House climate bill gives White House science office lead role in guiding climate research & services

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We talked with Climate Wire about how the “Adapting to Climate Change” subtitle of the House-passed Waxman-Markey climate change cap and trade bill is an improvement over how the bill started out in its earlier discussion draft form—in putting the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, headed by John Holdren, in the lead role for reforming the U.S. Global Change Research Program and for designing the framework for a new National Climate Service, and in creating revenue streams from emissions allowances to help fund a set of new programs to enhance preparedness and adaptation to the impacts of climate change.

Reporter Lauren Morello writes in the June 29 issue of Climate Wire (by subscription):

…Sweeping energy legislation the House approved Friday puts the federal government’s main climate research program and its burgeoning adaptation effort under White House control. It is a move that analysts said signals a policy priority for the White House and places climate change programs under the thumb of President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren.

“The beauty of this is, when it’s at the White House level, the horsepower is behind it on behalf of the whole nation, with the notion that the president is endorsing it,” said Bob Corell, vice president for programs and policy at the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment….

Meanwhile, OSTP chief Holdren released a major federal climate science report last week under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program—resurrecting the Clinton-era name and structure of a program the Bush administration split in two and transferred from White House to agency oversight….

The House-passed climate bill would rewrite the 1990 law that established the climate research program, placing it under OSTP’s control and emphasizing the need to identify U.S. vulnerability to the effects of climate change….

See our posts:
White House science and budget offices must lead in revitalizing federal climate research

Global Climate Change Impacts in the united States—Report Overview

Strengthening support through legislation

The House-passed climate bill is also poised to send billions of dollars to domestic, international, public health and wildlife adaptation programs by portioning revenue from the sale of carbon dioxide emissions allowances to polluters.

“It seems to me that the legislation is necessary in just about each and every case,” said Rick Piltz, executive director of ClimateScienceWatch and a former Climate Change Science Program employee during the George W. Bush administration. “Even in cases where you could establish something in the executive branch, there are funding mechanisms for a lot of it that you need to have in the bill, because the revenue comes from auctioning emissions allowances.“…

See our post:
Funding for adaptation in the Waxman-Markey House-passed climate change cap and trade bill

And when it comes to the National Climate Service, including it in the climate legislation now moving through Congress may have strengthened support for the plan, Piltz said, because it stirred debate over what the program should look like. Bush administration officials at NOAA began discussions about creating a climate service within that agency last year, an outline the Obama administration initially followed.

“In Jane Lubchenco’s first talk—days after she was confirmed—she talked about a National Climate Service at NOAA,” Piltz said. “Even on the Hill, people were saying, ‘This is a done deal. The administration wants Dr. Lubchenco and NOAA to have this.’ But there was some pushback on that, saying, ‘Wait a minute, there are problems with giving it to a single agency or even a single lead agency.’”

See our posts:
House Science Committee approves National Climate Service provisions for inclusion in Waxman-Markey bill

“The concept is so broad that it may not make sense to place a climate service inside NOAA.”

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