to Readers: The February 8
issue of the Policy Alert was
published due to office closures caused by the blizzards that hit
theMid-Atlantic region. This issue of the Policy Alert covers
past two weeks.
While overall federal R&D investment would only increase
by 0.2% in the FY 2011 budget request, significant shifts in funding
priorities occur both within and between agencies. Most of the proposed
4.9% ($327 million) increase in R&D at the Department of Energy
(DOE) would go towards ARPA-E and a new Batteries and Energy Storage
Innovation Hub, which would receive total budgets of $300 million and
$34 million respectively. Within DOE, Nuclear Energy (-19.2%; $122
million) and Fossil Energy (-10.4%; $53 million) would both see double
digit percentage reductions in their R&D investment, while
Electricity Delivery and Reliability and Energy Efficiency and
Renewable Energy (EERE) would receive increases of $22 million and $35
million, respectively, as resources are shifted to the President's
priorities of clean energy technologies.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture will likely have relatively flat
overall R&D spending between FY 2010 and FY 2011, assuming the
usual earmarks are added during congressional action on the budget.
Offsetting decreases in other program areas, however, both the
Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and the National Institute of Food
and Agriculture (NIFA; formerly CSREES) would receive increases of
about $20 million in R&D investment in their primary external
research funding accounts under the President's budget request. Driving
the increase for NIFA is a $166 million (63.4%) total budget increase
for its Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The NIFA R&D
investment increase will likely be much greater after congressional
action; NIFA's FY2010 appropriation contained $87 million in
congressionally-directed Special Research Grants that are not included
in the FY 2011 request.
For up-to-date news on the FY 2011 budget, see the AAAS R&D Budget
and Policy Program Website.
Retirements Announced. In the past week several more Members of
Congress announced their intention to retire at the end of the 111th
Congress. On the House side, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), the ranking
member of the House Science and Technology Subcommittee on Research and
Education and a physicist, and Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), who serves
on key R&D appropriation subcommittees, both announced their
retirements. Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN), chairman of the Armed Services
Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support and a member of the
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also announced his
intention not to seek reelection. This brings the number of open seats
in the House and Senate to 43.
Pell Grant Funding Changes Move
Forward. The Department of Education FY 2011 budget request
outlines the final stages of the Pell Grants' transition from
discretionary to mandatory funding. This change, included in the final
FY 2010 budget, secured funding for Pell Grants in the future by
removing them from the yearly appropriations process and setting their
yearly increase at the Consumer Price Index plus one percent. The
need-based Pell Grant program is the largest federal student aid
program, providing support for many students in science and engineering
Bipartisan Clean Air Bill
Introduced. Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on
Clean Air and Nuclear Safety Chairman Tom Carper (D-DE) and Sen. Lamar
Alexander (R-TN) have introduced The Clean
Air Act Amendments of 2010,
legislation that would call for substantial reductions in soot-forming
sulfur dioxide (SO2), smog-forming nitrogen dioxide (NOx) and mercury.
EPA is also in the process of drafting regulations for these
pollutants, as previous EPA efforts to regulate these emissions have
been voided by the courts.
Federal Debt Limit Increases.
President Obama signed H.J.Res.
45 into law, raising the U.S. debt
limit from $12.394 trillion to $14.294 trillion. Attached to the
resolution is the Statutory Pay-As-You-Go Act (PAYGO) of 2010 which
enforces budget neutrality on new revenue and spending legislation with
some special conditions and exceptions for current programs and
legislation. PAYGO forces Congress to balance proposed spending
increases or tax cuts with equal tax increases or spending cuts.
Climate Change Analyzed in
Quadrennial Defense Review. As directed by Congress in the 2008
National Defense Authorization Act, the Department of Defense (DOD)
includes, for the first time, an
analysis of climate change as part of
its Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The report, which was released
along with DOD's FY 2011 budget request, says that climate change can
act as an "accelerant of instability and conflict," can degrade U.S.
forces' operational readiness, and represents a security problem that
could threaten U.S. lives. Previous assessments by the U.S.
intelligence community have concluded that climate change is likely to
have significant geopolitical impacts worldwide.
Committee Sends Controversial
Gene Patent Report to Secretary. After much debate, the
Department of Health and Human Services Secretary's Advisory Committee
on Genetics, Health and Society voted on February 5 to send its
controversial gene patenting report
on to Secretary Sebelius. A number
of stakeholders spoke out in support of the committee's report at the
meeting; however, groups such as the Association
Universities have released statements opposing it. Of the six
recommendations by SACGHS, the first one appears to be the most contentious.
It recommends that the government take steps to exempt
gene patents from infringement liability in certain cases.
NOAA Launches Climate Service.
With a website called climate.gov,
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration launched NOAA's Climate Service, an entity modeled on
the National Weather Service that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said
"will provide a single point of contact, a one-stop shop for businesses
and government that need NOAA's high-quality forecasting for making
predictions." Congressional appropriators will need to approve future
restructuring and budget increases needed for the service to grow
beyond the website.
Corn-Based Ethanol Passes Test.
EPA issued a final rule implementing the revised Renewable Fuel
Standard (RFS) provisions of the Energy Independence and Security Act
of 2007. As part of the rule, EPA concluded that corn-based ethanol
will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 21 percent when it replaces
gasoline: allowing corn- based ethanol to meet the 20% reduction
standard and be considered a renewable fuel. There has been much debate
over the impact on emissions of indirect land use changes associated
with the fuel, which EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson said "were
different and lesser than what we thought." The New York Times has reported,
however, that a similar forthcoming analysis in Europe may show much
greater impacts of indirect land use that could inhibit the use of
biofuels in addressing climate change.
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Science Diplomacy OpEd.
On February 9th, AAAS President Peter Agre and Ambassador Thomas R.
Pickering published an editorial
in the Baltimore Sun calling
on the United
States to boost international scientific engagement as a mechanism for
enhancing U.S. foreign policy. The editorial on "science
coincides with the release of a bipartisan statement
coordinated by the
Partnership for a Secure America that calls on the Administration and
Congress to elevate the prominence of science diplomacy and, for
example, recommends bringing "the world's top scientists and engineers
together to tackle pressing global challenges like energy security,
climate change, poverty, disease, and WMD proliferation."
Researchers Given Access to
Cloud Computing Networks. NSF and Microsoft will offer American
scientists free access to the company's cloud computing
grants from the Foundation. The joint effort is intended to help
scientists cope with the huge amounts of data generated by modern
science and to develop customized applications for improved analyses.
Anti-Evolution Bills Update.
Legislators in Kentucky introduced an anti-evolution bill that would
allow teachers to use supplemental materials to help "analyze" and
"critique" scientific theories including evolution, global warming and
human cloning. It is similar to the Louisiana Science Education Act,
which became state law amid protests from scientific societies in 2008.
But the national tally remains unchanged, since Mississippi's most
recent anti-evolution bill was shelved in
committee on February 2.
Released. Pennsylvania State University has released results of
of climate scientist Michael Mann. The university
cleared Mann of three of the four charges of professional misconduct.
The panel declared it did not have the expertise needed to evaluate the
fourth claim that Mann had "deviated from accepted practices within the
academic community," and therefore formed a new committee to conduct
that investigation. House Government Reform and Oversight Committee
Ranking Member Darrell Issa (R-CA) has called on the National Science
Foundation to freeze all grants to Mann until this investigation is
completed. Meanwhile, the University of East Anglia announced
additional independent, external investigation into climate data used
in its key publications.
Arizona Withdraws from Cap and
Trade Program. Governor Jan Brewer (R) announced
will no longer participate in the cap-and-trade portion of the Western
Climate Initiative. The state intends to remain part of initiative
will continue to participate in its renewable energy and energy
People in the News. W.J.
"Billy" Tauzin, a former congressman from Louisiana, announced last
week that he is retiring at the end of June as head of the
Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. The trade
association has been a strong backer of health-care legislation after
negotiating a deal with the White House aimed at limiting damage to the
- On February 4th, Arden
Bement, director of the National Science Foundation announced his
intention to retire as director of the agency by June 2010. Dr. Bement
will lead a new Global Policy Research Institute at Purdue University.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert
can be found at http://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert.
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Kasey White
Contributors: Joanne Carney, Patrick Clemins,
Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Steve Nelson, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich
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
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