A Periodic Federal Science Update

Quinnipiac University National Poll Finds Over 70% of U.S. Voters Support Climate Research -- Voters say (72 - 25 percent) that they do not believe funding for scientific research on the environment and climate change should be reduced. A total of 66 percent of American voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that climate change will affect them or a family member personally, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released on April 5, 2017. The U.S. should discourage the use of coal because of environmental concerns, 56 percent of voters say, while 36 percent say the U.S. should encourage coal use, citing jobs and economic benefits, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. A total of 76 percent of American voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" about climate change. Other voter attitudes on climate change are:

  • Voters do not believe 76 - 19 percent that climate change is a hoax;
  • Voters believe 65 - 28 percent that climate change is caused by human activity;
  • Voters say 62 - 28 percent President Donald Trump should not remove specific regulations intended to combat climate change;
  • Voters say 72 - 25 percent it's a "bad idea" to cut funding for scientific research on the environment and climate change;
  • The U.S. is doing enough to address climate change, 18 percent say, while 18 percent say the U.S. is doing too much and 59 percent say more needs to be done;
  • 56 percent say there has been more extreme or unusual weather in recent years;
  • 68 percent of voters say the U.S. can fight climate change and protect jobs, while 24 percent say one goal hurts the other.

A total of 92 percent of American voters say it is "very important" or "somewhat important" that the U.S. produces all of its own energy - energy independence. 

Congress Recesses for Two Weeks while April 28 deadline Looms for FY 2017 Funding Resolution – As Congress embarks on a two-week work district recess, House and Senate Appropriators are trying to finish up negotiations on an FY 2017 omnibus appropriations measure that would fund the Federal Government for the remaining five months in FY 2017.  A number of Members of Congress involved in these negotiations are projecting an upbeat “we got this” posture.  However still to be resolved are questions related to funding for border security including startup funding for The Wall.  The Administration had asked for $18 billion in reductions to nondefense programs in FY 2017 in order to pay for additional defense costs and border security activities.  These reductions are proposed to come from many nondefense programs including NSF research, NOAA ocean and coastal programs including Sea Grant, and NIH.  Many Members of Congress have dismissed these proposed reductions coming so late in the FY 2017 process.  At the same time, the White House is said to be pushing hard for startup funding for the wall in FY 2017 and the Appropriators may have to find a way to accommodate that issue.  The current Continuing Resolution funds the Federal Government until April 28.  When Congress returns from its two week recess it will have only a few days to pass legislation to keep the Federal Government from shutting down.

Congress Gives Final Approval to First Weather Forecast Improvement Legislation in Over a Decade – On April 4th, the House of Representatives agreed to suspend the rules and passed via a bipartisan voice vote H.R. 353, the Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017.  This important legislation prioritizes improving weather forecasting in the near term as well as over sub-seasonal and seasonal time frames. This bill does so by focusing research and computing resources on improved weather forecasting, quantitative observing data planning, next generation modeling, and an emphasis on research-to-operations technology transfer.  The legislation includes provisions to improve interagency coordination through the Office of Science and Technology Policy and collaboration with the private sector via the permanent establishment of the Environmental Information Services Working Group. The President has ten days (not including Sundays) from the date of House passage to sign this bill into law.

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) to Sponsor Briefing on Understanding Wildland Fires – On Wednesday, April 12 UCAR will hold the next in its series of Congressional Lunchtime Briefings to brief Congressional staff and others on how new research can help fire-management efforts to protect lives and property.  Many states in the nation have experienced the high cost of lives and property lost due to wildfire events. In an effort to better predict and respond to wildland fires, the UCAR research community works closely with federal and state agencies, emergency managers, and others to enhance understanding of wildfire dynamics. Bringing to bear ecosystem and atmospheric science, remote sensing and modeling capabilities, and high-performance computing, researchers are working closely with emergency responders and decision makers to protect U.S. lives and property. A panel of experts will lead a discussion on the progress underway and next challenges in developing better tools and strategies for understanding wildland fire behavior, enhancing public and firefighter safety, and reducing costs from these extreme events.  Panelists include: Dr. Antonio J. Busalacchi, Jr., University Corporation for Atmospheric Research; Donald A. Falk, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona; Michael Gollner, Department of Fire Protection Engineering, University of Maryland; William Mahoney, Research Applications Laboratory, National Center for Atmospheric Research; and Todd Richardson, Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Office.