NIDIS BILL -- (Extensions of Remarks - April 06, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. RALPH M. HALL OF TEXAS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2006
* Mr. HALL. Mr. Speaker, today I rise to introduce a bill to create a National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS). Our nation is unfortunately very aware of the damage droughts bring to our citizens. In my home state of Texas, the wheat crops have been decimated by drought conditions, producing the worst ratings in 20 years. My own home district in northeast Texas is experiencing the most severe damage statewide from the drought. In Missouri, farm ponds have been drying up in record numbers, and in Oklahoma, the wheat crop rated 58% poor to very poor. Droughts cause between $6 billion and $8 billion a year in direct estimated losses to the U.S. economy, and they have devastating impacts on our society.
* While we cannot stop nature, we can do a better job predicting, monitoring, and mitigating this problem. Our nation needs a comprehensive drought information system that enables our local, state, and national leaders to be more proactive in their approach to droughts. This bill establishes an integrated system and designates NOAA as the lead agency. NOAA will coordinate with local, state, and federal entities to create a comprehensive network of drought information and provide decision-makers with the best tools to manage our resources. NOAA will do this by building a national drought monitoring and forecasting system, create a drought early warning system, provide an interactive drought information delivery system, and designate mechanisms for improved interaction with the public.
* This NIDIS initiative will hopefully improve our analysis of conditions, provide us with more accurate seasonal forecasts, and equip us with a better understanding of climate interactions that produce droughts. I would like to encourage Members to join me in supporting this vital and important initiative.