A well-timed congressional hearing, coming in the midst of fierce geomagnetic storms, could help to restore funding to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Space Environment Center (SEC).
The center, which is the nation's official source of space weather alerts and warnings, currently is funded at $5.24 million for fiscal year 2003. That amount is $2 million less than it received the previous year. The Bush Administration has requested $8.02 million in funding. The appropriations bill, for the departments of Commerce, Justice, and State for fiscal year 2004, passed on 23 July by the House of Representatives, calls for funding the SEC at the $5.29 million level.