On June 30, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) was in Newport, Oregon, and visited NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operation’s, Marine Operations Center – Pacific (MOC-P), where he received a tour of the NOAA Ship McArthur II, as well as an update on the Center’s mission, programs, and activities, including status of the Pacific fleet.
On June 30, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representative Kurt Schrader (D OR-5) led a meeting on tsunami marine debris with representatives from NOAA, the U.S. Coast Guard, state and Local officials, as well as representatives from the tug boat, steamship and sport and commercial fishing industries that was held in Newport, Oregon. The objective of this meeting was to share information on how the various federal and state agencies are working to address the tsunami debris and to identify steps to ensure the safety of Oregon.
On June 29, the Senate confirmed two packages, totaling 31 officers, of NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps nominees to rank of Ensign or Lieutenant Junior Grade.
On June 27, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight (Chair, Representative Paul Broun, R GA-10) and the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment (Chair, Representative Andy Harris, R MD-1) held a hearing titled, “Continuing Oversight of the Nation’s Weather Satellite Programs – An Update on JPSS and GOES-R.”
NOAA's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, testified and a copy of the written testimony may be viewed on the Congressional Testimony page.
On June 25-27, Members and staff of the Senate and House had a meet-and-greet with the new Director of NOAA’s National Weather Service, National Hurricane Center, Dr. Rick Knabb. The Members and staff who met Dr. Knabb included:
On June 21, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Chair, Representative Frank Wolf, R VA-10) held a hearing on the reprogramming of funds by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS).
The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and NOAA Administrator, Dr. Jane Lubchenco, testified along with NOAA's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, and a copy of the written testimony may be viewed on the Congressional Testimony page.
On June 19, the House Committee on Natural Resources, Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affairs (Chair, Representative John Fleming, R LA-4) held a hearing on several fishery’s related bills including:
NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, Eric Schwaab, testified and a copy of the written testimony may be viewed on the Congressional Testimony page of the OLIA website.
On June 16, local and state officials from Wisconsin and Michigan joined NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, Eric Schwaab; the Director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps, RADM Jonathan Bailey; and other NOAA officials for the launch of the NOAA Ship Reuben Lasker in Marinette, Wisconsin. The Laskeris the fifth in a series of the most technologically advanced fisheries vessels in the world and is named after the late Dr. Reuben Lasker, who served as the Director of NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, Coastal Fisheries Division and as adjunct professor at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, U.C. San Diego. A link to the video of the launch may be found on the press release page at http://www.noaanews.noaa.gov/stories2012/20120618_laskerlaunch.html
On June 15, Representative Suzanna Bonamici (D OR-1) convened a meeting of state, local, and federal partners and other stakeholders to discuss coordination of efforts to clean debris resulting from the 2011 Japan tsunami on Oregon’s beaches and coastal waters. Representative Bonamici invited representatives from NOAA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Coast Guard, state and local governments, and community organizations to participate.
On June 15, Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), state and local officials from Connecticut, university and NGO partners, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the media joined officials from NOAA’s National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science for the Long Island Sound Seafloor Mapping Project and Tour of the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in New London, Connecticut. The event and tour kicked off a multi-year Long Island Sound Seafloor Mapping Project that will survey the seafloor of Long Island Sound using the latest technologies to characterize the location, extent, and character of bottom habitats and the spatial relationships of the biological communities that inhabit them.
On June 15, several Senate and House staff from various committees and personal offices joined NOAA’s Acting Assistant Secretary for Conservation and Management, Eric Schwaab; the Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, Dave Kennedy; other NOAA officials and staff; and the officers of the NOAA Corps and the crew of the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler for a short mission trip in the Chesapeake Bay. Once onboard the Hassler, the congressional staff had an opportunity to meet the officers and crew, tour the ship and learn about its capabilities, had a chance to see a demonstration of survey systems and learn about NOAA's nautical charting mission (using targets of opportunity on the route between Annapolis and Baltimore), as well as learn more about the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps – one of the nation’s seven uniformed services.
On June 12, Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (R NJ-11) was joined by a Hurricane Hunter Pilot from the Office of Marine and Aviation Operations, NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps for a series of visits to three schools in the Morristown, New Jersey, area, where they addressed over 500 students. The purpose of the visits was to emphasize the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to educate the students on the work of NOAA.
On June 11, Representative Rush Holt (D NJ-12) visited NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Lab (GFDL), in Princeton, New Jersey. Representative Holt was briefed by GFDL officials on the labs mission, programs, and activities.
On June 8, staff from the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the office of Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), joined NOAA's Assistant Secretary for Environmental Observation and Prediction, Dr. Kathryn Sullivan; the Director of NOAA’s Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and the NOAA Corps, RADM Jonathan Bailey; the Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, Dave Kennedy, other officials, and over 150 guests at the christening and commissioning of the NOAA Ship Ferdinand R Hassler in Norfolk, Virginia. The newest addition to NOAA’s hydrographic survey fleet, the Ferdinand R Hassler (Hassler) is a twin-hulled coastal mapping vessel designed to operate from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico. Hassler will be homeported in New Castle, New Hampshire.
NOAA Ship Ferdinand R. Hassler
On June 7, the House Committee on Natural Resources (Chair, Representative Doc Hastings, R WA-4) held a markup of several bills, including HR 1171, the Marine Debris Act Reauthorization Amendments of 2011. HR 1171 reauthorizes NOAA's Marine Debris Program through FY 2016 and makes some technical adjustments to the existing bill. Two other bills marked up that were of interest included:
HR 1171 and HR 3210 were approved by the committee and go to the House floor for a vote at a later date to be determined.
On June 7, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure (Chair, Representative John Mica, R FL-7) held a markup on HR 1171, the Marine Debris Act Reauthorization Amendments of 2011. HR 1171 reauthorizes NOAA's Marine Debris Program through FY 2016 and makes some technical adjustments to the existing bill.
The bill was approved by the committee and goes to the House floor for a vote at a later date to be determined.
On June 6, several Members of congress including Senator Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Senator Mark Begich (D-AK), Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI), Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), and Representative Don Young (R AK-At Large), as well as over 40 Senate and House staff joined NOAA leadership and staff for the 37th Annual NOAA Fish Fry in Washington, DC.
Dr Lubchenco and Senator Akaka
On June 5, more than 100 interested Senate and House staff joined the Acting Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Weather Service, Laura Furgione; the Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Craig Fugate; the Associate Administrator of the Federal Insurance and Mitigation Administration, David Miller; and the Senior Vice President of the American Red Cross, Charley Shimanski, for the 2012 Hurricane season Preparedness Congressional Briefing. The briefing focused on hurricane preparedness, lessons learned from past seasons, highlighted this year's Seasonal Hurricane Outlook, the importance of flood insurance (inland flooding from hurricanes i.e., Hurricane Irene last year) and the role of the American Red Cross in responding to disasters.
On May 31, staff for Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) visited NOAA’s National Weather Service, National Data Buoy Center; and the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, National Coastal Data Development Center, in Stennis, Mississippi. During the visit to the Centers the staff learned about their missions, programs, and activities.
On May 29, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) hosted NOAA officials as part of a roundtable discussion with federal, state, and private institutions on Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAVs) in Anchorage, Alaska. Representatives from OAR's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Program and NMFS’ Marine Mammal Observation Program discussed NOAA's current use of this technology.
On May 25, Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D FL-20) and Representative Alcee Hastings (D FL-23) joined officials from NOAA’s National Weather Service and NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research for the hurricane season briefing and press conference at the Broward Emergency Operations Center in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The briefing included an overview of NHC’s role during the 2012 hurricane season and the 2012 Hurricane Season Outlook, which was released May 24.
On May 17, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries, and Coast Guard (Chair, Senator Mark Begich, D-AK)held a hearing titled, “Stemming the Tide: The U.S. Response to Tsunami Generated Debris”.
The Assistant Administrator of NOAA’s National Ocean Service, Dave Kennedy, testified and a copy of the written testimony may be viewed on the Congressional Testimony page.
On May 17, Representative Bill Long (R MO-7), Representative Terri Sewell (D AL-7), Representative Spencer Bachus (R AL-6), and all interested Senate and House staff joined staff from NOAA’s National Weather (NWS) for a briefing in the Capitol Visitors Center on the Tornado Playbook. NWS staff joined the American Red Cross and a panel of experts (primarily outreach/communications staff) to highlight the preparedness and response measures that the NWS and our disaster partners utilize in the event of a tornado, and what congressional staff should know and where to turn for information when tornadoes threaten or strike. Members of Congress whose states and districts have been affected by recent tornado events shared their personal experiences.
On May 14, Representative Yvette Clarke (D NY-11) and Representative Trent Franks (R AZ-2) joined officials from NOAA’s National Weather Service, Space Weather Prediction Center (SWPC), and other U.S. and United Kingdom officials as presenters at the 3rd World Summit on Infrastructure and Security that was held in London, England. The NOAA presentation focused on NOAA's (SWPC's) role in support of the U.S. power grid, and explained the interplay between NOAA and the grid operators.
On May 8-10, the House held a floor debate on HR 5326, the Commerce, Justice, Science funding bill, which as approved by the committee would have provided $4,967.6 million for NOAA. However, there were a number of NOAA-related amendments introduced that addressed funding levels for fisheries and other activities and made various cuts. There were also several floor statements made in support of proposed funding levels for specific programs, including coral reefs.
The House passed the final bill with a vote of 247 to 163, which will then go to conference once the Senate passes their version in order to resolve any final differences in specific funding.
On May 8, all interested Senate and House staff were briefed by officials from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, Sea Grant Program, on how Sea Grant programs are helping fishermen develop innovative business models and practices that are generating new revenue streams, ensuring a safe and sustainable supply of seafood to local consumers, and revitalizing the fishing industry. The briefing focused on small-scale fishers in coastal communities who, thanks to the help of Sea Grant, are developing new opportunities to sell their fish locally, and in many cases directly to the consumer.
On May 1, staff from the offices of Representative Bill Young (R FL-10), Representative Kathy Castor (D FL-11), and Representative Gus Bilirakis (R FL-9) attended the rollout event for NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS) Weather Ready Nation pilot project for the Tampa area that was held in St. Petersburg, Florida. This is the second of a series of NOAA Weather Ready Nation pilot projects designed to build resilient communities and economies. Initial projects the team will work on include: development of a Marine Route Forecast, collaborating with the National Ocean Service to enhance current Harmful Algae Bloom forecasts, improving the local provision of storm surge warning information, and development of graphical smoke plume and visibility hazard forecasts.
On April 26, the House Committee on Appropriations (Chair, Representative Harold Rogers, R KY-5) held a markup on NOAA’s FY 2013 Budget Request. The bill provides $4,967.6 million for NOAA, which is $61.0 million above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level and $92.9 million below the President’s Budget. The House Mark is $1.5 billion above the Senate Mark and unlike the Senate Mark does not transfer weather satellite acquisition from NOAA to NASA in FY13.
The bill now goes to the House floor for debate that is scheduled to begin on May 8.
On April 17, the Senate Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies held a markup and approved FY 2013 funding legislation that would provide $3.4 billion for NOAA, which is $1.47 billion below the fiscal year 2012 enacted level. The bill includes a number of provisions including the transfer of funding needed for weather satellite acquisition from NOAA to NASA.
The full committee held its markup on April 19 and approved the bill by a vote of 28-1. The bill will now go to the Senate floor for consideration at a later date to be determined.
On April 19, the House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies held a markup and approved FY 2013 funding legislation that contains $5.0 billion for NOAA, which is $68 million above fiscal year 2012 and $93 million below the President’s request.
The full committee is expected to consider the legislation next week.
On April 19, all interested Senate and House staff from the New England Delegation were briefed by officials from NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service on the announcement of a closure area to protect harbor porpoises. Regulations to protect harbor porpoises specify management areas in which seasonal gillnet closures are triggered if harbor porpoise bycatch rates exceed specified target rates. The target bycatch rate for one of these areas in the coastal Gulf of Maine has been exceeded and there will be a seasonal closure during the months of October and November 2012.
A number of Members of the Senate and House and congressional staff have been briefed by NOAA leadership on the FY 2013 NOAA Budget Request (and/or the Line Office/Program FY 2013 request). Below are the briefings recently held noting date, Member or staff, briefer, and OLIA Lead(s):
On April 10, Representative John Fleming (R LA-4) visited NOAA’s National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Shreveport, Louisiana. During the visit Representative Fleming received a tour and a presentation on how they are implementing NOAA's Weather-Ready Nation initiative.
On April 4, Representative Glenn Thompson (R PA-5) visited NOAA’s National Weather Service, Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center (MARFC) in State College, Pennsylvania. During the visit he toured the offices and presented the Stoll Award for 50 years of service to Cooperative Observer Bud Nordin. MARFC staff also briefed Representative Thompson on flood forecasting, precipitation departures from normal (dry weather), and demonstrated the new flood inundation mapping capability for Jersey Shore, Pennsylvania.
On April 3, staff for Senator Tim Johnson (D-SD) visited NOAA’s National Weather Service, Weather Forecast Office (WFO) in Aberdeen, South Dakota. WFO staff presented an overview of the mission, programs, and activities of the office.