Perhaps not all of you closely follow the U.S. Congress. Okay, I don’t either. There is one, though, that the readers of JGR Space Physics should know about, and specifically its positive progress that I’d like to celebrate. Yes, some good news from Washington, DC, this past week: the Senate passed by unanimous consent Senate Bill S.141, the “Space Weather Research and Forecast Act”. Tuesday was the momentous day and it has now been referred to several committees in the House of Representatives.
The full text of the bill essentially dictates, with a bunch of “shalls”, that government agencies should implement the National Space Weather Action Plan and be thinking about space weather influences within their scope of activities, including this:
“(1) BASIC RESEARCH.—The Director of the National Science Foundation, Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Secretary of Defense shall continue to carry out basic research activities on heliophysics, geospace science, and space weather and support competitive, merit-based, peer-reviewed proposals for research, modeling, and monitoring of space weather and its impacts, including science goals outlined in Solar and Space Physics Decadal surveys conducted by the National Academy of Sciences.”
CBO has done a cost estimate for the implementation of this Act, with the biggest item being that NOAA should launch a “SOHO replacement” with a coronograph to image CMEs for space weather prediction. This bill isn’t a budget allocation so it comes with no new money, just mandates to several agencies.
A vote by “unanimous consent” means that they did not actually take a vote, and not even really a voice vote. What it means is that everyone in the chamber at that time agreed enough to not object and demand a real vote. Pretty cool that no Senator opposed this bill, a bill which contains the words “coronal mass ejection” and puts our science front and center. If you want to watch it, then here is the C-SPAN video; go to 1:46 to see Senator Peters talk about space weather on the Senate floor (~10 minutes). It’s nice to know that our field is appreciated by at least a few lawmakers. This is a nice follow-on to AGU’s Earth Day special collection of Commentaries on the societal relevance of Earth and space science. If you haven’t read it yet, then I highly recommend checking out the Cassak et al. article in JGR Space Physics.
Keep up the good work!