115th congress

Florida Representative Carlos Curbelo introduces controversial carbon tax bill

Drilling rig

Representative Carlos Curbelo (R-FL-26) introduced the first Republican carbon pricing bill in nearly a decade on July 23. The proposal, called the MARKET CHOICE Act (H.R. 6463), seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by imposing a federal tax on carbon, and to use the revenue to fund infrastructure modernization. It would also impose a rolling, performance-based moratorium on federal regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from sources covered by the carbon tax, and eliminate the excise taxes on gasoline and diesel fuels.

EPA Administrator resigns while other natural resources and energy nominations progress

U.S. Capitol with flag

Following numerous ethics investigations, President Donald Trump announced the resignation of Scott Pruitt as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on July 5, with Deputy Administrator Andrew Wheeler now as acting administrator. On July 18, President Trump nominated Lane Genatowski for Director of Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) in the Department of Energy (DOE), and Dr. Scott for Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics in the Department of Agriculture.

President Trump establishes workforce council and signs career and technical education bill into law

Geoscientist working in a wetland.

On July 19, President Donald Trump issued an Executive Order (E.O. 13845) establishing the President’s National Council for the American Worker. The council will develop recommendations for a national strategy to empower American workers. In late July, Congress passed and the President signed into law the Strengthening Career and Technical Education for the 21st Century Act (H.R. 2353). The act amends and reauthorizes the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 until fiscal year 2023.

White House directs research and development priorities for FY 2020 agency budget

Silhouette of an idealized head with radiating profile outlines, cogs inside to show that there are new thoughts being constructed.

The Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Mick Mulvaney sent a memorandum on July 31 to heads of executive departments and agencies highlighting the administration's research and development (R&D) priorities and providing guidance to agencies as they formulate their fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget submissions. The memorandum defined eight R&D priority areas and five R&D priority practices. Agency R&D budgets will be incorporated into the President’s annual budget submission to Congress in early February.

Senate committee discusses U.S. foreign dependence on critical minerals

IES Materials and Minerals Glyph

On July 19, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources convened a hearing on critical minerals. The hearing was held to review the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) recently published final list of critical minerals, which are minerals required for basic civilian and/or military manufacturing and with a supply chain vulnerable to disruption.

House Science Committee moves forward with the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act

Sun

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a full committee markup on July 24 to consider the Space Weather Research and Forecasting Act (S. 141), which passed the Senate by unanimous consent in May 2017. During the House markup, committee members offered three amendments to the space weather bill—two of which were agreed upon by a voice vote.

House subcommittees hold joint hearing to discuss fossil energy technology developments

Natural gas pump

On July 17, two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee – the Subcommittee on Energy and the Subcommittee on the Environment – held a joint hearing to discuss the future of fossil fuel as a primary energy source. The hearing also focused on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) partnerships with industry groups to develop technology that aids in the management of carbon dioxide.

Senate Commerce Subcommittee considers NOAA Blue Economy Initiative

Atlantic waves

The acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, appeared before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard on July 24 to answer questions about NOAA’s Blue Economy Initiative. At the hearing, Gallaudet also vowed that NOAA is committed to the climate and conservation elements of its mission.

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