Subcommittee advances bill establishing National Climate Service

The House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment approved draft legislation to create a National Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

WASHINGTON, DC, May 13, 2009 -- The House Committee on Science and Technology's Subcommittee on Energy and Environment approved draft legislation to create a National Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

>> Access the draft legislation to create a National Climate Service [.pdf]

"In a climate that is changing, it is imperative that we have reliable information to help us adapt and respond to these changes," said Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA). "We must take a more strategic approach and structure the delivery of climate information and services to benefit the nation. A National Climate Service will support regional, state, local and tribal governments, businesses, and individuals in their efforts to make better decisions and plan for the future."

"Weather and climate impact almost everything we do -- they influence our demand for energy, the growth of crops, and the availability of water. Every year we allocate significant funding for disaster assistance, most of these disasters are climate and weather related," said bill author and Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). "We must enable governments and our communities and businesses to prepare for these weather and climate events and to develop adaptation and response plans to adjust to the changes we face. NOAA has been expanding its capabilities to provide more information about climate in response to these needs. It is now time to take the next step."

The National Climate Service Act of 2009 establishes a National Climate Service within NOAA and defines its goals and the essential components of a service. The bill requires the Administrator to establish a Climate Service Office to coordinate the work of NOAA's line offices and programs that are needed to develop and deliver climate services. The Office is intended to provide a single point of contact for other federal agencies and stakeholders who are interested in climate information.

The bill directs NOAA to build the service from the existing assets using an evolutionary approach and operate through the Climate Service Office and the network of regional, state, and local outlets that NOAA maintains today.

The bill defines five core service elements for the National Climate Service. These include: conducting analyses of climate impacts on society; making observations at multiple geographic scales; providing climate information; developing mechanisms to manage and disseminate data, and conducting research to improve climate information and products.

The bill also directs the Administrator to establish a Climate Service Advisory Committee with at least two subcommittees. One of the subcommittees is intended to focus on the science and technical issues associated with developing and improving climate information and products. The other is to provide ongoing input from the user community on the types of products needed and the best ways to deliver them to ensure their relevance to decision makers.

The Subcommittee approved amendments [.pdf] offered by: Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX); Energy and Environment Subcommittee Vice Chairman Paul Tonko (D-NY); Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Donna Edwards (D-MD); and Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).

"The amendment I've put forward supports the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program, which was established more than 10 years ago at NOAA," said Tonko. "It supports regionally-focused, user-oriented research that addresses complex climate sensitive issues of concern to resource managers and policy planners, including those related to transportation, agriculture, water resources, fisheries, and public health. This amendment is a significant first step is raising the profile of this important program, and helping to ensure that RISA teams throughout the country continue to provide important, user-oriented research and outreach."

"I am proud to offer an amendment that will help ensure that the services to be provided by the National Climate Service are not duplicative and address user needs adequately," said Edwards. "My amendment requires the Under Secretary of NOAA to provide a report to Congress within six months that will provide a snapshot of the current situation and how we need to proceed. I thank Chairman Gordon for his leadership on this important issue."

"The underlying legislation provides flexibility to NOAA in establishing the National Climate Service," said Baird. "However, we do not want this bill to be the end of our work with the Agency as the Administration moves forward to complete this effort. My amendment ensures that Congress and other stakeholders will have an opportunity for input on the Agency's plans and to shape the Service going forward."

Chairman Gordon intends to introduce the bill and bring it for consideration at the Full Committee level in the coming weeks.

>> More information is available at the Committee website


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