Congress is on recess until April 9. The Budget Committees had hoped to report out their FY 2011 budget resolutions before the recess, which might have allowed the House and Senate to approve their respective measures and reach agreement on a common resolution before the deadline of April 15. However, the debate on healthcare reform delayed committee markups and floor consideration. The budget resolution establishes non-binding spending ceilings for discretionary programs and establishes limits for total government revenue and mandatory spending. However, there is no penalty for missing the April 15 deadline, and in the absence of a completed budget resolution, Appropriations Committees can begin work on their spending bills on May 15.
NASA Plans Big Increase in Climate Research. NASA is proposing a 62% ($2.4 billion) increase to its earth science budget through 2015. The money, which is intended to offset cutbacks during the Bush Administration, would be shifted from other areas of NASA's budget if the plans are approved by Congress. NASA associate administrator for science Edward Weiler indicated the budget would provide for up to ten new missions including measurements of ocean temperature, the size of polar ice caps, and carbon dioxide emissions. The program would include repairs to some of the 13 aging climate satellites, five new ones, and an extension to the International Space Station for monitoring ozone. The last would require extending the station's lifespan for five more years beyond its current termination date of 2015.
Comment on this at the Policy Alert Discussion Space
You must be a registered user to post comments.
For up-to-date news on the FY 2011 budget, visit the AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program Website
. R&D budget tinformation and a wide array of other S&T policy issues will receive coverage at the 35th annual AAAS Forum on Science and Technology Policy
, May 13-14.
Food Safety Bill May Come to Senate Floor Soon. According to Congress Daily, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) plans to bring to the Senate floor soon a major food safety bill that would strengthen the FDA's ability to monitor the nation's food supply. The House passed its food safety bill in July 2009.
Millions of H1N1 Vaccine Doses May Be Discarded. Less than half of the 229 million doses of the government's stock of H1N1 vaccine have been administered. Approximately 60 million of the leftovers will be donated to poor countries or saved for the future, but 71.5 million will have to be thrown out once they expire. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official Anne Schuchat told The Washington Post that given the seriousness of the threat -- the flu was particularly lethal to young people -- and the uncertainties involved in vaccine production, it was inevitable that some of the flu vaccine would go to waste. The CDC is continuing to urge people to get vaccinated.
OSTP Announces "Policy Coordination Group" on Emerging Technologies. Speaking at a National Nanotechnology Initiative (NNI) workshop on Risk Management Methods and Ethical, Legal, and Societal Implications of Nanotechnology in Rosslyn, VA, on March 30, Thomas Kalil, deputy director for policy at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, announced plans to form a new interagency group on emerging technologies, including nanotechnology and synthetic biology. The group is intended to provide research funding agencies and regulatory agencies an opportunity to discuss emerging policy issues.
NSTC Gets New Subcommittee. White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra has announced the creation of a new subcommittee within the National Science and Technology Council: the interagency Subcommittee on Standards, designed to help "ensure that federal agencies work closely and effectively together to define their standards needs, define their approach to working with industry and standards organizations, and support their meaningful adoption by markets."
BPA to Undergo Additional Scrutiny. The Environmental Protection Agency announced that it is formally listing Bisphenol A -- a chemical used widely in consumer goods – as a "chemical of concern" and will require additional research on it. EPA joins the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in studying BPA. FDA announced in January that it had concerns about the potential human health impacts of BPA and it would study the potential effects and ways to reduce exposure to BPA in food packaging. The listing does not trigger new regulations, but EPA officials said they would consider possible regulatory actions to address health impacts, if necessary.
Greenhouse Gas Standards for Cars Finalized. The Obama administration finalized rules that impose the first greenhouse gas emissions regulations for vehicles. Crafted jointly by EPA and the Transportation Department, the rules require automakers to have an average fleetwide fuel economy of 34.1 miles per gallon by 2016 -- four years earlier than mandated by the 2007 law -- and to meet certain greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
EPA Issues Guidelines for Mountaintop Mining. Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, EPA on April 1 announced new guidelines that would require mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia to meet a stronger and more environmentally sound set of requirements. The new regulations would sharply curtail the practice of dumping rubble from mountaintop mining, which fills valleys and streams, leaches toxins into the watershed, compromises water quality, and destroys ecosystems. The new requirements would all but eliminate mountaintop mining as currently practiced. EPA will be seeking public comments on the new guidelines.
NIST Realignment Progresses. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) director Patrick Gallagher sent an e-mail to NIST employees last week announcing the consolidation of eight existing laboratories into four new Operating Units (OUs): Material Measurement Laboratory, Physical Measurement Laboratory, Engineering Laboratory, and the Information Technology Laboratory. NIST will retain two of its current laboratories: the Center for Nanoscale Science and Technology; and the Center for Neutron Research. This portion of the realignment should be completed by early May.
People in the News. - Alex Dehgan, former chief of staff and senior scientist in the Office of the Science Adviser at the State Department, has been named science and technology adviser to the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Dehgan was a AAAS Diplomacy Fellow at the State Department from September 2003 to August 2005, during which time he worked to create the Iraqi Virtual Science Library.
- Bruce Alberts
has been named the recipient of the 2010 Vannevar Bush Award
, given annually by the National Science Board in recognition of a lifetime of service to science and technology in the United States. He served from 1993 to 2005 as president of the National Academy of Sciences, and is now editor-in-chief of AAAS's journal Science
and professor emeritus in the department of biochemistry and biophysics at the University of California, San Francisco.
One "Climategate" Investigation Complete. The Science and Technology Committee of the British House of Commons has released its report investigating allegations of data mishandling at the U.K.'s University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit (CRU) -- the first of three U.K. inquiries on issues raised by the hacked emails. The panel found "a culture of non-disclosure" that needs to be addressed at East Anglia, but also noted "that the focus on CRU and Professor Phil Jones, Director of CRU, in particular, has largely been misplaced." The panel examined phrases in the e-mails -- such as "trick" and "hiding the decline" -- and found they were not attempts to mislead or to undermine peer review. The panel further found no reason to challenge the scientific consensus that human-induced climate change is occurring.
U.K. Court Supports Science Writer Charged With Libel. A U.K. court has issued a ruling supporting the arguments of advocates for a major overhaul of the country's libel laws. Those advocates complain that England's libel laws discourage scientists, medical researchers, science writers, and publishers from engaging in open criticism of scientific or medical claims because of fear of a law suit. The recent court case involved legal action against a science writer who questioned the effectiveness of chiropractic treatments for children, endorsed by the British Chiropractic Association. The BCA sued, claiming it had been libeled and its reputation damaged. The court ruling supported the science writer, leading one commentator to observe that if the BCA had won, "it would have made it difficult for any scientist or science journalist to question claims made by companies or organizations without opening themselves up to a libel action that would be hard to win."
U.K. Designates World's-Largest Marine Reserve. The United Kingdom designated the 55-island, 544,000 square kilometer Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean as a marine reserve. The protected area, the world's largest, surpasses the Papahânaumokuâkea Marine National Monument, set aside by the U.S. in 2006 to protect waters of the northwestern Hawaiian Islands.
Archived issues of AAAS Policy Alert
can be found at http://www.aaas.org/spp/policyalert
Publisher: Alan I. Leshner
Editor: Steve Nelson
Contributors: Kavita Berger, Joanne Carney, Phillip Chalker, Patrick Clemins, Mark Frankel, Erin Heath, Earl Lane, Gretchen Seiler, Al Teich, Kasey White, Ric Weibl, 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
suggestions regarding the Policy Alert are welcome. Please write