RFG 2018 Conference


National Academies release second decadal survey for earth observations from space


Last month, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released a report titled Thriving on Our Changing Planet: A Decadal Strategy for Earth Observation from Space. Commissioned by the civilian agencies involved with space-based Earth observations – the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the U.S. Geological Survey – the study identifies key science and application priorities for 2017-2027. The report calls for the overall U.S. government’s program of Earth observations from space to be robust, resilient, and appropriately balanced, and for federal agencies to ensure efficient and effective use of U.S. resources.

Secretary Zinke proposes reorganization plan for the Department of the Interior

U.S. Capitol with flag

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is moving forward with major plans to reorganize his department, which includes agencies such as the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. Geological Survey. Each of the nine agencies within the Department of the Interior (DOI) currently operate under separate and unique regional structures. The Secretary’s proposal would change this management structure by establishing unified regional boundaries for all Interior bureaus in an effort to reduce administrative redundancy, shift resources to the field, and improve interagency coordination.

House science subcommittee discusses sexual harassment and misconduct in science

U.S. Capitol

The House Science Subcommittee on Research and Technology convened a hearing titled “A Review of Sexual Harassment and Misconduct in Science” to review sexual harassment and other workplace misconduct in science. The hearing highlighted the need to reform workforce culture in the scientific sphere and showcased modern and relevant policies that federal agencies and scientific organizations are implementing to address harassment.

President Trump releases infrastructure proposal

The White House

In conjunction with the fiscal year (FY) 2019 budget request, President Donald Trump released his Legislative Outline for Rebuilding Infrastructure in America on February 12. The proposal asks Congress to act soon on infrastructure legislation that will stimulate at least $1.5 trillion in new investment over the next ten years, shorten the process for approving projects to two years or less, address unmet rural infrastructure needs, empower state and local authorities, and train the American workforce of the future.

Bipartisan expansion of tax credits for carbon dioxide sequestration signed into law

Excavator mining

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, signed into law by President Trump on February 9, contained language that provides tax incentives for carbon sequestration. The bill expands the carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) tax credits and allows new CCUS technologies, such as direct air capture (DAC), to qualify. This language was initially proposed in the FUTURE Act (S.1535) introduced by Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) on July 12, 2017.

U.S. District Court overrules suspension of Methane Venting and Flaring Rule as BLM proposes revisions

Natural gas pump

On February 22, the U.S. District Court for Northern California issued a preliminary injunction against suspension of the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) 2016 rule on Waste Prevention, Production Subject to Royalties, and Resource Conservation. The Obama-era rule seeks to reduce methane waste from venting, flaring, and leakage during oil and gas production on onshore federal and Indian lands. The latest court decision is one in a series driven by legal sparring between proponents and opponents of the measure, which began almost immediately after the rule was finalized.

House science subcommittee hearing explores mentoring, training, and apprenticeships for STEM

Writing hands

On February 15, the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology held a hearing to explore how participation in mentoring, training, and apprenticeship opportunities impact science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students and workforce development. In his opening remarks, Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX-21) emphasized the increasing STEM workforce demand and importance to the nation’s economic prosperity.


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