On July 17, two subcommittees of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee – the Subcommittee on Energy and the Subcommittee on the Environment – held a joint hearing to discuss the future of fossil fuel as a primary energy source. The hearing also focused on the Department of Energy’s (DOE) partnerships with industry groups to develop technology that aids in the management of carbon dioxide.
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.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) held a twelve-hour public hearing on July 17 to hear oral comments on the proposed rule entitled “Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science.” More than one hundred preregistered individuals presented testimony to a panel of EPA representatives. The comment period for the proposed rule ends on August 16, 2018.
Ryan Edwards earned his Ph.D. in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Princeton University. His research concentrated on improving understanding of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) and geological storage of carbon dioxide. Ryan also has a focus on energy and climate policy. He was a fellow with the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton, where he investigated pathways to accelerate deployment of carbon capture and storage, and he also led a team working on Princeton University’s carbon emissions reduction plans. Prior to moving to the U.S. from Australia, Ryan completed a B.E. in Civil and Environmental Engineering and B.Sc. in Geology at the University of Adelaide and worked as an engineer in the mining and natural resource management industries. Ryan is looking forward to gaining insight into the policy development process as the 2018-19 William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellow.
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.
The House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources discussed three bills that would boost offshore wind projects on June 26. One of the draft bills would amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to include a leasing program for offshore renewable energy. Another draft bill would expand the Act to pertain to U.S. territories, such as Guam. The third bill would create a federal grant program to train workers who want to transition to offshore wind from other industries.
At the end of June, Senate committees held hearings to consider nominees for the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): Christopher Fall, the nominee for director of DOE’s Office of Science; Daniel Simmons, the nominee for assistant secretary of DOE's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy; and Peter Wright, the nominee for assistant administrator of EPA's Office of Land and Emergency Management. On June 12, President Donald Trump announced his intent to nominate Mary Neumayr to be the Chairwoman of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), which oversees the implementation of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) across federal agencies. To track the confirmation process of key geoscience presidential nominations from the Trump Administration, visit AGI’s Federal Nominations page.
On June 19, President Donald Trump signed Executive Order (E.O.) 13840, “Ocean Policy to Advance Economic, Security, and Environmental Interests of the United States,” revoking and replacing much of the previous administration’s ocean policy. E.O. 13840 seeks to improve interagency coordination on ocean-related matters, public access to data, and engagement with marine industries, the science and technology community, and other stakeholders.
On June 25 and 26, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) hosted the 2018 State-Federal STEM Education Summit, bringing together education and science leaders from eighteen federal agencies along with more than two STEM leaders. Throughout the summit, stakeholder groups provided input for development of the upcoming Federal STEM Education Strategic Plan, which is required by the America COMPETES Act of 2010 (PL 11-358) to be updated every five years.
On June 21, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a plan to reform and reorganize executive branch departments and agencies of the federal government, following President Donald Trump’s March 13, 2017, executive order (E.O. 13781) intended to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and accountability of the executive branch. The plan outlines over eighty recommendations for structural realignment across the executive branch, including changes to geoscience-related federal agencies.