On 3 June 2009, the House Science and Technology Committee passed HR 2407, the “National Climate Service Act of 2009” by a vote of 24 to 12. Introduced on 14 May 2009 by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), the legislation would establish a Climate Service Program at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The legislation emphasizes the role of stakeholders in the development of a climate service, requiring agencies to consult with users of climate products and information in order to allow Congress to be more responsive to community needs.

One amendment, added by Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA) and Energy and Environment Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC) would defer the somewhat contentious decision of where the new service would reside within NOAA’s organization. The amendment defined a three-year process, lead by the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and conducted through the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council. It would require that the CENR conduct an evaluation of different organizational structures for a National Climate Service and to report results to Congress within two years.

Two other successful amendments would expand the scientific outreach and education components of the legislation. The first, offered by Research and Science Education Subcommittee Vice Chairwoman Marcia Fudge (D-OH) would establish a clearinghouse and web portal to be managed by NOAA that would streamline communication between agencies and the scientific community. The second, offered by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), calls for the establishment of a climate science summer institute program for middle school, high school, and undergraduate students that would be conducted cooperatively between Regional Climate Centers and the university community.

 


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