(Washington, DC) – U.S. Reps. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Bob Inglis (R-SC) today introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen and streamline federal climate change research and reorient it to make it more user-friendly for state and local governments, planners and researchers.  The Global Change Research and Data Management Act is similar to legislation that the Science Committee rejected in 2003 on a party line vote.

“All research and evidence indicates that climate change is happening.  Ask farmers about their crop yields.  Ask the ski industry, which depends on snowfall to run the slopes.  The IPCC report released last week further solidifies the scientific opinion about climate change – the planet is getting warmer and human activity is responsible for this change.  With the scientific questions settled, Congress must address what policy changes our nation will make in response.  This bill reaffirms the need for continued strong federal support for research and maps out a new emphasis on producing information needed to inform everyday decisions,” said Udall, Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology’s Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics.

“As we learn more about the science, the links to human involvement in climate change are becoming more pronounced,” Inglis said.  “We need to improve the focus of our climate science program to make sure it provides policy makers the most timely and relevant information.”  Rep. Inglis is the Committee’s Ranking Member on the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment.

“Continued scientific research on our changing climate is imperative.  We need better, more refined regional assessments to understand the climatic vulnerabilities of communities, ecosystems, and our economy.  This bill will work to provide the information to get us there,” added Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).

The bill would replace the current law that established the U.S. Global Change Research Program in 1990 and simplify its detailed organizational structure.  It would give the Bush administration flexibility in forming an Interagency Committee, which would identify and consult with the user community in developing a research plan, and would involve the National Governors Association in evaluating the plan for its practical uses and policy relevance.  The bill would retain many of the key features of the current law such as requirements for ten-year strategic plan, periodic reviews of the effects on global change on natural, social and economic systems, and increased international cooperation in global change science. 

In addition, the bill creates a new interagency working group to coordinate federal policies on data management and archiving.  Advances in computer monitoring and satellite technologies have vastly expanded the ability to collect and analyze data, and Udall said we must do a better job of managing and archiving data to support the work of scientists and to make that data and research more relevant to policymakers on the state and local levels.