Bush signs two environmental laws

President Bush signed into law two environmental bills, one of which will provide forecasts of drought conditions to avoid or reduce agricultural damage and costs, while the other tracks the amount of energy that computers consume.

Under HR 5136, the National Integrated Drought Information System Act of 2006, the Commerce Department's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will establish a National Integrated Drought Information System to collect and integrate data on environmental indicators for a drought early warning system for industry and the public.

The bill authorizes $81 million over five years to establish the drought information system, with $11 million in the current fiscal year.

The bill should improve the analysis of conditions, provide more accurate seasonal forecasts and equip users with a better understanding of the climate interactions that produce droughts, said Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), who introduced the bill.

'While we cannot stop nature, we can do a better job predicting, monitoring and mitigating this devastating problem,' he said in a statement.

Under HR 5646, the Environmental Protection Agency will analyze and report to Congress the energy consumption of federal and private computer data centers as part of the agency's Energy Star program. For example, EPA will examine growth trends associated with data centers and the utilization of servers, analysis of the migration to the use of energy-efficient microchips and servers designed to provide energy efficient computing, and the costs associated with large- and medium-scale data centers.

The law expresses the sense of Congress that agencies purchasing servers give a high priority to energy efficiency as a factor in determining best value and performance.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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