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Neil Jacobs (left) talks with a staffer at a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration weather forecasting and research facility in Norman, Oklahoma, in August 2018.

NOAA/Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Trump nominates acting NOAA leader to be permanent chief

Originally published by E&E News

President Donald Trump today nominated Neil Jacobs, the acting chief of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), to become the agency’s 11th administrator.

Jacobs’s nomination came a month after Trump’s first pick, Barry Myers, withdrew due to health concerns.

The former CEO of AccuWeather Inc., Myers generated a storm of criticism from Democrats, who said his lack of a science degree disqualified him and that his ties to his family’s weather forecasting company constituted a conflict of interest.

In another move, Trump this morning nominated Bryan Ware to be the assistant director for cybersecurity at the Department of Homeland Security. Ware currently serves as the department’s assistant secretary for cyber, infrastructure and resilience policy.

Jacobs, a former chief scientist at Panasonic Avionics Corporation in Lake Forest, California, took over as NOAA’s acting administrator in February, replacing Timothy Gallaudet, who’s now the deputy administrator. He has a doctorate in numerical weather prediction from North Carolina State University in Raleigh, and lives in Durham, North Carolina, with his wife and two sons.

In a confirmation hearing, Jacobs would face certain questioning from senators on his role in this year’s Hurricane Dorian weather forecasting scandal. Jacobs conducted a weeklong damage control tour in September, meeting with weather forecast offices after the agency’s Washington office sided with Trump when he erroneously claimed Dorian would likely hit Alabama (Greenwire, Sept. 16).

Jacobs sent an email to employees in September, saying NOAA was “committed to upholding scientific integrity.” But the incident prompted three ongoing federal investigations: by NOAA’s acting chief scientist; the Commerce Department Office of Inspector General; and the House of Representatives Science, Space and Technology Committee.

Jacobs has already been through the confirmation process, having been approved by the Senate in 2017 as assistant Commerce secretary for environmental observation and prediction.

At his confirmation hearing before the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, Jacobs told lawmakers he was naturally drawn to weather forecasting, having grown up in Florida and South Carolina and always living close to the ocean, enjoying surfing, diving and fishing.

Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from E&E News. Copyright 2019. E&E provides essential news for energy and environment professionals at www.eenews.net.