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Dec 14 -- Comment period extended to January 16, 2024. https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-27461

Nov 22 -- The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requests public inputs to inform the development of the congressionally mandated National Plan for Civil Earth Observations (hereinafter “2023 National Plan”). This notice, which includes a draft of the 2023 National Plan, seeks information to achieve a future vision for continued United States global leadership in enabling and leveraging civil Earth Observations to increase access to Earth data, and address global changes. Interested persons and organizations are invited to submit comments on or before 5 p.m. ET, December 31, 2023 to be considered.

OSTP is soliciting public input through an RFI to obtain feedback from a wide variety of stakeholders, including individuals, industry, academia, research laboratories, nonprofits, and think tanks. OSTP is specifically interested in public input to inform the development and release of the 2023 National Plan to better leverage Earth Observations for addressing key societal challenges and trends of the coming decade. The first draft of the 2023 National Plan is included for public input.

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) is the principal means by which the Executive Branch coordinates science and technology policy across the diverse entities that make up the federal research and development enterprise. The United States Group on Earth Observations (USGEO) is chartered as a subcommittee of the NSTC Committee on Environment. The Subcommittee’s purpose is to plan, assess and coordinate federal Earth observations, research, and activities; foster improved Earth system data management and interoperability; identify highpriority user needs for Earth Observations data; and engage international stakeholders by formulating the United States’ position for, and coordinating U.S. participation in, the intergovernmental Group on Earth Observations (GEO).

The public draft of the 2023 National Plan for Civil Earth Observations, developed by USGEO, is based on a vision for continued United States global leadership in enabling and leveraging civil Earth Observations to increase access to Earth data, and address global changes. This vision will be achieved by measures to mitigate climate change, strengthen environmental monitoring, and improve human health and safety. Strategic objectives are identified for each goal, along with national priorities and recommendations.

Earth observations inform national and local plans for, and responses to, some of the greatest challenges and opportunities of our time – climate change, extreme weather events, food and water security, disaster response, and environmental justice and equity, among others.

To address these societal challenges, the Biden-Harris Administration is investing in civil Earth observation capabilities to better understand, monitor, and adapt to climate and environmental change, using technological advances, accelerating private sector innovation and investment, and nurturing cross-sectoral and international ally and partner capabilities. The nation’s civil Earth Observations Enterprise – companies, academia, nonprofits, philanthropies, Tribes, government, nongovernmental organizations, and more – enables both public and private sector to produce information, provide services, enable solutions, and expand social and economic benefits to every American, every day. Engagement with a diversity of stakeholders from across the Enterprise is key in understanding user needs to inform Earth Observations planning and actions.

This National Plan for Civil Earth Observations provides a vision for continued United States global leadership in enabling and leveraging civil Earth Observations to increase access to Earth data and address global changes. In developing this plan, USGEO established three overarching principles that guided its approach and support the vision:

1. Improve the integration of Earth observing services across Federal agencies and the broader Earth Observation Enterprise;
2. Ensure integrity of Earth Observations data across the Earth Observations Enterprise, and
3. Ensure the continued availability of foundational United States Government capabilities in atmosphere, land, ice, and ocean Earth Observations, while expanding the use of commercial data and services.

To realize this vision in ways that advance Administration priorities and engage with agency and stakeholder needs, this plan emphasizes three thematic, interconnected goals, objectives and crosscutting Enterprise Initiatives. The three goals, with corresponding objectives are:

Goal 1. Advance Science-Informed Climate Mitigation and Adaptation Activities: This goal focuses on fostering coordination of observations to support research, inform the development of climate services, and expand access to Earth Observations. Key objectives highlight:
1. Expanding observations for future climate products and services
2. Improving our understanding of the impact of Earth Observations on climate mitigation and adaptation strategies, and
3. Incorporating Earth Observations data into change in Earth systems calculations

Goal 2. Strengthen Environmental Monitoring and Management: This goal focuses on integrating Earth Observations service delivery along the entire value chain, from observation and product processing, through modeling and analysis, to monitoring and forecasting, and finally to decision making, planning, and evaluation. Key objectives highlight:
1. Expanding observations to monitor landscape change,
2. Better connecting biodiversity research and management activities across spatial, temporal, and categorical scales
3. Improving the use of Earth Observations for all aspects of wildland fire preparation, response, and recovery, and
4. Supporting efficient and sustainable use of the nation’s natural resources.

Goal 3. Improve Human Health and Safety: In addition to the decision support use of Earth Observations for extreme and severe events, this goal also focuses on the maturing application of Earth Observations to inform public health policy and planning. Key objectives highlight:
1. Reducing disparities in access to public health information
2. Reducing societal exposure to environmental risks and hazards,
3. Understanding the cascading impacts of extreme events on public health, and
4. Improving the nation’s ability to monitor and forecast those events.

In addition to these goals, the National Plan engages organizations across the Earth Observation Enterprise through a series of enterprise-level initiatives that focus on:

-- Initiative A. Sustained Observing and Monitoring System Capacity – Earth observations as a reliable enabling infrastructure, ensuring the availability of observations and derivative products over long timescales,
-- Initiative B. Equitable Access to & Ethical Use of Earth Observations Data – better utilization, integration, and application of Earth observation data to all parties, regardless of technical capability,
-- Initiative C. Increased Diversity and Expanded Stakeholder Engagement – networking to ensure voices are heard from a multitude of lived experiences and that people from varied fields, backgrounds, and skillsets can connect, collaborate, and ideate.
-- Initiative D. Domestic and International Partner Collaboration – bridging the gaps to build comprehensive and effective solution to multifaceted problems that would be difficult to address by any single agency,
-- Initiative E. Institutional and Workforce Readiness – realignment of both scientific and technical skills needed for an informed workforce to tackle the impacts of a changing climate, and
-- Initiative F. Continuous Assessment of Earth Observation Systems – understanding of the impact of existing and planned Earth observing systems in fulfilling and advancing needed measurements.

In combination, these initiatives accomplish the National Plan goals to realize ever-increasing benefits of Earth observations for society.

By implementing this congressionally mandated National Plan, the United States will usher in an era of better integrated, ubiquitous, and impactful Earth Observations capabilities, answer urgent questions about our planet’s changing environment, and apply Earth science system insights to ensure that humanity continues to thrive.

RFI: https://www.regulations.gov/document/OSTP_FRDOC_0001-0013
Draft National Plan Civil Earth Observations 2023 https://www.regulations.gov/document/OSTP_FRDOC_0001-0014
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-25798

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