Washington, D.C. – The Science, Space, and Technology Committee today passed the Weather Research and Forecast Innovation Act of 2015 (H.R. 1561), introduced by Vice-Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.) and Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-Ore.) and cosponsored by Environment Subcommittee Chairman Jim Bridenstine (R-Okla.). The bipartisan bill improves America’s severe weather forecasting capabilities by prioritizing the protection of lives and property through a forward-looking weather research plan at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Vice-Chairman Lucas: “Severe weather routinely affects large portions of the United States, and as a representative from Oklahoma, I understand the need for improvement first hand. The United States needs a world-class weather prediction system that helps protect the American people and their property.  Unfortunately, for the last few years, our leadership in weather forecasting has slipped and we now play second fiddle to the European forecasting offices, who often predict America’s weather better than we can.  The bill before us today will help us reclaim superior weather prediction and forecasting capabilities. Our citizens deserve this.”

The Weather Research and Forecast Innovation Act of 2015  protects lives and property through improved weather research to better forecast tornadoes and hurricanes and to increase warning lead times. The bill encourages NOAA to actively consider new commercial data and private sector weather solutions.  It also aims to speed technologies developed through NOAA’s weather research into operation. The bill expands commercial opportunities by clarifying that NOAA can purchase weather data from companies. The bill also requires the Commerce secretary to draft a strategy to enable the procurement of commercial weather data from the private sector and to enter into a pilot project.

Environment Subcommittee Chairman Bridenstine: “The Weather Forecasting Innovation and Research Act is an important step toward moving to a day when we have zero deaths from severe weather events, such as tornadoes which can be devastating in my home state of Oklahoma. By prioritizing funding within NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, we can advance critical technologies and capabilities to vastly improve weather forecasting in the United States and save lives and property. Additionally, I am particularly proud of the inclusion of a pilot program for purchasing and testing commercial satellite weather data in this bill. There are several technologies and data sets that private industry can provide for NOAA, and this program will serve as a signal from Congress and NOAA that this information is needed and wanted.”

The bipartisan legislation was approved today by voice vote. For additional information on the markup, including a link to the archived webcast, please visit the Science, Space, and Technology Committee website