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.
President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (S. 3508) into law on October 11. The Act reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022. It also strengthens certain Coast Guard requirements to promote safety in the maritime industry and promotes awareness and implementation of marine technology within the Coast Guard.
The geosciences provide valuable knowledge and tools that can be applied to a wide range of community issues, including air and water quality; geologic hazards; the provision of energy, water, and mineral resources; climate and weather impacts; and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Geoscientists are commonly keen to see this science put into action, but there are many factors that affect how geoscience is perceived and used in community decision-making. Communities vary tremendously in size, location, culture, history, resources, governance, priorities, and needs. Effective engagement strategies take account of this diversity and employ a range of approaches to support communities and individual decision-makers with science that they can trust, understand, and use.
In this webinar, experts in geoscience communication, education, and engagement discuss a variety of different techniques, media, and principles for more effective communication and collaboration between community leaders, decision makers, and geoscientists. Particular attention is paid to three types of engagement: facilitating community-led solutions by connecting community leaders with geoscientists; incorporating community issues into college-level geoscience curricula; and using online platforms to provide geoscience information, resources, access to expertise, and opportunities for communities facing similar issues to share their experiences.
Both the House and Senate held separate subcommittee hearings this month to address the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals used in a variety of applications such as firefighting foam and many household products. Prior to the two hearings, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the senior senator from Michigan, introduced two bills that seek to address the PFAS crisis.
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.
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).
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.