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Kamala Harris says new space policy will focus on climate change

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Vice President Kamala Harris announced during her first National Space Council meeting Wednesday that the Biden administration’s new space policy will make the fight against climate change a top priority.

Harris, who chairs the council, stressed the importance of improving the gathering and dissemination of satellite technology that is used to track and predict extreme weather on Earth.

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Vice President Kamala Harris attends a meeting of the National Space Council at the U.S. Institute of Peace Dec. 1, 2021 in Washington, D.C.
(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

“Just think, these satellites provide real-time images of the landscape of our nation as natural disasters increase in frequency and ferocity around our country,” she said. “These images are being used by first responders. These images are being used by farmers to assess their crops as drought and heat threatens their livelihood, threatens our ability to produce food as a nation, and by scientists who are working to combat the climate crisis head on. 

“Today, this council will commit to make this data more accessible to more people, and we will expand our global partnerships to increase the data we are able to collect,” she said.

The White House issued a “Space Priorities Framework” earlier Wednesday that said the U.S., through collaboration between the public, private and philanthropic sectors, will “accelerate the development and use of Earth observation to support climate change mitigation and adaptation.”

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The climate change issue is among three top priorities that the council will tackle under Harris’ leadership. The other two include “promoting rules and norms” that govern space activities around the globe and building up the U.S. workforce in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Harris said.

The council is a Cabinet-level body that was revived under the Trump administration in 2017 after a more than two-decade hiatus. The new framework keeps many of the priorities set by the Trump administration but adds the climate change and STEM initiatives.

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