National Integrated Drought Information System Reauthorization Act of 2013 (HR 2431)

On March 6, 2014, President Obama signed a bipartisan law to renew federal support for the National Integrated Drought Information System - a drought program that seeks to reduce financial and environmental risks posed by sustained drought by providing forecasts and support to vulnerable communities. The legislation easily passed through Congress, with a 356-21 vote in the House and passing via unanimous consent in the Senate. The law would extend the program until 2018.

The NIDIS Reauthorization Act of 2013 was introduced into the 113th United States Congress. A similar measure, the Drought Information Act of 2013 (S. 376), was introduced into and passed the Senate. The Drought Information Act authorizes NIDIS funding through 2018. 

The legislation, sponsored by Rep. Ralph Hall, a Texas Republican, authorizes $US 67.5 million over five years for NIDIS, a program created in 2007 and widely praised for delivering accurate data and analysis.

The law would revise NIDIS functions to require the NIDIS, among other things, to: (1) provide certain information, forecasts, and assessments described in the Act on both national and regional levels; (2) build upon existing forecasting and assessment programs and partnerships through designation of one or more cooperative institutes to assist with NIDIS functions; and (3) continue ongoing research and monitoring activities related to drought.

The bill also will require the director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to report to Congress on how the government can reduce problems stemming from drought more quickly, and it calls for the creation of an early warning system.

"States, cities, towns, farmers, and businesses rely on tools and data from the National Integrated Drought Information System to make informed decisions about water use, crop planting, wildfire response, and other critical areas," Obama said in a statement. "As climate change increases the intensity of weather-related disasters such as droughts, wildfires, storms and floods, providing access to updated drought-related science and tools is growing even more important."

With his signature, President Obama reauthorized the NIDIS drought program, in addition to the $US 1.2 billion drought relief package he pledged in March 2014.

NIDIS goals include:
• Leadership and networking for drought monitoring and forecasting
• Research on risk assessment, forecasting, and management
• Creating “early warning systems” for drought
• Developing interactive systems to support these goals
• Providing educational resources about droughts


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Publication Date: March 6, 2014

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