House appropriates increased funding for climate research


This week the US of House of Representatives took one step in the right direction by passing a fiscal year 2010 spending bill for the Department of Commerce (which includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration), as well as other key science and technology agencies such as the National Science Foundation and NASA.  The bill specifies increased funding for essential climate change research, observing systems, and assessment activities.  Hopefully it won’t be too much longer before Congress realizes that global climate disruption is a national security issue that calls for an even greater commitment of resources, for both research and response strategies. 

post by Anne Polansky (send comments to [redacted]


H.R. 2847 passed by a vote of 259-157 in the House on June 18, 2009, specifying funding levels for all of the agencies and departments under the jurisdiction of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010. 

From the Appropriations Committee report on the bill, House Report 111-149 :

Investments in Scientific Research

While the economy is the major crisis confronting our Nation today, climate change is a longer lasting threat to our future well being. Through congressional testimony and numerous research papers, the science community has made clear that anthropogenic climate change has begun. The 40 percent increase in emissions of greenhouse gases since 1990 is accelerating these changes, and as the world economy recovers, these emissions will grow further. While other legislation currently under consideration by the House addresses mitigation, the responsibility for observing, understanding, predicting, and monitoring climate change falls primarily to NOAA, NSF, and NASA—which are funded in this appropriations bill—and the United States Geological Survey.

For the U.S. Government, NOAA leads the U.S. efforts in climate study and has begun to form a National Climate Service that will work in federation with other U.S. federal agencies and nations. NOAA’s responsibility will continue to include long-term observations from space and ground-based systems but will also extend beyond NOAA’s traditional role in weather and predictions of climate. While NOAA’s climate products and services must guide and monitor mitigation, adaptation will be required. NOAA requires increased resources to implement the National Climate Service and mitigate the risks to the operational satellite observing systems in polar and geostationary orbits. The Subcommittee recommendation endorses and advances these critical efforts.

The Subcommittee recommendation also supports the work of the NSF and NASA in climate change study and mitigation. NSF supports significant research in a broad range of research on climate change and critical continuing observations through its long-term ecological research sites and oceanographic cruises. While NSF funding has been growing over the past several years, Earth science funding at NASA has decreased more than one-third during the past eight years. NASA’s Earth science programs and activities seek to understand how Earth is changing and determine the consequences of those changes for life on our planet. Restoring the Earth science budget continues to be a priority for the Subcommittee.

Global climate change and sustainability-

The Committee has provided over $2,000,000,000 in resources to address the reality of global warming climate change and its effect on Earth’s environments, over $120,000,000 over the fiscal year 2009 enacted level. Specifically, the bill provides:

NOAA:  nearly $400,000,000 for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, of which more than $200,000,000 is to enhance climate change research and regional assessments; $90,000,000 enhances climate data records and data access and archiving requirements; and $29,300,000 is for climate change educational programs;

NASA:  nearly $1,300,000,000 in climate change programs at NASA, including nearly $150,000,000 to develop and demonstrate space-based climate measurements identified by the National Academy of Sciences and the science community;

NSF:  nearly $310,000,000 for climate change programs at the National Science Foundation;

Education:  over $52,000,000 for educational programs directed at climate change as recommended by the National Academy of Sciences;

Economic Development Administration:  at least $25,000,000 for ‘green’ building initiatives within the Economic Development Administration;

Global Climate Change Mitigation Fund.—The Committee notes the increased construction costs associated with the incorporation of technologies and strategies that reduce energy consumption and harmful gas emissions and contribute to sustainability. Within the funds provided for Public Works, the Committee recommends no less than $25,000,000 for the Global Climate Change Mitigation Incentive Fund, $8,500,000 above the request and $10,300,000 above fiscal year 2009. The Committee emphasizes that to be successful in today’s environment, economic development must address the effects of climate change, and directs EDA to expand the program beyond Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification. This can include renewable energy; energy efficiency; reuse, restoration and recycling; green buildings; the development of green products; the greening of an existing function, process or activity; and the creation or renovation of a green building. The Committee directs EDA to provide a report within 60 days of enactment of this Act, detailing the scope of the fund, the criteria for approval of fund expenditures, and the methodology EDA will employ when reviewing grants.

NIST:  $14,500,000 for greenhouse gas emission standards development by the National Institute for Standards and Technology; and

additional resources above the request to enhance the protection of endangered and threatened species, increase habitat restoration and coastal and estuarine land conservation, and monitor mammal adaptation to climate change.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The Committee bill provides more than $4,600,000,000 for activities of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an increase of $237,745,000 over the fiscal year 2009 enacted level and $129,125,000 over the budget request. Within the funds recommended for NOAA, nearly $400,000,000 is provided for climate change research; regional climate assessments; enhanced modeling capabilities; ocean observations and coral reef conservation; climate data records, and data access and archiving; and a more robust education program focused on climate, including the transition of the GLOBE program from NASA to NOAA. Full funding is also provided for acquisition, construction and operations of the GOES-R, NPOESS and NPP satellites, and Jason 3, which will provide sea surface elevation and ocean circulation measurements.

Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR)—The recommendation includes $426,675,000 for OAR operations, research and facilities, which is $32,470,000 above the [President’s] request. The Committee supports NOAA’s efforts toward the creation of a National Climate Service and directs the agency to accelerate its current efforts with the additional funding provided in OAR and elsewhere within the bill.

The recommendation provides $229,040,000 for Climate Research, which is $19,200,000 above the request. Within that amount…the Committee provides $12,000,000 for regional climate assessments through OAR’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment program, and directs NOAA to expand the program to cover additional regions….

Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes research—…The Committee encourages NOAA to conduct long-term ice cover and water level outlooks for the Great Lakes to report on the impact of climate change on the habitats, fish and wildlife, commerce, recreational opportunities and water supply of the Great Lakes.

The Committee is aware that ocean fertilization for the purpose of drawing carbon into the oceans has the potential to be used for climate change mitigation in the future, but that further research is needed. Within the funds provided for oceanic research, the Committee encourages NOAA to support research into carbon sinks through ocean fertilization….

National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS).—The recommendation provides $199,504,000 for NESDIS operations, research and facilities, which is $27,767,000 above the request. The recommendation for NOAA’s Data Centers and Information Services is $71,056,000, which is $23,917,000 above the request, and includes $7,000,000 above the request for climate data records (CDRs) and additional environmental data archiving, access and assessment activities.  The recommendation also provides a total of $3,850,000 for Regional Climate Centers.

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