Geoscience Policy Monthly Review
june 2013

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natural hazards

House Committee holds hearing on windstorms

On June 5, 2013 the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittees on Research and Technology held a hearing to review the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2013 (H.R. 1786). The act, introduced by Randy Neugebauer (R-TX), would reauthorize the multi-agency National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP). It would additionally create a National Advisory Committee on windstorm impact reduction and transfer leadership of NWIRP from the Office of Science and Technology Policy to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Frederica Wilson (D-FL) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) objected to the bills 14 percent decrease in NWIRP funding. They have introduced the Natural Hazards Risk Reduction Act of 2013 (H.R. 2132), which would reauthorize NWIRP at a higher funding level and also reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).

Witness testimony highlighted the need for additional science and engineering research on windstorm impacts and mitigation, and explored ways of implementing research results to create more resilient communities.

Opening statements, witness testimonies, and an archived webcast of the hearing can be found on the committee's web site.

Capitol Hill Oceans Week in review

On June 4-6, 2013, marine professionals, government officials, and ocean enthusiasts from across the country converged on Washington, D.C., for a three-day conversation about ocean and coastal policy.

The first day’s discussion focused on improving natural disaster response and preparedness in coastal communities. Assistant Secretary of the Army Jo-Ellen Darcy called attention to a report that will be released by the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force this August, which will provide comprehensive recommendations for improving federal disaster response. Braxton Davis, director of the North Carolina Division of Coastal Management, emphasized the value of federal-state partnerships in addressing coastal hazards, such as the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Sea Grant program and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation Grant Program.

Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Dr. Kathryn Sullivan highlighted tools that make data accessible to decision-makers and the public, including NOAA’s Digital Coast, the Natural Capital Project’s InVEST, the White House’s Open Data Initiatives project, and the National Ocean Council’s data portal. Sullivan’s experience as an astronaut gave her a uniquely intuitive understanding of the importance of the world’s oceans. “With their very first glimpse out the window of a spacecraft, every single astronaut grasps a profound truth …that we are citizens of an ocean planet,” she reflected. 

 Dr. Kathryn Sullivan speaking
John Kemper, AGI Policy intern


Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, speaking at Capitol Hill Oceans Week 2013. 



House hearing on Marine Debris Emergency Act of 2013

On June 13, 2013, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs held a legislative hearing on H.R. 553, H.R. 1308, H.R. 1399, H.R. 1425, H.R. 1491, and H.R. 2219.

H.R. 553 would designate the exclusive economic zone of the United States as the “Ronald Wilson Reagan Exclusive Economic Zone of the United States.” H.R. 1308, the Endangered Salmon and Fisheries Predation Prevention Act, would amend the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 to reduce sea-lion predation on endangered Columbia River salmon.

H.R. 1399 would reauthorize the Hydrographic Services Improvement Act of 1998 and H.R. 2219 would reauthorize the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009.

H.R. 1425, the Marine Debris Emergency Act of 2013, would to amend the current Marine Debris Act to include the Marine Debris Emergency Act, which would expedite the NOAA grant process for acquiring funds to clean-up marine debris in the wake of a severe marine debris event, such as an earthquake or tsunami. H.R. 1499 would authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide certain funds to affected states for marine debris cleanup related to the March 2011 Tohoku earthquake and subsequent tsunami.