Lawmakers back ousted hurricane center chief

Two Democrats seek to reinstate Bill Proenza to the position he held before being forced out as the nation's chief hurricane forecaster.

Key Democrats on Capitol Hill expressed support this week for restoring an embattled National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration official to the position he held before he was removed as head of the National Hurricane Center.

Reps. Nick Lampson, D-Texas, and Brad Miller, D-N.C., suggested in a Monday letter to a top NOAA administrator that Bill Proenza be reinstated in the position he held prior to arriving at the hurricane center. In the letter, Lampson and Miller said Proenza served "with great distinction" as southern regional director of the National Weather Service. That position is currently vacant.

The letter requested additional documents relating to Proenza's performance and the July performance assessment that resulted in his being suspended as center director just months after being asked to fill the position. The requested documents include any received from the White House.

A similar letter, sent to Commerce Secretary Carlos Gutierrez, sought documents relating to the assessment, which was performed by a team of Commerce employees. NOAA is part of the Commerce Department.

The letters follow a July 19 joint hearing by two House Science and Technology subcommittees to determine if Proenza abused his position by speaking to reporters about the need for equipment upgrades at NOAA.

Proenza drew fire because he said on more than one occasion that the center's QuikSCAT satellite, which provides data necessary for predicting tropical storms and hurricanes, needed updating.

At the hearing, headed by Lampson as chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Environment and Miller as chairman of the Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight, NOAA Administrator Conrad Lautenbacher characterized Proenza's QuikSCAT statements as "potentially detrimental in terms of public confidence in the center's forecasts."

At the same hearing, however, another NOAA director testified that the satellite was "well past its design life."

In the letters, Miller and Lampson praised Proenza's comments, saying they led NOAA to "begin the first real planning for the replacement of this satellite after years of concerns from NOAA staff." They also asked if Proenza was "put into an existing difficult situation without any support from his management."

Witnesses praised Proenza's performance at the National Weather Service. Don McKinnon, who spoke on behalf of the Mississippi Civil Defense/Emergency Management Association, said Proenza was "passionate" about his work and "took [emergency managers'] concerns to heart."

Robie Robinson, who represented the Emergency Managers' Association of Texas, said that "local emergency managers get the weather information we need thanks largely to the programs and leadership of Bill Proenza" and that "the improvements we experienced over the last 10 years would not have occurred without [Proenza's] leadership."

Proenza is on leave, and NOAA plans to reassign him to be training chief for the Silver Spring, Md.-based Office of Climate, Water and Weather Services. He has asked to resume his duties as hurricane center director, but Lampson and Miller did not endorse that request in their letter. A spokeswoman said she "could not comment" on the lawmakers' reasons.

NOAA did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.