Home | Contact ST  
Follow ST

Capital Report


January 2014 Issue

Coast Guard Falling Short on Mission Goals
The U.S. Coast Guard has been failing to meet its mission requirements in its program of records. The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing in December to look into why the Coast Guard is not meeting these goals.

Less than half of performance measures were completed by the Coast Guard in 2012. The need to fix failing vessels and aircraft inhibited the service from meeting benchmarks, and funding will continue to be an obstacle in the future. Chairman Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) said that the 2014 budget will see 'a 41 percent cut over fiscal year 2013.'

The fiscal landscape makes the performance of the Coast Guard predictable, according to Ranking Member John Garamendi (D-Calif.).

'The hard reality remains,' said Garamendi, 'you get what you pay for.'

In his testimony, the Coast Guard's Vice Adm. John Currier said that funding was only part of the problem. Currier explained that the process for setting goals for the Coast Guard was flawed because the benchmarks are based on the assumption of a certain amount of funding established by historical levels.

US House Environment Subcommittee Examines Climate-Weather Relationship
The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology's Subcommittee on Environment held a hearing in December entitled 'A Factual Look at the Relationship between Climate and Weather.' The stated purpose of the hearing was to examine the relationship between climate change and extreme weather events. Members emphasized the prevailing scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change is real, and discussed the need to understand the relationship between severe weather events and climate to manage the risks associated with a changing climate.

Ranking Member Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) said in her opening statement, 'The lesson of this hearing cannot be that a potential link between climate change and severe weather is too difficult to determine or understand, and therefore we should stop trying. It should not be controversial to examine if the weather will change as a consequence of global warming. Scientific projections from the IPCC make it apparent that we will live in a hotter world—we already have a warmer world than that of our grandparents. In many of our districts, residents will experience drier environments with more drought. Those of us who represent particularly wet areas may find that precipitation arriving in more intense storms. The oceans will be warmer and that may well produce stronger or more frequent tropical storms. To focus only on the question of whether there will be more extreme events misses the point that by the end of this century much of the world as we know it, in our districts and states, will be considerably altered by the weather effects of climate change.'

Witness Dr. David Titley (U.S. Navy RAdm., retired) said in his testimony, 'Our country is dealing with a significant change in the world's climate; it is a large challenge. Saying we don't know today the impact of climate change on [weather] phenomena is very different than stating that climate change has no impact on typhoons and hurricanes. What we do know is that these storms are forming in a warmer, moister environment and above a warmer ocean. We also know that current research indicates our future may include more intense, and possibly more frequent, storms. That is a risk not to be summarily discounted.'

US House Science Committee Considers Weather, Research Legislation
The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a markup in December to consider four pieces of legislation: H.R. 2413, the 'Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013'; H.R. 2431, the 'National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013'; H.R. 2981, the 'Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency Act of 2013'; and H.R. 3625, 'To provide for termination liability costs for certain National Aeronautics and Space Administration projects, and for other purposes.'

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act of 2013, reprioritizes research initiatives of NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research.

The National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013, is a collaborative effort between numerous federal agencies and several state governments to provide a dynamic and accessible drought-risk information system. Subcommittee on Energy Ranking Member Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fla.) offered an amendment to ensure the most accurate, up-to-date science is being used to protect against the impacts of natural disasters. The amendment passed by voice vote.

The 'Technology and Research Accelerating National Security and Future Economic Resiliency Act of 2013' (TRANSFER) is bipartisan legislation designed to help accelerate the commercialization of federally funded research.

Mexico Passes Bill to End Petróleos Mexicanos Monopoly
Mexico's Congress passed legislation to end Petróleos Mexicanos's (Mexico City, Mexico) 75-year monopoly. The intention is to clear the way for foreign oil companies to return to the Mexican energy market, from which they have been excluded since 1938, The Wall Street Journal reported. This should boost foreign investment, be a catalyst for the Mexican economy and contribute to North America's energy industry growth.

Mexico's Constitution will be changed by the legislation, which means the bill requires ratification by a majority of state legislatures. Ratification is likely, and by early February the bill is expected to be signed into law.

While the bill allows for foreign players to enter the country's energy market, Mexico will retain ownership of oil underground. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says Mexico's oil patch is the biggest unexplored one besides the Arctic Circle. Allowing foreign players could increase oil output to 4 million barrels a day by 2025. The current output stands at 2.5 million barrels a day.

Exploration and production in the most difficult areas are expected, particularly in the Gulf of Mexico's waters.


-back to top-