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house Bill H.R. 353

Does the U.S. Need to Improve its Weather Forecasting Systems?

Argument in favor

This bill orders a slew of studies and reports on weather to ensure that U.S. scientists are predicting the weather and disseminating information as quickly and accurately as possible. Forecasts are necessary for safety, industry, defense, and infrastructure — fund it.

Quinn's Opinion
···
01/08/2017
As climate change continues unabated the potential for extreme weather increases, potentially costing the US billions to trillions of dollars if left unabated. This is a step towards actively having to ability to manage changing climate.
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Kristi's Opinion
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01/09/2017
I do not like the parts of this bill that encourage the privatization of weather science. Although I do support greater funding to NOAA, I am not comfortable with opening a Pandora's Box for privatization. The science of weather is too important to become a system which holds shareholder profits as its first priority.
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Tafinzer's Opinion
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04/03/2017
Vote Yea, there is so much room for improvement especially with severe weather forecasting in the lower and coastal states. this is a national issue
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Argument opposed

This bill orders the National Weather Service and the Office of Atmospheric Research to jump through a bunch of hoops, in addition to their regular jobs. Should our forecasting system be improved? Sure. Does what we have now work? Yes.

Tristan's Opinion
···
01/08/2017
Most of this bill is great. The real problem is that this bill will allow owners of satellites to sell weather data and allow private companies to deploy their own data gathering devices. This begins the privatization of an extremely valuable and important life-saving industry.
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Darryl's Opinion
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01/09/2017
Not in favor of the step towards privatization in the details of this bill. I would support more notification advances coming in alternate bill soon.
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Grace's Opinion
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01/10/2017
Allowing private companies to co-opt weather satellites for their own use is too high a price to pay for accurate weather information. I'll vote yea when that part of the bill is scrubbed.
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What is House Bill H.R. 353?

This bill authorizes $120 million (for 2017 and 2018 respectively) to improve forecasting of severe weather events. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be responsible for improving forecasting and for managing other related programs and research.

First, the bill tasks the Office of Atmospheric Research (OAR) with running a program to increase public understanding and response to weather forecasts and warnings. The program would study things like how people currently interpret and use forecasts. It would also research how to improve and more widely distribute new forecast technology. A working group to improve the NOAA's forecasting ability would also be created.

Programs to improve and expand tornado and hurricane warning systems would be developed. It also charges the Assistant Administrator for OAR with coming up with a research plan every six months, while the the NOAA’s Chief Information Officer would have to make a report on how their agency will use technological advancements to improve forecasts. Meanwhile, the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere reevaluate what scientists observe to make forecasts.

The bill also amends existing law so that commercial providers can buy weather information from U.S. satellites, or place their own weather-detecting equipment on U.S. satellites. Accordingly, the Secretary of Commerce will give the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology of the House of Representatives and the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation of the Senate a strategy on public-private cooperation in spreading weather data.

Finally, there are several measures within this bill aimed at increasing coordination between agencies. They include an employee exchange between NWS and OAR, a postdoctoral fellow program at NWS and Inter-agency Committee for Advancing Weather Services, which the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy will establish in order to share weather information among scientific agencies.

Impact

The National Weather Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, people who want to know what it’s like outside.

Cost of House Bill H.R. 353

The CBO estimates that implementing this bill would cost $240 million over the 2016-2020 period.

More Information

In-Depth: This bill has bipartisan support, with four Republicans and two Democrats joining sponsoring Rep. Frank Lucas as its co-sponsors. It’s part of a triumvirate of weather-related bills in this Congress, the others being the giant FEMA bill and another about public alert systems.


Of Note: Weather, as such, has a reputation for being dull. It’s what you talk about when you don’t know what to say; its devoted TV channel is famously boring. But there’s more at stake here than getting caught without a raincoat or weird beef with minor public figures. According to The Washington Post, the U.S. spent $309 billion dollars on repairs caused by extreme weather from 2008 to 2013.


Media:

Summary by James Helmsworth and Eric Revell
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Ryan McKnight)

AKA

Weather Research and Forecasting Innovation Act of 2017

Official Title

To improve the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's weather research through a focused program of investment on affordable and attainable advances in observational, computing, and modeling capabilities to support substantial improvement in weather forecasting and prediction of high impact weather events, to expand commercial opportunities for the provision of weather data, and for other purposes.

bill Progress


  • EnactedApril 18th, 2017
    The President signed this bill into law
  • The senate Passed March 29th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
  • The house Passed January 9th, 2017
    Passed by Voice Vote
      house Committees
      Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
      Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
    IntroducedJanuary 6th, 2017

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    As climate change continues unabated the potential for extreme weather increases, potentially costing the US billions to trillions of dollars if left unabated. This is a step towards actively having to ability to manage changing climate.
    Like (90)
    Follow
    Share
    Most of this bill is great. The real problem is that this bill will allow owners of satellites to sell weather data and allow private companies to deploy their own data gathering devices. This begins the privatization of an extremely valuable and important life-saving industry.
    Like (323)
    Follow
    Share
    Not in favor of the step towards privatization in the details of this bill. I would support more notification advances coming in alternate bill soon.
    Like (118)
    Follow
    Share
    I do not like the parts of this bill that encourage the privatization of weather science. Although I do support greater funding to NOAA, I am not comfortable with opening a Pandora's Box for privatization. The science of weather is too important to become a system which holds shareholder profits as its first priority.
    Like (87)
    Follow
    Share
    Vote Yea, there is so much room for improvement especially with severe weather forecasting in the lower and coastal states. this is a national issue
    Like (45)
    Follow
    Share
    Accuracy is everything, often the difference between life and death, given that extreme weather — tornadoes, flash floods, heat waves, hurricanes— kills more than 500 Americans each year. An incremental improvement would make a huge difference. Does what we have now work? Yes. Could what we have now work better? Yes.
    Like (33)
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    There's more pressing matters currently to spend taxpayer dollars on
    Like (15)
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    No privitization
    Like (14)
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    Allowing private companies to co-opt weather satellites for their own use is too high a price to pay for accurate weather information. I'll vote yea when that part of the bill is scrubbed.
    Like (12)
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    Mostly agree with the bill but I would strike the language allowing privatization. This could leave the system vulnerable to hacking by terrorists, foreign nationals and or by American and International companies driven by greed.
    Like (11)
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    Just privatize the whole thing.
    Like (10)
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    Priorities. This is important, but private industry will take care of it because here's a huge profit to be made here, as in The Weather Channel.
    Like (10)
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    Climate change has been attributed to many recent events, from superstorm sandy to flooding in many other places. I think that by improving our detection, we will be able to further navigate these events. Combined with the research on the changes and better understanding of natural phenomenon will save millions of people worlds wide.
    Like (9)
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    Studies need to be presented demonstrating that our current technology is inadequate and that there are current technological advancements available that can improve our forecasting abilities.
    Like (7)
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    UPDATED April 23, 2017: I see this bill passed both houses. I was reading the opinion given by someone and I had to laugh; so many people had said the same thing as this person. They're against privatization of weather forecasting! "Why?" I asked myself. JUST LOOK AT SPACE X! Privatization can lead to growth of the economy (JOBS!) and innovation! Why should government agencies monopolize something that so many people rely on?! Let's see now how long it takes before we start seeing improvements in weather forecasting and all that follows as a result (less property damage and fewer deaths and injuries). _________________________ NO! NOT UNTIL YOU BALANCE THE BUDGET! WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH YOU REPUBLICANS WHO SUDDENLY WANT TO GO ON A SPENDING SPREE?! ISN'T OUR NATIONAL DEBT BIG ENOUGH ALREADY?!
    Like (7)
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    Climate change is real. We need to learn all we can. Improving forecasts benefits everyone.
    Like (7)
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    The NWS and NOAA has had decade to improve their weather forecasting. They have been given taxpayer's money to improve their satellite, but still no launch date. My guess, spending too much time fighting Global Warming deniers and attending world or national rallies criticizing those critics who say, "show me the truth" with "un-doctored" data. Global warming and climate change go hand in hand. Personally, I have been waiting for global warming to make me rich since it does so much to affect my life. Still waiting for an explanation on how climate change affects continental shifts or earthquakes. Maybe we should stick with the Farmer's Almanac! People need to take personal responsibility for themselves. Move to higher ground, go inland, don't fly into storms or drive in extreme conditions. The NWS reports, but you have to listen.
    Like (7)
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    At best, it has always been an educated guess. Funding "unpredictable" seems like another way to waste our tax dollars.
    Like (6)
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    We need to improve our forecasting ability; however, it should not be privatized in any way.
    Like (6)
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    I agree with others that, while this is important, we have more pressing issues to deal with!
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