According to NOAA.gov, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration:
is an agency that enriches life through science. Our reach goes from the surface of the sun to the depths of the ocean floor as we work to keep citizens informed of the changing environment around them.
As it happens, many of my good friends and colleagues–natural and social scientists–reside within this federal agency to protect oceans, coasts, human health, biodiversity, commerce, natural resources, and so on. Their work supports education and stewardship, enhances economic security and safety, studies atmospheric and climate variability, and manages our nation’s coastal and marine interests. And yes, the good folks at the National Weather Service who deal with storms like hurricanes are housed within NOAA.
So I just don’t understand why NOAA doesn’t even exist. Sort of.
You see, the agency was formed by executive order in 1970–created as part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. But the thing is, NOAA has never had a statutory basis for its existence or to conduct its activities and missions. Instead, it has operated under 200 different authorizations. Really.
A NOAA Organic Act would establish an overarching national policy. It would create standards for federal, state, and territorial agencies to follow and reorient national and regional decision-making bodies. It would strengthen the agency by helping achieve better management through an ecosystem-based approach.
So it’s time for Congress to authorize the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. It’s well past time. It’s nearly four decades overdue…