FAIRBANKS - An additional $8 million in federal funds would go to a climate research center in Barrow under legislation that passed the U.S. Senate.
The center is among dozens of projects and programs in the annual spending bill for the Department of Commerce. The House bill was passed in June, so the two separate bills can now be merged for final passage.
The Barrow research center money is being routed through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the Commerce Department. Funding includes $6 million for Arctic research, half of which would go to NOAA's Study of Environmental Arctic Change.
The Senate bill also contains tens of millions of dollars for fisheries research in Alaska.
The Senate Appropriations Committee merged numerous fisheries and marine mammal research "earmarks" for Alaska into a lump sum of $55 million, according to Courtney Schikora Boone, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska. Stevens is a committee member.
"Two of the nation's top three fishing ports, in terms of highest dollar value for commercial landings, are in Alaska," said a report that accompanied the bill.
"These funds," the report says, "are critical to provide data collection, analysis and further resource development of these fisheries in order to provide continued opportunity for the state of Alaska and its coastal communities."
The committee directed NOAA to give the committee a spending plan for the money within 30 days of passage of the act.
The $55 million is only part of the money for fisheries and marine mammal research and management. There's also $24 million for the state of Alaska from the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.