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Weather Mitigation Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2009

This bill was introduced on May 20, 2009, in a previous session of Congress, but it did not receive a vote.

Although this bill was not enacted, its provisions could have become law by being included in another bill. It is common for legislative text to be introduced concurrently in multiple bills (called companion bills), re-introduced in subsequent sessions of Congress in new bills, or added to larger bills (sometimes called omnibus bills).

It is the purpose of this Act to develop a national cooperative Federal and State program of weather mitigation research and development.

Congress finds the following:

(1) According to a 2003 report by the National Research Council, ‘people in drought- and hail-prone areas willingly spend significant resources on weather mitigation programs, and in 2001 there were at least 66 operational programs being conducted in 10 States across the United States. At the same time, less than a handful of weather mitigation research programs are underway worldwide, and related research in the United States has dropped to less than $500,000 per year from a high of $20,000,000 in the late 1970s.’ The NRC report entitled ‘Critical Issues in Weather Modification Research’ also states that ‘a coordinated national program of weather modification research is needed’. Such a program is supported by States that need a scientific means of evaluating current programs and increasing their effectiveness through applied research.

(2) Droughts in the United States result in an average economic loss between $6,000,000,000 and $8,000,000,000 annually, while severe hail producing storms result in up to $2,300,000,000 damage to crops and over $2,000,000,000 in property loss annually. Snowpack, rain enhancement, and hail suppression weather mitigation projects could help reduce these losses, and additional research in these areas could make existing programs even more effective and permit them to better quantify the impacts of those projects. Recent droughts in the Western United States have produced low lake levels at Lake Powell and Lake Mead and have led the Seven Colorado River Basin States to create cooperative agreements. A separate cooperative agreement is in place for wintertime snowfall enhancement programs in the States of Utah, Colorado, and Wyoming to pursue water augmentation to benefit the entire Colorado River System.

(3) Past and recent evaluations of the potential for snowpack augmentation by cloud seeding in the Colorado River Basin indicate the potential for a significant yield in runoff through properly designed projects. A 2006 evaluation by the Bureau of Reclamation of the Department of the Interior indicates the potential for 800,000 additional acre-feet of water.

(4) Weather mitigation research could provide insights on the interaction of pollution with the precipitation processes in cloud systems. Research into inadvertent and planned weather mitigation may increase our understanding and knowledge of any potential impacts.

(5) The recent Weather Damage Modification Program conducted by the Bureau of Reclamation employed a successful model for combining local, State, and Federal resources in providing a means for scientific evaluation of operational cloud-seeding projects (rainfall and snowfall enhancement and hail suppression) in North Dakota, Oklahoma, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California. [1]

Is this the last word? Maybe not. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) recently introduced The Weather Mitigation Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2009. The legislation proposes appropriations of $25,000,000 for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014 to the National Science Foundation. Of this, 34 percent is to be divided and transferred to NASA and, yes, NOAA.

The legislation speaks only of weather modification in general without specifically mentioning hurricanes. However, this press release makes clear Hutchison's intentions to "mitigate the impact of severe climate and weather events, particularly hurricanes and storm surges." At a recent Senate hearing (which I attended) on Weathering the Storm: The Need for a National Hurricane Initiative, Hutchison reinforced her intentions but left no hint that she was aware of the DHS program and NOAA's rebuff. [2]

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Related Timeline Entries


“S. 601 — 111th Congress: Weather Mitigation Research and Development Policy Authorization Act of 2009.” 2009. September 21, 2021
Tracton, Steve. “NOAA Says No to DHS Hurricane Modification.” Capital Weather Gang, The Washington Post (2009).

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