Congress overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan package of more than one hundred public lands, natural resources, and water bills in February. The package, originally titled the Natural Resources Management Act (S. 47), includes measures to improve the nation’s volcano monitoring network, reauthorize the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, and permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Two bipartisan carbon capture bills were introduced in the Senate on February 7. First, the Carbon Capture Modernization Act (S. 407) was introduced by Senator John Hoeven (R-ND) to modify the existing tax credit for investment in clean coal facilities so that it would more effectively encourage the use of carbon capture and sequestration technologies. Second, the Utilizing Significant Emissions with Innovative Technologies (USE IT) Act (S. 383) was introduced by Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) to support carbon utilization and direct air capture research.
On February 8, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14) and Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a resolution proposing an economic stimulus program known as the Green New Deal. The resolution (H.Res. 109/S.Res. 59) calls for a complete overhaul of U.S. energy production infrastructure and sets a goal for meeting the nation’s energy demand with 100 percent renewable sources by 2030.
Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) reintroduced a bipartisan package of more than one hundred public lands, natural resources, and water bills, which they negotiated last year with their counterparts on the House Natural Resources Committee. The lands package—S. 47, the Natural Resources Management Act—was placed directly on the Senate calendar for expedited consideration. It contains measures to permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund, reauthorize the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, and improve the U.S. volcano monitoring network.
On January 2, the Senate confirmed a lengthy list of President Trump’s nominations by voice vote. Some of the confirmed geoscience-related agency nominees include Kelvin Droegemeier as director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, Daniel Simmons as assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy at the Department of Energy, and Teri Donaldson for inspector general at the Department of Energy. Mary Neumayr was also approved to head the Council on Environmental Quality and Alexandra Dunn to lead the Environmental Protection Agency’s chemicals office.
On January 18—day twenty-six of the government shutdown—the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Andrew Wheeler for administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Wheeler has served as the acting administrator since July 2018, following the resignation of former administrator Scott Pruitt in light of a series of ethics scandals. (UPDATE: On February 5, the committee voted 11-10 to advance Wheeler’s nomination, sending it to the full Senate for consideration.)
The White House released the second volume of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) on November 22, warning of potential damage to the U.S. economy, environment, and human health in the coming decades as a result of climate change.
The geosciences provide valuable knowledge and tools that can be applied to a wide range of community issues, including air and water quality; geologic hazards; the provision of energy, water, and mineral resources; climate and weather impacts; and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Geoscientists are commonly keen to see this science put into action, but there are many factors that affect how geoscience is perceived and used in community decision-making. Communities vary tremendously in size, location, culture, history, resources, governance, priorities, and needs. Effective engagement strategies take account of this diversity and employ a range of approaches to support communities and individual decision-makers with science that they can trust, understand, and use.
In this webinar, experts in geoscience communication, education, and engagement discuss a variety of different techniques, media, and principles for more effective communication and collaboration between community leaders, decision makers, and geoscientists. Particular attention is paid to three types of engagement: facilitating community-led solutions by connecting community leaders with geoscientists; incorporating community issues into college-level geoscience curricula; and using online platforms to provide geoscience information, resources, access to expertise, and opportunities for communities facing similar issues to share their experiences.