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 3, Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA-48) introduced the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act of 2018 (H.R. 6650). NEHRP is a program that provides coordination and leadership in monitoring seismic activity, studying impacts, and improving earthquake resilience in communities nationwide.
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).
On August 28, the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard held a hearing on U.S. Harmful Algal Bloom (HAB) events and the status of the algal-bloom research, technology, and monitoring techniques. During opening remarks, senators highlighted the health, economic, and cultural impact impacts from HABs in Wisconsin, Alaska, and Florida.
On August 16, the South Carolina District Court ruled that President Donald Trump’s Executive Order 13778 to suspend the Obama Administration’s Clean Water Rule was in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act. Finalized in 2015, the Clean Water Rule—also called the Waters of the United States or WOTUS rule—clarified the scope of federal water protected under the Clean Water Act. The nationwide halt of the applicability date rule effectively reinstates the WOTUS rule in twenty-six states.
By the end of August, the Senate passed nine of their 12 appropriations bills, while the House – on recess in August – passed six. The bills passed by both chambers include funding for the Department of the Interior, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the Department of Energy, but only the Senate voted on spending for the Department of Agriculture. The two chambers must conference to negotiate mutually agreeable final language, then pass reconciled versions of the appropriations packages. Neither chamber has yet passed their Commerce, Justice, and Science appropriations bills.
On August 1, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation amended and advanced several bills including the Space Frontier Act (S. 3277), the Waterfront Community Revitalization and Resiliency Act (S. 3265), and the COASTAL Implementation Act (S.2242).
As an AGI Policy Program Intern, Bryce reported on federal geoscience policy for AGI’s Monthly Review, managed the program's social media content, and attended geoscience coalition meetings as a representative of AGI. Bryce also created and updated AGI website products, including the 2018 State Geoscience Information factsheets and Geoscience Policy Program Advisory Committee membership list. Bryce’s internship was supported by the Paleontological Society. After her time at AGI, Bryce will be interning at American Geophysical Union in the Talent Pool Program.
Bryce graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in Earth and Environmental Sciences and minors in Spanish and Environmental and Sustainability Studies. Bryce's research interests include investigating potential paleoecological indicators of anthropogenic influence, which she explored in her thesis on foraminifera mutations and heavy metal concentrations in the Bahamas. Outside of academia, Bryce also interned at Urban Green Lab, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public on science and sustainable living.
A summary of notices posted to the Federal Register by geoscience-related federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, and more.