Energy & Environment

Democrats propose new funding for climate, weather research

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House Democrats on a key congressional panel are hoping to secure at least $2.6 billion in government funding for weather and climate change research at federal agencies.

The effort comes from Democratic members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee who are preparing to advance the panel’s $45.5 billion share of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill that includes some of President Biden’s biggest legislative priorities.

The measures being proposed by Democrats on the committee would devote $1.2 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs, including forecasting events such as tornadoes, droughts, hurricanes and wildfires and better understanding the effects of climate change on the ocean.

It also would put an additional $765 million toward NOAA research into climate adaptation and resilience.

At the Environmental Protection Agency, the proposal would put $264 million toward climate-related research and development activities, and at NASA, it would put $388 million toward similar programs.

The spending proposal’s release comes as climate change is once again in the spotlight after Hurricane Ida hit various parts of the country, causing widespread damage and power outages as well as dozens of deaths in states such as Louisiana and New York.

Other provisions in the committee’s bill would set aside about $1.2 billion for advancing nuclear fusion. It also would allocate $1.1 billion toward demonstration projects for wind, solar, geothermal and water energy as well as vehicle, bioenergy and building technologies. 

And it would create $80 million for grants that would help firefighters access supplies that are free of a class of toxic chemicals called PFAS, which can be found in many firefighting foams.

But the future of the overall spending bill is uncertain after key Senate swing vote Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) recently called for a “pause” on the legislation, setting the stage for a potential clash with progressives.

The House committee is slated to mark up its portion of the legislation on Thursday — the same day that the House Natural Resources Committee will continue its lengthy markup of the reconciliation package under its jurisdiction.

Tags Climate change Joe Biden Joe Manchin Reconciliation

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