Locke calls for creation of a NOAA Climate Service

Chris Rizo Feb. 9, 2010, 1:00am

Gary Locke

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline)-The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is planning to create a Climate Service to respond to the many requests NOAA receives from businesses and communities, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke said Monday.

The proposed Climate Service would work closely with federal, state and local government and private sector and academic partners, a statement said.

"By providing critical planning information that our businesses and our communities need, NOAA Climate Service will help tackle head-on the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change," Locke said. "In the process, we'll discover new technologies, build new businesses and create new jobs."

The Climate Service's creation, which requires congressional approval, comes amid ongoing dispute in the scientific community as to whether human factors are leading to changes in the Earth's weather patterns.

"NOAA is committed to scientific integrity and transparency; we seek to advance science and strengthen product development and delivery through user engagement," said NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco.

NOAA's effort to create a one-stop-shop for climate change information drew praise from industry leaders, including Jim Rogers, chief executive of Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke Energy.

"Addressing climate change is one of our most pressing environmental challenges. Making climate science more easily accessible to all Americans will help us gain the consensus we need to move forward," Rogers said in the NOAA-issued statement. "The new NOAA Climate Service is a welcome addition. It will help bring people together so we can also bring about an economic recovery by more rapidly modernizing our nation's energy infrastructure."

Thomas Karl, director of NOAA's National Climatic Data Center, will serve as transitional director of NOAA Climate Service. Six NOAA Regional Climate Services Directors will oversee branches.

The move to create a Climate Service comes as the Obama administration is taking steps to regulate greenhouse gasses, which some scientists say are warming the planet.

In December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases represent a danger to public health.

The endangerment finding allows the EPA to set rules limiting six greenhouse gasses: carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, hydrofluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulfur hexafluoride.

The EPA's endangerment finding followed a 2007 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found greenhouse gases are considered air pollutants under federal environmental laws.

From Legal Newsline: Reach staff reporter Chris Rizo at chrisrizo@legalnewsline.com.

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