Washington, D.C. – The Environment Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the administration’s Fiscal Year 2017 (FY17) budget request for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NOAA Administrator Kathryn Sullivan provided testimony and fielded questions about a number of issues, including the agency’s failure to comply with a lawfully issued subpoena for information surrounding a controversial climate change study published last summer.

Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas): “This administration continues to prioritize climate funding over weather research.  NOAA should fully fund weather research as authorized in the House-passed bipartisan Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act. Instead of hyping a climate change agenda, NOAA should focus its efforts on producing sound science and improving methods of data collection.  Unfortunately, climate alarmism often takes priority at NOAA.  This was demonstrated by the agency’s decision to prematurely publish the 2015 study that attempted to make the two-decade halt in global warming disappear.”

The study, led by NOAA meteorologist Mr. Thomas Karl, used controversial new methods to readjust historical temperature data upward.  The Committee has since heard from whistleblowers that the study was rushed into publication and that internal debate at the agency was stifled.  To date, NOAA has failed to fully comply with the subpoena.

Well-respected scientists have recently rebutted NOAA’s claims. A new peer-reviewed study, published in the journal Nature, confirms the halt in global warming. According to one of the study’s lead authors, it “essentially refutes” NOAA’s study.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.) also stressed making weather forecasting more of a priority at the agency.  He commended NOAA’s funding request for the Commercial Weather Data Pilot program that was authorized by last year’s Consolidated Appropriations Act (P.L. 114-113). As a first step, NOAA recently provided a report detailing how the pilot program will be implemented.

However, Rep. Bridenstine was critical of NOAA for failing to outline adequate guidance to expand the agency’s use of commercial data, which could bolster our nation’s faltering weather forecasting capabilities. Famously, the European weather model accurately predicted the track of Superstorm Sandy days before American models. 

Chairman Bridenstine: “As a representative from Oklahoma, a state hit regularly with severe weather, it is my responsibility to my constituents to promote policies that improve our forecasting abilities in order to save lives and property. My constituents, and the American people, deserve nothing less. Private sector companies could improve our forecasting capabilities while also reducing the risk of a gap in our satellite data, an issue that has loomed over the Agency’s head for years.”

The House is currently working with the Senate to move H.R. 1561 toward enactment. This is bipartisan legislation will compel NOAA to consider commercial data to augment America’s weather satellite systems.  It would also increase NOAA’s ability to conduct cutting edge weather research to better predict extreme weather events such as tornadoes and hurricanes. 

For more information on the hearing, including witness testimony and the archived webcast, please visit the Committee’s website.