RFG 2018 Conference

2018

House Science Committee advances NASA Reauthorization and STEM education and research bills

Earth

The House Science Committee held a full committee markup of two bills, the Innovations in Mentoring, Training, and Apprenticeships Act (H.R.5509) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2018 (H.R.5503). H.R.5509 directs NSF to provide grants for research about STEM education approaches and the STEM-related workforce. The NASA Authorization Act would reauthorize the agency for FY 2018 through FY 2019, and was intensely debated during the markup due to disagreements about language slashing the FY 2019 authorized funds for Earth Science.

Senate Appropriations Committee changes leadership after retirement of Mississippi Senator Cochran

Capitol at night

The Senate ratified the selection of Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) to chair the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee, following the resignation of former Senator Thad Cochran (R-MS) on April 1. Now the senior Republican member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Shelby replaced Senator Cochran as Chair of the Subcommittee on Defense and handed over his previous chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies to Senator Jerry Moran (R-KS).

Administrator Pruitt answers questions from House lawmakers at EPA FY 2019 budget hearings

U.S. Capitol

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt fielded an array of questions at back-to-back congressional hearings, which were originally intended to discuss the EPA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request of $6.15 billion, a $1.9 billion or 24 percent reduction from FY 2018 enacted levels. The hearings were peppered with questions regarding ethics issues, policy concerns, and parochial projects.

House committees discuss FY 2019 NOAA budget request

Icebergs in Greeland

Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, Ph.D., the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), testified at two House committee hearings about NOAA’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request. In the testimony, he stated that NOAA’s FY 2019 budget request of about $4.6 billion – a decrease of $1.3 billion or 23 percent below the FY 2018 omnibus enacted level – prioritizes investment in the core missions at NOAA. 

White House floats rescission of FY 2018 appropriations

U.S. Money

The White House and some Republican members of Congress are considering pursuing a rescission procedure to roll back some of the fiscal year (FY) 2018 funds that President Donald Trump reluctantly signed into law on March 23. The procedure provides an expedited process for the President to propose and Congress to pass a rescission resolution identifying appropriations that the administration does not want to spend. Regardless of whether the President officially initiates a rescission or Congress ultimately agrees to pass a rescission, some agency spending plans have already been delayed in anticipation. 

Cecilia Lopez-Gamundi

Cecilia received her B.S. in Geology from The University of Texas at Austin. As an undergraduate researcher for Dr. Mohrig and Dr. Kocurek, she worked on the Jurassic eastern Gulf of Mexico reconstruction project looking at areas of aeolian sand accumulation. Cecilia is currently finishing a M.S. in Geology at The University of Oklahoma with a focus in sedimentology and organic geochemistry under the guidance of Dr. Philp, Dr. Slatt, and Dr. Soreghan. Her thesis investigates the oxygenating potential of sediment gravity flows and their effect on basinal organic matter in Wolfcamp Formation, Midland Basin, TX. During her time at The University of Oklahoma, Cecilia participated in the Imperial Barrel Award and was the AAPG Secretary. As a Policy Intern at AGI, she enjoyed learning about energy and environmental federal policy including, carbon capture and storage and methane venting and flaring. This summer, Cecilia will return to Houston, TX for a third internship with BHP Billiton Petroleum before beginning her PhD in Marine Geology at the University of Miami’s RSMAS in August.

Federal Register: March 2018

The White House

A summary of notices posted to the Federal Register by geoscience-related federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and more.

NOAA and NASA launch second advanced geostationary weather satellite

Earth

On March 1, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) successfully launched the second in a new series of four highly advanced geostationary weather satellites. GOES-S was renamed GOES-17 on March 12 upon reaching its geostationary orbit 22,300 miles above the Earth, and will drift to its operational position at NOAA’s western geostationary location in late 2018. Working in tandem with the GOES-16 satellite currently operating at the eastern geostationary position since December 2017, the GOES-17 satellite will provide faster, more accurate, and more detailed data for detecting and tracking of tropical cyclones, volcanic eruptions, fire hot spots, and other natural hazards.

Oversight hearing focuses on the reclamation of abandoned hardrock mines

Excavator mining

On March 15, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing entitled “Abandoned Hardrock Mines and the Role of Non-Governmental Entities” to discuss the laws and procedures governing the reclamation of hardrock mines in the U.S. and highlight areas where reform is needed. A panel of expert witnesses at the hearing testified regarding the need for “Good Samaritan” legislation providing relief of the potential liability as well as funding to facilitate the cleanup of abandoned hardrock mines.

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