Congress finished FY 2010 appropriations just before its year-end recess. As a result of congressional action on the budget, the federal research and development investment for FY 2010 is an estimated $150.5 billion, $3.5 billion (2.0%) more than FY 2009, not including American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds, and $3.0 billion (2.4%) more than the President's request. Congressional action increased defense R&D by $2.5 billion over the proposed cuts in the President's request, resulting in a $783 million (0.9%) increase over FY 2009. Non-defense R&D increased by $490 million through Congressional action, resulting in a $2.7 billion (4.4%) increase over FY 2009.
The bill to increase the national debt limit (H.R. 4314) passed the Senate on December 24 and was signed by the President on December 28. The bill raises the debt limit from $12.104 trillion to $12.394 trillion. This $290 billion increase is less than the $1.9 trillion increase originally proposed and will force Congress to address this issue again early in 2010.
For details on how the appropriation bills made their way through Congress as well as updated FY 2010 R&D estimates for individual agencies based on Congressional action, see the AAAS R&D Budget Web site.
Other Congressional News
Clean Energy R&D Authorization Bill Introduced. In mid-November, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced the Clean Energy Act of 2009 (S. 2776) which would authorize $800 million a year in clean energy R&D for 10 years. The $800 million per year consists of $50 million for nuclear reactor update and lifetime extension research; $150 million for biofuel R&D (not including ethanol); $150 million for R&D on carbon dioxide capture, storage, conversion, or reuse; $150 million for electric vehicle battery R&D; $150 million for solar energy R&D; and $150 million for R&D on nuclear fuel recycling, including Generation IV nuclear reactors. The bill was originally co-sponsored by Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA); Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) signed on as a co-sponsor in mid-December.
White House Issues Executive Order on Classified Information. On December 29, the White House released a new Executive Order (EO) on classified information. Among other things, it requires the National Archives to create a new National Declassification Center to assist in coordinating declassification of information and requires agencies that classify information to conduct a comprehensive review of existing procedures. The EO also includes a statement that "[b]asic scientific research information not clearly related to the national security shall not be classified."
Comment Deadline Extended. The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has extended the deadline for comments on its proposed policy for public access to the results of federally-sponsored research from January 7 to the 21st. The issue has sparked considerable interest in the scientific community. OSTP received over 150 comments during the first week of its online public forum on the topic.
FDA to Set Tougher Standards on Clinical Trials for Devices. Jeffrey Shuren, the Food and Drug Administration's acting director of the Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a December 28 interview that the FDA is developing guidelines that would set tougher standards on data from clinical trials submitted to the agency for the approval of medical devices. His announcement came a day before the release of two studies (one of which was FDA-sponsored) that were critical of some clinical trials related to high-risk cardiovascular devices that were accepted by the FDA during the past decade.
EPA Adds Four Chemicals to "Chemicals of Concern" List. Citing its authority under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) and the Pollution Prevention Act (PPA), EPA announced that it intends to add four chemicals to its "Chemicals of Concern" list. EPA's Action Plan may lead to regulations of phthalates, short-chain chlorinated paraffins, polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDEs) and long-chain perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs). These chemicals are used in the manufacture of a wide array of products and have raised a range of health and environmental concerns. In announcing the new measures, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson also reiterated her support for TSCA reform.
Administration Issues Framework on Coastal and Marine Management. On December 14, 2009, President Obama's Ocean Policy Task Force released its Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) for a 60-day public review and comment period. CMSP provides "a public policy process for society to better determine how the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes are sustainably used and protected." Under the Framework, coastal and marine spatial planning would be regional in scope, developed cooperatively among Federal, state, tribal, and local authorities, as well as regional governance structures, with substantial stakeholder and public input.
People in the News. - Shortly before Christmas, the Senate confirmed the nominations of Paul Anastas as assistant administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency for R&D, and Rajiv Shah as administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Anastas was director of the Center for Green Chemistry and Green Engineering at Yale. He previously served at EPA and as assistant director for environment at OSTP from 1999 to 2004. Shah had been director of agricultural development at the Gates Foundation and served briefly as under secretary and chief scientist at the U.S. Department of Agriculture before being tapped for the USAID position by President Obama.
- Arun Seraphin, a professional staff member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, announced plans to move to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), and then to be detailed to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
California Science Center Faces Lawsuit Over Intelligent Design Film Cancellation. The California Science Center, a state-owned center based in Los Angeles, is facing a lawsuit for canceling the screening of a film attacking the theory of evolution. The American Freedom Alliance (AFA), which bills itself as a "think tank and activist network promoting Western values and ideals," filed the suit after it sought to screen two films in a Science Center facility: "We Are Born of Stars" (a 1985 film described as pro-evolution) and "Darwin's Dilemma: The Mystery of the Cambrian Fossil Record" (critical of evolution). The center cancelled the screening on the grounds that AFA had violated its rental agreement after an unapproved press release touting the event was put out by the Discovery Institute, a group that promotes intelligent design. AFA contends that the Science Center shuttered the screening because of pressure from the Smithsonian Institution (linked erroneously to the center in the Discovery Institute press release) and the academic community. A pretrial hearing is set for January 26. The Discovery Institute has filed it own lawsuit seeking documents related to the film's cancellation.
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Russia Considers Deflecting Asteroid. An asteroid known as Apophis will be coming close to the earth after 2030, and Russia's space agency is discussing the possibility of a mission to deflect it. According to Anatoly Perminov, chief of Russia's space agency Roscosmos, Russia will invite NASA, the China space agency, and the European space agency to participate once a plan has been developed.
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