In the past week, Congressman Andy Biggs (R-AZ) prepared an amendment that would prohibit use of any funds appropriated to Federal agencies on the National Climate Assessment. He submitted the amendment to the House Rules Committee so that it can be considered in the context of FY 2018 funding bills due for consideration this month before the current fiscal year ends on September 30.
This is just the latest attack on the Congressionally-mandated regular reports to the President and Congress of the nature and impacts of changing climate conditions on the United States established under the U.S. Global Change Research Act of 1990. The National Climate Assessment is now the primary mechanism for routinely taking stock of changing climate conditions and exploring the consequences for the communities, economic sectors and natural resources of the United States. Were it to be successful, this amendment would force the United States to take a huge step backwards in enabling our citizens to understand, prepare for and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
Locally, this amendment would have a significant impact on personnel and scientific programs at the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (NCEI) headquartered in Asheville. NCEI houses the Technical Support Unit (TSU) for the National Assessment and is central to the production of the NCA and supporting scientific reports. Last year, expenditures for the TCU through theUNC-based Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites (CICS-NC) amounted to $2.14 million involving approximately 15 full and part-time employees in Asheville. In addition, NCEI may have received additional funding between $500,000 to $750,000 towards preparation of the Assessment. Stay tuned for further information on impacts and the fate of the Biggs amendment in the coming few weeks.