policy

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passes a series of disaster aid bills

Paricutín Volcano

Several disaster aid bills, including the Post-Disaster Assistance Online Accountability Act (H.R. 1307), Disclosing Aid Spent to Ensure Relief (DISASTER) Act (H.R. 1984), Federal Disaster Assistance Coordination Act (H.R. 1306), and H.R. 1311, were introduced in the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee beginning on February 15. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has also approved the National Public Infrastructure Pre-Disaster Hazard Mitigation fund, which will provide between $400 million and $600 million per year in grants for infrastructure investments in states that are most threatened by hurricanes, flooding, and other natural disasters.

House Appropriations Committee holds budget hearings for FY 2020

U.S. Money

Beginning on March 26, subcommittees of the House Appropriations Committee held a series of fiscal year (FY) 2020 budget hearings for agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Department of Energy (DOE), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). Administrators from each agency gave justifications for their budgets, which are derived from the White House’s FY 2020 budget plan, and laid out their agency’s priorities to be addressed in FY 2020.

House committee holds hearing on reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program

IES Oceans Glyph

On March 13, the House Financial Services Committee held a hearing on the reauthorization of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP was last reauthorized by Congress on December 21, 2018, authorizing the program through May 31, 2019. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), NFIP reauthorization gives Congress the chance to simplify this program and strengthen it financially so that it can effectively help individuals and communities to secure flood insurance.

House passes bipartisan bill to support energy efficiency in schools

Study group

On March 5, the House passed the Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2019 (H.R. 762), a bill that directs the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to provide a clearinghouse of information on programs and funding geared towards making schools more energy efficient.  The bipartisan bill, introduced by Representatives Matt Cartwright (D-PA-8) and Peter Welch (D-VT-AL) on January 1, would also include resources to help conceptualize and fund energy efficiency and retrofitting projects.

House subcommittee holds hearing on offshore energy policies at BOEM and BSEE

The Noble John Sandifer jackup rig

On March 6, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing to discuss the policies and priorities of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE), and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). Both BSEE and BOEM have been prioritizing the advancement of offshore energy to satisfy Executive Order (E.O.) 13795, “Implementing an America-First Offshore Energy Strategy,” which aims to reduce restrictions on the offshore drilling industry.

Natural Resources Committee investigates rollback of national monument protections

Capitol at night

The House Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on rollbacks of the Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments on March 13. The December 2017 proclamations authorizing the downscaling of the monuments followed a comprehensive review of 27 national monuments for potential reduction or elimination, as required by an executive order issued by President Trump in April 2017.

House holds hearing on maintaining U.S. leadership in science and technology

Geoscientist working in a wetland.

On March 6, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on maintaining U.S. leadership in science and technology (S&T). The hearing focused on science policy and heard from Dr. Marcia McNutt, president of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Patrick Gallagher, chancellor of the University of Pittsburgh, and Dr. Mehmood Khan, vice chairman and chief scientific officer at PepsiCo.

Senate introduces bipartisan bill to designate PFAS as hazardous substances

Atlean Lake in British Columbia

On March 1, the Environment and Public Works Committee introduced the PFAS Action Act of 2019, a bipartisan bill that would require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to classify per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) as hazardous substances within a year after the bill is passed. This declaration would expedite contaminated superfund remediation efforts by providing funds for cleanup efforts and charging polluters for remediation.

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