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Capital Report


February 2014 Issue

US Congress Passes 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill
The 2014 Omnibus Appropriations Bill was passed by the U.S. Senate (72-26) after previous approval by the House (359-67). The spending bill was signed by President Obama in January, just a day before federal funding was set to expire under the short-term Continuing Resolution.

The $1.1 trillion Omnibus covers all 12 fiscal year (FY) 2014 appropriations bills, avoids a government shutdown and provides relief from automatic recisions.

Omnibus Appropriations for the Department of Energy (DOE) for Water Power in FY 2014 provide $41.3 million for marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) technologies, of which not less than $20 million is for competitive demonstrations, which may be in conjunction with activities at the National Marine Renewable Energy Centers.

The legislation also directs DOE to work with the U.S. Navy on joint usage of test facilities, coordinate with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, NOAA, other relevant agencies and industry to reduce the amount of time to permit MHK test and demonstration projects, and recommends that the Water Power Program work with the Fossil Energy Program to demonstrate the ability of MHK technologies to reduce emissions and improve energy efficiency related to offshore oil and gas production.

Sen. Boxer, Rep. Shuster Named Port Persons of the Year
U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Penn.) have been selected to receive the American Association of Port Authorities' (AAPA) 2014 'Port Person of the Year' award.

AAPA selected Boxer and Shuster based on their dedication to improving America's water resources, infrastructure and freight transportation policy. Their work toward reforming federal water resources development legislation, including boosting federal funding to maintain and improve our ports and harbors, helps progress America's economic competitiveness and create jobs.

Boxer is the current and first female chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Shuster chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and co-chairs the Water Resources Development Conference Committee.

EESI Provides Overview of Federal Climate Adaptation
The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) created a fact sheet on Climate Adaptation at the Federal Level, which states that in 2012 there were 3,527 monthly weather records broken for heat, rain and snow in the U.S.

NOAA counted 11 national 'Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters' in 2012, totaling $115 billion in damages, the second-highest totals for events and damages (adjusted for inflation) since NOAA began keeping track in 1980. Hurricane Sandy caused severe interruptions to critical water and electrical services, 159 deaths and $65 billion in damages. Scientists anticipate that the mid-Atlantic coast will see more frequent and intense storm events, such as Hurricane Sandy, and also expect the impacts of these storms to be more severe as sea levels rise.

Due to current and projected extreme weather events and their costly impacts, the Government Accountability Office has flagged climate change as a high risk and recommends a national climate change adaptation strategy.

Several bills to expand federal resiliency efforts were introduced in 2013. Most have sat idle, with the exception of adaptation language included in the Hurricane Sandy relief package, according to EESI.

In January 2013, Congress passed the Disaster Relief Appropriations Act to provide $50.7 billion in funding for states and communities affected by Hurricane Sandy. Of the $10.9 billion authorized for the Federal Transit Administration's Public Transportation Emergency Relief Program, up to $5.38 billion may be used 'to carry out projects related to reducing risk of damage from future disasters in areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.'

The Safeguarding America's Future and Environment (SAFE) Act was introduced in June 2013 by Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to establish a federal program to address the impacts of climate change by protecting the country's natural resources. The SAFE Act has been referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works and is awaiting further action.

The Strengthening the Resilience of Our Nation on the Ground (STRONG) Act was introduced in December 2012 by then-Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) to establish a National Extreme Weather Resilience Plan. The bill was reintroduced in the 113th Congress in May 2013 and has been referred to the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

In 2009, President Barack Obama signed Executive Order (EO) 13514, which set environmental, economic and energy performance goals for federal agencies. He revealed his Climate Action Plan in June 2013 as a unilateral strategy to reduce carbon pollution, promote renewable energy, and make the U.S. a leader in addressing climate problems.

A coordinated multilevel government approach will ease the collective challenges of protecting the built and natural environment from climate impacts to ensure long-term safety and prosperity, according to EESI.

Michael Devany Becomes NOAA Deputy Under Secretary for Operations
NOAA Vice Adm. Michael S. Devany assumed the role of NOAA's deputy under secretary for operations following President Obama's approval of his appointment by Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. Devany served most recently as director of the NOAA Commissioned Officer Corps and NOAA's Office of Marine and Aviation Operations.

As deputy under secretary, Devany is NOAA's chief operating officer, responsible for management of NOAA's national and international operations for oceanic and atmospheric services, research, and coastal and marine stewardship.

A NOAA Corps officer since 1990, Devany has more than 20 years of experience in environmental restoration, response, compliance and data acquisition.


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