Biden appeals to oceanographer to lead Trump-weakened climate agency | American News

Joe Biden brought in Rick Spinrad to head the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the federal agency at the forefront of climate, weather and ocean science for the United States.

The appointment marks the potential end of a difficult period in Noaa’s history, where the agency spent years without a permanent chief while suffering a scandal under the Trump administration.

Spinrad, professor of oceanography at Oregon State University and former chief scientist at Noaa, was part a cohort of nominees linked to the environment released by the White House for Earth Day.

“Throughout my years as a graduate student at OSU, I have always held Noaa in such high regard for the quality and importance of her work,” Spinrad said, adding that the occasion was “both humiliating and exciting”.

Noaa plays an important role in protecting the economy and environment of the United States, including providing weather forecasts, monitoring the climate, managing fisheries and assisting in maritime commerce, according to the agency’s website. He supervises the offices like the National Weather Service and the National Ocean Service.

Donald Trump, nominated businessman Barry Lee Myers as head of the agency in 2017. But Myers later stepped down due to health concerns after being unconfirmed for more than two years.

Trump then appointed Neil Jacobs, Interim administrator of Noaa, who likewise never received a vote in the Senate.

Meanwhile, the agency came under fire in 2019, when it released a statement defending Trump’s inaccurate claims that a hurricane would seriously affect Alabama, undermining its own meteorologists who had tried to set the record straight.

After years of turmoil, The champions of Spinrad expressed enthusiasm for a team that could competently face some of the world’s most existential threats.

“Dr Spinrad is the perfect person to strengthen the spirit of the Noaa workforce, align them with the critical work that lies ahead and personally lead the way,” Eric Schwaab, Senior Vice President of the Ecosystems Program and oceans to the Environmental Defense Fund, said in a statement.

“The women and men of Noaa – scientists and resource managers, ship captains and aircraft pilots, disaster response experts and weather forecasters – couldn’t ask for a better leader to restore the scientific integrity and honor the agency’s mission.

But Biden’s selection of Spinrad, who is a white male, could also attract attention, given Noaa’s lack of diversity. His Stem’s workforce employed nearly three men for every woman in fiscal 2020, and overall, her white employees were four times as numerous as racial and ethnic minorities.

Rear Adm Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, focused on “Spinrad’s strong commitment to advancing diversity and equity in root fields”.

“In an age when the many aspects of earth sciences (including the ocean, atmosphere and climate) are so important to the health and prosperity of our nation and the world, it is difficult to imagine a more qualified candidate, ”White said in a statement. “I strongly endorse his prompt confirmation.”

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