Congressional Climate Leaders Propose $2.6 Billion for Federal Climate Research and Forecasting

Image: Michael M Stokes via Wikimedia Commons

By Amy Lupica, ODP Daily Editor

Democratic members of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee have proposed $2.6 billion in funding for weather and climate change research at federal agencies as part of the committee’s $45.5 billion share of Democrats’ $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill. The move comes as President Biden confirms he will be attending the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow this November, and on the heels of a devastating, natural disaster-filled summer.

 

Why This Matters: The U.S. is in a climate crisis. This past summer, drought, wildfires, and heat domes battered the West, while hurricanes and tropical storms drowned the Southern and East coasts. Climate scientists say that every one of these events can be linked to climate change and rising global temperatures. As the nation invests in significant clean energy projects and updated infrastructure, climate adaptation must be a priority to save lives. Funding more climate research will help the nation prepare for climate disasters before they happen, and build climate resilience into new nationwide infrastructure like power grids, highways, and more.

 

Money, Money, Money

The measure would include $1.2 billion for National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs like tornado, hurricane, wildfire, and drought forecasting. Additionally, it would include: 

  • $765 million for NOAA research into climate adaptation and resilience.
  • $264 million for climate-related research and development at the EPA.
  • $388 million for climate-related programs at NASA.

Other measures in the committee’s reconciliation include $1.2 billion for advancing nuclear fusion and $1.1 billion toward a variety of clean energy projects. It also includes $80 million in grants that would help firefighters access PFAS-free equipment and supplies, after PFAS in protective gear were found to increase cancer risk. 

 

The proposal comes as President Biden asked Congress for billions in disaster aid on Tuesday, after touring communities in New York and New Jersey that were devastated by Hurricane Ida. And even as tensions rise over the safety and equity of November’s COP26 climate conference, the President confirmed he will be attending the event

 

Going Solar

Additionally, the administration announced on Wednesday a plan to produce 45% of the nation’s electricity using solar power by 2050, which last year represented only 4% of US energy production. Accomplishing this will require solar infrastructure to grow exponentially by 2030. “One of the things we’re hoping that people see and take from this report is that it is affordable to decarbonize the grid,” said Becca Jones-Albertus, the director of the Solar Energy Technology Office in the Department of Energy. “The grid will remain reliable. We just need to build.”

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