NOAA might finally get a permanent — if that is the right word –administrator more than three years into President Donald Trump’s four-year term.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation approved the nomination of Neil Jacobs to become under secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, a position that includes serving as NOAA administrator.
WASHINGTON (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington PR) — CREW and other good government groups sent a letter to Senate Leadership urging them to consider adding language to Barry Myers’ ethics agreement and ask for documents on the sale of his AccuWeather shares before voting on his nomination as Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere.
Myers is the former CEO of AccuWeather, which raises questions about his ability to serve impartially in the government. AccuWeather, which is still owned and operated by Myers’ family, profits in part off of data that is produced by the offices Myers would oversee.
President Donald Trump’s nominee to head NOAA remains in limbo as the current Congress prepares to go out of business this month and the administration approaches its second year in January, The New York Times reports.
Barry Lee Myers, the chief executive of AccuWeather, a private forecasting firm that relies largely on data from the agency’s National Weather Service, has been a controversial figure since President Trump first nominated him to lead the agency in October 2017. Democrats have said that Mr. Myers has significant conflicts of interest, including his past eagerness to privatize the National Weather Service. For several years, Mr. Myers fought government programs that would compete with AccuWeather services….
Under Senate rules, any nomination not approved or rejected during one session of Congress must be resubmitted by the president unless the Senate unanimously agrees to waive the rule. It’s unclear whether Mr. Trump will put Mr. Myers’s name forward a third time. An attorney for AccuWeather who has been representing Mr. Myers, Tom Fahy, referred questions to the White House, which did not respond to requests for comment.
In addition to predicting the weather, the agency is charged with monitoring oceans, helping coastal communities protect themselves from storms and managing fisheries. The agency is also responsible for launching and maintaining satellites that provide data for climate trends and weather forecasts for severe events like hurricanes.
Scientists said the administration’s failure to install permanent leaders in top positions underscored its disinterest in science.
As expected, the Senate Commerce Committee narrowly approved the Trump Administration’s nominations of Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK) and AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to serve as the administrators of NASA and NOAA, respectively.
The Senate Commerce Committee has voted 14-13 along party lines to approve the nomination of AccuWeather co-founder and former CEO Barry Myers to become the next administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The nomination now moves to the full Senate.
“While he is clearly knowledgeable about our national weather program, I remain concerned about conflicts of interest due to his family connections with AccuWeather, whether they can and will be avoided,” Sen. Bill Nelson (Fla.), the panel’s top Democrat, said before the committee vote.
“It is imperative, if he is confirmed, that he demonstrate that he will approach this position as a public service role, not as another private sector role,” Nelson said, adding that he hopes Myers “will prove me wrong.”
Nelson’s objections to Myers included Myers’s support for a 2005 GOP bill that would have largely prohibited the National Weather Service from many consumer-facing functions that compete with private forecasters.
Senate Republicans said Myers had adequately addressed conflict of interest concerns during his confirmation hearing.
President Donald Trump has nominated AccuWeather CEO Barry Myers to head up the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Myers, an attorney by training, has led AccuWeather — based in State College, Pennsylvania — since 2007. This experience could prove useful if the US Senate confirms Myers as NOAA’s chief, given that the agency includes the US National Weather Service. But some scientists worry that Myers’ ties to AccuWeather could present conflicts of interest, and note that Myers has no direct experience with the agency’s broader research portfolio, which includes the climate, oceans and fisheries.
“I think the science community has real cause for concern,” says Andrew Rosenberg, head of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists in Cambridge, Massachusetts….
Myers will probably advance efforts to bring commercial weather data into the national weather-forecasting system, says Bill Gail, chief technology officer for the Global Weather Corporation in Boulder, Colorado. Still, Gail says, Myers respects the importance of the public sector in such activities. “I’ve got a lot of respect for him, and I think he could do a pretty good job,” adds Gail, the co-chair of a decadal survey of US Earth-science satellites being conducted by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine.