Once again, the National Science Foundation's (NSF) proposed National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) program has failed to receive funding from House and Senate appropriations committees. Popular with environmental scientists, but not Congress, NEON is envisioned as a crucial tool that would enable regional and continental-scale studies of interdependent questions, such as migratory patterns and habitat loss or climate changes and the spread of West Nile virus.

The project's goal is to create seventeen regional observatory networks at a cost of $20 million each — one for each of 16 US eco-regions, plus an observatory in Antarctica — which would all be linked to form the NEON system.

NEON has been in presidential budget proposals since the Clinton administration, but year after year Congress declines to allocate funds for the project. Insiders admit that NEON is caught in a "Catch-22" situation: "There's not as much detail as some people would...

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