HR 2827 IH 104th CONGRESS 1st Session To consolidate and improve governmental environmental research by organizing a National Institute for the Environment, and for other purposes. IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES December 21, 1995 Mr. SAXTON (for himself, Mr. BOEHLERT, Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania, Mr. BARTON of Texas, Mr. GOSS, Mr. SMITH of New Jersey, Mr. KLUG, Mr. EHLERS, Mr. BLUTE, Mr. DELLUMS, Mr. KENNEDY of Rhode Island, Mr. SABO, Mr. OLVER, Mr. YATES, Mr. WARD, Mr. TORKILDSEN, Mr. DAVIS, Mr. GILCHREST, Mr. SHAYS, Mrs. MORELLA, and Mrs. ROUKEMA) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Science A BILL To consolidate and improve governmental environmental research by organizing a National Institute for the Environment, and for other purposes. Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE. This Act may be cited as the `Sound Science for the Environment Act'. SEC. 2. FINDINGS. The Congress finds the following: (1) The United States lacks an effective mechanism for providing and communicating a comprehensive, objective, and credible scientific understanding of environmental issues in a timely manner to policymakers and the public. (2) An appropriate understanding of the diverse scientific issues that underlie the environmental problems facing the United States is essential to finding environmentally and economically sound solutions to these problems. (3) To be useful, this understanding requires the integration of ongoing assessments of the state of scientific knowledge with credible problem-focused research, the communication of scientific information, and the appropriate education and training of environmental scientists, engines, and other professionals. (4) A healthy environment is essential to an enhanced quality of life, a competitive economy, and national security. (5) It is imperative that our Nation wisely expend its fiscal resources by eliminating duplication of certain Federal environmental research, and by consolidating Federal environmental science programs resulting in a more cost-effective and efficient use of resources, to achieve a better integration of an overall national environmental research strategy. SEC. 3. PURPOSE. The purpose of this Act is to consolidate certain governmental environmental science functions and create an independent institute to-- (1) improve the scientific basis for decision-making on environmental issues by integrating the functions of knowledge assessment, research, information services, and education and training; and (2) provide national leadership in environmental science and research. SEC. 4. ESTABLISHMENT OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR THE ENVIRONMENT. There is hereby established as an independent agency the National Institute for the Environment. The mission of the Institute shall be to improve the scientific basis for decisionmaking on environment issues. SEC. 5. DUTIES AND FUNCTIONS. The duties and functions of the Institute shall be-- (1) to initiate, facilitate, and where appropriate perform comprehensive assessments of the current state of knowledge of environmental issues and their implications; (2) to establish a Center for Environmental Assessment with duties to-- (A) identify emerging issues and problems by evaluating conditions and trends of the state of the environment; (B) determine the state of environmental knowledge by identifying what is known about particular issues and the voids in the current knowledge base; (C) evaluate implications of that knowledge and communicate scientific understanding of environmental issues to decisionmakers and the public; (D) identify areas of research that would provide the scientific information needed by decisionmakers and the public on critical environmental issues and evaluate constraints which may affect the conduct of this research, including the limitations in technological, human, and economic resources; (E) assist the Board and Director of the Institute in setting goals and priorities for the Institute; and (F) cooperate with and utilize the National Academy of Sciences and similar scientific organizations where appropriate; (3) to award competitively peer-reviewed grants, and where appropriate contracts, competitively for extramural scientific research; (4) to establish a Directorate of Research with duties to-- (A) fund issue-oriented research on-- (i) environmental resources (including inventories, monitoring, and characterization); (ii) environmental systems (including mechanisms, processes, and effects); and (iii) environmental sustainability (including strategies, methods, and techniques); (B) ensure that such research is disciplinary, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary, and organized around priority environmental issues, including the human dimensions associated with environmental problems; (5) to establish a National Library for the Environment as a universally accessible, easy to use, electronic, state-of-the-art information system for scientists, decisionmakers, and the public, which shall-- (A) link existing information networks and collections of environmental information, such as libraries, specialized information centers, data and statistical centers, government and private sector repositories of information, and individual experts; (B) provide quality-assured data and information by maintaining information about data sets, including who generated the information, by what methods they were collected, and whether the methods and information were peer-reviewed; (C) conduct targeted information programs by developing products and packaging information, in various media that are most accessible to specific groups or needs; and (D) provide long-term maintenance and management of the Nation's environmental information resources, through the promotion and development of policies and standards for managing and providing access to environmental data and information; and (6) to sponsor education and training of environmental scientists and professionals and to improve the public environmental literacy, including by establishing a Directorate of Education and Training with duties to-- (A) award competitive scholarships, traineeships, fellowships, and other arrangements at universities, colleges, and other institutions for study and research in disciplinary and interdisciplinary environmental sciences, and for improving environmental literacy; (B) support curriculum and program development, along with teacher training programs, at colleges, universities, and public institutions; (C) actively involve women, minorities, members of other underrepresented groups, and affected communities; and (D) sponsor public environmental education programs, including using the National Library for the Environment and other means to disseminate knowledge about the environment. SEC. 6. BOARD OF GOVERNORS. (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There shall be a Board of Governors for the Institute which shall establish goals, priorities, and policies of the Institute and serve in the national interest. (b) MEMBERSHIP- (1) APPOINTMENT- The Board shall be composed of 18 members who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. (2) REPRESENTATION- The members of the Board shall be comprised of approximately equal numbers of non-Federal scientists and users of scientific information on the environment, and shall include individuals-- (A) who as scientists, users of scientific information, or those who are affected by environmental issues, are individuals from diverse groups, including State, tribal, and local governments, business, environmental and citizens groups, academia, other organizations, and the public; (B) have an established record of distinguished service and expertise in their fields; and (C) who among the scientists represent the diversity of fields that study the environmental. (c) SPECIAL CONSIDERATIONS- In making appointments under this section, the President shall seek to provide for representation on the Board of women, minority groups, and individuals recommended by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and other groups. (d) TERMS- Members of the Board shall serve the following terms: (1) IN GENERAL- Except as provided in paragraph (2), a member of the Board shall serve for a 6-year term. (2) INITIAL TERMS- Of the initial members of the Board, as specified by the President at the time of appointment-- (A) 6 members shall serve an initial term of 2 years; (B) 6 members shall serve an initial term of 4 years; and (C) 6 members shall serve an initial term of 6 years. (3) SUBSEQUENT TERMS- An individual may not serve as a member of the Board for more than 2 consecutive 6-year terms. (e) MEETINGS- Meetings of the Board may be called by the Chair or a majority of its members at any time, and should occur no less than 4 times a year. (f) CHAIR- The Chair of the Board shall be elected by the Board from among its members. (g) REPORTS- On January 31 following completion of appointment of the members of the Board, and every 2 years thereafter, the Board shall report on the work, findings, and accomplishments of the Institute, including an indication of likely priorities of the Institute for the 2-year period following. Reports of findings on specific environmental matters may be issued by the Board at any time, including periodic evaluation of the conditions and trends of the environment. Reports of the Board shall be transmitted to the President, the Congress, and Federal agencies in a timely fashion and shall be available to the general public. (h) ADVISORY COMMITTEES- The Board may establish such advisory committees as the Board considers necessary. The Board shall consult with the Interagency Advisory Committee established by section 9 and advisory committees established under this subsection, to ensure coordination and to avoid duplication. (i) TRAVEL EXPENSES- Each member of the Board who is not an officer or employee of the United States may receive travel expenses, including per diem in lieu of subsistence, in the same manner as travel expenses are allowed under section 5703 of title 5, United States Code, for persons serving intermittently in the Government service. (j) PROHIBITION OF COMPENSATION OF FEDERAL EMPLOYEES- Members of the Board who are full-time officers or employees of the United States or Members of Congress may not receive additional pay, allowances, or benefits by reason of service on the Board. SEC. 7. STAFF. (a) DIRECTOR- (1) IN GENERAL- The Institute shall be administered by a Director, who shall be appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. In appointing the Director, the President-- (A) shall solicit nominations from the Board and established scientific organizations; and (B) shall appoint an individual who has an established record of distinguished service and expertise in the environmental sciences. (2) AUTHORITY- The Director shall exercise all authority granted to the Institute in this Act, including powers delegated by the Board, and all actions of the Director shall be final and binding on the Institute. (3) DUTIES- The Director shall be responsible for the integration of the duties and functions of the Institute as described in section 5, and for ensuring the full involvement of all relevant environmental sciences and the full range of users in these duties. (4) PAY; TERM OF OFFICE- The Director shall receive basic pay at a rate not to exceed the rate provided for level II of the Executive Schedule under section 5313 of title 5, United States Code, and shall serve for a term of 6 years. (5) MEMBER OF COUNCIL- The Director shall be a member on the National Science and Technology Council. (6) EX-OFFICIO MEMBER OF BOARD- The Director shall be a nonvoting, ex-officio member of the Board. (b) ASSISTANT DIRECTORS- The Director shall appoint, in consultation with the Board, Assistant Directors for the Center for Environmental Assessment, the Directorate of Research, the National Library for the Environment, and the Directorate of Education and Training to carry out the duties and functions of the Institute and to ensure that all functions of the Institute are properly integrated. SEC. 8. INTERAGENCY COOPERATION. (a) ACQUISITION OF INFORMATION FROM OTHER AGENCIES- The Institute may acquire from the head of any Federal agency unclassified data and nonproprietary knowledge and information obtained and possessed by other Federal agencies which the Institute considers useful in the discharge of its duties. The head of each Federal agency shall cooperate with the Institute to furnish all information required by the Director that is requested by the Institute. (b) ACCESS TO INFORMATION AND PRODUCTS OF INSTITUTE- The Institute shall cooperate with all Federal agencies to ensure that the information and products of the Institute are useful and accessible to all agencies. SEC. 9. INTERAGENCY ADVISORY COMMITTEE. (a) ESTABLISHMENT- There is hereby established an Interagency Advisory Committee to ensure that the environmental efforts of the Institute and other Federal agencies are complementary. (b) DUTIES- The Interagency Advisory Committee shall provide recommendations and advice to the Board to help ensure that-- (1) the Institute's priorities incorporate the needs and activities of other agencies; (2) the activities of the Institute support and complement and do not duplicate the existing programs of the agencies; and (3) other Federal agencies are informed of the scientific findings of the Institute. (c) COMPOSITION- The Interagency Advisory Committee shall consist of the heads (or their designees of other Federal agencies, including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior, the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Transportation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science and Technology Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. (d) CHAIR- The Interagency Advisory Committee shall elect a Chair, who shall be a nonvoting, ex officio member of the Board. SEC. 10. GRANTS, CONTRACTS, AND OTHER AUTHORITIES. (a) AUTHORITY TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE- To carry out the duties of the Institute under this Act, the Institute, subject to the availability of appropriations, may enter into various financial arrangements, including competitively awarded grants, loans, cooperative agreements, and contracts to institutions, teams, and centers, after rigorous peer review. (b) PERSONS ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE FUNDING- Scientists, engineers, and other researchers are eligible to receive funding from the Institute under subsection (a), except that-- (1) scientists from Federal agencies shall not be given a preference for funding based on their employment with the Federal Government; and (2) the receipt of funding from the Institute shall be subject to any criteria and other requirements prescribed by the Institute. (c) RECEIPT OF FUNDING FROM OTHER PERSONS- (1) RECEIPT- To carry out particular projects and activities under this Act the Institute may, subject to the approval of the Board-- (A) receive funds from other Federal agencies; and (B) accept, use, and dispose of gifts, bequests, or devises of services or property, both real and personal. (2) USE- Funds received under this subsection shall be deposited in the Treasury and shall be made available to the Institute to the extent provided in appropriations Acts. SEC. 11. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR TRANSFERS OF FUNCTIONS TO INSTITUTE. (a) IN GENERAL- Not later than 12 months after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President, in consultation with the heads of other Federal departments and independent agencies in the executive branch, shall-- (1) submit to the Congress recommendations regarding existing Federal programs that are appropriate for transfer to the Institute; and (2) include with those recommendations any draft legislation the enactment of which is necessary to accomplish those transfers. (b) IDENTIFICATION OF APPROPRIATE PROGRAMS- In implementing subsection (a), the President shall consider a program to be appropriate for transfer to the Institute if the program-- (1) is consistent with the mission of the Institute under section 4; (2) is non-regulatory; (3) supports achievement of comprehensive, problem-focused, anticipatory, multidisciplinary, and interdisciplinary science programs; and (4) supports achievement of extramural programs. SEC. 12. DEFINITIONS. As used in this Act: (1) BOARD- The term `Board' means the Board of Governors of the Institute, established by section 6. (2) DECISIONMAKERS- The term `decision- makers' means elected or appointed officials of Federal, State, tribal, and local governments, and similar individuals in the private sector. (3) ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCES- The term `environmental sciences' means the full range of fields of study, including biological, physical, chemical, geological, and social sciences, engineering, and humanities, relevant to the understanding of environmental problems. (4) INSTITUTE- The term `Institute' means the National Institute for the Environment established by this Act. (5) SCIENTIST- The term `scientist' means a practitioner of science relevant to the environment.
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Last updated July 15, 1996 by Heidi Mohlman, AGI Government Affairs intern