S. 517 establishes within the Department of Commerce the Weather Modification Advisory and Research Board (WMARB) to promote the research and development, studies, and investigations of weather modification. The WMARB would consist of an eleven member board, composed of officials from the government and from the private sector, which would work with Congress and the federal government on weather modification research. The purpose of the WMARB would be to advise the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the research needed for improved forecast and decision-making technologies for weather modification purposes. Using this data and research, the board would make assessments and evaluations on the efficacy of weather modification.
The bill also authorizes the Secretary of Commerce, through NOAA, to set up a competitive weather modification research program for universities to research the potential benefits of weather modification.
The Committee also adopted a substitute, also offered by Senator Hutchison, by voice vote. The substitute establishes the short title of the bill as the “Weather Modification Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2005” and states that the bill’s purpose is to develop a comprehensive national weather modification research policy.
The substitute also creates a subcommittee in the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to coordinate a national weather modification research program. The subcommittee would be co-chaired by representatives from NOAA and the National Science Foundation, and would have representation from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and other appropriate federal agencies.
The subcommittee would be required to submit a plan for weather modification research that describes goals and activities, evaluates existing programs, makes suggestions on coordination with existing programs, and provides an estimation of federal funding for weather modification research. The program may include activities to improve the understanding of processes related to weather modification and the potential negative impacts of weather modification.
The substitute establishes an advisory board in OSTP to make recommendations to the subcommittee. This advisory board would be composed of outside experts including scientists, engineers and state officials involved in weather modification operations. The advisory board would examine potential uses for weather modification research and evaluate the efficacy of weather modification research.
The bill now proceeds to the full Senate for its consideration.