Commerce Committee Approves Senator Hutchison’s Weather Mitigation Research Bill

May 20, 2009

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today approved legislation sponsored by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), the Ranking Member on the Committee, to establish a Weather Mitigation Research Program in the National Science Foundation. The bill, S. 601 – the Weather Mitigation Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2009, would develop a national research strategy and grant program on weather mitigation.

“Severe weather events, ranging from droughts to flooding, tornados, and hurricanes, have a significant impact on the quality of our lives.” said Senator Hutchison.  “Hurricane Ike, one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever make landfall, hit the Galveston area last year causing significant loss of life and major property damage throughout the area.  This legislation will help us understand how we can better protect ourselves from these severe weather events and mitigate some of the impacts.” 

Weather mitigation and modification is currently used by many Western states for activities such as rain and snowpack enhancement and hail suppression.  Weather mitigation can be a useful tool in mitigating the impacts of severe climate and weather events.  However, more research is necessary to determine the viability of weather mitigation technology and strategies.  A 2003 National Research Council report titled “Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research” found that “a coordinated national program of weather modification is needed.”  Although the National Science Foundation currently spends just over $7 million per year on weather modification research, there still is not a coordinated national weather mitigation and modification program.

S.601, the Weather Mitigation Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2009, would:

·         establish a Weather Mitigation Research Program within the National Science Foundation;

·         require a working group consisting of representatives from states and academic institutions, and experts from the scientific community;

·         conduct a research and development program to improve the understanding of processes relating to planned and inadvertent weather mitigation; 

·         establish a weather mitigation grant program to fund research at state agencies, institutions of higher education, and non-profit organizations;

·         require a 10 year implementation plan for the establishment and coordination of the national research and development program; and

·         authorize $25 million per year for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014. 
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