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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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 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.

 

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.

 

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).

 

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.

 

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