House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Discusses NOAA’s Use of Commercial Weather Data

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology’s Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing titled, “Advancing Commercial Weather Data: Collaborative Efforts to Improve Forecasts, Part Two” to examine weather data policies and acquisition strategies of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Today’s hearing supplemented a prior hearing held on May 20, 2015. Testifying before the Committee was the Honorable
Manson Brown, Deputy Administrator, NOAA, and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Environmental Observation and Prediction

Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) of the Environment Subcommittee said, “We heard in our first hearing that although there are opportunities to advance our current model and thinking, there are also serious risks to consider. Congress must not rush to change a process that has worked so well, and provided such great benefits, without ensuring those successes can continue.”

She continued, “The entire weather enterprise, from NOAA to its industry partners and talented researchers, share the same goal of continually advancing our ability to accurately forecast the weather, save lives, and improve our economy in the process. I look forward to hearing about the work NOAA is doing to identify ways to work more closely with industry to incorporate commercial weather data into its models, products, and services, and continuing the discussion of how we can advance our robust weather industry.”

Members discussed existing NOAA policies, the United States’ international data sharing commitments under the World Meteorological Organization, how expanded use of commercial weather data may impact NOAA’s ability to maintain its existing obligations, how existing obligations may impact NOAA’s ability to develop partnerships with the commercial weather sector, NOAA’s plan to release a Commercial Data Policy this year, and the need to for ongoing dialogue and discussion moving forward.

Mr. Brown emphasized NOAA’s commitment to fulfilling its mission. He said in his testimony, “We remain committed to keeping the proven U.S. and international data partnerships in place while the commercial sector demonstrates and validates its ability to meet our data requirements. Foremost is ensuring our mission of protecting lives and property, securing critical infrastructure, and supporting a growing and thriving economy.”

Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) said in her statement for the record, “Observing the Earth and its changes is a truly global enterprise and we all benefit from deep and long-lasting international engagement and data sharing. Anything that has the potential to harm such arrangements must be dealt with from the beginning. To that end, I am pleased to learn that NOAA is taking a thoughtful approach to expanding their use of commercial weather data, mindful of the risks and open to its benefits.”

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