(Washington, DC) Today at a House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology markup, the Committee unanimously passed two bipartisan bills: H.R. 5324, the NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) Modernization Act of 2021 and H.R. 1437, the PRECIP Act , both as amended.
The NOAA Weather Radio (NWR) Modernization Act is sponsored by Rep. Stephanie Bice, the Ranking Member of the Environment Subcommittee. Her bill will upgrade the severe weather warning system through repairs to broadcast transmitter sites and antennas. It also directs NOAA to modernize broadcasts, establish backup capabilities, and enhance signal transmissions. This will ensure people across the country have easy, reliable access to severe weather and emergency alerts.
Bice spoke in support of her bill, noting the opportunity to maintain life-saving warning systems amidst the constant development of new technologies. “As the world becomes more digitalized, we must ensure that the protection of life and property doesn’t get lost in the shuffle,” said Bice. “That is why I introduced this legislation. The NWR is consistent and trusted as a result of saving numerous lives. But it needs to be upgraded and modernized to remain effective in the future.”
Ranking Member Frank Lucas commended the role critical provisions in the NWR Modernization Act will have on improving access and reliability of the weather radio alerts. “It is undeniable that the NWR saves lives,” said Lucas. “Day or night, power or no power, in a rural area or the heart of a city, a NWR device will loudly alert you and your family severe weather is on the way. Oklahomans have grown up listening to these announcements. We take them seriously and we act on them, and that saves lives. This bill sets up the NWR to be just as useful in the 21st century as it has been since 1975.”
The other bipartisan bill passed today, the PRECIP Act, directs the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to update their precipitation frequency estimates, begin a National Academies study on precipitation estimate research needs, and develop a plan to update probable maximum precipitation estimates. This will improve precipitation predictions, which supports our nation’s food producers by allowing more lead time to plan planting and harvesting strategies.
“These precipitation estimates are absolutely critical to the farmers and ranchers of Oklahoma,” Lucas said. “Both historical data and future estimates of precipitation can inform the agriculture industry of growing season length, plant survival in specific areas, and irrigation needs for the season. These are all necessary to continue providing our country with food security.”