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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IES Astronomy Glyph
House committee holds hearing on NASA human space exploration
Date: Wednesday, February 3, 2016
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology met on February 3 to outline steps for future human exploration on the Moon and Mars.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Federal Register - January 2016
Date: Monday, February 1, 2016

A list of notices from the federal register for January 2016 from agencies including the Department of the Interior, USGS, NOAA, NASA, and more.

 

U.S. Capitol
The Energy Policy Modernization Act heads to the Senate floor
Date: Friday, January 29, 2016
Last week the Senate began debate on the Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015, the first major package of energy legislation considered in Congress since 2005.

 

Natural gas pump
BLM proposes methane reform to 30-year-old oil and gas regulations
Date: Friday, January 22, 2016

The Bureau of Land Management is proposing an update to the 30-year-old regulations for oil and gas operations on federal and Native American lands.

 

Cracked road from earthquake
Oklahoma calls for a reduction in wastewater injection
Date: Thursday, January 14, 2016

Oklahoma experienced a 50 percent increase in earthquakes magnitude-3 or greater last year—up from 585 in 2014 to 881 in 2015.

 

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California
House passes bill blocking controversial stream rule
Date: Wednesday, January 13, 2016
On January 13, the House passed H.R. 1644, legislation blocking the implementation of the controversial Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement’s (OSMRE) Stream Protection Rule.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
House Science Committee marks up civilian nuclear energy bill
Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology has voted to approve the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (H.R. 4084), legislation aimed at increasing nuclear research within the Department of Energy (DOE).

 

The White House
January 2016 State of the Union from a geosciences perspective
Date: Tuesday, January 12, 2016

This January, President Obama delivered his final State of the Union Address to Congress.

 

Earth
Carbonate growth rings on rocks tell about North America’s climate past
Date: Monday, January 11, 2016

According to a new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences this January, growth rings on rocks may tell us about weather patterns from thousands of years ago.

 

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
DOE will work to craft a strategy to dispose of nuclear waste in 2016
Date: Monday, January 11, 2016

The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching an initiative to find a long-term solution for dealing with U.S. radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel.

 

IES Water Glyph
Science Advisory Board questions EPA hydraulic fracturing report
Date: Friday, January 8, 2016

In response to an EPA study on hydraulic fracturing, the agency’s Science Advisory Board (SAB), which provides independent scientific advice to the EPA, has submitted a critical draft letter expressing their concerns with the report’s findings.

 

Bingham Copper Mine
Abandoned Mine Reclamation Safety Act seeks to prevent pollution, increase worker safety
Date: Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rep. Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) has introduced a bill that would direct the Department of the Interior (DOI) to create environmentally responsible regulations for reopening abandoned mines.

 

Drilling rig
Oil and gas companies cutting production and workers
Date: Thursday, January 7, 2016

The price of oil fell to $38 per barrel in December 2015, leading to massive cuts in the industry’s budget and workforce.

 

U.S. Capitol with flag
Federal Register - December 2015
Date: Friday, January 1, 2016
A list of notices from the federal register for December 2015 from agencies including the Department of the Interior, USGS, NOAA, NASA, and more.

 

U.S. Money
Congress passes FY 2016 omnibus spending bill increasing funding for geosciences
Date: Friday, December 18, 2015

On December 18, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill providing funding for the federal government through September 30, 2016.

 

U.S. Capitol
Dr. Suzette Kimball confirmed as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey
Date: Friday, December 18, 2015

The Senate has finally confirmed Dr. Suzette M. Kimball as Director of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

 

Bingham Copper Mine
House Committee holds underground hearing on mining workforce, education
Date: Monday, December 14, 2015

On December 14, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a field hearing at an unconventional location, the underground classroom of the Edgar Mine at the Colorado School of Mines Experimental Mine in Idaho Springs, Colorado.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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).

 

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