115th congress

House and Senate committees hold hearings on PFAS chemical exposure

U.S. Capitol

Both the House and Senate held separate subcommittee hearings this month to address the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals used in a variety of applications such as firefighting foam and many household products. Prior to the two hearings, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the senior senator from Michigan, introduced two bills that seek to address the PFAS crisis.

President approves two minibus appropriations bills, continuing resolution for FY 2019

U.S. Money

President Donald Trump signed two spending bill packages into law this month, allocating funding for parts of the federal government through fiscal year (FY) 2019 and providing short-term funding for other agencies at FY 2018 levels until December 7, giving Congress more time to agree upon the final FY 2019 appropriations for those remaining agencies while avoiding a government shutdown before the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

House passes bill to establish Every Kid Outdoors program

Gold Panning

On September 12, 2018, the House passed the Every Kid Outdoors Act (H.R. 3186) to provide fourth grade students and accompanying individuals with free access to federally managed public lands and waters, including historic sites such as national parks. Introduced by Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), H.R. 3186 codifies the already-existing “Every Kid in a Park” initiative launched in 2015 by President Barack Obama under the Department of the Interior.

House passes bipartisan legislation to lease unused space in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve

Natural gas pump

The House passed the Strategic Petroleum Reserve Reform Act (H.R. 6511) on September 25, which would create a pilot program to lease underutilized storage facilities in the reserve to private entities. Under current policy, the Department of Energy (DOE) may only lease those facilities to foreign governments.

 

House Natural Resources Committee field hearing discusses nexus of energy and education

Study group

The House Committee on Natural Resources held a field hearing, entitled “Energy and Education: What’s the Connection,” on August 29, 2018, in Roosevelt, Utah. Chairman Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) led the hearing, which considered testimony from two panels of local stakeholders and aimed to explore energy development on federal lands as a potential revenue source for public education.

Bill encouraging private-public nuclear energy collaboration signed into law

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic

On September 28, President Donald Trump signed NEICA, the Nuclear Energy Innovation Capabilities Act (S. 97), into law after the House passed the bill by voice vote on September 13. The bill, sponsored by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID), encourages partnerships between the Department of Energy (DOE) and private companies to develop new nuclear energy technologies.

President signs bill authorizing DOE Office of Science

Geoscientist working in a wetland.

On September 28, President Donald Trump signed the Department of Energy Research and Innovation Act (H.R. 589) into law after the House passed the bill by voice vote on September 13. Originally sponsored by Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, H.R. 589 establishes the Department of Energy’s policies for science and energy research and development programs.

Earth Science Week 2018 Resolution Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives

Earth Science Week 2018 theme announcement

Earth Science Week, the worldwide celebration organized annually by the American Geosciences Institute (AGI), was formally recognized in a resolution introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The resolution, introduced by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), alongside Reps. Barbara Comstock (R-VA), Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Ryan Costello (R-PA) would designate the week of October 14-20, 2018, as Earth Science Week.

BLM releases management plans for lands associated with reduced national monuments in Utah

IES Soils Glyph

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released draft management plans on August 17 for the revised Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monuments that aim to provide more flexibility for the use and management of these public lands. Developed following President Donald Trump's removal of more than 2 million acres from the two Utah monuments in December 2017, the draft plans generally focus on maximizing resource development, recreation, and other uses, while still providing for resource protection. BLM is accepting public comments on the Bears Ears plans through November 15 and the Grand Staircase-Escalante plans through November 30.

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