October 2, 2015
Late Wednesday, President Barack Obama signed into law House Resolution 23, the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015, which was written with the assistance of researchers at Texas Tech University’s National Wind Institute.
Originally introduced by Congressman Randy Neugebauer in 2013, the law was created to help improve the understanding and effects of windstorms and how to reduce their damaging impact. It also establishes a committee to oversee and coordinate federal agencies participating in the program.
“I’m very proud my windstorm bill was signed into law,” Neugebauer said. “Promoting windstorm research — like that already being done at Texas Tech’s National Wind Institute — will continue to go a long way to making communities in Texas and across America safer while saving taxpayer dollars in the long run. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working together to move this common sense bill into law.”
The bill was passed last week by both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate and submitted to the president for approval. The bill’s beginning came at its announcement in 2013 at the National Wind Institute, which was established in 2012 to serve as a hub for research, commercialization and education into wind science, wind energy, wind engineering and wind hazard mitigation.
“The National Wind Institute at Texas Tech and its faculty are rightly viewed as national leaders, and it is reflected by their involvement in drafting this reauthorization law,” said Guy Loneragan, a faculty fellow in the Office of Vice President for Research. “They have contributed greatly to society and saved lives through research, education and service. As a result of this reauthorization, the Nation Wind Institute will continue its leadership role and expand the national prominence of Texas Tech.”
John Schroeder, a professor of atmospheric science in the Texas Tech Department of Geosciences, assisted in writing the original bill while Ernie Kiesling, a research professor at Texas Tech and executive director of the National Storm Shelter Association, testified before the House Science, Space and Technology committee on behalf of the act when it was approved in 2013.
“I’m extremely pleased with the passing of the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act Reauthorization of 2015,” said Daan Liang, interim director of the National Wind Institute. “For the past four decades, Texas Tech University has been on the forefront of windstorm research by advancing the knowledge in severe wind events and loading on structures as well as developing practical solutions towards life safety and property protection. Under this act, the National Wind Institute will continue its leadership in research, education and public service to minimize future losses to windstorms.”
Under the law, the act will be funded through government appropriations spread out equally over the next three years (fiscal years 2015, 2016 and 2017) for four agencies: the Federal Emergency Management Association (FEMA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The NSF will receive the largest allocation of funds totaling more than $29 million. FEMA will receive just less than $16 million, NIST, the agency in charge of planning and coordinating for the program, will receive more than $12 million and NOAA will receive just less than $6.8 million.
The Congressional Budget Office estimates implementation of the act will cost $42 million over the next five years (2016-2020). The act does not contain any intergovernmental or private-sector mandates defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and will not affect state or local government budgets.
National Wind Institute (NWI) is world-renowned for conducting innovative research in the areas of wind energy, wind hazard mitigation, wind-induced damage, severe storms and wind-related economics.
NWI is also home to world-class researchers with expertise in numerous academic fields such as atmospheric science, civil, mechanical and electrical engineering, mathematics and economics, and NWI was the first in the nation to offer a doctorate in Wind Science and Engineering, and a Bachelor of Science in Wind Energy.