Policy News Briefs

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The Policy News Briefs page features an ongoing newsfeed of the most up-to-date geoscience policy information. Click on the topic(s) in the filter menu below to learn more!

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Atlantic waves
Legislators call for a halt to Atlantic seismic surveys
Date: Thursday, December 10, 2015

In a bipartisan letter addressed to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Reps. Mark Sanford (R-SC) and Bobby Scott (D-VA) called for a halt in seismic testing on the outer continental shelf of the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Writing hands
President signs bill strengthening K-12 STEM education
Date: Thursday, December 10, 2015
On December 10, the President signed the Student Success Act (S.1177) into law

 

Hawaiian flower
Sen. Sanders and others introduce bills supporting transition to clean energy
Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced two bills on investment in renewable energy tax credits and the state of jobs in the coal mining industry.

 

IES Water Glyph
House passes bill which bans the use of microbeads
Date: Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Microbead-Free Waters Act (H.R. 1321) passed the House by a voice-vote on December 7, 2015. H.R. 1321 attempts to lower the negative environmental impacts that synthetic microbeads have on water pollution.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Federal Register - November 2015
Date: Monday, December 7, 2015

A list of notices from the federal register for November 2015 from agencies including the Department of the Interior, USGS, NOAA, NASA, and more.

 

U.S. Money
NDAA includes provision supporting conference travel for scientists
Date: Friday, December 4, 2015

The fiscal year (FY) 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (S. 1356), which normally focuses on the Department of Defense, included provisions supporting scientific research and collaboration among all federal science agencies.

 

Drilling rig
House passes bill amending the Natural Gas Act
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2015

H.R. 8, or the North American Energy Security and Infrastructure Act, passed the House on December 3, 2015.

 

IES Water Glyph
House legislation introduced that will allow farmers tax breaks for water conservation
Date: Thursday, December 3, 2015

Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR) introduced the Groundwater Conservation Incentive Act (H.R. 4175) on December 3, which would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986.

 

IES Materials and Minerals Glyph
New DOE funding opportunity hopes to spur retrieval of rare earths and other critical materials from geothermal fluids
Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The Department of Energy (DOE) Geothermal Technologies Office announced funding for a new program to explore the potential for recovering rare earth elements and other critical materials from dissolved geothermal fluids and high temperature brines.

 

The White House
Update to USGCRP Strategic Plan published in the Federal Register
Date: Tuesday, December 1, 2015

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released a triennial update to their 2012-2021 strategic plan this December.

 

Galaxy NGC 3310
Congress approves legislation to legalize space mining
Date: Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The U.S. Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act (H.R. 2262) passed the Senate and House of Representatives and was signed into law by the President on November 25.

 

The White House
White House announces federal agencies’ greenhouse gas emissions targets for 2016
Date: Monday, November 23, 2015

The Obama Administration released an executive order today outlining new greenhouse gas emissions targets for federal agencies for 2016.

 

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration‘s (NOAA) map of sea surface temperature anomalies shows warmer surface water temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean during El Niño. Image Credit: NOAA
El Nino 101: Current Understanding and Challenges
Date: Monday, November 23, 2015

Join us for a congressional briefing to learn about El Niño. How does it form and what are the roles of the ocean and atmosphere? What impacts can be anticipated from the current event?What are the opportunities and challenges in understanding, monitoring, and predicting El Niño? A panel of leading experts will walk us through these questions and more.

Speakers:

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
Sportsmen’s Act approved by Senate Energy and Natural Resources includes amendment to renew LWCF
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee approved the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act (S. 556) on November 19.

 

Drilling rig
Senators introduce legislation that will finance carbon capture and storage projects
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Rob Portman (R-OH) introduced legislation on November 19, 2015 that allows industrial facilities to finance the purchase and installation of carbon capture and storage (CCS) equipment.

 

Boulder Dam, Hoover Dam
Energy from the Earth: Hydropower
Date: Thursday, November 19, 2015

Hydropower is the largest renewable energy resource in the United States and provided about 6 percent of total U.S. energy generation in 2014, according to the Energy Information Administration*. Washington, Oregon, New York, and California are a few of the top hydropower producing states but nearly all states generate at least some hydroelectric power. Research is helping to expand the variety of hydropower technologies, which are being deployed at a range of scales.

 

U.S. Capitol
Senate bill would increase tech transfer from DOE’s national labs to the marketplace
Date: Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) released a bill known as the Accelerating Technology Transfer to Advance Innovation for the Nation (ATTAIN) Act (S.___) on November 17.

 

Capitol at night
House passes legislation preparing the nation for an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) event
Date: Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Critical Infrastructure Protection Act of 2015 (H.R. 1073) passed the House on November 17; the bill aims to prepare the nation in the event of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP).

 

Technology background
DOE partners with cities and states to share energy data via open-source software
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Department of Energy, in collaboration with the National League of Cities and the National Association of State Energy Officials, is launching a data-sharing program aimed at enhancing energy efficiency in buildings and lowering costs throughout the U.S.

 

Hazards fire houses
White House Wildland Fire Science and Technology Task Force calls for increased communication about wildfire mitigation research
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Wildland Fire Science and Technology Task Force, chartered under the National Science and Technology Council’s Subcommittee on Disaster Reduction, released a report in conjunction with the Fire Chiefs’ White House Roundtable recommending better communication between federal agencies that gather research on wildfire mitigation and response and the people that use the research to inform policy makers.

 

The White House
President Obama rejects the Keystone XL pipeline
Date: Friday, November 6, 2015

President Obama announced his rejection of the construction of TransCanada Corporation’s Keystone XL pipeline this November.

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
House Science Committee leads investigations into NOAA climate study
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015
Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee is leading an investigation into the validity of a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) study claiming that a previously believed pause in global warming was in fact incorrect, and that the rate of warming over the past 15 years has been the same as the rest of the 20th century.

 

Excavator mining
Senate introduces hardrock mining legislation regarding cleanup royalties for abandoned mines
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015

Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and other Democratic senators introduced legislation requiring mining companies to pay royalties for abandoned hardrock mine cleanup efforts.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
Draft bill introduced to reform and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund
Date: Thursday, November 5, 2015

The House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT) released a discussion draft of legislation titled, the Protecting America’s Recreation and Conservation (PARC) Act, which aims to reform and reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF).

 

IES Materials and Minerals Glyph
Hearing on H.R. 3844 to establish energy and minerals reclamation foundation
Date: Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a legislative hearing on November 4 to review proposed mining actions, including two bills concerning Good Samaritan cleanups.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Federal Register - October 2015
Date: Saturday, October 31, 2015

A list of notices from the federal register for October 2015 from agencies including the Department of the Interior, USGS, NOAA, NASA, and more.

 

IES Water Glyph
Addressing the drought in the Western United States: What is Congress doing about it?
Date: Friday, October 30, 2015

The western United States is experiencing a historically persistent drought.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
New legislation would measure the economic impact of outdoor recreation in the U.S.
Date: Thursday, October 29, 2015

Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Cory Gardner (R-CO) introduced the Outdoor Recreation Jobs and Economic Impact Act (S. 2219) on October 29.

 

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
New NPS rule proposes updating regulations governing non-federal oil and gas production
Date: Monday, October 26, 2015

The National Park Service (NPS) has proposed a rule giving the agency greater oversight over the exercise of non-federal oil and gas rights on NPS land.

 

Capitol at night
Senate engages scientific community on America COMPETES bill
Date: Friday, October 23, 2015
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee recently concluded an outreach effort seeking feedback from the scientific community on the Senate version of the America COMPETES bill, which authorizes funding for the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy Office of Science, and other federal science programs.

 

Excavator mining
House passes bill that allows for faster acquisition of mining permits
Date: Thursday, October 22, 2015

The House passed the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015 (H.R. 1937) on October 22.

 

Excavator mining
House Subcommittee addresses issues of abandoned mine cleanups by Good Samaritans
Date: Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The House Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment held a hearing to gather information on abandoned mine sites in the United States and the opportunities for Good Samaritan cleanups.

 

U.S. Capitol
Senate Committee hearing on the nomination of Dr. Suzette Kimball for Director of the USGS
Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2015

On October 20, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing to consider the nomination of Dr. Suzette M. Kimball to be Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

 

Earth Science Week logo
Congressman Honda introduces Earth Science Week Resolution
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2015

Congressman Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced a resolution designating October 11-17, 2015 as Earth Science Week.

 

The White House
President signs the STEM Education Act of 2015 into law
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2015
On October 8, 2015 President Obama signed into law the STEM Education Act of 2015 (H.R. 1020).

 

U.S. Capitol
The Native American Energy Act passed House of Representatives
Date: Thursday, October 8, 2015
The Native American Energy Act (H.R. 538) passed the House of Representatives on October 8, 2015.

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
Informing the public of the science behind natural hazards
Date: Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The National Science Foundation (NSF) Directorate for Geosciences, NBC Learn, and the Weather Channel released a 10-part video series that delves into the science behind natural disasters.

 

U.S. Money
Continuing Resolution will fund the federal government through Dec 11
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Congress narrowly avoided another government shutdown this September, as lawmakers agreed on a short-term funding bill that will keep the government open at least through mid-December.

 

U.S. Capitol
New bill would draw on citizen science, crowdsourcing to solve national problems
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) has introduced a bill that would authorize and promote federal agencies to use citizen science and crowdsourcing to help solve problems within the federal government.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
Land Water Conservation Fund expired September 30
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Land Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a conservation program annually funded by royalties from offshore oil and gas production, expired on September 30, 2015.

 

U.S. Capitol
Hearing Oct 20 to consider the nomination of Dr. Suzette Kimball to be Director of the USGS
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced that it will hold a hearing on October 20 to consider the nomination of Dr. Suzette Kimball to be Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Federal Register - September 2015
Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

A list of notices from the federal register for September 2015 from agencies including the Department of the Interior, USGS, NOAA, NASA, and more.

 

Galaxy NGC 3310
NASA Orbiter may reveal liquid water on Mars
Date: Monday, September 28, 2015

In a recent mission, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) used an imaging spectrometer to detect chemical signatures of hydrated salts concentrated in dark streaks along slopes on Mars’s surface.

 

Sun
Vice President Biden and DOE announce funding for new SunShot Initiative
Date: Monday, September 21, 2015
On September 21, Vice President Joe Biden in coordination with the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the creation of a new initiative to fund solar research and development in the United States.

 

Natural gas pump
House Energy and Commerce Committee approves legislation to undo crude oil export ban
Date: Thursday, September 17, 2015
On September 17, The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved legislation amending the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (P.L. 94-163) to repeal the restriction on exporting crude oil in the United States.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
New Executive Order aims to improve federal programs with social science research
Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015

An Executive Order signed by President Obama on September 16 would direct federal agencies to identify programs that could benefit from social and behavioral science insights.

 

NASA hurricane satellite image
Congress reauthorizes the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program
Date: Wednesday, September 16, 2015

On September 16, Congress passed the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015 (H.R. 23), which now awaits President Obama’s signature.

 

The Geysers field in northern California boasts the largest geothermal complex in the world and the first successful demonstration of EGS technologies in the United States.
Energy from the Earth: Geothermal Energy
Date: Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Geothermal energy is a relatively untapped resource that could be a significant source of clean power for the United States in the future. According to the U.S. Geological Survey, heat from the Earth’s interior could fuel more than 10 percent of the nation’s current electrical generating capacity. The United States is already the world leader in geothermal energy production, accounting for 28 percent of the global installed geothermal capacity.

 

The White House
DOE releases 2015 Quadrennial Technology Review
Date: Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Department of Energy (DOE) released their second Quadrennial Technology Review (QTR 2015) this September.

 

Icebergs in Greeland
President Obama plans to accelerate the acquisition of a new U.S. icebreaker
Date: Tuesday, September 1, 2015

In order to keep up with increasing ship traffic in the Arctic Ocean, President Obama has announced his plan to accelerate the acquisition of a new heavy icebreaker for the United States.

 

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