House Bill Would Let NOAA Keep Satellites

David is a Deputy News Editor specializing in coverage of science policy, energy and the environment.

A U.S. House of Representatives spending panel is taking a more cautious approach than its Senate counterpart when it comes to building U.S. weather and climate science satellites.

The House Appropriations Committee today released a fiscal year 2013 spending bill that provides $5.0 billion to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). That figure is $68 million more than its current budget, but $93 million below the Obama Administration's request for the year that begins on 1 October.

Unlike a Senate version of the bill released yesterday, however, the House bill does not call for moving four major satellite programs from NOAA to NASA.

Although NOAA has been struggling for years to keep its satellite programs on schedule and within budgets, the Senate's proposal surprised some agency watchers. "This is a very intriguing move," said Eric Webster, a vice president at ITT Exelis, an aerospace firm in McLean, Virginia. "It will save money, as NASA charged overhead, and NOAA had its own costs as well." Webster is a former head of NOAA's legislative affairs office. The Obama Administration has not commented on the Senate proposal.

The House bill, which will come up for a subcomittee vote tomorrow, includes full funding for the four satellite programs, including $916 million to keep the troubled Joint Polar Satellite System on track.

Posted in Funding Budget_2013, NOAA