NOAA gets first Senate-confirmed administrator since 2017

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on Thursday got a Senate-confirmed leader for the first time since 2017.

The Senate approved Richard Spinrad’s nomination to lead the oceans and weather agency by a voice vote, signaling that his nomination was noncontroversial. 

In addition to leading NOAA, Spinrad will also serve as the Commerce Department’s undersecretary for oceans and atmosphere. 


A statement released by NOAA said that Spinrad’s priorities will include developing products and services relating to climate change, creating a portfolio that will both improve sustainability and economic development, and creating a more diverse and inclusive workforce. 

“I am thrilled to be back and am ready to hit the ground running,” Spinrad said in a statement. “I am humbled to lead NOAA’s exceptional workforce on a mission so relevant to the daily lives of people across America and to the future health of our planet. And I will ensure that trust and scientific integrity will continue to be the foundation for all of our work.”

He has previously held other positions in the department, including serving as its chief scientist, assistant administrator for research and assistant administrator for ocean services and coastal zone management. He’s also worked for the Navy in its oceanography and naval research offices. 

NOAA is generally seen as a science-focused agency with limited political influence, but it came under controversy during the prior administration in what came to be known as the “Sharpiegate” incident.

In that 2019 incident, the agency released a statement backing then-President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be ‘prepared’ for ‘confrontation’ with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE’s claim that Hurricane Dorian had been expected to hit Alabama after it was contradicted by a National Weather Service tweet.

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