Policy News: June 23, 2017

In This Issue:

Appropriations Hearing on National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget

NSF director Córdova greeted with unified support of agency’s mission

Appropriations Hearing on Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget

Administrator Pruitt emerges unscathed, budget in tatters

Senate Hearings Examine DOI Budget for FY 2018

Zinke testifies, suggests cutting 4,000 employees for FY 2018

Quick Reads

Perry questions climate science, report touts ARPA-E success, DOE closing international climate office, USFS approves mine, review of sage-grouse conservation, and more

Get Involved

Provide your comments, input, and recommendations to federal agencies and the IPBES

Congressional Updates

Climate Solutions Caucus adds new members, USFS budget hearing, climate change roundtable

Legislative Updates

WILD Act passes Senate, House resolution in response to Paris decision, other legislation of interest

Federal Register

Upcoming meetings and other opportunities for public involvement

ESA Correspondence to Policymakers


Appropriations Hearing on National Science Foundation Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget

The president’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget request for all federal agencies that was released in May included large cuts for scientific research across agencies. It is Congress, however, that crafts the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government. As they work on federal appropriations for FY 2018, House and Senate appropriations committees have begun holding hearings to examine agency budgets, inviting the heads of the various agencies to testify. As she has in previous years, National Science Foundation director and astrophysicist Dr. France Córdova testified before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies at a June 7 hearing on NSF’s proposed budget for FY 2018.

At this hearing, Córdova justified an administration-proposed budget that would drastically cut funding for NSF and its scientific research. In the president’s budget request, the agency faces an 11 percent decrease, reducing funding by $819 million to $6.65 billion in FY 2018. NSF funds approximately 24 percent of all federally supported basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities and roughly 68 percent of all ecological and nonmedical biological research. This proposed cut, as explained by subcommittee Ranking Member José Serrano (D-NY), represents “the first time in the 67-year history of this agency that a president has proposed a budget below the previous fiscal year.”

In the face of these proposed cuts, subcommittee members were largely united in their support for NSF. Ranking Member Serrano, in his opening remarks, noted that Córdova was “before a committee that’s unique in one way: when it comes to this agency, the chairman and the ranking member … agree totally – it’s a great agency, and it’s one that should be funded properly.”

Subcommittee Chairman John Culberson (R-TX) agreed by saying, “This whole subcommittee is arm-in-arm when it comes to our support for fundamental research, the spectacular work done by the National Science Foundation.”

Many members of the subcommittee questioned Córdova on the impacts of budget cuts on NSF and what those impacts would mean for science and scientists. Ranking Member Serrano asked Córdova about the impacts of funding cuts “beyond the numbers in terms of dollars.” Córdova’s response acknowledged the effects on the agency’s ability to fund grants, quantifying that the proposed budget would allow the agency to fund approximately 8,000 grants, while the current FY 2017 budget funds 11-12 percent more than that. Another impact of the proposed reduction, identified in Córdova’s written testimony, would be a significant decrease in the number of Graduate Research Fellowships awarded by NSF. The FY 2018 budget would support 1,000 fellows, or half as many as the 2,000 that have been supported annually since 2011.

Congresswoman Grace Meng (D-NY) raised concern about funding cuts affecting STEM expertise and “cutting back on entire generations of scientists.” Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA) expressed worry over the country’s ability to retain scientific talent, asking how NSF “plan[s] to retain our best and our brightest, our talented researchers … in an environment where we’re cutting the budget for the first time ever.” Congressman Derek Kilmer (D-WA) raised the issue of geosciences funding being cut across federal agencies, asking Córdova, “If NSF is cutting back on geosciences, and NOAA and NASA are cutting back on related fields, who is going to do this [work]?” In response, Córdova often repeated that the agency has had to make difficult decisions, acknowledging that there would be impacts from reduced funding.

One of Córdova’s most emphatic responses came in response to a question from Rep. Cartwright on the topic of funding NSF by directorate, a possibility that ESA opposes. Córdova agreed with Cartwright that such a change would “unnecessarily and detrimentally inject politics” into science funding. She explained that “the science community is best equipped to set the priorities for science and engineering.” She continued, “I have often said that as the world is changing and evolving, the grand challenges require more disciplines, not fewer, to aggregate around those challenges and to give their best input in solving them. […] We never know where the next discovery is going to come from or who’s going to make it, and so it just behooves us to continue to fund, as has been our mandate for 67 years, all of science and engineering.”

Another strong response from Córdova was in reply to Rep. Kilmer identifying the economic threat of decreased federal investments in scientific research. Kilmer referenced a National Academies report concluding that without an increase in federal funding for research and development, the U.S. would lose its international competitiveness. Córdova agreed, saying “the existential threat is even larger than a lot of people realize because we have competition from other countries that is incredibly serious… I’m concerned about the accelerating pace of investments in other countries, I’m concerned that we will lose our global leadership if we don’t also invest in science and engineering.”

Given the bipartisan recognition at the hearing of the importance of NSF’s work and of properly funding the agency, it is unlikely that subcommittee members would support the proposed 11 percent cut to the NSF budget. Ranking Member Serrano in particular made a point to emphasize that “after all, it is the Congress that has the final say in funding matters.”

Chairman Culberson too emphasized the subcommittee’s strong support for the agency and understanding of the importance of investments in fundamental research. However, Culberson was careful to describe what he sees as the reality of the current situation – that “our military needs help, we’ve got to get spending under control in order to ensure that the National Science Foundation has got the help they need.” He spoke directly to the scientific community, encouraging them to focus on bringing down the national debt and addressing mandatory spending programs, towards which the majority of taxpayer dollars is devoted, so that there is enough money available for agencies like NSF.

Córdova responded by continuing to emphasize the importance of NSF and the basic research that the agency funds, looking at science as “creating a pathway to the future,” which has impacts on all aspects of our country and lives.

Items of interest in NSF’s budget proposal are highlighted in the Ecological Society of America’s Federal Budget Tracker for FY 2018. ESA President David Lodge commented on the FY 2018 NSF budget proposal in testimony and letters to Congress.

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Appropriations Hearing on Environmental Protection Agency Fiscal Year 2018 Proposed Budget

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt appeared before the House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee to testify about President Trump’s budget plan for the agency on June 15. The EPA is targeted for a 31.4 percent cut, the largest for any agency in the proposed budget.

Going into the hearing, Administrator Pruitt could have expected Democratic questions about small “categorical grants” helping states and municipalities enforce environmental laws, as well as big questions about the U.S. announcing that it will abandon the Paris climate accord. What he was likely less prepared for was his reception by committee Republicans.

“You have a tough job here today,” quipped subcommittee chairman Representative Ken Calvert (R-CA) in his opening statement. Continuing, Chairman Calvert voiced concern about proposed cuts to programs of interest to each member of the committee, commenting specifically on the Diesel Emission Reduction grants and Superfund programs, calling them critical to California’s own clean air and toxic waste programs. He observed that, “these are all proposals that we are unlikely to entertain.”

Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) teased Pruitt: “I can assure you, you’re going to be the first EPA administrator that has come before this committee in eight years that actually gets more money than they ask for.”

Pruitt himself seemed to concede much in his replies to committee members’ questions, showing little inclination to defend an administration budget proposal that will be rewritten by Congress. “I will work with you” was a common theme.

When asked by Appropriations Committee ranking member, Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY), to defend eliminating EPA’s endocrine disrupter program, given the “significant impact” of the 20-year program, Administrator Pruitt replied, “Congresswoman, I do share your concerns . . . you raise a very, very important question . . . this is our approach presently, but I look forward to your input on how maybe this could be restored and/or addressed in a different way.”

Cuts that would eliminate regional programs, such as EPA’s Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay restoration work, drew much comment. Representative David Joyce (R-OH) said EPA’s Great Lakes program, aimed at cleaning up the region, “isn’t about correcting mistakes from the past, but creating new opportunities and a brighter future for our shoreline communities.” He added that the proposed budget “would cripple our collective efforts, halt the progress we’re making and undermine investments we have made.” Pruitt replied, “We recognize the importance of the Great Lakes. We recognize the importance to the citizens in that region. And we’re going to work with Congress to ensure that those objectives are obtained.

Regarding climate change and the Paris accord, Pruitt said that the U.S. would “continue engagement” even after exiting the accord. Formerly Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt noted that Congress has not given EPA the authority to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant—a key contention in the suit against the EPA Obama-era Clean Power Plan (West Virginia, et al. v EPA, et al., U.S. Supreme Court, No. 15A773). Oklahoma joined that suit as a plaintiff while Pruitt was attorney general. Pruitt has recused himself from a dozen pending cases involving EPA, including litigation over the Clean Power Plan and other high-profile cases in both federal appeals and district courts over the controversial Clean Water Rule.

Administrator Pruitt, however, did not equivocate on plans to shrink EPA’s workforce by about 3,800 positions in the coming fiscal year, triggered by President Trump’s Comprehensive Plan for Reorganizing the Executive Branch directive. Pruitt indicated that most of the reductions can be accomplished without layoffs. “With respect to the proposed cuts on personnel,” he said, “that is something that we plan to achieve through attrition, continuation of the hiring freeze and the initiation of buyouts. About 20 percent of the agency is eligible for retirement today. That’s going to increase over the next several years.” EPA plans for $12 million to help cover early buyouts and retirements.

In all, Administrator Pruitt, seen as a possible successor to Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK), emerged from the committee room relatively unscathed. The budget proposal he went to defend, however, will likely come out very differently in its final appropriations bill.

Items of interest in EPA’s budget proposal are highlighted in the Ecological Society of America’s Federal Budget Tracker for FY 2018.

Ecological Society of America Executive Director Katherine McCarter commented on the FY 2018 EPA budget proposal in May 26 testimony given to the Senate Committee on Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies.

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Senate Hearings Examine DOI Budget for FY 2018

On June 20 and June 21, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke appeared before two Senate committees to testify on the administration’s proposed FY 2018 budget for the Department of the Interior. The Tuesday hearing was in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, and the Wednesday hearing was in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. The president’s budget proposes an 11 percent cut to the DOI budget, reducing it to $11.7 billion.

Zinke’s written testimony touched on many of the priorities of the administration and justified the proposed DOI budget as a reflection of fiscal responsibility and a necessity in order to achieve a balanced budget. He described the all-of-the-above energy development strategy supported by the budget and the increases in funding for oil and gas extraction. He also emphasized that the proposed budget reflects the administration’s focus on a “leaner, more efficient” government.

Not only would proposed DOI funding for FY 2018 reduce spending on lower-priority programs, but it would also reduce spending on DOI staff. Zinke’s testimony declared that the proposed budget would result in a reduction of 4,000 full time equivalent staff compared to 2017, a decrease that would be achieved through “attrition, reassignments, and separation incentives.” He also told senators in the Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing that he is “prioritizing filling field positions rather than office positions” and is continuing to freeze hiring in Washington, DC and Denver.

Both Republicans and Democrats on the committees expressed concern with the proposed cuts. In her opening statements, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), chair of both hearings, stated that “I am not in favor of the wholesale elimination of, or drastic reductions to programs simply to ‘hit a budget number.’” Referring to the cuts, she said “I do not expect many of them to become reality, especially those targeting popular programs.” This sentiment was echoed by many other lawmakers who raised concerns about staff reductions, DOI’s ability to fulfill its mission in the face of such large reductions, and specific programs targeted for cuts, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

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Quick Reads

Perry Questions Climate Science

When asked on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on June 19 about climate science, US Department of Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated that CO2 is not the cause of temperature rise, but rather ocean waters and the environment are the main drivers of a changing climate. Perry reiterated his view about climate science when he testified in front of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee later in the week. In 2016, ESA joined with leading scientific societies to send a letter to Congress reaffirming that the greenhouse gases emitted by human activities are the primary driver of climate change.

National Academies Report Documents Success of ARPA-E

A congressionally mandated study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine assessing the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) has found that the program is making progress towards achieving its goals, has made significant contributions to energy R&D, and is in no need of reform. The ARPA-E program has been targeted for elimination in the president’s budget request for FY 2018. However, this multi-year study cites the success of the program and finds no evidence of failure to deliver on its mission, and it warns that attempts to reform the agency would hurt its chances of achieving its goals.

DOE Closing International Climate Office

The Department of Energy is closing its Office of International Climate and Technology, which focuses on working internationally to develop clean energy technology. As reported by The New York Times, the 11 employees of the office were given notice this month that their positions were being eliminated. The office was created in 2010 for the U.S. to work with allies to reduce greenhouse gases through energy sector technology. The announcement of this closure follows the president’s budget request for FY 2018, which proposes to cut funding for DOE, particularly climate change initiatives.

Forest Service Advances Controversial Mine Project

The Forest Service approved a 5,431-acre mining project in the Santa Rita Mountains outside Tucson, Arizona in Coronado National Forest. About a dozen threatened or endangered animals and plants, including a jaguar, are located near the mine site in the Coronado National Forest. In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service found in its biological opinion that “reasonable and prudent” measures to protect species and habitat could satisfy Endangered Species Act requirements.

Extracting the mine’s over-660 million tons of copper ore would require digging down 3,000 feet into the earth, which would impact the ground water supply and associated wildlife habitat. The mine would have a 955-acre open pit and would produce an estimated 661.4 million tons of copper ore with about 1.2 billion tons of waste that would be stored in a nearby canyon.

The next step is for the mining company to apply for a Clean Water Act Section 404 permit. The EPA can veto the permit. Lawsuits from environmental organizations are expected to stop the mine’s planned development.

Zinke Makes Recommendation for Bears Ears

Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke submitted his recommendation for Bears Ears National Monument to the president on June 12. This recommendation was submitted in response to the president’s April executive order that directed a review of 27 national monuments, with Utah’s Bears Ears the first site for consideration. Zinke recommended that Bears Ears be reduced in size, removing some areas from the monument designation, while suggesting that Congress should consider legislatively protecting other parts of the site. Public comments on the monument reviews are being accepted until July 10.

Trump Creates New Federal Office to Cut Government Waste

On June 9, the president announced the creation of a new government office with the goal of reducing government waste, eliminating bureaucracy, and streamlining procedures. The office will be housed within the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Following Paris Decision, US Abstains from International Climate Declaration

At a G7 meeting in Italy June 11-12, nearly two weeks after the president announced his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, the U.S. declined to join parts of the group’s declaration related to climate change. The international communiqué included sections on climate change action, the Paris agreement, and international development funds meant to mitigate climate change impacts. The U.S. would not endorse these parts, stating in a footnote that the country was not joining those sections of the document.

Order Mandates Review of Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plans

On June 8, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke signed a secretarial order “to improve sage grouse conservation and strengthen communication and collaboration between state and federal governments.” The order initiates review of the greater sage-grouse conservation plans, finalized in 2015, that amended or revised land use plans for BLM and Forest Service land covering roughly half of the sage-grouse’s 173-million acre habitat. The sage-grouse plans were the result of collaborative efforts to protect the dwindling sagebrush ecosystem and to avoid a listing of the greater sage-grouse under the Endangered Species Act, an outcome that the plans achieved. The process was hailed as a model for cooperation and compromise between the federal government, 11 western states, outside conservation organizations, and industry. The secretarial order establishes a team to review Interior’s sage-grouse plans, as well as state plans, to ensure that they are complementary. It also mandates identification of plan provisions that may need modification or revision to be consistent with the president’s recent executive orders that aim to increase oil and gas development on federal land.

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper sent a letter to Zinke in May saying, “We understand that you are considering changing the department’s approach to sage grouse, moving from a habitat management model to one that sets population objectives for the states. We are concerned that this is not the right decision.” The letter goes on to outline how the state sage grouse plans were a collaborative effort and that “[w]holesale changes to the land-use plans are likely not necessary at this time.” However, both governors welcomed the announcement of the secretarial order. In another letter to Zinke, governors from five western states who are members of the Federal-State Sage Grouse Task Force requested a meeting to discuss the plans’ review.

Hill Science Committee Staffer Joins EPA

Richard Yamada is now the deputy assistant administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) deputy slot at the Office of Research and Development (ORD), which conducts the agency’s scientific research. He will advise EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in implementing EPA’s new policy agenda. Yamada most recently worked for the House Science Committee and worked closely with
Chair Lamar Smith on the EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2017 (H.R.1431) and the Honest and Open New EPA Science Treatment (HONEST) Act (H.R.1430). ESA sent letters to the House committee opposing both pieces of legislation.

Perdue Names Acting Program Officials

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue named three acting officials to oversee USDA programs. The career employees will serve as temporary leadership until the president clears nominees for the appointed positions and the Senate confirms them. Jason Hafemeister will head Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs, Dr. Robert Johansson will lead Farm Production and Conservation, and Dan Jiron will head Natural Resources and Environment. Jiron will be in charge of the Forest Service, the only agency under that category now that a reorganization has moved conservation to the farm production and conservation area of the department.

USDA’s APHIS Adds 56 Plant Taxa to Invasive Species Importation Ban

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) finalized a four-year-old proposal that bans the importation of 22 taxa of plants that are quarantine pests and 34 taxa of plants that are hosts of 8 quarantine pests pending pest risk analysis. Read Faith Campbell’s blog on the Center for Invasive Species webpage for detailed analysis of the ban.

EPA Dismisses More Scientific Advisors

Following on the dismissal of over half of the members of the EPA Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) earlier this month, Administrator Pruitt notified an additional 38 members that their terms will not be renewed when they expire at the end of August. The BOSC is composed of an Executive Committee and five subcommittees. The Board provides independent scientific and technical peer review, advice, consultation, and recommendations to EPA’s Office of Research and Development. The EPA also announced it will not be holding BOSC meetings this summer or in the fall due to its low membership numbers with only 11 people left to serve on its subcommittees. Members who were dismissed may reapply to serve in August. The committee is expected to reconvene in 2018. See the opportunity to nominate a technical expert to the committee below.

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Get Involved

Review IPBES Assessments

The Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is seeking experts and scientists to conduct external reviews of regional assessments, a land degradation and restoration assessment, and a global assessment of biodiversity and ecosystem services. The regional assessments cover biodiversity and ecosystem services for Europe and Central Asia, Africa, the Americas, and Asia-Pacific. The review period for the regional and land degradation and restoration assessments is open now. More information on how to participate can be found here. The review period for the global assessment opened on June 15 and lasts until August 15. Read more here.

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.

Comment on Monument Designations

The Department of the Interior released a list of monuments under review under the April 26 executive order and announced a public comment period for the review process. The list of sites under review includes 22 national monuments and 5 marine national monuments. Comments on monument designations must be received by July 10. Submit comments online or by mail.

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.

Nominate Members for EPA’s Board of Scientific Counselors

The EPA is seeking nominations for technical experts to serve on one of its advisory committees, the Board of Scientific Counselors, after Administrator Pruitt dismissed half of the members of this board earlier this month. The Board provides independent scientific and technical peer review, advice, consultation, and recommendations to EPA’s Office of Research and Development. Nominations must be submitted by June 30.

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

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Congressional Updates

Climate Solutions Caucus Adds New Members

The growing House Climate Solutions Caucus has added four new members. The caucus, formed to advance climate solutions and reduce climate risk, adds new members in bipartisan pairs. The newest members are Reps. Jimmy Panetta (D-CA), Scott Taylor (R-VA), Barbara Comstock (R-VA), and Stacey Plaskett (D-VA).

USFS Budget Hearing in Energy and Natural Resources Committee

On June 15, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing to examine the president’s budget request for the U.S. Forest Service for FY 2018. Forest Service Chief Thomas Tidwell testified. The president’s budget proposes to cut the agency’s budget by $880 million to $4.7 billion. Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns with the cuts and their effects on the agency’s operations. In his testimony, Tidwell focused on what the agency could accomplish and emphasized the need for robust infrastructure spending, without which he claims the rest of the agency’s work could suffer.

Climate Change Roundtable

On June 20, minority members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, led by Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), hosted a roundtable to discuss the science and policy perspectives of climate change. Two panels of scientists, researchers, diplomats, and other experts participated in the roundtable to help members understand the state of climate science and how best to mitigate the impacts of climate change.

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Legislative Updates

WILD Act Passes Senate

The bipartisan “Wildlife Innovation and Longevity Driver (WILD) Act” (S.826) passed the Senate on June 8. Sponsored by Senators John Barrasso (R-WY) and Tom Carper (D-DE), chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, this legislation aims to stimulate innovation to help conserve endangered species and manage invasive species. It would revive several wildlife conservation programs, and it would establish cash prizes to recognize innovations related to the prevention of wildlife poaching and trafficking, wildlife conservation, the management of invasive species, and the protection of endangered species. The bill now goes to the House.

House Resolution Introduced in Response to Paris Decision

On June 16, 170 House Democrats, led by Rep. Brad Schneider (D-IL), introduced H.Res.390, a resolution expressing strong disapproval of the president’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement. The resolution also commends the many coalitions and entities – including states, cities, universities, and businesses – that have publicly expressed support for the Paris deal, and it urges continued U.S. participation in the agreement. The mostly symbolic legislation has no majority party cosponsors.

Other Legislation Introduced

  • American Fisheries Advisory Committee Act (S.1322). Introduced June 8 by Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-AK), this bill would establish the American Fisheries Advisory Committee to assist in the awarding of fisheries research and development grants.
  • SUper Pollutant Emissions Reduction (SUPER) Act of 2017 (H.R.2858). Introduced June 8 by Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA), this bill would establish a task force to review policies and measures to promote, and to develop best practices for, reduction of short-lived climate pollutants.
  • Land and National Park Deferred maintenance (LAND) Act (H.R.2863). Introduced June 8 by Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), this bill would provide for consistent and reliable authority and funding to meet conservation and deferred maintenance needs affecting lands under the administrative jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture.
  • Ocean Acidification Innovation Act of 2017 (H.R.2882). Introduced June 12 by Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA), this bill would authorize federal agencies to establish prize competitions for innovation or adaptation management development relating to ocean acidification.
  • Climate Change National Security Strategy Act of 2017 (H.R.2908). Introduced June 15 by Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-MA), this bill would direct federal departments and agencies to perform certain functions to ensure that climate change-related impacts are fully considered in the development of national security doctrine, policies, and plans.
  • Resilient Federal Forests Act of 2017 (H.R.2936). Introduced June 20 by Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-AR), this bill would expedite under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and improve forest management activities on National Forest System lands, on public lands under the jurisdiction of the Bureau of Land Management, and on tribal lands to return resilience to overgrown, fire-prone forested lands.
  • H.R.2958. Introduced June 20 by Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), this bill would reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect the climate.
  • S.1417. Introduced June 22 by Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), this bill would require the Secretary of the Interior to develop a categorical exclusion for covered vegetative management activities carried out to establish or improve habitat for greater sage-grouse and mule deer.
  • H.R.3005. Introduced June 22 by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ), this bill would direct the Secretary of the Interior to establish a bison management plan for Grand Canyon National Park.

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From the Federal Register

Public Meetings:

Opportunities for Public Comment and Recommendations:

  • NOAA Proposed Incidental Marine Mammal Harassment and Take Authorizations
    NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service is requesting comments on five proposed incidental harassment authorizations to incidentally take marine mammals during geophysical survey activity in the Atlantic Ocean. The proposals come from ocean seismic survey companies seeking authorization to use seismic airguns for oil and gas exploration off the East Coast. Submit comments relevant to affected marine mammal species by July 6.
  • NOAA Washington Coastal Management Program Evaluation
    NOAA’s Office for Coastal Management within the National Ocean Service is soliciting comments on the performance evaluation of the Washington Coastal Management Program and will be holding a public meeting to solicit comments on June 27. Submit written comments by July 7.
  • NOAA NMFS Five-Year Review for Endangered Distinct Population Segment of Atlantic Salmon. The National Marine Fisheries Service is initiating a 5-year review for the Gulf of Maine distinct population segment (DPS) of Atlantic salmon, listed under the Endangered Species Act. The review takes into account the best scientific and commercial data available. Submit information on the Gulf of Maine Atlantic salmon DPS, particularly information on the status, threats, and recovery that has become available in the last five years, by July 20.
  • USFWS Draft Texas Multi-Species Recovery Plan
    The Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking review and public comments on the draft Texas Coastal Bend Shortgrass Prairie Multi-Species Recovery Plan that includes the slender rush-pea and South Texas ambrosia, two species listed as endangered under the Endangered Species Act. Submit comments by July 31.

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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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