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Lawmakers reauthorize NOAA Marine Debris Program

Atlantic waves

President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (S. 3508) into law on October 11. The Act reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022. It also strengthens certain Coast Guard requirements to promote safety in the maritime industry and promotes awareness and implementation of marine technology within the Coast Guard.

Senate Commerce Subcommittee considers NOAA Blue Economy Initiative

Atlantic waves

The acting administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Rear Admiral Tim Gallaudet, appeared before the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard on July 24 to answer questions about NOAA’s Blue Economy Initiative. At the hearing, Gallaudet also vowed that NOAA is committed to the climate and conservation elements of its mission.

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

U.S. Money

On May 17, the House Appropriations Committee approved the chamber’s fiscal year (FY) 2019 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R. 5952). The bill would provide $8.2 billion for NSF, which is $407.5 million more than the FY 2018 enacted amount; $5.2 billion for NOAA, a $750 million reduction from last year; $21.6 billion for NASA, an increase of $840 million; and $985 million for NIST, a decrease of $214 million.

Senate Commerce Committee discusses hurricane preparation and response capabilities

NASA hurricane satellite image

The Senate Committee on Commerce, Transportation, and Science held a hearing to examine the status of local and federal agencies’ recovery from the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, and ongoing preparation for the 2018 season. The hearing focused on the importance of disaster relief funds for local communities, as well as the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) investigation of the 2015 sinking of the US-flagged El Faro cargo ship.

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).

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. 

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.

Congress passes FY 2018 omnibus with record funding of geoscience agencies

U.S. Money

Congress passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill on March 23 that will fund the federal government through September 2018. The 2,232-page bill, entitled the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018, rejects the Administration’s proposed deep cuts to federal science agencies. Instead, many science agencies received increased funding, in part due to the increased budget authority for FY 2018 non-defense discretionary spending agreed to last month in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.

For more information on the federal budget process, including a more detailed programmatic funding analysis for geoscience-related agencies, please visit AGI’s Overview of Fiscal Year 2018 Appropriations.

National Academies release second decadal survey for earth observations from space

Earth

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.

Senate passes bipartisan ocean monitoring and research act

Ocean Core Sampling

On January 8, the Senate unanimously passed Senator Roger Wicker’s (R-MS) Coordinated Ocean Monitoring and Research Act (S.1425). The bipartisan bill revises and reauthorizes the Integrated Coastal and Ocean Observation System (ICOOS) Act of 2009, which established the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to consolidate and coordinate the efforts of hundreds of federal, state, and local observing programs through fiscal year (FY) 2021. In addition to reauthorizing the ICOOS Act, S.1425 promotes best practices regarding data sharing for public use, investment in autonomous unmanned underwater and surface ocean research vehicles, closing gaps in high frequency radar, and assisting Coast Guard search and rescue operations.

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