Climate Change Bills Markup

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Dec 2007 19:30:00 GMT

  • S 1581 — Federal Ocean Acidification Research And Monitoring (FOARAM) Act of 2007
  • S 2307 — Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007
  • S 2355 — Climate Change Adaptation Act
  • S 2332 — Media Ownership Act of 2007
From CQ:
Several bills designed to promote research on adapting to global warming were approved Tuesday by a Senate panel.

The bills are not geared toward limiting climate change. Rather, they are aimed at helping federal, state and local officials adapt to the possible consequences of global warming.

The Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved the measures by voice vote. The Environment and Public Works Committee will begin marking up a broad climate-change bill Wednesday.

Tuesday’s markup was mostly perfunctory, but one bill did engender some debate. The measure (S 2355), sponsored by Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., would require the president to prepare a strategy for addressing the impacts of climate change in the United States and require federal departments and agencies to prepare adaptation plans.

The legislation also would direct the Commerce secretary to conduct regional assessments of the vulnerability of ocean and coastal resources.

Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, said science does not currently have the ability to make those types of predictions on a regional scale.

“This requirement of the bill would have many significant impacts on the economy of my state,” Stevens said.

Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, said she would work with Stevens to address his concerns as the measure proceeds.

The committee also approved a bill (S 2307), sponsored by John Kerry, D-Mass., and Olympia J. Snowe, R-Maine, that would set up a “national climate service” within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to assess the impacts of climate change at state and local levels.

Proponents say state and local governments do not have enough information about how global warming could affect specific regions of the country. They also say the government needs to do a better job of relaying this information in a way that is relevant to policy makers.

The bill is partly a response to criticism of the government’s implementation of the 1990 Global Change Research Act (PL 101-606), which requires assessments every four years of the impacts of changes in the global environment. The Clinton administration issued one national assessment in 2000, but the Bush administration has not issued one.

The bill would amend the law to clarify how comprehensive an assessment should be, a Senate aide said. It also would require a new strategic plan for the Global Change Research Program, an interagency group established under the law.

Many similar provisions in the bill are included in House-passed energy legislation (HR 3221). The two chambers are now preparing to move a new version of the energy bill to the floor; it remains unclear whether the climate-science language will become part of the final package.

The panel also approved a bill (S 1581) that would establish an interagency committee on ocean acidification. Greenhouse gas emissions can make oceans more acidic, potentially destroying ecosystems. It was introduced by Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J.

National Hurricane Research Initiative

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 25 Sep 2007 16:17:00 GMT

At last week’s American Meteorological Society Hurricanes and Climate Change panel, Greg Holland highlighted the importance of the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007 (HR 2407, S 931).

The bill, introduced by the Florida delegation in the spring, would establish a multi-agency board to set strategy and make grants for hurricane research. From CRS:
Requires the Under Secretary for Oceans and Atmosphere of the Department of Commerce and the Director of the National Science Foundation (NSF) to establish a National Hurricane Research Initiative and to cooperate with other specified federal agencies to carry it out. Requires such Initiative to set research objectives (based on a National Science Board report on the need for such Initiative) to: (1) make recommendations to the Board; (2) assemble the expertise of U.S. science and engineering capabilities through a multi-agency effort focused on infrastructure, the natural environment, and improving understanding of hurricane prediction, intensity, and mitigation on coastal populations; and (3) make grants for hurricane research, including regarding hurricane dynamics, modification, and observation, air-sea interaction, relationships between hurricanes and climate, predicting flooding and storm surge, coastal infrastructure, building construction, emergency communication networks, information utilization by public officials, and sharing computational capability. Directs the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, through the National Science and Technology Council, to coordinate U.S. activities related to the Initiative as a formal program with a well-defined organizational structure and execution plan. Directs the Under Secretary and the Director to: (1) establish a National Infrastructure Database to catalog infrastructure, provide information to improve information public policy related to hurricanes, and provide data to improve researchers’ abilities to measure hurricane impacts in order to improve building codes and urban planning; and (2) develop a National Hurricane Research Model to conduct integrative research and facilitate the transfer of research knowledge to operational applications

Reorienting the U.S. Global Change Research Program Toward a User-Driven Research Endeavor

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 03 May 2007 18:00:00 GMT

Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) introduced the Global Change Research and Data Management Act to strengthen and streamline federal climate change research and reorient it for state and local governments, planners and researchers, replacing the U.S. Global Change Research Program established in 1990.


  • Dr. Philip Mote, Climatologist, State of Washington
  • Dr. Michael MacCracken, President, International Association of Meteorology and Atmospheric Sciences
  • Dr. Jack Fellows, Vice President, UCAR
  • Franklin Nutter, President, Reinsurance Assocation of America
  • Sarah Bittleman
  • Dr. James Mahoney

2:50 Dr. Mote They want to know what the probable changes are in rainfall, snowfall, and streamflow. The Northwest Hydropower Council wanted streamflow estimates. There’s already been an observed shift of two weeks in the start of the snowmelt. A national climate service is needed. To properly construct probabilistic scenarios at the regional level would require using tens of models; it would be too much for a regional center to undertake. Sea-level rise. Monitoring the climate, as HR 906 rightly addresses. The monitoring networks are slowly dwindling. The American Association of State Climatologists calls on Congress to save these networks from decline.

2:55 In recess.

3:20 Ms. Bittleman I work for the governor of Oregon here in Washington DC. The Western Governors Association appreciates the effort to make this bill relevant to the western states. The US has spent considerable dollars on understanding the science of climate change. Now the time has come to fund the study of adaptation. I need to recite some of the very real changes: smaller snowpacks, more extreme floods, more droughts, more wildfire, pests and disease. Congress and the Administration should fund research that makes mitigation and adaptation easier. Some states are creating their own climate change research centers, including Oregon. It is important that the program under HR 906 integrates the state offices and regional centers. We recommend that the bill be amended to establish a national climate information service, as Dr. Mote mentioned. Additionally the NCIS could provide national policy papers.

Decision makers at all levels of government and the private sector need accurate information.

3:27 Udall Are you saying the director of the USGCRP needs direct budget authority?

Fellows I think that the director of USGCRP have some level of budget authority and be close enough to the political center to push changes. When I was at the OMB we had every agency come in and present their programs.

Mahoney I had a hybrid position; I was Senate-confirmed, so I had a political position and access to the top of the OMB and the relevant cabinet officers. I think there should be a definite recognized management and coordination function. The division that generates the reports is greatly underresourced. Some direction by the Congress to see a more effective and efficient process would be a positive step.

3:32 Inglis The bill calls for the program to be updated every four years. Any thoughts?

MacCracken The first was developed in the early 1990s. We shifted in the mid-1990s, though without a formal plan. You do need to take a different perspective. There’s no optimal way to cut this problem into pieces. Requiring something in an update is useful.

Fellows The world climate society takes a look every five years. It would be interesting to look if you staggered the vulnerability and policy assessments, but the four-five year cycle is good.

3:35 Inglis One degree fahrenheit change and we have no more mountain trout.

Bittleman From the state perspective the entire process of data collection and how climate change is being experienced on the ground is what’s important. Every year the states are acting based on the data coming in. When there’s a year date for a report, that’s not as important as the flexibility to include the data, activity that are happening in the states.

3:37 Udall Regional vs. national assessments. How do we ensure the USGCRP meets both needs? I don’t see these things as separate. In Oregon and the Pacific Northwest we would like to gather information on a watershed level. We would like to see all of this information integrated. We see the possibility of integration being the real hope.

Nutter From the insurance perspective, regional assessments are imperative. The effect of climate change on extreme weather events in the Gulf is different from the Midwest or the Northeast.

McCracken We have tried to have sector assessments. If you’re interested in the forests locally, you need a regional perspective. If you’re looking at forest industry, you need national perspective. We also need the international perspective—migratory species, foreign investments, global health, refugees. The IPCC kind of looks at this, but hasn’t really taken a look at individual countries.

Udall Wehn we figure this out as a human race we’ll have created a template to face other challenges we’ll face. That keeps me going.

McCracken Climate change is intimately tied to meeting the Millenium Goals. It is all coupled and has to be looked at this way.

3:43 Nutter Those who look at protecting people’s property and lives. New York State has $2 trillion of insured properties. It’s a remarkable exposure to extreme weather events and climate change. This bill will have a real impact.

MacCracken In the 1990s we didn’t want climate change to be a justification for funding fusion research, for example. One of the things we struggled with in creating a useful assessment was what to focus on. That whole social science part of what has to be in climate change research isn’t well funded.

Mote Another aspect of this separation is that mitigating and adapting sometimes come together. As we design portfolios of alternative energy, are they resilient to climate changes? Such as hydropower. Climate change actually makes our hydropower generation more in line with demand for Washington, but means there will be less spare power for California in the summer.

3:50 Inglis Thank you.

Udall Thank you for appearing. I take the challenge of addressing global warming, as does Rep. Inglis and many other members of the House, very seriously. It’s one of our highest priorities in the Congress. This hearing is now adjourned.