Kerry-Snowe global change research bill focuses on climate impacts assessment and communication


On November 5, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced S. 2307, the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007. The bill would amend and update the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the authorizing statute for the multiagency climate and global change research program. Climate Science Watch is keeping a close eye on this bill as it is considered in the legislative process.

This bill represents an opportunity to make some positive changes in federally supported climate change research and assessment activities—in particular, in strengthening the mandate for a closer connection between the research program, on the one hand, and policymakers and other users of information about climate variability and change, on the other. There is much that is good in the bill as introduced. We will likely have a good deal more to say about it in later posts, especially if the bill moves to a mark-up in the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.

The full text of the bill—S. 2307—can be accessed on THOMAS, the Library of Congress portal for Congressional information. Use the Search feature and enter bill number S. 2307.

From the announcement by Sen. Kerry’s office on November 5:

Kerry, Snowe Fight for Accurate, Modern Climate Change Science
Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Study, Publicize Climate Change Impacts on Everyday Life

WASHINGTON D.C. – Senators John Kerry and Olympia Snowe introduced the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007 today, to change the way federal agencies prioritize, collect and communicate information on climate change science and impacts. Kerry and Snowe are updating the Global Change Research Act of 1990 in a response to a series of new reports on climate change, which call for an expedited process to review the impacts of climate change on our communities, local economies and natural resources….

Highlights of the Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007
The Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007 amends and strengthens the existing U.S. climate change research and assessment program. The bill would improve the basic research and products that the Federal government develops on climate change and its impacts. It would refocus the emphasis of the program on the need to provide information and products that are of relevance to State, local and nongovernmental decision makers.  It would also create a new National Climate Service within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to provide climate change forecasting on a regular basis to end-users, and create a permanent network for the delivery of such information.
The Global Change Research Program (GCRP), our nation’s existing climate research and assessment program, was established by the Global Change Research Act of 1990.  The overall program has seen its budget steadily decline since FY 2004 at a time when the need to better understand and predict climate change is urgent.  Over the past several years, independent reports, including a review by the National Academy of Sciences have highlighted weaknesses and gaps in the current implementation of the GCRP.  A Federal District Court found that the current Administration had failed to comply with the statute’s mandate to provide regular assessments of the impacts of climate change on critical resources; no such assessment has been published since October 31, 2000.
The legislation makes important changes to address these weaknesses and to strengthen the mandate to provide assessments.  These changes will enable the GCRP to perform critical climate observations and research on climate systems; improve our ability to predict climate impacts at national, regional and local levels; and communicate those impacts in a timely and useful fashion to State and local decision-makers, resource managers, and other stakeholders.

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