The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) released a report this month entitled, “Science and Technology For America’s Oceans: A Decadal Vision.” The report outlines the Trump administration’s goals to advance U.S. ocean science and technology in the coming decade.
The results of the November 6, 2018, mid-term elections will shape geoscience-related legislative priorities for the next two years and beyond. The Democratic Party won control of the U.S. House of Representatives, while the Republican Party retained control of the U.S. Senate.
Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), ranking member of the Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management Subcommittee, convened a field hearing titled “Local, State and Federal Response to PFAS Contamination in Michigan” in his home state on November 13. The hearing focused on the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
A bill to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) through fiscal year 2023 passed the House on November 27 and now awaits final approval by the President. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program Reauthorization Act of 2018 (S. 1768) serves as a follow-up to the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, which established NEHRP as the nation’s interagency platform for seismic hazards.
The House of Representatives passed the National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act (H.R. 4033) on November 13, sending the bill to the Senate where it currently awaits further action. The act, introduced by Representative Doug Lamborn (R-CO-5), reauthorizes the National Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) through fiscal year 2023 and provides for the Associate Director for Core Science Systems to replace the Associate Director for Geology as the chairperson of the geologic mapping advisory committee.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy met on November 29 to consider a series of energy-themed bills as Congress begins look toward the next session. The hearing considered fourteen pieces of legislation, including bills to provide for the full operations of a fast neutron nuclear reactor by 2025 and to change access to the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
No More Time to Waste: Moving Science to Action at Scales that Matter
In the last two decades, a significant fraction of the geoscience and global environmental sciences communities have seen a shift in thinking – from science as its own fundamental goal, to science for understanding change, to science that supports and drives action.
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.
President Trump signed America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (S. 3021), which includes the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA) of 2018, into law on October 23. The biannual WRDA legislation contained in S. 3021 authorizes investments in water infrastructure, including reauthorization of the Levee Safety Initiative and the National Dam Safety Program through 2023.
A subcommittee of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing on October 3 to gauge expert opinion on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science” proposed rule. The proposed rule directs the EPA to use “peer-reviewed information, standardized test methods, consistent data evaluation procedures, and good laboratory practices to ensure transparent, understandable, and reproducible scientific assessments.” Two witnesses testified in favor of the rule, asserting it would ensure timely scientific and administrative accountability, while a third witness expressed concern that the rule is focused on reducing regulations, not promoting transparent or sound science.