Programs: Science and Policy
S&T Newsletter: September 2006
House Passes NIH Reauthorization Bill
On September 26, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 6164, the National Institutes of Health Reform Act of 2006. The bill would authorize a 5 percent funding boost for each of three fiscal years (FY) starting in FY 2007.
The bill would also create a “common fund” for trans-NIH research—meaning research involving more than one NIH institute or center. The common fund would grow to 5 percent of the overall NIH budget at a rate dependent on NIH appropriations each year, addressing concerns of many scientists who feared it would take away funds from other areas. The bill does not change the structure of NIH; instead it would charge a Scientific Management Review Board the task of assessing the agency every seven years and recommending changes to the institutes and centers.
Committee Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) spent three years working with the biomedical community to lay out the bill. The recent draft reflects this; it does not include the provisions that many scientific societies and disease advocacy groups found most objectionable, such as a larger common fund or a “clustering” of the NIH institutes and centers into funding categories.
The consensus on the final bill was evident, as it flew through the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A draft —the latest of several—was released at a September 19 hearing and was marked up the next day. At the hearing, witnesses representing the broad biomedical and scientific community praised the latest incarnation of the bill.
Several amendments were proposed and defeated along party lines during the markup. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) sought to raise the NIH budget 5 percent above the rate of medical inflation; Barton contended that, given the current budget climate, the approach set forth in H.R. 6164 was more realistic. Another amendment, by California Democrats Lois Capps and Henry Waxman, sought to include special funding for breast cancer research. Barton said his office intentionally crafted the bill without specific references to NIH institutes and centers or support for certain causes.
In addition, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA) spoke about NIH’s Public Access Policy. Doyle supports making the current policy, which encourages NIH-funded researchers to make their final manuscripts freely available to the public, mandatory rather than voluntary. Doyle did not submit an amendment upon assurances from Barton that the committee would address the issue later.
During the subsequent House floor debate, a handful of committee members from both sides of the aisle came out to laud the legislation. In introducing H.R. 6164, Barton cited his experiences with losing family members to disease and having a heart attack in the Capitol last year as personal factors in his support for NIH.
For further information on the bill’s provisions, see the summary on the House Energy and Commerce Committee website.
-- Erin Heath
Nanotechnology was the focus of a hearing and multiple reports in late September, with most calling for additional research and regulation for the fledgling industry.
The House Science Committee held a September 21 hearing entitled “Research on Environmental and Safety Impacts of Nanotechnology: What are the Federal Agencies Doing?” Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) began the hearing by acknowledging nanotechnology’s great economic potential while emphasizing the need to assess environmental and health risks associated with its development and use. He urged the establishment, funding, and implementation of an national agenda to determine and plan for these risks. Funding for research on nanotech’s impacts is crucial, Boehlert stated, with at least two times the current funding level needed, by conservative estimates.
A National Academy of Sciences report released days before the hearing contained similar findings. A Matter of Size: Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative reported that research on nanotechnology’s possible effects on humans and the environment has been limited and inconclusive and the lack of research could adversely affect public trust.
Dr. Norris E. Alderson, Chair of the Nanotechnology Environmental and Health Implications Working Group (NEHI WG), testified on the interagency group’s report, Environmental Health and Safety Research Needs For Engineered Nanoscale Materials. NEHI WG operates under the auspices of the Nanoscale Science, Engineering and Technology Subcommittee of the National Science and Technology Council, which oversees the National Nanotechnology Initiative. Chairman Boehlert and Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) expressed their dissatisfaction with the report, which was released six months late. Gordon asked why, when over two hundred nanotech products were already on the market, did the report lack a sense of urgency? The work of NEHI WG, in his opinion, was progressing too slowly.
Witnesses from the National Science Foundation, Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy described the research their agencies are conducting under the National Nanotechnology Initiative, including NSF research on the societal and ethical implications of nanoparticles, a December 2005 EPA White Paper on the character and effects of nanotechnology, and the creation of DOE nanoscale research centers.
Dr. Andrew Maynard, Chief Science Advisor of the Project on Emerging Nanotechnologies at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and former co-chair of the NEHI WG, argued at the hearing that any coherence in the current management and regulation of nanotech was an illusion. Individual scientists and research groups, not the government, are setting the agenda for nanotech. There exists, in his mind, a great need for top-down research on safety and for jointly-funded—government and industry—work on this issue. In related news, a new poll commissioned by the Wilson Center found that the majority of Americans have heard little to nothing about nanotechnology and that the public looks to the federal government to oversee it.
Finally, Mr. Matthew Nordan of Lux Research, Inc., testified that because governmental guidance is so vague, industry is reluctant to develop nanotechnology. As an example, he cited a Fortune 500 CEO who confided that he is stalling investment in nanotech until EPA regulations become unambiguous. Nordan identified NEHI WG’s lack of enforcement and funding authority as problematic to advancing its agenda.
Chairman Boehlert transitioned to questions for the witnesses, asking what was needed to have a coordinated, targeted, prioritized federal program on nanotech safety? Alderson responded the agencies were on track to establish such a program, but that time was an issue. NSF Director Arden Bement spoke positively of inter-agency coordination, and argued that Maynard had overstated his claim of the status quo approach being “bottom-up.” Several witnesses noted that “top-down” work would be less effective at responding to the multitude of concerns than inter-agency dialogue and coordination. However, Rep. Gordon questioned the efficiency of such an approach, while Rep. Boehlert suggested that a coordinator—not a czar, but someone who could prioritize and implement steps to ensure public safety—might expedite the process.
-- Arielle Lasky
On September 26, the House of Representatives passed by voice vote the Biodefense and Pandemic Vaccine and Drug Development Act of 2006 (H.R. 5533), a bill that would create a new agency to oversee advanced research and development (R&D) into countermeasures for biodefense and emerging infectious diseases.
A separate bill in the Senate (S. 3678) was brought to the floor on the last day before the chamber recessed but failed to reach a unanimous consent agreement to pass because a number of germane and nongermane amendments stalled its movement.
The House bill, sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Anna Eshoo (D-CA), would create a new agency, the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), in the Department of Health and Human Services to act as a centralized authority to coordinate R&D investments in biodefense countermeasures. The bill would authorize $160 million a year for fiscal years (FY) 2007 and 2008 for grants and contracts.
The BARDA legislation was created to complement Project Bioshield (P.L. 108-276), which authorizes the government to procure bioterror countermeasures and allocates $5.6 billion over ten years.
A concern raised by the private-sector in hearings this past year is the reluctance of industry to invest in high-risk, long-term R&D for new drugs and vaccines with the government as the sole customer. Given the difficulty of predicting future public health threats and the high costs of R&D, congressional leaders hope that the creation of BARDA will help to bridge the gap between early-stage fundamental research and product development, and hence to eventual government procurement.
In the Senate, Senators Richard Burr (R-NC) and Edward Kennedy (D-MA) have partnered to craft the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act (S. 3678) that would also create BARDA. Sen. Burr has championed this cause for the past two years and introduced numerous versions of a bill.
The latest draft of S. 3678, which was to be introduced as a substitute amendment on the Senate floor during debates on September 29, would authorize $1.07 billion over two years to support advanced R&D within BARDA, a significant increase over the House bill.
Both the Rogers/Eshoo and Burr/Kennedy bills include provisions that would provide the Secretary of HHS the authority to exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information that the Secretary deems critical to protect national security.
The secrecy language is intended to allow the government to protect “vulnerabilities of existing medical or public health defenses” that could be exploited by terrorists. Some open government groups, however, believe that the clause unnecessarily restricts the free and open exchange of scientific information and creates a new category of information that goes beyond the normal classification system.
This and other matters were alluded to during the House floor debate of H.R. 5533. Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) stated that he had concerns that the bill would “waive a number of existing Federal statutes enacted to ensure proper government oversight.” While Waxman expressed reservations, he urged that his colleagues address them during conference.
-- Joanne Carney
In the wee hours of the morning before officially recessing for the fall campaign trail, the Senate passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (S. 3880) under a unanimous consent agreement. The bill, introduced by Senators James Inhofe (R-OK) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), addresses the increasingly aggressive tactics that animal rights extremists are using to frighten and intimidate the families of researchers and the businesses that have ties to animal enterprises.
The AETA bill attempts to walk a narrow legal path between legitimate forms of animal rights activities, and harassment and violence perpetrated by extremists against organizations, individual scientists, and their family members. It lays out civil and criminal penalties (a fine or up to 10 years in prison) for violent and non-violent offenses, as well as restitution orders for economic damages such as the costs associated with repeating an experiment.
At the same time, the bill specifically states that it does not prohibit lawful activities protected under the First Amendment, such as “peaceful picketing or other peaceful demonstration[s].” It also protects for lawful economic disruptions such as boycotts or the release of information about an animal enterprise that may lead to negative market reactions.
Over the years it has become difficult for scientists to conduct research at university campuses because of the increasingly aggressive tactics that animal rights extremists had begun to use. (See STC July 2006 issue).
In two well-documented cases in August, an attempt was made to firebomb the home of a UCLA primate researcher. The bomb, however, was placed at the wrong home and fortunately failed to ignite. Earlier that same month a UCLA neurobiologist decided to discontinue his research with animals aimed at better understanding Parkinson’s disease after his family had been harassed and threatened over a number of years.
Senator Inhofe had introduced legislation in October 2005 with stiffer penalties, but that bill failed to gain traction. The UCLA incidents assisted in leading Senator Feinstein to partner with Inhofe in introducing a new bill (S. 3880) with the assistance of the Justice Department and FBI to ensure that First Amendment issues were protected.
The House Judiciary Committee attempted to mark up a similar bill (H.R. 4239) introduced by Rep. Thomas Petri (R-WI) but were left with insufficient time to address it and a number of other bills on its agenda before recessing.
The Petri legislation also includes stiffer penalties as compared to the Senate-passed bill, which may make the Inhofe/Feinstein bill the vehicle for any House deliberations.
-- Joanne Carney
Several innovation bills illustrate the influence of the information technology sector on Capitol Hill. The National Innovation Act of 2005 (S. 2109), introduced by Senators John Ensign (R-NV) and Joe Lieberman (D-CT) requires that the National Science Foundation “study how the federal government should support, through research, education, and training, the new discipline of service science.” The National Competitiveness Investment Act (S. 3936), introduced on September 26 by a bipartisan group of 12 Senators, calls on the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy, through the National Academy of Sciences, to conduct a similar study.
What is this new discipline? The National Innovation Act of 2005 elaborates: “The term ‘service science’ means curriculums, research programs, and training regimens, including service sciences, management, and engineering (SSME) programs, that exist or are being developed to teach individuals to apply technology, organizational process management, and industry-specific knowledge to solve complex problems.”
Since there are few extant academic departments or programs using such a name, one may wonder where NSF or NAS would look to research the potential of service science. One source they will certainly consider is IBM, the computing corporation that coined the term and has promoted it as a distinct area of inquiry. Molding a new niche of academic study is nothing new for the company, which decades ago helped to launch computer science onto the departmental rosters at major universities. IBM sponsors workshops and awards research grants in the area, and is currently developing a masters-level curriculum for a new program titled “Services Sciences, Management, and Engineering” at North Carolina State University.
Since IBM divested itself from the personal computing market in 2004, it has been increasingly focused on the service sector as the primary strength of the U.S. economy. A new study of the service sector calls for input from various quarters of the business and analytic worlds. According to IBM’s website, “Services experts must have a sophisticated understanding of business strategy, business processes, information technology, and the management of individuals and teams. …On the research side, while there has been progress within some traditional academic disciplines, most of the big questions will require a broader perspective, which the interdisciplinary SSME curriculum will provide.” Principles of business management form much of the disciplinary core of the project.
In 2002, the National Science Foundation began a new program within its Directorate for Engineering called Service Enterprise Engineering. Its website says, “Service enterprises dominate the U.S. economy, and the SEE program is intended to parallel more traditional activities in modeling and analysis of manufacturing enterprises with a new focus on engineered systems in service operations.” Grants from the program are awarded for the use of novel analytical and computational techniques employed for use in various service industries, such as retailing, commercial transportation, hospitality, and entertainment.
It seems that increased use of computer technology should be expected to continue into the future, in business as well as other areas. “Service science” might sound much more like a loosely defined set of business strategies for the service sector of the economy than it does a traditional “discipline,” which typically evokes thoughts of theoretical cores, canonical texts, or standard methods. Whether “service science” becomes a mature discipline with its own department remains to be seen, but its financial security through the NSF is now pending.
-- Eric Martin
The White House released its Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) strategic plan after four years of deliberation on September 20. The plan, led by the Department of Energy, outlines $3 billion in spending across agencies for technology research, development, demonstration, and deployment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The Plan sets six complementary goals: (1) reducing emissions from energy use and infrastructure; (2) reducing emissions from energy supply; (3) capturing and sequestering carbon dioxide; (4) reducing emissions of other greenhouse gases; (5) measuring and monitoring emissions; and (6) bolstering the contributions of basic science to climate change. The Plan outlines near-term, mid-term and long-term approaches toward attaining these goals, and examines needs to meet varying levels of emissions reductions.
The House Science Subcommittee on Energy held a hearing as the report was released and the Government Reform Committee held a hearing the following day. The overriding message from lawmakers and witnesses was that while the plan adequately describes research, it fails to deliver on innovative solutions or deployment of new technologies into the marketplace. Many emphasized that without regulations limiting emissions of greenhouse gases, companies will not adopt new technologies: a point that was also made in a recent GAO study on balancing R&D and emissions caps to address climate change.
The Government Reform Committee took its hearing beyond the strategic plan, investigating if a CCARPA – Climate Change Advanced Research Projects Agency – is needed and if the CCTP is the appropriate place to house it. CCARPA is yet the latest attempt to encourage groundbreaking research using the successful Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) model. Chairman Tom Davis (R-VA) opened the hearing by noting that he didn’t want to debate climate science but instead focus on solutions to climate change. CCTP Director Stephen Eule, when asked, stated the Administration’s position that CCARPA, or a similar Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E), would take away funds from other agency activities. Eule also clarified that the Strategic Plan does not contain goals for greenhouse gas emissions and that is not its role; rather the plan is intended to suggest technology ideas.
The hearing also featured testimony from Government Accountability Office Director of Natural Resources and Environment John Stephenson, who stated that changes in the format and content of reports make it difficult to determine if stated increases in climate change funding are “a real or definitional increase.”
Mr. Stephenson also testified on these results at a hearing of the House Government Reform Subcommittee on Energy and Resources the following week. The hearing, entitled “Rebalancing the Carbon Cycle” focused on the carbon budget and ways to emit fewer greenhouse gases or sequester them. Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) noted that the committee’s recent attention in climate change will persist, and they will continue to address climate change in this and the next Congress.
The Environmental Protection Agency set new standards for Fine Particulate Matter, also known as soot, days before its court-ordered September 27 deadline. The Clean Air Act requires the EPA to assess air quality standards every five years. The new rules lower the 24-hour exposure standard from 65 micrograms per cubic meter of air to 35. EPA left unchanged the yearly allowable average of 15 micrograms per cubic meter per day, with Administrator Stephen Johnston stating there is “insufficient evidence” to justify a lower standard. The American Medical Association and 20 of the 22 members of EPA’s science advisory board had recommended reducing the yearly average to 13-14 micrograms per cubic meter of air/day. The rule will take effect in 2015.
The Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air, Climate Change, and Nuclear Safety held a hearing on draft rules on July 13. Subcommittee Chairman George Voinovich (R-OH) disputed the need for the new regulations, especially in light of the difficulty for many counties in the nation to achieve extant standards. He said that the “nonattainment” status can be a significant economic burden on counties that have failed to comply with regulations. Adopting the new standards could significantly increase the number of counties in violation of the rule. Voinovich added that that the provisions of the Clean Air Act require the EPA merely to assess air quality standards every five years, but not necessarily to revise them.
In the recurrent debate pitting economic concerns against environmental protections, the economics of the situation did not remain uncontested. Noting the country’s burgeoning health care costs, Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE) said, “The cost of breathing dirty air is a far higher burden on the economy than paying for air pollution control.” Carper stated that due to health care prices, even industry groups such as the National Association of Manufacturers recommend addressing chronic diseases such as asthma.
Toxicological and epidemiological studies have shown fine particulate matter to be associated with aggravation of heart and respiratory disease, asthma attacks, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and premature death. “Of the many air pollutants regulated by EPA, fine particles likely pose the greatest threat to public health due to the number of people exposed,” said William Wehrum, Acting Assistant Administrator, EPA Office of Air and Radiation.
-- Eric Martin and Kasey White
Many additional bills advanced in a flurry of activity at the end of the September. Actions include:
Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act Signed Into Law
President Bush signed the Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act into law on September 26. The bill, cosponsored by Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Barack Obama (D-IL), aims to increase government accountability and transparency by establishing a search engine for federal grants, contracts, earmarks and loans greater than $25,000.
Drought Mitigation Bill Passes House, Senate Committee
Legislation approved by the House on September 26 would establish a coordinated federal effort to more accurately monitor and predict droughts. H.R. 5136, National Integrated Drought Information System Act of 2006, introduced by Rep. Ralph Hall, would establish a National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) that would expand monitoring and data collection systems to include coordinated, comprehensive coverage of key indicators such as soil moisture and ground water; implement an integrated data collection and dissemination system; and develop effective and useful tools to support analysis and decision making at all levels and geographic scales. The bill would authorize a total of $81 million for the NIDIS program for the years 2007 through 2012. A nearly identical Senate companion bill by Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE), S. 2751, was reported out of the Senate Commerce Committee the following day.
House Votes to Codify NOAA
By voice vote on September 20, the House passed H.R. 5450, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Act. The bill, referred to as an "organic act," would formally codify NOAA and clearly articulate its mission and responsibilities. The bill does not contain provisions under the sole jurisdiction of the Resources Committee, including fisheries management and coastal mapping. Bill sponsors expect that the final bill produced by Congress will comprehensively cover all areas of NOAA's jurisdiction. (See STC June 2006 issue).
House Passes Alternative Energy Research and Development Act
H.R.6203, Alternative Energy Research and Development Act, introduced by House Science Subcommittee on Energy Chair Judy Biggert (R-IL), passed the House by voice vote on September 29. It authorizes research on a wide range of energy technologies, including batteries, biofuels, hydrogen, solar, wind, and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, as well as energy programs such as green buildings and green energy education. (See STC June 2006 issue).
House Passes Green Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2005
On September 27, by voice vote, the House passed H.R. 1215, Green Chemistry Research and Development Act of 2005, a bill that would increase the federal focus on green chemistry to discover more environmentally benign chemical products and processes. H.R. 1215 would authorizing a coordinated green chemistry R&D program using existing funds at the EPA, NSF, NIST, and DOE for grants, promotion of green chemistry education, and collection and dissemination of information about green chemistry. Companion legislation, S. 1270, has been introduced in the Senate by Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV).
OMB’s Proposed Bulletin on Risk Assessment (RL33500)
This report examines reactions to a January Office of Management and Budget (OMB) proposed bulletin on risk assessment. The bulletin would, if made final, establish six general risk assessment and reporting standards (e.g., that they summarize the scope of the assessment, provide a qualitative and/or quantitative characterization of risk, be based on the best available data, explain the basis for critical assumptions, and contain an executive summary).
Stem Cell Research: State Initiatives (RL33524)
This report examines the impact of federal funding limitations on embryonic stem cell research. Many states are moving forward with their own initiatives to encourage or provide funding for stem cell research in order to remain competitive and prevent the relocation of scientists and biotechnology firms to other states or overseas. However, some are concerned that the states’ actions will result in duplication of research efforts among the states, a possible lack of oversight for ethical concerns, and ultimately a loss of U.S. preeminence in this area of basic research.
Information Quality Act: Expanded Oversight and Clearer Guidance by the Office of Management and Budget Could Improve Agencies' Implementation of the Act (GAO-06-765)
This report, prepared in response to requests from House Committee on Government Reform Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and House Committee on Science Ranking Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) found that all cabinet-level agencies, except the Department of Homeland Security, have created Information Quality guidelines. GAO reported that the total number of IQA request plummeted from over 24,000 in FY2003 to 62 in FY2004, predominately due to changes in the way FEMA classifies challenges to its flood insurance rate maps. The report details the sources of challenges, with the over 50% of substantive requests coming from businesses, trade groups or other profit-oriented organizations.
Climate Change: Greater Clarity and Consistency Are Needed in Reporting Federal Climate Change Funding (GAO-06-1122T)
Testimony was given by GAO Director of Natural Resources and Environment John Stephenson at two hearings in September. His testimony focused on analysis of OMB documents that state that federal funding for climate change increased 55% from $3.3 billion to $5.1 billion from 1993 to 2004 after accounting for inflation. Funding for climate change technology increased dramatically (239%) and now comprises more than half of total climate change funding. Changes in the format and content of reports, however, make the numbers difficult to compare and therefore “to determine if this is a real or definitional increase.”
NASA: Sound Management and Oversight Key to Addressing Crew Exploration Vehicle Project Risks (GAO-06-1127T)
On September 28, Allen Li, GAO Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management, testified before the House Science Committee on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s long-term plan for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), dubbed Orion, which will replace the aging shuttle program. The agency recently awarded a contract for the development of Orion to Lockheed Martin. The hearing followed on the heels of a July GAO report that was critical of NASA’s CEV planning. Li said he was pleased that NASA had made positive changes in response to that GAO report, though he still had lingering concerns that the agency could lack the amount of knowledge needed to make accurate projections about the CEV.
Beyond Bias and Barriers: Fulfilling the Promise of Women in Academic Science and Engineering (ISBN: 0309100429)
This report’s findings contradict many of the assertions made as to why women continue to be at a disadvantage to men in hiring and promotion in many fields of science and engineering at research universities. Women in science and engineering are not hindered by lack of ability or are uncompetitive or less productive; instead the report found that responsibility lies in patterns of unconscious but pervasive bias and evaluation processes that are “arbitrary and subjective” and applied in ways that place women at a disadvantage. The report notes that change will require the active leadership from university presidents, trustees, and provosts, and recommends that higher education associations form a self-monitoring organization that would recommend standards for faculty recruitment and promotion.
Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in K-8 (ISBN: 0309102057)
Science education will come to the forefront next year when No Child Left Behind provisions stipulating measuring science scores come into effect. This NRC report challenges many of the underlying assumptions of current science education practices, and cites new research that shows young children can think both concretely and abstractly. The panel recommends that standards and curriculum be centered on a few core ideas that expand in a coordinated fashion over several years. The report outlines proficiency as children that can know, use, and interpret scientific explanations of the natural world, generate and evaluate scientific evidence and explanations, understand the nature and development of scientific knowledge, and include active participation in scientific collaboration and discussion.
A Matter of Size: Triennial Review of the National Nanotechnology Initiative (ISBN: 0309102235)
This NRC finds that the National Nanotechnology Initiative -- a federal program created in 2000 to coordinate nanotechnology R&D efforts among government agencies – is successfully generating new technologies and fostering innovative interdisciplinary research. But the initiative’s impact on the U.S. economy is still unknown, and research on nanotechnology’s possible effects on humans and the environment has been limited and inconclusive.
Congressional Budget Office
Evaluating the Role of Prices and R&D in Reducing Carbon Dioxide Emissions
This report was prepared in response to requests from Ranking Members of two Senate committees that have held hearings on climate change: Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Senator Jim Jeffords (I-VT), Environment and Public Works Committee. The report’s key finding is that combing R&D with a gradually rising price on emissions of carbon dioxide (through either a carbon tax or cap and trade system) will reduce carbon emissions at the lowest possible cost. The two strategies “enhance the other,” as “neither policy alone is likely to be as effective as a strategy involving both policies.” The report also highlights the benefits and cost-effectiveness of near-term reductions in emissions with existing technologies, even if new technologies are needed to avoid rapid climate change.
- National Science Board
Hurricane Warning: The Critical Need for a National Hurricane Research Initiative
After approval by the National Science Board, Hurricane Warning: The Critical Need for a National Hurricane Research Initiative was released on September 29 at a Capitol Hill news briefing. The report calls for a major increase in federal investments for hurricane research and recommends a streamlined, multiagency effort to improve hurricane science and engineering research. During the report’s release, Senator Mel Martinez (R-FL) introduced the "National Hurricane Research Initiative Act" to enact the report’s recommendations. The proposed legislation would put NOAA and the NSF in charge of coordinating the research initiative, and appropriate $435 million a year for its projects through 2017.The report is available for public comment until October 29.
AAAS Backs Bill Protecting Researchers from Animal Rights Extremists
AAAS Board Chairman Gilbert S. Omenn wrote a letter to members of the House Judiciary Committee to express support for a pending bill that would strengthen laws against harassment, threats or intimidation of those involved in animal enterprises, including biomedical research with laboratory animals.
AAAS Supports NIH Reauthorization
AAAS CEO Alan Leshner wrote a letter to House Energy and Commerce Chairman Joe Barton to express support for the NIH Reform Act of 2006, noting that "it is vitally important that Congress support the research taking place at NIH."
MARK YOUR CALENDAR
"Framing Science: Understanding the Battle Over Public Opinion in Policy Debates."
Wednesday, October 11; Breakfast from 7:30 am; Seminar 8:15 to 9:30 a.m.
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Auditorium, 1200 New York Ave., NW
AAAS and the Washington Science Policy Alliance (WSPA) are pleased to invite you to a breakfast seminar featuring Professor Matthew Nisbet of American University speaking on "Framing Science: Understanding the Battle Over Public Opinion in Policy Debates." Matt Nisbet has applied framing concepts to science policy, studying the debates over global warming, stem cell research, intelligent design, and plant biotechnology. Please rsvp by 5 p.m. on Friday, October 6.
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"What New Technology is Telling Us About the Dead Sea Scrolls"
Wednesday October 18; Reception 6:30 PM, Lecture and Discussion 7:30-8:30 PM
American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Auditorium, 1200 New York Ave., NW
The AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) and the Washington Science Policy Alliance (WSPA) invite you to a lecture and discussion by Dr. Adolfo Roitman, Ph.D. Curator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Director of the Shrine of the Book at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls have made a major contribution to scholarship, shedding light on different aspects concerning the society, literature, religion and thought of Jews in ancient times. Dr. Roitman's talk will survey technical developments and their relevance for understanding the scrolls. Please RSVP by October 13.
Stem Cells: Saving Lives or Crossing Lines
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
Carnegie Institution of Washington
This conference will discuss the complexities of human embryonic stem cell research policy in the United States and examine future policy alternatives by looking at initiatives outside the country. The goal is to introduce a new and more effective dialogue regarding safeguards against reproductive cloning while advancing research. For questions, please contact Dr. Kirstin Matthews.
Tropics "Both a Cradle and a Museum of Diversity."
Researchers studied 11 million years worth of shell fossils and learned that the tropics are where new species begin and old species continue to live, calling the tropics "both a cradle and a museum of diversity." Three researchers spent 10 years organizing 11 million years worth of bivalve fossils, tracking their locations. They found that the clams and other bivalves started growing in the tropics and while they expanded their reach north and south over time, they remained in the tropics.
Jablonski, D., K. Roy and J. Valentine, "Out of the Tropics: Evolutionary Dynamics of the Latitudinal Diversity Gradientin" Science, 6 October 2006.