Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Weather Forecasting and Proposed Legislation

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Democrats
Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2013

image Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing titled, "Restoring U.S. Leadership in Weather Forecasting," to discuss draft legislation that would reprioritize research initiatives at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) among other things. Testifying before the Subcommittee were two witnesses from the private sector, Mr. Barry Myers, Chief Executive Officer at Accuweather, Inc. and Mr. Jon Kirchner, President of GeoOptics, Inc.

Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said in her opening statement, "My thoughts and prayers go out to all of the victims of the powerful tornado that swept through the state of Oklahoma...This event is a painful reminder that we are all vulnerable to unexpected disasters. It also highlights how critical the work of the National Weather Service is as a public safety tool. And that highlights the purpose of today's hearing. We are taking testimony on a draft bill that is designed to improve weather forecasting. The National Weather Service is just one component of NOAA. NOAA has a sweeping mission to predict the weather, to insure healthy oceans and fisheries, to address climate mitigation and adaptation and to enhance the resilience of our coastal communities and economies. To carry out all these missions requires that NOAA manage a very broad set of scientific challenges and look for ways to bring the insights of research into the daily lives of all our citizens."

She continued, "We need to understand this broad mandate and we need a hearing record that lets us evaluate the sweep of NOAA's work and the interaction between the National Weather Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and probably other line offices such as the National Environmental Satellite Data Information Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service offices. For all their value, the witnesses before us today will not be able to address any of these matters in an expert way."

In response to a question from Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA), Mr. Kirchner said that university researchers, members of the scientific community, relevant international partners and NOAA should all be heard from before the Committee marks up this piece of legislation. After considering the concerns of the Minority, Chairman Stewart agreed to hold a second hearing with a balanced panel, including NOAA.

Ms. Bonamici said, "I want to thank Chairman Stewart for calling this important hearing and for his commitment to these issues. I know he wants to work to move forward on a bipartisan basis, and I know that Members on both sides of the aisle feel strongly about the importance of weather forecasting and the work of NOAA. I sincerely appreciate his decision to call another hearing so that we can hear from a range of expert witnesses who can help us craft strong legislation that will improve weather forecasting for the nation."

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