Congressional Climate Leaders Proposal $2.6 Billion for Federal Climate Research

$2.6 Billion Proposal for Federal Climate Research and Forecasting

Democratic members of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology 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 in Glasgow this November, despite rising tensions over safety and equity at the conference and on the heels of a devastating, natural disaster-filled summer.

Why This Matters

The US 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.

NOAA and NCEI: A map of the world plotted with some of the most significant climate events that occurred during July 2021, August 13, 2021.

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.

NOAA: Billion-Dollar Disasters - By the Numbers (1980-2020).

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 Solar Energy Technologies Office Director within the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). “The grid will remain reliable. We just need to build."

US Department of Energy: Next-Generation Inverters Enable Solar Energy Integration, August 11, 2021.