policy

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.

President Trump nominates acting head of ARPA-E as the new Director of DOE Office of Science

Technology background

On May 24, President Donald Trump nominated Dr. Christopher Fall for the position of Director of the Office of Science at the Department of Energy (DOE). The DOE Office of Science is the nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences, supporting fundamental energy research at DOE laboratories and more than three hundred institutions of higher education in every U.S. state and the District of Columbia. Dr. Fall is currently the acting head of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E).

NASA launches robotic explorer to Mars and GRACE-FO Earth-monitoring satellites

Galaxy NGC 3310

On May 5, NASA successfully launched its first robotic explorer to conduct an in-depth study of the interior of Mars, along with two paired CubeSats, which are lower-cost, miniaturized satellites. NASA also launched an extension of the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellite mission on May 22 to monitor changes in surface and underground water on Earth.

House Appropriations Committee approves funding for NASA climate monitoring

Earth

In early-May, reports emerged that NASA canceled the Climate Monitoring Program (CMP). In effort to preserve the program, on May 17, the House Appropriations Committee unanimously approved a manager’s amendment to report language of the Science Appropriations Act of 2019 (H.R. 5952) that would designate $10 million for a climate monitoring system.

Senate passes bill to improve national volcano early warning and monitoring capabilities

Mount St. Helens

The Senate unanimously passed the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System Act (S. 346), sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), on May 17. The bill establishes the National Volcano Early Warning and Monitoring System, under the authority of the U.S. Geological Survey, to modernize and unify the current U.S. volcano monitoring network, including a data center and a national volcano monitoring office that is operational twenty-four hours a day and seven days a week.

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