APS News

Washington Dispatch

A Bimonthly Update from the APS Office of Public Affairs

Issue: Science Research Budgets

The House of Representatives voted to provide full funding for the President’s ACI (American Competitiveness Initiative) request for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, the largest federal supporter of physics research. The Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee, led by Chairman David Hobson (R-Ohio) and Ranking Member Peter Visclosky (D-IN), funded the Office of Science at $4.132 billion, which includes the 14.1% increase requested by the President and an additional $30 million for Congressionally directed projects. Senate action on the spending bill is not expected before July but early indications suggest that the Senate will follow the House lead. House action on the funding bills that include NSF, NIST, NASA and DOD are expected in June. For details of the FY07 budget process, go to http://www.aaas.org/spp/rd/fy07.htm 

To express your views to Congress on the President’s ACI requests, go to http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=apspa&hotissue=61.

Issue: Interim Nuclear Waste Storage Study

At its May 12th meeting, the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) authorized the formation of a study committee to look at technical issues associated with the centralized interim storage of spent nuclear fuel. The committee is a continuation of the previously formed Nuclear Energy Study Group (NESG) and is co-chaired by Roger Hagengruber of the University of New Mexico and John Ahearne of Sigma Xi. The membership of the study group will be similar to the NESG with new members added, who will expand the expertise of the group in the areas of safety, cost, security and transportation associated with consolidated interim storage of spent nuclear fuel.

The study is intended to educate congressional staff and clarify the technical issues associated with interim storage to help Congress decide how to treat and dispose of the nation’s nuclear waste.

Issue: POPA Electrical Energy Storage Study

At its May 12th meeting, the Panel on Public Affairs (POPA) authorized the formation of a study committee to draft a report that will look at technical issues associated with electricity storage. The report will identify the relevant parameters of the electricity storage problem, as well as areas where research might have a high payoff in improving technology, paying specific attention to DOE’s current interest in developing an R&D program that will lead to economical large-scale centralized or distributed storage. The study group will be co-chaired by Ruth Howes of Marquette University and Sekazi Mtingwa of Harvard.

Issue: Education Legislation Update

On May 11th, the House Science Committee introduced three bills to strengthen and enhance federal support of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education and research. The Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act (H.R. 5358), sponsored by Rep. John Schwarz (R-MI), primarily focuses on the expansion of preexisting NSF programs to improve math and science education and to attract more undergraduates to STEM careers and K-12 teaching. The other two bills, the Early Career Research Act (H.R. 5356) and the Research for Competitiveness Act (H.R. 5357), both sponsored by Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), would authorize or increase grant programs at NSF and DOE to assist early-career researchers. Because the bills are in line with APS statements on science education, APS President John Hopfield sent a letter of endorsement to House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY).

Visit the APS Policy & Advocacy website for more information.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff