On September 17 the full Senate passed the Transportation,
Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies
for FY 2010 (H.R.3288).
The Department of Transportation, which
conducts most of the R&D funded by this bill (estimated at $939
million based on the President's request for FY 2010), would receive an
overall total of $100.1 billion, $1.3 billion less than the House
version of the bill and $2.2 billion less than the President's request.
The full Senate began consideration of the Interior, Environment, and
Related Agencies appropriations bill (H.R.2996)
on September 17 and
will continue to work on it this week. The Senate has now passed five
of its 12 appropriations bills. The House passed all its spending bills
before the August congressional recess. For the overall status of
appropriations, see the AAAS
R&D Budget Web site.
Domestic and International
Climate Change Negotiations Continue. Despite suggestions from
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that the Senate might not
bring climate change legislation to the floor this year, Environment
and Public Works Committee Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Senate
Foreign Relations Chair John Kerry (D-MA) said they are on schedule to
introduce a bill in the coming weeks and move it through committee in
Meanwhile, international discussions of climate change are occurring on
a number of fronts. The Major Economies Forum
on Energy and Climate -- which includes the world's 17 largest
developing and developed economies -- took place September 17-18 in
Washington, DC. This week, President Obama addresses the United Nations
at a special one-day session focusing on climate change. Also this
week, the economics of climate measures may be discussed at the G-20 meeting in Pittsburgh.
Negotiations leading up to Copenhagen through the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate
Change will take place in Bangkok from September 28 to October 9.
Hearings on Human Space Flight
Report. The House Science and Technology Committee and the
Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation's Science and
Space Subcommittee held separate hearings to examine the Summary
Report of the Review of U.S
Human Space Flight Plans Committee (Policy Alert, 9/8/09), an ad hoc independent panel of space
experts chaired by Norman Augustine. Both chambers discussed the
driving forces for human space flight and acknowledged the need to
match programs and funding. In the House
hearing Members criticized the scope of the summary, seeking
detailed recommendations for the current Constellation program over
alternative programs. The Senate
hearing focused on the costs and benefits of the different program
options. Both committees cited the need for presidential leadership.
President's Speech on
Innovation. President Obama visited Hudson Valley Community
College in Troy, NY on September 21 to deliver a speech
on technology and innovation. The event focused on the role that
the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds play in
stimulating innovation, technology development, and education. As part
of the event, the White House released a white
paper articulating the
Administration's innovation strategy, including the importance of
restoring American leadership in basic research.
DOI Launches Climate Effort.
Interior Department Secretary Ken Salazar signed a secretarial
order that establishes a framework to coordinate climate change
science and resource management strategies across the department. The
framework includes a new Climate Change Response Council, eight
regional Climate Change Response Centers, and a network of Landscape
Conservation Cooperatives. In addition to coordination efforts, the
Council will oversee DOI programs on carbon sequestration and
greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Ocean Task Force Releases
Interim Report. The Interagency Ocean Task Force has released
Report for a 30-day public review and comment
period. This report provides proposals for a comprehensive,
integrated national ocean policy, including the creation of a National
Ocean Council. The final report is due in December.
EPA Reconsidering Smog Rule.
EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the agency will reconsider the
smog standards to ensure that they are scientifically sound and
protect human health. The Bush-era regulation was stronger than the
previous rule, but not as tough as one recommended by EPA's Clean Air
Scientific Advisory Committee. The agency will propose any revisions to
the ozone standards by December 2009 and will issue a final decision by
FCC Chair Announces Net
Neutrality Principles. Federal Communications Commission
chairman Julius Genachowski has proposed
rules intended to prevent Internet service providers (ISPs) from
discriminating against lawful content on their networks. (For example,
the rules would prevent a telephone company from blocking
Internet-based telephone service on its network.) In a speech at the
Brookings Institution on September 21, Genachowski announced an
expansion of four
principles previously put forth by the FCC. The move, which
fulfills one of President Obama's campaign promises, is intended to
encourage innovation and protect consumers.
FTC to Host Privacy Roundtables.
The Federal Trade Commission will host a series of day-long public
roundtable discussions to determine how best to protect consumer
privacy while supporting beneficial uses of information and
technological innovation. The Privacy
Roundtables are free and open to the public. The first will be held
December 7, 2009, at the FTC Conference Center.
People in the News.
President Obama announced
his intention to nominate Arun Majumdar as the first Director of the
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Majumdar is
currently Associate Laboratory Director for Energy and Environment at
Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory and Professor of Mechanical Engineering
and Materials Science and Engineering at the University of California,
- The President has named
nine eminent researchers as recipients of the National Medal of
Science, and four inventors and one company as recipients of the
National Medal of Technology and Innovation. One Medal recipient is
Francis Collins, the newly confirmed Director of the National
Institutes of Health. The awards will be presented in a White House
ceremony on October 7.
Five Universities Launch Open
Access Compact. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cornell
University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, and the University
of California at Berkeley announced that their institutions will work
together to form a system whereby they will pay the author fees
associated with publishing in open access journals. The "Compact for
Open Access Publishing Equity" was released on September 14.
World Bank Releases Climate
Change Report. The World Bank has released the World Development Report 2010: Development
and Climate Change, in preparation for the December U.N.
climate negotiations in Copenhagen.
At a news conference, Justin
Lin, Rosina Bierbaum,
and Kathy Sierra,
members of the team that prepared the report, highlighted the
relationship between development and climate change, the importance of
sustainable growth and poverty elimination, and the need to develop a
"climate-smart" world. The report states that $100-700 billion in
R&D worldwide is needed annually to limit global warming to 2°
C over pre-industrial temperatures.
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Patrick Clemins,
Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Earl Lane, Shirley Malcom, Al Teich, Ric
Weibl, Kasey White, Brad Wible
NOTE: The AAAS Policy Alert is a newsletter provided to AAAS Members to
inform them of developments in science and technology policy that may
be of interest. Information in the Policy Alert is gathered from
published news reports, unpublished documents, and personal
communications. Although the information contained in this
newsletter is regarded as reliable, it is provided only for the
convenience and private use of our members. Comments and
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