Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and Subcommittee on Research and Science Education Joint Hearing - The State of Hurricane Research and H.R. 2407, The National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007
Dr. John L. "Jack" Hayes
Assistant Administrator for Weather Services and the Director of the National Weather Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier
Former Co-Chair of the National Science Board’s Task Force on Hurricane Science and Engineering
Dr. Shuyi Chen
Associate Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami, Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Sciences
Dr. David O. Prevatt
Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, University of Florida
Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman
Director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University
SUBCOMMITTEES EVALUATE CURRENT STATE OF HURRICANE RESEARCH, DISCUSS LEGISLATION
Washington D.C. – Today the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a joint hearing to examine the Nation’s hurricane research and development (R&D) priorities, and to receive testimony on H.R. 2407, the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007, introduced by Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL).
“In the aftermath of Hugo, Andrew, and Katrina, news stories and government officials emphasized that better preparations could have helped save lives and minimize damages,” said Energy and Environment Ranking Member Bob Inglis (R-SC). “H.R. 2407 authorizes a large sum of money for this research program, and we have an obligation to consider how to best prepare for hurricanes, but, given our limited resources, we also to need to carefully consider how to best allocate those scarce resources.”
H.R. 2407 establishes a National Hurricane Research Initiative (NHRI) to improve hurricane preparedness. The bill establishes research objectives largely based on a 2007 report by the National Science Board, titled, “Hurricane Warning: The Critical Need for a National Hurricane Research Initiative.” It creates a multi-agency effort focused on improving our ability to predict hurricanes and their intensity, and on mitigating the devastating affects on coastal populations. This NHRI would engage all relevant federal agencies, industry, academia, and local government to strengthen hurricane research through an integrated and highly focused framework, promoting multi-disciplinary, multi-agency involvement. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) are designated as the two leading agencies responsible for implementation and oversight of the Initiative.
Acknowledging that federal research efforts in the areas of prediction, standards, infrastructure and communication are currently insufficient, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Research and Science Education, said, “Particularly in the areas of construction and infrastructure standards, we need to strengthen and implement the results of ongoing research.” He continued, “The impacts of these storms may never be eliminated, but the most deleterious impacts could be mitigated.”
Witnesses at today’s hearing were largely supportive of the goals of H.R. 2407. Dr. Stephen Leatherman, Director of the International Hurricane Research Center at Florida International University, said that “[F]unding for a strong, coherent and united research agenda, such as that embodied in H.R. 2047, could lead to significant loss reductions -- in lives saved and structural damage incurred.”
While recognizing the need for further research to better understand certain aspects of hurricane activity, Dr. Jack Hayes, Director of the National Weather Service at NOAA, expressed concerns “that the bill’s funding levels are significantly higher than current funding levels.” He further maintained that “NOAA’s HFIP already addresses a path forward for many of the items outlined in the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007.”
Also testifying at today’s hearing were: Dr. Kelvin K. Droegemeier, former Co-Chair of the National Science Board’s Task Force on Hurricane Science and Engineering; Dr. Shuyi Chen, Associate Professor of Meteorology and Physical Oceanography at the University of Miami; and Dr. David O. Prevatt, Assistant Professor at the Department of Civil and Coastal Engineering, University of Florida.