US: The US Congress allowed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to move ahead with a new Earth-observing satellite system, Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS), but at the cost of cuts to some of NOAA’s nonsatellite programmes.
It was revealed in a House of Representatives-Senate conference report on a spending bill affecting several federal agencies that is expected to pass Congress by the end of the week. Overall, the bill provides USD 4.9 billion for the agency, a 7 percent boost over current spending, but 11 percent less than what the Obama Administration had requested.
Essentially, all of the USD 306 million increase would go to the JPSS, a two-satellite system scheduled to have its first launch in 2016. In total, JPSS would get USD 924 million to keep it moving—a bit less than the USD 1 billion the agency had said it needed to keep it on schedule and avoid gaps in data collection. Although details were not available, it appears the agency will also have to cut some nonsatellite programmes—including its ocean and fisheries research efforts—in order to pay for the satellites.
The conference agreement also rejected the Administration’s request to spend USD 322 million on a new climate service. The service would have consolidated a number of climate-related programmes within NOAA into a new, Weather Service-like office. House Republicans have strongly objected to the planned shift in contentious hearings featuring NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.