2015 and 2016. However, the share of federal expenditures on higher education R&D has continued to decline, dropping from 62.5% in FY 2011 to 54% of total R&D expenditures.

Climate Solutions Caucus Adds New Members
The House Climate Solutions Caucus, which adds new members in bipartisan pairs, has reached 62 members with the addition of Reps. Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ) and Matt Gaetz (R-FL), E&E News reported. The caucus is dedicated to exploring economically viable ways to address climate risks and approach climate adaptation and mitigation. The addition of Gaetz, who has expressed skepticism of climate science and introduced legislation earlier this year to abolish the EPA, has been met with some concern; however, Caucus supporters urge that small steps and bipartisan engagement are essential to make progress on climate.

Mexico Creates Marine Park
The Mexican government has created an ocean reserve the size of Illinois—the largest in North America—for the conservation of giant rays, whales, turtles, and several endemic species. The park is located on the Revillagigedo Archipelago which supports hundreds of species and provides a breeding ground for many fish, such as tuna. Now, all fishing activities and construction/infrastructure projects on the islands are prohibited. These provisions are expected to help recover fish populations hit hard by commercial fishing.

Trump Administration Keeps Obama-Era Climate Deal in Place
At a Montreal Protocol gathering, State Department Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary Judy Garber confirmed that the Trump administration will not abandon the Kigali Amendment that was finalized in Rwanda last year. This deal sets a timetable and specific targets and mandates countries to phase down the production of hydroflourocarbons and replace them with more environmentally friendly alternatives. While Garber signaled the process will likely be slow, the fact that the administration seems to be accepting a deal related to climate change is seen by many as an encouraging sign.

Pruitt to Appear on Capitol Hill
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt will appear at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment hearing on Thursday, Dec. 7, at 10 a.m. The hearing’s title is “The Mission of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.” This hearing will be Pruitt’s first oversight hearing since he became administrator. His last appearance on Capitol Hill was at appropriations hearings in June. No other witnesses are scheduled to appear at this time.

Senate Hearing for USGS Head
On Dec. 5, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing to examine the nomination of Timothy Petty to be assistant secretary of the Interior (water and science), a position that oversees the U.S. Geological Survey. Petty is the legislative director for Sen. James Risch (R-ID) and formerly served as acting assistant secretary for water and science under the George W. Bush administration. Petty holds a Ph.D. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks, an M.S. from University of Maryland University College, and a B.S. from Purdue University. He previously worked as a geologist and a hydrogeologist. The same hearing will also examine the nomination of Linda Capuano to be administrator of the Energy Information Administration. Capuano is a fellow at the Center for Energy Studies in Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy and was previously vice president of technology at Marathon Oil Corp.

House Hearing to Examine Interior’s Future
The House Natural Resources Committee Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee is holding a hearing on Dec. 7 titled “Transforming the Department of the Interior for the 21st Century.” Led by chair Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), the hearing will examine potential reorganization and transformation of the Department of the Interior.

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Get Involved

Provide Input on National Climate Assessment
On Nov. 3, the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released volume one of the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4), as well as drafts of volume two and the State of the Carbon Cycle Report. The congressionally mandated climate science report assesses the science of climate change and its impacts. Volume two is a technical, scientific assessment of climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation across the US. The carbon cycle report assesses the state of the carbon cycle across North America. USGCRP is seeking public comments for both drafts. Comments on volume 2 of the NCA4 are due by Jan. 31, and comments on the carbon cycle report are due Jan. 8. All comments must be submitted via the USGCRP Review and Comment System.

Provide Information on Research Infrastructure Projects
The National Science Foundation is requesting information on existing and future needs for mid-scale research infrastructure projects from the US-based NSF science and engineering community. The input will be used to assess the needs for mid-scale research infrastructure and to develop a strategy to address these needs. Submissions must be received by Dec. 8.

Recommend Members for NSF Directorate and Office Advisory Committees
The National Science Foundation is requesting recommendations for membership on its scientific and technical federal advisory committees, including the Advisory Committee for Biological Sciences. These external advisory committees provide advice on program management, discuss current issues, and review and provide advice on the impact of policies, programs, and activities of the directorate or office of NSF.

DOE Office of Science Graduate Student Research Program Accepting Applications
The Department of Energy Office of Science is accepting applications for the Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) program. The program prepares graduate students for STEM careers critically important to the DOE Office of Science mission by providing graduate thesis research opportunities at DOE laboratories. Applicants must be pursuing graduate research in an area that is aligned with one or more of the priority research areas of the Office of Science’s six research program offices (including Biological and Environmental Research). Applications are due Nov. 16.

Provide Input on DOI Regulations
The Department of the Interior is seeking public comments on regulations for repeal, replacement, or modification. The president’s February executive order on reducing regulatory burdens directed federal agencies to address outdated or unnecessary policies. DOI is seeking input from the public on policies of Interior agencies, including the Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Geological Survey. Submit comments online or by mail.

Apply for an OSTP Internship
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is accepting applications for the OSTP Internship Program. OSTP offers both policy internships and legal internships. Read more on the White House website.

For more opportunities to get involved, go to the Federal Register section.

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Legislative Updates

House Overturns Mining Ban Near Boundary Waters
On Nov. 30, the House passed a bill to facilitate mining in northern Minnesota. “Minnesota’s Economic Rights (MINER) in the Superior National Forest Act,” H.R.3905, would require congressional approval of any mineral withdrawal or monument designation in Minnesota’s National Forest System. It would also renew two mining leases for sulfide ore that the Obama administration had declined to renew in 2016. This legislation overturns the Obama-era temporary mining ban in an area of the forest near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, a decision that was intended to protect the area from mine waste pollution. The legislation was introduced by Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN). It passed the House 216 to 204 and now goes to the Senate.

Newest Member of Congress Introduces Legislation to Save Colorado River Basin Fish Species
Rep. John Curtis (R-UT), the newest member of Congress who was elected on Nov. 7, introduced a bill on Nov. 28 that would help save four species of fish in the Colorado River Basin that are protected under the Endangered Species Act. The “Endangered Fish Recovery Programs Extension Act of 2017,” H.R.4465, would maintain annual base funding for the Upper Colorado and San Juan fish recovery programs through fiscal year 2023 and would require a report on the implementation of those programs. Reauthorizing this program would help the bonytail chub, the Colorado pikeminnow, the razorback sucker, and the humpback chub, as well as the people who depend on the river. Curtis emphasized the importance of healthy waterways and the recovery of these endangered species for waterway projects and economic development for Utah and other western states. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the companion Senate version of the bill (S.2166).

Other Legislation Introduced

  • National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act (H.R.4475). Introduced Nov. 28 by Rep. Don Young (R-AK), this bill would provide for the establishment of the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System. The companion bill, S.346, was introduced in February by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).
  • S.2176 and H.R.4490. Introduced Nov. 30 by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) in the Senate and Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) in the House, this bill would establish an integrated national approach to respond to ongoing and expected efforts of extreme weather and climate change by protecting, managing, and conserving the fish, wildlife, and plants of the United States, and would maximize government efficiency and reduce costs, in cooperation with state, local, and tribal governments and other entities.
  • H.R.4518. Introduced Dec. 1 by Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), this bill would expand the boundaries of the Bears Ears National Monument and ensure prompt engagement with the Bears Ears Commission and prompt implementation of the proclamation establishing the Bears Ears National Monument.
  • H.R.4525. Introduced Dec. 1 by Rep. Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), this bill would direct the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to make grants to states and local governments and nongovernmental organizations for purposes of carrying out shoreline stabilization projects utilizing natural materials.

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Opportunities from the Federal Register

Public Meetings:

Opportunities for Public Comment and Nominations:

  • FWS – Establishment of Wildlife Conservation Council
    The Fish and Wildlife Service is establishing an International Wildlife Conservation Council to advise the government on the benefits of international hunting on foreign wildlife and habitat conservation, illegal wildlife trafficking programs, and benefits for human populations. The Department of the Interior is seeking nominations for members by Dec. 8.
  • NPS – National Park System Advisory Board Nominations
    The National Park Service is seeking nominations for individuals to be appointed to the National Park System Advisory Board. The Board advises the Secretary of the Interior and NPS Director on matters relating to the NPS, the National Park System, and programs administered by the agency. NPS is seeking to appoint 3 members to the Board and is soliciting nominations in fields including ecology and biology. Nominations are due Dec. 18.
  • NMFS – Nominations for SEDAR Pool
    NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is soliciting nominations for the “SEDAR Pool,” also known as the Advisory Panel for Atlantic Highly Migratory Species Southeast Data, Assessment, and Review (SEDAR) Workshops. SEDAR Pool members may be selected to consider data and advise NMFS on the scientific information used in stock assessments for oceanic sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. Nominations for a 5-year appointment are due by Jan. 2.
  • EPA – National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology Nominations
    The EPA is requesting nominations for the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT), a federal advisory committee that provides advice to the EPA administrator on environmental policy, management, and technology issues. EPA is inviting nominations from qualified candidates from a range of sectors, including academia. Nomination deadline is Jan. 3.
  • NSF  – Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee, Principles for Conduct of Research in Arctic
    The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) is seeking public comments on how to revise and strengthen the Principles for the Conduct of Research in the Arctic, originally adopted in 1990. The Principles address the need to promote mutual respect and communication between scientists and northern residents. The update will focus on community engagement, the contributions of Indigenous knowledge, and dissemination and implementation of the Principles. Comments are due by Jan. 16.

Visit this new page on ESA’s blog for updates on opportunities from the Federal Register, including upcoming meetings and regulations open for public comment.

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ESA Correspondence to Policymakers

View letters and testimony from ESA here.


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@esa.org, or Julia Marsh, public affairs officer, Julia@esa.org.

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

Author: Julia Marsh

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