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.
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.
On August 29, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke released a revised reorganization proposal to establish twelve unified regional boundaries for agencies and bureaus in the Department of the Interior (DOI). Discussed at a round table with Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT-1) in Utah on August 28, the plan is modified from the original restructuring proposal released in February, which was based solely on watershed boundaries.
Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), appeared before the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on August 1 to discuss the EPA’s priorities going forward under this administration. Wheeler assumed his current position after Scott Pruitt resigned on July 6. During the hearing, Wheeler emphasized the EPA’s focus on certainty and transparency, specifically in risk communication, enforcement and regulation, and communications with state and local governments.
On August 24, the nominees for director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and deputy administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) appeared before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Technology for a nomination hearing. Earlier in the month, the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works approved the nominee to Chair the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
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.
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.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a twelve-hour public hearing on July 17 to hear oral comments on the proposed rule entitled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” More than one hundred preregistered individuals presented testimony to a panel of EPA representatives. The comment period for the proposed rule ends on August 16, 2018.
At the end of June, Senate committees held hearings to consider nominees for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Christopher Fall, the nominee for director of DOE’s Office of Science; Daniel Simmons, the nominee for assistant secretary of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and Peter Wright, the nominee for assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management. On June 12, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Mary Neumayr to be the Chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) across federal agencies. To track the confirmation process of key geoscience presidential nominations from the Trump Administration, visit AGI’s Federal Nominations page.
On June 19, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13840, “Ocean Policy to Advance Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States,” revoking and replacing much of the previous administration’s ocean policy. E.O. 13840 seeks to improve interagency coordination on ocean-related matters, public access to data, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other stakeholders.