Rep. Lucas moves to make NOAA standalone agency in federal government

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Congressman Frank Lucas has moved ahead with his idea of turning the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration into a standalone government agency.

Right now, NOAA is part of the U.S Commerce Department. Rep. Lucas, in his capacity as chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee went ahead this week and filed legislation to make it separate and alone. He filed the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act of 2023, and the measure was cosponsored by Rep. Randy Weber (R-TX), Rep. Brian Babin (R-TX), Rep. Jim Baird (R-IN), Rep. Mike Garcia (R-CA), Rep. Stephanie Bice (R-OK), Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-CA), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Rick Crawford (R-AR), Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Rep. Max Miller (R-OH), Rep. Brandon Williams (R-NY), and Rep.Tom Kean (R-NJ).

Through this bill, NOAA will become an independent agency with formal statutory authority. NOAA currently resides within the Department of Commerce and has never been established in law since it was created by executive action in 1970.

“After years of complex organizational challenges, it’s time for NOAA to become an independent agency and reach its full potential,” Lucas said.

The Republican Representative said the move would give NOAA formal statutory authority and also reduce bureaucratic inefficiencies. It would also streamline oversight efforts and refocus core mission areas.

“This will strengthen NOAA’s important role of protecting people and property through its vital weather forecasts, severe weather monitoring, and communication efforts. I want to thank our Science Committee staff and the numerous stakeholders for their support and feedback in the crafting of this simple, good-government bill.”

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NOAA’s National Severe Storms Laboratory is located in Norman along with the National Weather Center at the University of Oklahoma.  But NOAA has a wide array of other projects underway in the state including its Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research in Goodwell, a Cooperative Global Air Sampling Network facility in Lamont, a laboratory in Ponca City that studies carbon cycle gases and halocarbons, a Climate Reference Network office in Stillwater, and a Lightning Mapping Array with facilities in El Reno, Yukon, Altus, Granite, Oluslee, Mangum, Duke, and Mountain Park.


In addition to authorizing the agency’s critical mission, the NOAA Organic Act will:

  • Promote scientific integrity and critical research within the agency by requiring NOAA’s Science Advisory Board to develop a strategic plan for their research and development activities every five years.
  • Direct efficient reorganization of the agency, requiring NOAA to submit a reorganization plan that will prioritize how NOAA can best carry out its core mission while promoting collaboration and reducing duplication within the agency.
  • Preserve the National Weather Service within the independent NOAA agency and support its critical work providing forecasts, monitoring severe weather, and communicating weather information to local, state, and federal authorities.
  • Consolidate the agency’s mission by removing Space Commerce. The Office of Space Commerce will be positioned as its own entity within the Department of Commerce.

The NOAA Organic Act has gained support, with several former NOAA administrators testifying at a recent hearing in favor of establishing an independent agency.

Text of the bill can be found here.