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Cramer: Science Committee Approves Weather and Drought Bills

Dec 6, 2013
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today Congressman Kevin Cramer announced the Science, Space, and Technology Committee approved legislation to strengthen weather research, and a bill to reauthorize a drought monitoring program which assists local governments, farmers, and ranchers.

The Weather Forecasting Improvement Act expands weather research activities at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), directing the agency to make the development of more advanced warnings and forecasts for dangerous weather events a priority. Included is the creation of a Tornado Warning Extension Program, with the goal of reducing loss of life and property by extending tornado warnings beyond one hour.

The bill also expands public-private forecasting partnerships by giving NOAA specific authority to obtain weather data through commercial providers and requiring the agency to report on opportunities for obtaining weather observations through the private sector. Current research at the University of North Dakota John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences includes radar meteorology and severe storms, key areas in the field of weather detection.

“The research performed in our higher education institutions including UND fits these priorities well and could provide new openings in the field,” said Congressman Cramer. “Focusing our weather research around saving human lives is the right thing to do, and will ensure our resources are being put to good use.”

“Aiding in the ability to provide the community with as much warning as possible is a key goal for many weather researchers.  This is all done to save property and lives, and the support from Congressman Cramer on the Weather Forecasting Improvement Act will help in these research efforts,” said Christopher Theisen, Research Meteorologist with the UND Department of Atmospheric Sciences.

The National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013 extends a critical drought monitoring program through 2018. The National Integrated Drought Information System includes the U.S. Drought Portal, located at, and offers resources including climate observations, early warnings of possible drought, and impact assessment. The portal is a collaborative resource between federal, state, and academic partners, and is administered within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

“North Dakota farmers and landowners are no strangers to drought, and this resource is an efficient way to leverage the research capabilities of our academic institutions and local governments to provide timely information to the public,” Cramer said.

Todd Sando, President of the Association of Western State Engineers, recently released a statement of support which was submitted into the record at the Science committee hearing. It reads, in part, "Congress should reauthorize and fund full implementation of the NIDIS implementation plan to enable the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to provide better information to decision makers at every level of government."

Congressman Cramer serves on the Natural Resources and Science, Space and Technology Committees. Within these committees, he serves on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Environmental Regulations, and the Subcommittee on Energy.