At House hearings this week the head of NOAA was attacked for ignoring Congressional law in setting up a National Climate Service.
One big sticking point for legislators is language in this spring’s final 2011 spending bill that averted a government shutdown, which states that “none of the funds made available by this division may be used to implement, establish, or create a NOAA Climate Service.” Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) said the appointment of Karl and the hiring of six regional directors appear to have ignored those instructions. He quipped that NOAA was “living in climate sin,” a reference to Karl’s statement during an interview in December 2010 with ClimateWire that “we’ve moved in, … we’re waiting for the marriage certificate, but we’re acting like we have a climate service.”
Lubchenco defended her actions, saying that her appointments were “smart” and merely “good planning.” She said their salaries are drawn from “existing funds” and that legislation dating back to the National Climate Program Act of 1978 describes providing climate services as part of NOAA’s mission. She responded to Hall’s concerns that the climate service would take away from NOAA’s other activities by saying, “It’s good government to reorganize periodically.” She also referred to its economic potential, citing the $1 billion industry that has emerged around the National Weather Service.
Speaking with ScienceInsider after the hearing, she made it clear that NOAA intends to push ahead. “This is an idea whose time has come.” [emphasis mine]
In other words, so what the law forbids NOAA from doing this. We know best, Congress can go to hell.