A Review of the President’s Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request for Science Agencies

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 26 Mar 2014 14:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, March 26, 2014, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology will hold a hearing to review President Obama’s proposed fiscal year 2015 (FY15) budget request for programs and science agencies under the Committee’s jurisdiction.

Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), will review the proposed budget in the context of the President’s overall priorities in science, space, and technology and will describe how the Administration determined priorities for funding across scientific disciplines and agencies.


  • John Holdren, Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, Executive Office of the President

The following web links are highlights of the President’s FY 2015 budget request:


The following web links provides highlights U.S. Global Change Research Program, clean energy programs, and climate change initiatives in the President’s FY 2015 budget request:



The following web link provides highlights of the Administration’s STEM education programs in the President’s FY 2015 budget request:


The following web link provides highlights of the Administration’s proposals for investing in American Innovation in the President’s FY 2015 budget request:


Smith asks Holdren about NSF’s “stress in Bolivia” grant.

Holdren: I’m not sure any of us in this room are in a better position to judge these grants than the NSF.

Smith: Don’t you feel that NSF should justify these grants to the American taxpayer?

Holdren: I believe they do. The organic act says the NSF’s job is to promote the progress of science. Funding basic research is in the NSF’s mission, we should let it continue.

Smith: I don’t think they’ve justified these grants.

Rohrabacher challenges Holdren on “bogus figure” of 97% climate scientists, Holdren questions its accuracy but says the study was peer-reviewed. Rohrabacher asks about tornadoes and hurricanes getting more “ferocious.” Holdren says that there is no evidence, none, of changes in tornadoes, but that there is evidence supporting changes in hurricanes, droughts, and floods. Rohrabacher calls Holdren out for “weasel words.”

Neugebauer challenges Holdren on fracking study. “There was not a lot of evidence to justify going down this road. It appears this administration is on a witch hunt. The administration continues to take a negative, slanted view towards the technology.”

Holdren: “This is not a witch hunt. I don’t want and the president doesn’t want to lose access to this natural gas and oil, this very important set of resources because we don’t do this right.”

Statement of Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas)

Hearing on The President’s FY2014 Budget Request for Science Agencies

Chairman Smith: The topic of today’s hearing is the President’s budget request for the coming year. This is the first of several hearings to examine over $40 billion in annual federal research and development (R&D) spending within the Science Committee’s jurisdiction.

Unfortunately, this Administration’s science budget focuses, in my view, far too much money, time, and effort on alarmist predictions of climate change. For example, the Administration tried to link hurricanes, tornadoes, floods and droughts to climate change. Yet even the Administration’s own scientists contradicted the president.

The Administration also has not been as open and honest with the American people as it should. When the Committee asked the EPA for the scientific data being used to justify some of the costliest regulations in history, their response was that they didn’t have it even though they were using it.

When we asked the National Science Foundation (NSF) last year for their justification in funding numerous research grants, the NSF refused to provide a response.

All government employees and their agency heads need to remember they are accountable to the American taxpayer who pays their salary and funds their projects. It is not the government’s money; it’s the people’s money.

Further, an estimated $300 million was spent in building the website Healthcare.gov prior to its public rollout last October. Secretary Sebelius rightly called this “a debacle.” In its haste to launch the Healthcare.gov website, it appears the Obama Administration cut corners that left the site open to hackers and other online criminals. According to experts who testified before the Science Committee, millions of Americans are vulnerable to identity theft from this website.

For this reason, the Science Committee has twice asked the White House’s Chief Technology Officer, Todd Park, to testify about his role in the development of the Healthcare.gov website. Rather than allow him to testify before Congress, the White House instead chose to make Mr. Park available for interviews with Time magazine. So much for accountability and transparency.

The Administration’s willful disregard for public accountability distracts from the important issues of how America can stay ahead of China, Russia, and other countries in the highly-competitive race for technological leadership.

Perhaps the greatest example of the White House’s lack of leadership is with America’s space program. The White House’s approach has been to raid NASA’s budget to fund the Administration’s environmental agenda. In the last seven years, NASA’s Earth Science Division has grown by over 63 percent. Meanwhile, the White House’s budget proposal would cut NASA by almost $200 million in Fiscal Year 2015 compared to what Congress provided the agency this year.

And The White House’s proposed asteroid retrieval mission is a mission without a budget, without a destination, and without a launch date. Rather than diminish NASA’s space exploration mission, President Obama should set forth a certain, near-term, realizable goal for NASA’s space exploration.

Many experts believe that a Mars Flyby mission launched in 2021 is a potentially worthy near-term goal. A human Mars mission would electrify the American public, excite American scientists, and inspire American students.

Our leadership has slipped in areas such as: space exploration where we currently rely on Russia to launch our astronauts into space; supercomputing where China currently has the lead; and even severe weather forecasting where European weather models routinely predict America’s weather better than we can. We need to make up for lost ground.

These budget hearings are about something far more important than simply numbers on a ledger. They’re about priorities. And the Administration should reevaluate its priorities if we want to continue to be a world leader in science, space, and technology.

Data-Driven Efforts To Boost Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience

Posted by Brad Johnson Wed, 19 Mar 2014 21:00:00 GMT

On Wednesday, March 19, the White House, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will host an event highlighting the Administration’s commitment to empower America’s communities with the information they need to prepare for the impacts of climate change. The event will include new announcements from Federal agencies, businesses, researchers, academia, and others to deploy data-driven technologies and leverage freely available open government data to build products and services that strengthen our Nation’s ability to prepare for the effects of climate change today and in the future.

The Obama Administration recognizes that even as we act to curb the carbon pollution that is driving climate change, we must also improve our ability to prepare for climate impacts that are already occurring across the country. The insights gathered from scientific data are essential to help communities and businesses better understand and manage the risks associated with climate change. The cutting-edge technologies built by American innovators and businesses must be harnessed in order to unleash the insights of science in ways that directly benefit communities on the front lines of climate change.

Over the past few years, the Obama Administration has launched a series of Open Data Initiatives, which have released troves of valuable data that were previously hard to access in areas such as energy, health, education, public safety, and global development. These data are being used by innovators, businesses, researchers, and the public to create new services and applications that benefit Americans.

  • John Podesta, Counselor to the President
  • Dr. John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy
  • Mike Boots, Acting Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality
  • Dr. Kathryn D. Sullivan, NOAA Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
  • Dr. Ellen Stofan, NASA Chief Scientist
  • Jack Dangermond, CEO of Esri
  • Rebecca Moore, Founder of Google Earth Engine
  • Rachel Kyte, World Bank Group Vice President & Special Envoy for Climate Change
  • Joel Dunn, Executive Director, Chesapeake Conservancy
  • Denice Ross, Director of Enterprise Information, City of New Orleans
  • Stephen Harper, Global Director, Environment and Energy Policy, Intel Corporation

The event will also feature remarks, presentations, and demonstrations of data-driven tools by private-sector technology companies, communities, scientists, and other climate experts.

MEDIA REGISTRATION: This event is OPEN PRESS. Media wishing to cover this event must RSVP. Press holding White House hard passes must send their name, media outlet, phone, and email, to media_affairs@who.eop.gov, by Wednesday, March 19, at 12:00PM ET, with the subject line “CLIMATE.” Press not holding White House hard passes must include their full legal name, date of birth, Social Security number, gender, country of citizenship, and current city and state of residence. All press will enter the White House at the Northwest Gate.

Clean Power: Building a New Clean Energy Economy

Posted by Brad Johnson Mon, 13 Apr 2009 14:00:00 GMT

Chairman Edward J. Markey will host President Obama’s top climate, energy and science advisers along with other energy experts at a forum at MIT on Monday, April 13 to discuss the future of clean energy in national policy and in the Massachusetts economy. They will discuss clean energy solutions for creating jobs, improving our national security and protecting our planet from global warming. Last week, Rep. Markey released draft legislation that will be the main congressional vehicle to push clean energy technologies and create millions of new jobs.

  • Chairman Edward J. Markey (D-Malden), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and Energy and Environment Subcommittee
  • Carol Browner, Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change
  • John Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology
  • Ernest J. Moniz, Professor of Physics and Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor, MIT
  • Dr. Susan Hockfield, President, MIT
  • Daniel Yergin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and Chairman of Cambridge Energy Research Associates
  • Massachusetts clean energy CEOs and others

Wong Auditorium, Tang Center, Building E51, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Live webcast.

Menendez Blocks Obama's Scientists Over Unrelated, 'Deeply Offensive' Cuba Policies

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 05 Mar 2009 14:26:00 GMT

From the Wonk Room.

Robert MenendezObama’s climate scientists are collateral damage in an unrelated fight over Cuba policy with Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ). Menendez is responsible for an anonymous hold on the nominations of Dr. John Holdren and Dr. Jane Lubchenco, both world-renowned experts on climate change and the physical sciences. Holdren and Lubchenco “sailed through” their confirmation hearing on February 12. But as the Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin reports, Menendez has anonymously blocked their full Senate confirmation “as leverage to get Senate leaders’ attention for a matter related to Cuba rather than questioning the nominees’ credentials.” Menendez, a Cuban American, took to the Senate floor last night “to deliver a withering denunciation” of proposed changes to U.S.-Cuban relations included in the budget omnibus:

We should evaluate how to encourage the regime to allow a legitimate opening – not in terms of cell phones and hotel rooms that Cubans can’t afford, but in terms of the right to organize, the right to think and speak what they believe. However, what we are doing with this Omnibus bill, Mr. President, is far from evaluation, and the process by which these changes have been forced upon this body is so deeply offensive to me, and so deeply undemocratic, that it puts the Omnibus appropriations package in jeopardy, in spite of all the other tremendously important funding that this bill would provide.

Menendez points to a memo prepared by the staff of Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) as recommending a policy change that Menendez worries could “rescue the regime by improving its economic fortunes,” namely giving Cuba “financial credit to purchase agricultural products from the U.S.”

These picks have in fact languished for months, having been put forward by President Obama on December 20. Lubchenco’s nomination to be administrator of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) has been stalled in part by the turmoil over finding a Secretary of Commerce, whose department includes NOAA. NOAA career staff are gamely working to draft a spending plan for the $830 million in the recently passed recovery act, and energy adviser Carol Browner is managing climate policy from the White House with a skeleton staff. But the Office of Science and Technology Policy is a key White House office, and its director Holdren is meant to be the top science adviser to the president. The “wise counsel” of Holdren and Lubchenco is irreplaceable, especially given the scope of the challenges our nation faces.

Menendez spokesman Afshin Mohamadi declined to comment on the putatively anonymous hold. “He takes a back seat to no one on the environment,” Mohamadi discussed by telephone, saying the senator’s “record best reflects his feelings on the urgency of combatting climate change.” When asked if Sen. Menendez hopes to have climate legislation on President Obama’s desk before the end of 2009, Mohamadi explained that Sen. Menendez believes it “would be helpful to have it in place going into the December international climate change conference in Copenhagen.”

Obama Selects John Holdren as Science Adviser

Posted by Wonk Room Thu, 18 Dec 2008 21:41:00 GMT

As first reported by Science Magazine’s ScienceInsider, “President-elect Barack Obama has picked physicist John Holdren to be the president’s science adviser.”

Holdren is well known for his work on energy, climate change, and nuclear proliferation. Trained in fluid dynamics and plasma physics, Holdren branched out into policy early in his career. He has led the Woods Hole Research Center for the past 3 years and served as president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2006.

At ClimateProgress, Joseph Romm argues Holden has “more combined expertise on both climate science and clean energy technology than any other person who could plausibly have been named science adviser,” and that this means “Obama is dead serious about the strongest possible action on global warming.”

SolveClimate has a long bibliography of Holdren’s speeches, interviews, and reports online.

One such speech, which lays out how he believes the United States can meet the climate challenge, was given September 13, 2007 in San Francisco: