Geoscience Policy Monthly Review
november 2013

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federal agencies & administration

National Plan for Observing our Earth

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) accepted public feedback on the new National Plan for Observing our Earth.  The plan incorporates all types of Earth observations, including ocean buoys, stream gauges, human surveys, and satellites. Building upon the President’s National Strategy for Civil Earth Observations issued in April 2013, this new plan will outline federal earth observation priorities including improved data management and coordinated data accumulation. Comments are due by December 6, 2013.

Sources: Federal Register, White House

Senate Committee advances multiple Obama nominees

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee advanced a number of President Obama’s agency nominees this November. Those approved include Kathryn Sullivan, nominee for Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Robert Simon, nominee for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Associate Director of Energy and Environment, and Jo Handlesman, nominee for the OSTP director of science. All three still must be confirmed by the full Senate before the process is complete.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) recently led Senate Democrats in invoking the “nuclear option,” thereby requiring only a simple majority (51 votes) as opposed to the customary supermajority (60 votes) to override filibusters attempting to block presidential judicial and executive-office appointments. Consequently, appointments may proceed more smoothly in the future.

Sources: E&E News, White House 

Nomination for Land and Minerals Assistant Secretary

President Obama announced plans to nominate Janice Schneider to Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management within the Department of Interior. If confirmed as Assistant Secretary, she would be responsible for public lands, offshore waters and federal energy and mineral resources. Schneider has been an environmental lawyer in the Environment, Land and Resources Department of Latham & Watkins LLP since 2005. She received a B.S. from the University of Miami and a J.D. with a Certificate in Environmental and Natural Resources Law from the Northwestern School of Law of Lewis and Clark College. The appointment awaits approval from the House and Senate.

Sources: The White House

Kornze nominated as Director of Bureau of Land Management

President Obama intends to nominate Neil Kornze to become the next Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Kornze has been serving as interim Director of BLM since March 2013. He moved to BLM in 2011 from a position as Senior Policy Advisor to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Kornze holds a degree in Politics from Whitman College and a master’s degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics.

Sources: Department of the Interior

Other Department of the Interior nominations

In further moves at the Department of the Interior (DOI), President Obama is nominating Rhea Suh to be Assistant Secretary for Fish and Wildlife and Parks, with responsibility for overseeing the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Suh is currently serving as Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget at DOI where she oversees budget, law enforcement and security management, human resources, and procurement. Suh previously worked at the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, as a consultant, and in the office of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell.

The President intends to nominate Tommy Beaudreau to take Rhea Suh’s position as Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget. Beaudreau is now the Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and leading the office of the Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management. Beaudreau was a partner in the low form of Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver and Jacobson LLP before joining DOI in 2010 as part of the reorganization of the former Minerals Management Service.

Both Suh and Beaudreau must be confirmed by the Senate before they can take up their new positions.

Source: Department of the Interior

Law intended to reimburse states for reopening National Parks

Lawmakers are attempting to pass legislation to reimburse states that funded the reopening of National Parks during the partial government shutdown that occurred October 1 through October 17 of this year. Proposed bills such as H.R. 3286 and S. 1572 would direct the Department of the Interior to reimburse states that paid to reopen National Parks in Arizona, Colorado, New York, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Utah. Though most lawmakers are in favor of the measure, opponents speculate whether states will demand automatic repayments in case of another shutdown.

Sources: Department of the Interior, E&E News

NASA and Amazon Web Services partner to bring Geoscience "Big Data" to the public

NASA and Amazon Web Services (AWS) are partnering to make NASA climate and Earth science satellite data available to users via AWS cloud. This effort by NASA is in line with the Obama Administration's Open Data Executive Order. The service encompasses certain NASA satellite and global change data sets such as temperature, precipitation, and forest cover. It will also include data processing tools from the NASA Earth Exchange (NEX), a platform that combines supercomputing, Earth system modeling, workflow management and remote-sensing data. The cloud allows researchers and educators to gain worldwide access to data sets, and information they can use independently, while reducing the time and cost associated with transferring large data sets.

Source: NASA & The White House