Policy News Briefs & Monthly Review

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AGI policy news briefs summarize geoscience policy activities and related events in Washington, D.C. Every month our news briefs are compiled into the Geoscience Policy Monthly Review digest, along with important announcements and opportunities, as part of a continuing effort to keep AGI member societies and other audiences informed about relevant federal policy and legislative updates.

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Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
Conference Committee Meeting held on the Energy Policy Modernization Act
Date: Thursday, September 8, 2016

House and Senate conferees for the Energy Policy Modernization Act met this September to discuss the progress they had made on reconciling the House (H.R. 8) and Senate (S. 2012) versions of the bill.

 

Flow of data
House Subcommittee on Space holds hearing on commercial remote sensing
Date: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Space held a hearing on September 7, which assessed how previous legislation has impacted the private sector’s ability to obtain licenses and data for commercial remote sensing purposes.

 

Drilling rig
California Court Orders Obama Administration to Conduct Fracking Review
Date: Tuesday, September 6, 2016

On September 6, the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California issued an order to the Obama Administration calling for further environmental review of the effects of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in California.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
Happy 100th Birthday to the National Park Service!
Date: Thursday, August 25, 2016

The National Park Service celebrated its centennial on August 25, 2016.

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
NOAA launches new computer model for flood forecasting
Date: Tuesday, August 16, 2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently launched its National Water Model (NWM), a new hydrologic model that the agency claims will yield the “biggest improvement in flood forecasting the country has ever seen.”

 

Hazards fire houses
Wildfire funding issue may be solved in energy conference
Date: Monday, August 15, 2016

Senators Mike Crapo (R-ID), Jim Risch (R-ID), and Ron Wyden (D-OR) spoke optimistically that a House-Senate conference committee can work to resolve differences on the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act of 2016 (S. 2012 & H.R. 8).

 

Natural gas pump
BLM, industry, and interest groups spar over public land lease sales
Date: Friday, August 12, 2016

The Western Energy Alliance (WEA) filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for New Mexico to challenge the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for not holding quarterly oil and gas lease sales.

 

The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
Thirteen states sue over EPA methane rule
Date: Thursday, August 11, 2016

Thirteen states have sued the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over three new updates to the New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) under the President’s Climate Action Plan: Strategy to Reduce Methane Emissions and the Clean Air Act.

 

Drilling rig
EPA Science Advisory Board concerned over hydraulic fracturing conclusions
Date: Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) released its final report assessing EPA’s recent study of potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on drinking water resources.

 

Excavator mining
Interior Department recommends states move away from self-bonding
Date: Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) has issued guidance suggesting that states move away from self-bonding, or the act of putting aside cash, bonds, or other securities for mining reclamation using their current financial health as collateral.

 

The White House
President Obama appoints new official to Arctic post
Date: Friday, August 5, 2016

President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint Dr. Jackie Richter-Menge to the United States Arctic Research Commission (USARC).

 

Atlantic waves
UNESCO and IUCN issue report calling for the creation of oceanic World Heritage Sites
Date: Friday, August 5, 2016

The United National Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Centre and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) are calling for the creation of the first oceanic World Heritage Sites.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
Webinar explores proposed nuclear waste storage solutions
Date: Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Council of State Governments’ (CGS) Southern and Midwestern Legislative Conferences hosted a webinar to explore nuclear waste storage solutions.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
House Natural Resources panel considers renewable energy on public lands
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing to discuss the Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R.2663), a bipartisan bill with 67 cosponsors that was introduced by Rep. Paul Gosar (R-AZ) in 2015.

 

Bingham Copper Mine
Hearing to revise Superfund implementation for first time since enactment
Date: Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The House Environment and the Economy Subcommittee held a hearing to examine implementation of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund.

 

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
Solving western water supply problems remains an ongoing debate
Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The House Natural Resources Committee on Water, Power, and Oceans Subcommittee met to discuss conflicting proposals between the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) on water release from the Shasta Dam.

 

Ice Fields Parkway, Alberta, Canada
Hearing calls for investment in Coast Guard capabilities in the Arctic
Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on the Coast Guard’s Arctic capabilities led by Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-CA).

 

Mount St. Helens
Briefing highlights role of geoscience in reducing lahar hazards
Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Hazards Caucus Alliance, a network of organizations that promotes nationwide natural disaster resilience, held a briefing to highlight the role that science plays in protecting communities that are vulnerable to lahars.

 

U.S. Capitol
Senator introduces bill to promote energy research and cut wind tax credits
Date: Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced a bill (S. 3169) that would authorize new basic energy research funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science programs by eliminating the long-standing wind production tax credit (PTC) that has helped to expand wind power production in recent years.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
House passes two energy research bills
Date: Monday, July 11, 2016

The Solar Fuels Innovation Act (H.R.5638) and the Electricity Storage Innovation Act (H.R.5640) passed the House by voice vote this July. The bills, which require the Department of Energy (DOE) to carry out two new basic research initiatives, received bipartisan support.

 

Icebergs in Greeland
Obama Administration releases new set of rules to govern offshore exploratory drilling in the Arctic
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016

The Department of the Interior (DOI) released their final Arctic Rule regulating exploratory drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

 

Bingham Copper Mine
House approves bill to help clean up abandoned mines
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016

With supermajority approval, the House Chamber passed the Bureau of Land Management Foundation Act (H.R. 3844) to address the issue of acid mine drainage from an estimated 500,000 abandoned mine operations in the U.S.

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
House Science Committee hearing focuses on NOAA and DOD satellites
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016

The House Committee on Science, Space, & Technology held a hearing to discuss the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Department of Defense’s (DOD) current and future satellite missions.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
Hearing addresses the future of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site
Date: Thursday, July 7, 2016

The House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment and the Economy held a hearing led by Subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-IL) and Subcommittee Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-NY) to gather information in order to move forward with federal licensing of a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.

 

The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
Interior Department may move offshore oil and gas lease sales online
Date: Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on the Innovation in Offshore Leasing Act (H.R. 5577).

 

Writing hands
Senate committee passes COMPETES successor
Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation held a markup of the American Innovation and Competitiveness Act (S. 3084) and a number of other bills on June 29.

 

IES Water Glyph
Hearing to address contentious tribal water rights issues
Date: Wednesday, June 29, 2016

The Senate Indian Affairs Committee held a hearing led by Chairman John Barrasso (R-WY) to discuss bills addressing contentious tribal water rights in Montana and Arizona (S. 3013 and S. 2959) and repealing obsolete laws relating to Native Americans (S. 2796).

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
National Academies Roundtable holds forum and workshop on community resilience
Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2016
The ResilientAmerica Roundtable held their State of Resilience Leadership Forum and Community Workshop, aimed at assessing the current state of resilience on a variety of scales.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
Senate Subcommittee holds hearing on federal sage grouse conservation plans
Date: Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Senate Subcommittee on Public Lands, Forests, and Mining held a hearing to evaluate the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) sage grouse conservation amendments and address concerns over the incorporation of individual state plans to the federal initiative.

 

Hazards fire houses
Senate committee hears testimony on wildfire budgeting and management draft
Date: Friday, June 24, 2016

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened to receive testimony on the Wildfire Budgeting, Response, and Forest Management Act (S. ___) put forward by Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-WA).

 

Drilling rig
U.S. District Court rejects BLM authority to regulate fracking on public and tribal lands
Date: Friday, June 24, 2016

The U.S. District Court for Wyoming ruled that the Department of the Interior (DOI) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have no authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing, commonly known as “fracking,” on public and tribal lands.

 

Earth
Council of Economic Advisers releases report on coal leasing on federal lands
Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) released a report entitled, "The Economics of Coal Leasing on Federal Lands: Ensuring a Fair Return to Taxpayers".

 

Writing hands
Committee questions science and accountability at EPA
Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held an oversight hearing this June to examine the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scientific integrity and accountability.

 

U.S. Capitol
Briefing underscores the importance of earth science data in decision making
Date: Wednesday, June 22, 2016

The Advances in Earth Science Coalition, a group of professional geoscience societies and federal agencies, held a briefing to discuss how earthquake, air quality, and environmental data can inform policy making on natural resource management and disaster preparedness.

 

Atlantic waves
CBO reports cost of Senate Water Resources Development Act
Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report outlining the projected costs of the Senate’s reauthorization of the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). CBO projects the bill will cost an estimated $10.6 billion over the next decade.

 

The White House
White House press release on Obama and Holdren’s science legacy
Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Nearing the end of President Obama’s second term, the Office of Press Secretary has released an impact statement listing 100 Examples of President Obama’s Leadership in Science Technology and Innovation.

 

Natural gas pump
Proposed BLM planning rule faces criticism in Senate
Date: Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Director, Neil Kornze, faced tough questions during a Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee hearing this June, where committee members were able to question him about the agency’s new Planning 2.0 rule.

 

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
President Obama celebrates 100th anniversary of NPS
Date: Monday, June 20, 2016

President Barack Obama celebrated the National Park Service’s (NPS) upcoming 100th anniversary at Yosemite National Park this June. The Obama Administration and House and Senate Appropriations Committees have included language in their budgets to increase funding for NPS in FY 2017.

 

Hawaiian flower
International Resource Panel releases report on land resource management
Date: Monday, June 20, 2016

The International Resource Panel’s (IRP) working group on Land and Soils released a report outlining tools and policies for utilizing land resources sustainably into the future.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
House approves bill to reform NSF facilities management
Date: Friday, June 17, 2016

The House Committee on Science Space and Technology voted overwhelmingly to pass the NSF Major Research Facility Reform Act of 2016 (H.R. 5049).

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
NOAA experts give monthly update on U.S. and global climate conditions
Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) held their Monthly Climate Briefing telecast summarizing NOAA’s May U.S. and global climate analyses, monthly and seasonal forecasts, and the outlook for La Niña development.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
House and Senate Committees pass FY 2017 Interior and Environment appropriations bills
Date: Thursday, June 16, 2016

The House and Senate Appropriations Committees each passed their fiscal year (FY) 2017 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies appropriations bills this June, allocating funding for BLM, BOEM, BSEE, EPA, NPS, the Smithsonian Institution, and USGS from October 1, 2016 through September 30, 2017.

 

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
Senate CST Committee passes Coastal Coordination Act of 2016
Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held an executive session to consider the Coastal Coordination Act of 2016 (S. 3038), which would update and reauthorize the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
Hearing highlights the status of research on new energy technologies
Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The House Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing to discuss emerging energy technologies in the United States.

 

Writing hands
Córdova reveals nine big ideas for the National Science Foundation
Date: Tuesday, June 14, 2016

France Córdova, Director of the National Science foundation (NSF), recently released a research vision for NSF centered on nine ‘big ideas” after a two-day offsite planning retreat for the agency’s leadership in April.

 

Writing hands
Women chosen to lead National Science Board
Date: Friday, June 10, 2016
The National Science Board (NSB) recently announced the election of Dr. Maria Zuber as chair and Dr. Diane Souvaine as vice chair.

 

U.S. Supreme Court building
Hearing highlights implications of Supreme Court stay of the Clean Power Plan
Date: Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on the implications of the U.S. Supreme Court stay of the President’s Clean Power Plan (CPP).

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
Encouraging private sector partnerships with NOAA in weather forecasting
Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee, Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing to discuss how partnerships between the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the private sector can be strengthened to improve weather forecasting.

 

Atlantic waves
CHOW 2016 includes a panel on changing offshore energy portfolios
Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Inspired by recent milestones in domestic offshore wind energy and persistently low oil and gas prices, Capitol Hill Ocean Week (CHOW 2016) included a panel on potential changes to U.S. offshore energy portfolios.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
U.S. and China embark on a R2ZE
Date: Friday, June 3, 2016

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and China’s Minister of Transport Yang Chuantang announced new efforts to reduce emissions from city bus fleets.

 

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