Policy News Briefs

PDF versionPDF version

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!

Subscribe to the Policy Monthly Review.
Subscribe to our Policy News Briefs RSS feed.

Use a comma to filter by multiple years
Use a comma to filter by multiple months
Hazards fire houses
Senators urge Congress to reform budgeting for wildfire suppression
Date: Friday, August 28, 2015

Senators on both sides of the aisle have urged Congress to reform the nation’s budgeting for wildfire suppression, which currently requires the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to use funds from fire prevention and non-fire programs when fire suppression funding runs dry.

 

IES Materials and Minerals Glyph
Court affirms decision to strike down SEC conflict mineral rule
Date: Tuesday, August 18, 2015

On August 18, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit voted 2–1 to affirm its prior decision to strike down a regulation in the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) conflict mineral rule.

 

Natural gas pump
DOI approves drilling for oil in Chukchi Sea
Date: Monday, August 17, 2015
The Department of the Interior (DOI) approved Royal Dutch Shell PLC to drill for oil in the Chukchi Sea off the northwest coast of Alaska on August 17.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Senate confirms nominees to two DOE posts
Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2015
The Senate confirmed Monica Regalbuto as Assistant Secretary for Environmental Management and Jonathan Elkind as Assistant Secretary for International Affairs at the Department of Energy (DOE) on August 5.

 

The White House
Administration announces nominations for DOE and NSF posts
Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2015

President Obama announced the nomination of Cherry Murray as Director of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Science and Richard Buckius as Deputy Director for the National Science Foundation (NSF) on August 5.

 

Hazards fire houses
Report: USFS spending more than half of its budget to fight wildfires
Date: Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The U.S. Forest Service (USFS) released a report on August 5 detailing the impacts of increasing costs of fighting wildfires on its non-fire work.

 

Earth
Administration releases final carbon rules for Clean Power Plan
Date: Monday, August 3, 2015

August 3, 2015

 

Capitol at night
Energy and Natural Resources Committee passes comprehensive energy bill
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015

On July 30, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee passed its Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 (S.___), which addresses energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, and government funding and oversight.

 

Technology background
House bill would require NSF research grants to provide national interest justification
Date: Thursday, July 30, 2015
Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) introduced the Scientific Research in the National Interest Act (H.R. ___) on July 30. The bill would require all National Science Foundation (NSF) grants to provide a non-technical explanation of the purpose of their research and explain how it serves the national interest.

 

Atlean Lake in British Columbia
California senators unveil drought relief bill
Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 29, 2015

 

Icebergs in Greeland
USGS releases five-year plan to study Arctic
Date: Tuesday, July 28, 2015

On July 28, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released its 2015-2020 plan for the Arctic region, focusing on coastal erosion and its effect on coastal communities.

 

Icebergs in Greeland
House Committee hears Coast Guard testimony on Arctic icebreakers
Date: Monday, July 27, 2015
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing on July 27 on the National Icebreaker Fund Act (H.R. 3214), which would fund construction and renovation of icebreakers as well as government leases on privately owned vessels.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
House hears testimony on EPA Brownfields program
Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

On July 22, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water Resources and Environment heard testimony on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Brownfields and Land Revitalization Program and discussed potential improvements to the initiative.

 

IES Water Glyph
House Committee hears testimony on Administration's proposed "social cost of carbon" rule
Date: Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on July 22 to assess a proposed standard from the Environmental Protection Agency known as the social cost of carbon (SCC).

 

IES Water Glyph
House passes California drought relief bill despite Administration veto threat
Date: Thursday, July 16, 2015
On July 16, the House passed the Western Waters and American Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 2898), largely along party lines. The bill addresses drought by laying the groundwork for new water storage projects in California and loosens environmental restrictions in the state.

 

Natural gas pump
House Subcommittee hears testimony on BLM hydraulic fracturing regulations
Date: Wednesday, July 15, 2015

At a July 15 hearing held by the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, Neil Kornze, Director of the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), testified on BLM’s proposed regulations for hydraulic fracturing on federal and tribal lands.

 

The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig
OCS seismic surveying hearing underscores differences in scientific opinion
Date: Tuesday, July 14, 2015
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources heard testimony from industry representatives and academics on the permitting process for seismic surveys to prospect for oil and gas.

 

Earth
Senate Committee hears testimony on America's role in the UN Climate Conference
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On July 8, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee heard testimony on the Administration’s plans for the 2015 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris. As part of the conference, the Obama Administration intends to commit America to reducing carbon emissions by 26 percent by 2025.

 

Mammatus clouds that are usually associated with thunderstorms.
Oversight hearing on "the Helium Stewardship Act and the path forward"
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Witnesses

Anne-Marie Fennell

Director, Natural Resource and Environment Team

Government Accountability Office

Dr. William Halperin

Professor of Physics, Northwestern University

David Joyner

President, Air Liquide Helium America, Inc.

Walter Nelson

General Manager, Global Helium Air Products & Chemicals. Inc.

 

Flow of data
Senate Committee seeks stakeholder input in preparation for COMPETES reauthorization
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015
Following the House’s move in May to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, the Senate has announced their intention to draft a version of the bill by this fall.

 

Technology background
House Committee reviews success of Helium Stewardship Act
Date: Wednesday, July 8, 2015

On July 8, the House Natural Resources subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing reviewing the year-old Helium Stewardship Act’s (HSA) implementation.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
House Natural Resources subcommittee holds hearing on National Critical Minerals bill
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals heard testimony mostly in favor of H.R. 1937, the National Critical Minerals Act (NCMA), on June 25.

 

IES Water Glyph
House bill addresses water infrastructure and drought mitigation in California and the West
Date: Thursday, June 25, 2015

On June 25, Representative David Valadao (R-CA) introduced H.R. 2898, entitled the “Western Water and American Food Security Act,” in an effort mitigate the impacts of the drought in California and other Western states.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Energy Information Administration testifies on EPA Clean Power Plan to House Science, Space, and Technology subcommittees
Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On June 24, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittees on Energy and the Environment held a joint hearing on the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) on the energy sector. The hearing focused on a new Energy Information Administration (EIA) report on the effectiveness of the CPP.

 

U.S. Supreme Court building
BLM's new hydraulic fracturing rules postponed pending court decision
Date: Wednesday, June 24, 2015

A federal judge for the U.S. District Court of Wyoming has placed a hold on the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) new rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal lands.

 

IES Rocks and Landforms Glyph
House Interior and Environment Subcommittee approves FY 2016 Interior and Environment bill
Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
On June 16, the House Appropriations committee approved the fiscal year (FY) 2016 appropriations bill setting funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Bureau of Land Management, and others by a 30-21 vote.

 

Capitol at night
Senate Appropriations passes Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill
Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a $30 billion spending bill for Interior, Environment, and related agencies, which contains cuts to EPA funding.

 

Icebergs in Greeland
House Natural Resources subcommittee holds hearing on proposed Arctic drilling regulations
Date: Tuesday, June 16, 2015
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight hearing on “Arctic Resources and American Competitiveness” to discuss exploratory oil and gas drilling on the Arctic Outer Continental Shelf (OCS).

 

Natural gas pump
Energy from the Earth: Oil and Natural Gas
Date: Friday, June 12, 2015

Geoscience information can be used by federal, state, and local decision makers to assess the positive and negative impacts of onshore oil and gas energy resource development, and to inform policy to both facilitate U.S. energy production and minimize impacts on water and land resources.

In this briefing, the speakers will address key questions that geosciences help to inform, such as:

 

Capitol at night
Senate Appropriations passes FY 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies bill
Date: Thursday, June 11, 2015
On June 11, the Senate Appropriations Committee passed its Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) funding bill for fiscal year (FY) 2016, one week after the House passed its own CJS bill.

 

Drilling rig
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee holds series of hearings on massive energy legislation package
Date: Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On June 9, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee completed its series of four hearings related to a new energy bill spearheaded by Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). Legislators on both sides of the aisle have proposed 114 bills spanning energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, and accountability and reform to be considered as a part of Murkowski’s larger energy legislation package, which she hopes to have completed before the end of the summer.

 

Excavator mining
House bill would fund research into raw materials that fuel energy innovation
Date: Monday, June 8, 2015
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) introduced The Securing Energy Critical Elements and American Jobs Act of 2015 (H.R. 2687) on June 8 to support research on Energy Critical Elements (ECEs).

 

IES Soils Glyph
Senate Committee assesses drought conditions in 11 Western States
Date: Tuesday, June 2, 2015
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on June 2 to assess drought conditions and water challenges in the western United States.

 

IES Astronomy Glyph
NOAA reports potential coverage risk for U.S. weather data
Date: Monday, June 1, 2015

According to a report from the Department of Commerce’s Inspector General, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) weather satellites could be vulnerable for the next 29 months due to construction delays.

 

Drilling rig
Oklahoma passes law prohibiting outright bans on hydraulic fracturing
Date: Monday, June 1, 2015

On May 29, Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin signed a bill into law restricting municipalities from regulating oil and gas activities in their jurisdictions.

 

Natural gas pump
Maryland imposes 2-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing
Date: Saturday, May 30, 2015
With the passage of a new bill, the state of Maryland will not allow hydraulic fracturing until October 1, 2017.

 

IES Water Glyph
NOAA opens $24.5 million National Water Center in Alabama
Date: Tuesday, May 26, 2015
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) opened its new National Water Center on The University of Alabama campus on May 26.

 

U.S. Money
Senate Appropriations Committee approves FY 2016 Energy and Water bill
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015
The Senate Appropriations Committee met on May 21 to mark up the fiscal year (FY) 2016 energy and water development funding bill. The bill that passed the committee totals $35.4 billion, $1.2 billion above the FY 2015 enacted level and $668 million below the President’s request.

 

Galaxy NGC 3310
Asteroid mining bill passes the House
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015

The House passed the Spurring Private Aerospace Competitiveness and Entrepreneurship Act (SPACE) of 2015 on May 21, which is designed to facilitate exploration and exploitation of space resources by American businesses.

 

IES Water Glyph
Senate Appropriations Committee finalizes Interior, Environment spending levels for FY 2016
Date: Thursday, May 21, 2015

On May 21, the Senate Appropriations Committee allocated $30.01 billion to the Subcommittee on Interior, Environment and Related Agencies to cover funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), U.S. Forest Service, and other agencies for fiscal year (FY) 2016.

 

Earth
House Appropriations Committee passes CJS FY 2016 spending bill with cuts to NOAA and NASA programs
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The House Appropriations Committee passed the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (CJS) spending bill for fiscal year (FY) 2016 by voice vote on May 20.

 

Capitol at night
House spending bill cuts NSF funding to Geoscience Directorate
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
On May 20, the House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year (FY) 2016 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies spending bill with language setting directorate-level funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a change from current agency-level funding.

 

Drilling rig
Bicameral push would give DOI discretion over pipeline permits through national parks
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Members of the House and Senate have introduced bills that would give the Department of the Interior (DOI) authority over natural gas pipeline permitting on federal lands in lieu of congressional oversight.

 

Capitol at night
Senate bill would increase DOE basic energy research funding
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Senate bill (S. 1398) introduced on May 20 would provide an alternative to the energy research funding levels proposed in the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015, which passed the House on May 19.

 

Mammatus clouds that are usually associated with thunderstorms.
House passes Weather and Forecasting Innovation Act
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
On May 20, the House passed the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act (H.R.1561) which would fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) research on storm forecasting and early warning systems.

 

IES Water Glyph
Bureau of Reclamation sends $50 million to water-starved Western states for water conservation
Date: Wednesday, May 20, 2015
The Department of the Interior announced on May 20 that $50 million from the Bureau of Reclamation’s WaterSMART grants will be sent to 12 drought-stricken states for water reclamation and reuse facilities, recycling and desalination programs, and water and energy infrastructure and efficiency initiatives.

 

Natural gas pump
Texas law restricts local laws regarding oil and gas
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Texas governor Greg Abbott signed TX HB 40 into law on May 19 in an effort to create continuity in oil and gas restrictions across the state.

 

Drilling rig
Murkowski, Heitkamp introduce Senate bill to allow crude oil exports
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

One week after introducing the Energy Supply and Distribution Act of 2015 (S. 1312), which would lift the US ban on exporting its crude oil to other nations, Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have introduced a second, more focused bill on the issue.

 

Capitol at night
Federal science bill passes House amid funding debate
Date: Tuesday, May 19, 2015

On May 19, the House voted to approve the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2015 (H.R. 1806).

 

Excavator mining
Murkowski bill to overhaul minerals and mining regulations
Date: Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On May 12, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee (ENR) held a hearing to consider the American Mineral Security Act of 2015 to increase support for minerals science, information, and forecasting within the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) Mineral Resources Program.

 

Pages

-------------- ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------ ---------------- ------------