House Appropriations Committee approves funding for NASA climate monitoring

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May 17, 2018

In early-May, reports emerged that NASA canceled the Climate Monitoring Program (CMP). The $10 million program compiles climate data and observations of carbon sources and sinks to expand our knowledge of climate change in the short and long term. Through competitive research grants, the program has supported 65 projects since 2010, many of which have focused on the carbon sink potential of forests. Other projects included developing better monitoring techniques for greenhouse gases.

The fiscal year (FY) 2018 appropriations omnibus passed in March increased NASA’s budget, but failed to mention the CMP. In effort to preserve the program, on May 17, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a manager’s amendment to report language of the Science Appropriations Act of 2019 (H.R. 5952) that would designate $10 million for a climate monitoring system. The funds directed for a Climate Monitoring program would including competitive grants to help develop the capabilities necessary for monitoring, reporting, and verification of biogeochemical processes to better understand the major factors driving short and long-term climate change. A week before the House consideration of H.R.5952, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, sent a letter to the Senate Committee on Appropriations requesting support for the CMP in the FY 2019 spending bill.

On the same day the House spending bill was approved, newly confirmed NASA Administrator James Bridenstine clarified his opinions on climate change at an agency town hall, acknowledging that the climate is changing and that humans are playing a major role in it. He further mentioned to NASA employees that he will protect climate research from future cuts. According to a Government Accountability Office report released in April 2018, climate funding increased by $4.4 billion from FY 2010 to FY 2017 across nineteen agencies. In FY 2017 alone, the government spent $13.2 billion on climate related programs.

Sources: E&E News; Library of Congress; Politico Pro; Science Magazine; U.S. Government Accountability Office; U.S. House of Representatives.