The White House in January proposed moving NOAA from the Commerce Department to Interior as part of a wider reorganization plan that would merge six trade and commerce agencies.
But Congress would have to give the White House the power to undertake such actions.
“Reorganization of the kind that would bring NOAA and Interior together would be an effort that would take a significant amount of time to do it right,” Salazat told the panel.
“We are supportive of giving the president the authority. It doesn’t make sense for us to engage in any kind of study ... until we have that authority,” he said.
NOAA’s portfolio includes climate change research, fisheries and other work that intersects with Interior Department activities.
For instance, NOAA explores how drilling would affect marine species, and plays a permitting role through its National Marine Fisheries Service.
NOAA also played a major role in measuring how much oil spewed from BP’s blown-out Gulf of Mexico well during the 2010 oil spill.