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Full Committee - H.R. 2407

Monday, June 15, 2009 - 2:00pm
2318 Rayburn House Office Building

Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon

This afternoon we will consider H.R. 2407, a bill to establish a National Climate Service.

The need for a climate service has been evaluated by both the National Academy of Sciences and the Science Advisory Board of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. During their last year in office, the Bush Administration began exploring options for creating a National Climate Service with NOAA as the lead agency. The new administration has also indicated their interest and intention to move forward with a National Climate Service.

State and local governments, private industry and resource managers across the country recognize that weather and climate impacts influence many aspects of our lives. We have built infrastructure, projected water availability, developed cropping systems and managed coastal resources assuming a range of weather and climate is undergoing change.

Some of these changes will be positive and offer new opportunities. Others will present challenges. Without more specific information about the magnitude and direction of these changes we will be ill prepared to exploit new opportunities and to adapt to new challenges.

That is why we need a climate service.

H.R. 2407 recognizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will play a central role in a National Climate Service. NOAA has a comprehensive weather and climate observation network and maintains the nation’s historical climate record.

NOAA also has an extensive network of regional and local offices delivering weather and climate information, and established partnerships with state climate offices, private sector weather providers, universities and other organizations with experience in developing and delivering information on weather and climate.

H.R. 2407 establishes a Climate Service Office at NOAA to coordinate the work of the different line offices that are essential to developing and delivering climate services.

The bill also establishes an Advisory Committee to ensure continued input from both the scientific community and the broader stakeholder community to NOAA as climate services evolve.

H.R. 2407 provides Congressional direction and input to the process of further expanding climate services at NOAA. However, as we heard from our witnesses and from others who have offered comments on this legislation, NOAA cannot do it all.
The administration does not require additional authorization to move forward with their plans. However, I believe if they are to be successful in this effort this Committee should be engaged in the process of developing a National Climate Service.
Today we will add an interagency component to H.R. 2407 that will establish a National Climate Service through a process that will ensure ongoing communication between Congress and the administration as they move forward. It will also ensure that the many stakeholders throughout the country who need these services will be a part of this process.

Staff discussions began over a month ago on this legislation. There have been a number of meetings and discussions over the past few weeks. Text has been shared with the minority during the development of the bill.

These meetings resulted in several amendments that will be offered today. Mr. Baird and Mr. Inglis will offer an amendment to fill the need for an interagency effort that was discussed at the Subcommittee markup.
I would also like to acknowledge the efforts of Dr. Ehlers, a long-time champion of NOAA, whose staff was also part of these deliberations.

I want to thank all the Members for their participation this afternoon and for their efforts to improve this legislation. I hope we will have broad support for H.R. 2407 and that we will continue to work together as we go forward.

I now recognize Mr. Hall to present his opening remarks.

H.R. 2407, the National Climate Service Act of 2009 

111th Congress