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Geoscience Policy Monthly Review: May 2013

The Monthly Review is part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. Current and archived monthly reviews are available online.

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Natural Hazards

  • Restoring US leadership in weather forecasting

On May 23, 2013 the Subcommittee on Energy of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee held a hearing on Restoring U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting. With witness testimony from Mr. Barry Myers, Chief Executive Officer of AccuWeather, a private weather forecasting company, and Mr. Jon Kirchner, President of GeoOptics, a private environmental data company, the hearing focused on how to improve budgeting and cooperation between federal weather organizations and the private weather industry.

Questions from members of Congress focused both on the overall impact of weather forecasting and the relationship between weather forecasting and climate change. Randy Weber (R-TX) and Chairman Stewart both inquired as to what the goals of storms forecasting were and what was the degree of predictability of a storm? Mr. Myers responded by saying that the goal of storm forecasting was to “provide time for getting away from tornadoes” and that some storms were more predictable than others, but that predictability is always getting better. Mr. Kirchner followed up this point by saying that we can now predict storms “precious hours” earlier than before and that we can now see storms that were invisible in the past.

Ultimately, because representatives from NOAA were not present, the subcommittee called for another hearing at a later date with further witness testimony.

  • Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2013 introduced in the House and Senate

Representative Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL) introduced the Safe Building Code Incentive Act of 2013 (H.R. 1878) to the House on May 9, 2013. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Safe Building Code Incentive Act (S. 905, S. 924) to the Senate on May 8 and 9, 2013, respectively.

The bill incentivizes the states to adopt and enforce nationally recognized building codes by offering an additional 4 percent in disaster grant funding. Diaz-Balart said that implementation of these codes would promote construction better designed to withstand natural disasters.

The BuildStrong Coalition lobbied lawmakers in support of the bill citing the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy last October.

  • Wilson introduces Natural Hazards Reduction Act of 2013

    This May, Frederica Wilson (D-FL), Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Technology, introduced the Natural Hazards Reduction Act of 2013 to reauthorize the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) and the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program (NWIRP).

NEHRP was established in 1977 to help monitor and mitigate the effects of earthquakes. NEHRP has been reviewed and reauthorized 11 times since its inception. It was last reauthorized in 2004.

NWIRP was established in 2004 to help monitor and mitigate the effects of windstorms and other wind hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes, and severe storms.

Four federal agencies are responsible for different programs under NEHRP: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). FEMA, NSF, NIST and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) oversee programs for NWIRP. NIST is the lead agency in charge of planning and coordination for both NEHRP and NWIRP.







Monthly Review prepared by: Abby Seadler, Geoscience Policy Associate, Kimberley Corwin, 2013 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern, and Brittany Huhmann, Clinton Koch, and John Kemper 2013 AGI/AIPG Summer Interns.

Sources: AccuWeather, The American Institute of Physics, BuildStrong Coalition, Bureau of Land Management, Coalition for National Science Funding, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior,  Environment and Energy Daily, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Register, GeoOptics, Government Accountability Office, Greenwire, The Hill Blog, House of Representatives, Keck Institute for Space Studies Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study, Lunar and Planetary Institute, MIT Energy Initiative, National Academies Press, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, Science Magazine, Thomas, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Government Printing Office, U.S. Senate, the White House


This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Geoscience Policy Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies, and others as part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. More information on these topics can be found on the Geoscience Policy Current Issues pages. For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit the web site or contact us at or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.


Compiled May 31, 2013


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