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Energy and Environment Subcommittee - H.R. 2407

Monday, June 15, 2009 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Opening Statement By Chairman Brian Baird

This morning the Subcommittee meets to consider the National Climate Service Act of 2009. I want commend Chairman Gordon for his work on this bill and his leadership in climate and ocean issues.

Witnesses at our Subcommittee hearing last week provided a good overview of the different organizations engaged in the development and delivery of climate service products. We also heard from several witnesses whose organizations utilize climate information in their day-to-day management decisions, operations, and planning.

In a climate that is changing, it is imperative that we have reliable information to help us adapt and respond to these changes. We must take a more strategic approach and structure the delivery of climate information and services to benefit the nation. A National Climate Service will support regional, State, local and tribal governments, individuals, and businesses in their efforts to make better decisions and plan for the future.

The National Climate Service Act of 2009 establishes the National Climate Service within NOAA and defines its goals and the essential components of a service. The bill requires the Administrator to establish a Climate Service Office to coordinate the work of NOAA’s line offices and programs that are needed to develop and deliver climate services. The bill defines five functions of the Climate Service Office. The Office is intended to provide a single point of contact for other federal agencies and stakeholders who are interested in climate information.

The bill directs NOAA to build the service from the existing assets using an evolutionary approach and operate through the Climate Service Office and the network of regional, state, and local outlets that NOAA maintains today. The bill does not create a new line office, but to draw upon the strengths and assets of the appropriate existing offices.

The bill defines five core service elements for the National Climate Service. These include: conducting analyses of climate impacts on society; making observations at multiple geographic scales; providing climate information; developing mechanisms to manage and disseminate data, and conducting research to improve climate information and products.

The bill also directs the Administrator to establish a Climate Service Advisory Committee in accordance with the Federal Advisory Committee Act with at least two Subcommittees. One of the Subcommittees is intended to focus on the science and technical issues associated with developing and improving climate information and products. The other is to provide ongoing input from the user community on the types of products needed and the best ways to deliver them to ensure their relevance to decision makers.

Finally the bill repeals The National Climate Program Act of 1978 to avoid duplication and confusion between the old statute and this new legislation.

I urge the support of the Members of the Subcommittee for this bill.

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

This morning we are here to begin the Committee’s work on legislation to create a National Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – or NOAA.

This Committee’s work over the years on weather and climate programs at NOAA and through the US Global Change Research Program has supported the climate research that makes the work of a National Climate Service possible.

As we learned in the last Congress, the international climate science community has concluded that climate change is underway. Sea level is rising, glaciers and ice sheets are melting, and drought, fires, and other climate-driven effects are being documented around the world.

But a National Climate Service is not just about predicting and preparing for long-term shifts in climate. Many areas of our nation experience variability in climate due to multi-year drought cycles and as a result of predictable changes in ocean currents and temperature – the El Niño and La Niña events. And we know there are periods when we experience mild hurricane seasons and other times when we experience more frequent and severe storms.

Weather and climate impact almost everything we do – they influence our demand for energy, the growth of crops, and the availability of water. Every year we allocate significant funding for disaster assistance, most of these disasters are climate and weather related.

We must enable governments and our communities and businesses to prepare for these weather and climate events and to develop adaptation and response plans to adjust to the changes we face. NOAA has been expanding its capabilities to provide more information about climate in response to these needs. It is now time to take the next step.

The bill before us today provides NOAA with guidance on how to further develop its capability to deliver climate products and services at the regional, state, and local levels – the levels where planning and decision making occurs. NOAA can help our nation take advantage of improvements in climate that may favor some regions and adapt and respond to climate changes that will present challenges to others.

The intent is to build on the strengths of the current assets throughout the Agency. I do not believe a new line office is needed. In fact, I believe the creation of a National Climate Service at NOAA challenges the Agency to function as an integrated organization and provides an opportunity to move away from the stove-piped approach that hampers progress on some issues.

At this time, the bill does not include direction about how NOAA’s program will work with other federal agencies that utilize NOAA’s services and provide climate services to other constituencies. We will address that issue when the bill is considered by the Full Committee.

Finally, I believe NOAA must establish a dialogue with the communities it is planning to serve and partnerships with other organizations to gather together the full range of expertise needed to develop and deliver climate services.

We still have some work to do and I look forward to continuing our work on this legislation as we move to full Committee. I want to thank my colleagues for their participation in the markup today. I hope we will continue to work together to provide more and better information about weather and climate to our nation.

 HR 2407, the National Climate Service Act of 2009


111th Congress