2018

House and Senate pass appropriations legislation funding FY 2019 Energy and Water Development

U.S. Capitol with flag

In June 2018, the House and Senate consecutively passed the Energy and Water, Legislative Branch, and Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations Act, 2019 (H.R. 5895) to make progress on the appropriations process before the fiscal year (FY) 2019 deadline of September 30, 2018. More FY 2019 appropriations bills are slated to be considered in July, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowing to shorten the Senate’s August recess to proceed with appropriations legislation and nominee confirmation.  

House subcommittee discusses federal land protections and designations in Montana and Utah

Salt marsh near Pescadero, California

The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Federal Lands held a hearing to consider several pieces of public lands legislation with potential impacts in Montana and Utah. Two of the bills would remove Wilderness Studies Area (WSA) designations from various lands in Montana managed by the Forest Service (USFS) and Bureau of Land Management (BLM), respectively. The Emery County Public Land Management Act of 2018 would establish a National Conservation Area, a National Monument, and wilderness areas in Utah, potentially affecting almost one million acres of land.

Senate Appropriations Committee approves NSF, NOAA, NASA, NIST, and OSTP funding

Capitol at night

The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved their Commerce, Justice, and Science fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations bill. Similar to the House bill, the Senate Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2019 (S. 3072) would increase funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) compared to FY 2018 levels, but decrease funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Lawmakers discuss the future of the International Space Station

Galaxy NGC 3310

In response to President Donald Trump’s request to terminate direct federal funding to the International Space Station (ISS) by 2025, lawmakers in the House and Senate held several hearings beginning in May and June 2018 to discuss the future of the ISS. The Senate Subcommittee on Space, Science, and Competitiveness held the first in a series of two hearings on May 16, and the second on June 6. The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology also held a hearing to discuss the ISS on May 17.

House Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee discusses oil and gas operations legislation

Natural gas pump

On June 6, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources considered four draft bills aimed at streamlining oil and gas production on federal lands. These bills support President Donald Trump’s executive order (EO 13783), “Promoting Energy Independence and Economic Growth,” to reduce regulations and processes that may hinder domestic energy development. On June 27, the committee approved three of these bills – H.R. 6087, H.R. 6107, and H.R. 6088 – on party line votes.

House and Senate committees approve FY 2019 Interior-Environment appropriations bills

U.S. Capitol

Both the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees on the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies approved their fiscal year (FY) 2019 appropriations bills to fund the Department of the Interior (DOI), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and other agencies. The House bill (H.R. 6147) directs $1.23 billion to DOI, an increase of $64.5 million compared to FY 2018 enacted levels, and the Senate bill (S. 3073) provides an increase of $30 million to DOI for a total of $1.20 billion.

Sexual harassment report released by the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine

Study group

The National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) released a report on the prevalence, nature, and impacts of sexual harassment of women in academic science, engineering, and medicine. The report concluded that organizational climate, including the degree of male-domination and tolerance for harassment, was the single most influential factor in the likelihood of sexual harassment occurring in an organization.

FERC commissioners recommend against subsidizing coal and nuclear power plants in oversight hearing

Nuclear power plant, Czech Republic
The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a formal oversight hearing for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on June 12, 2018, with all five commissioners present for the first time in a decade. FERC is responsible for regulating the interstate transmission of electricity, oil, and natural gas, and plays an integral role in reviewing proposals to build natural gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and providing licenses for hydroelectric power projects.

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