Committee Passes National Climate Service Bill
(Washington, DC) – Yesterday, the House Committee on Science and Technology passed H.R. 2407, the National Climate Service Act of 2009 by a vote of 24 to 12. H.R. 2407was introduced May 14, 2009 by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). As amended, the bill would establish a Climate Service Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and it outlines an interagency process to establish 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,” stated Gordon. “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.”
NOAA has a comprehensive observation network that gathers ground and satellite-based information from land and sea on weather, climate, atmospheric chemistry, and as well as other environmental data. NOAA manages and archives and makes these data available to a wide variety of groups 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.
The legislation places emphasis on the important role that stakeholders should play in the development of climate services at NOAA and other federal agencies. H.R. 2407 requires agencies to consult with state, local and tribal governments and with all outside stakeholders. Federal agencies are also required to survey the users of climate products and information to provide information to Congress about the needs of different stakeholders for information that will assist them to respond to climate variability and change.
“The development of a National Climate Service cannot be solely a federal exercise. Climate change will effect every community across this nation and it will have effects on our economy. We must have an on-going dialogue to ensure that we deliver products that are needed. The federal government must strengthen its partnerships with state and local governments, the academic community and the private sector to make efficient use of all the expertise and resources that stakeholders bring to the effort of making our nation more resilient to climate variability and change,” said Gordon.
The amendment offered by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC) added a significant new element to H.R. 2407. The amendment defines a three year process for establishing a “collaborative, interagency research and operational program” to deliver climate information to the nation. This effort will be led by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and conducted through the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council. The CENR is required to conduct an evaluation of different organizational structures for a National Climate Service and to report to Congress within two years on the results of their evaluation and with a plan for establishing the Service.
“In a climate that is changing, it is imperative that we have reliable information to help us adapt and respond to these changes,” said Baird. “My amendment puts in place a mechanism that will allow the best minds from every relevant federal agency to share information, and ultimately decide on the best structure, and organizational home for the National Climate Service. By doing this, we will ensure that when the National Climate Service is created, it will be better able to identify the problems created by global overheating, and armed with this information, better able to find solutions.”
Amendments offered by Research and Science Education Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH)and Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) expanded the outreach and education components of the legislation. Rep. Fudge’s amendment established a clearinghouse and web portal to be managed by NOAA in response to recommendations of witnesses at the Subcommittee’s hearing on May 5th for a single point of contact for information on climate. Rep. Johnson’s amendment establishes a summer institutes program to be conducted in cooperation with the Regional Climate Centers and the university community to provide middle school and high school teachers and undergraduates an opportunity to interact with climate scientists.
“To ensure Congress and the scientific community provides a swift and comprehensive response to climate change we must facilitate efficient communication between agencies. Requiring NOAA to establish a user friendly research clearinghouse will achieve that goal. Finally, federally funded climate change research will be gathered in one location then made available to all users and stakeholders,” said Fudge.
“The summer institutes program authorized by my amendment would bring scientific inquiry alive for young people,” said Johnson. “Interactions with scientists at the Regional Climate Centers will help students see climate science as an accessible, desirable career option. Providing educational opportunities for teachers and students is the best way to inspire tomorrow’s generation of climate scientists.”
The Committee approved amendments offered by: Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC); Full Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN); Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Ranking Member Adrian Smith (R-NE); Research and Science Education Ranking Member Vernon Ehlers (R-MI); Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC); Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX); Research and Science Education Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH); and Full Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX).