APS News

Washington Dispatch


ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

By October 3, 2008 when the House of Representatives adjourned, Congress had passed only three appropriations bills: Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction-Veterans Administration. Funding for all other FY 2009 activities of the federal government fell under a Continuing Resolution that keeps budgets fixed at their FY 2008 levels until March 6, 2009. At the time of the filing deadline for APS News, it remained unclear whether Congress would revisit FY 2009 spending before that date and what alterations it might make before the CR expires or what actions it might take subsequent to March 6.

The increasing likelihood of one or more stimulus packages to address the deepening economic recession could also affect the final disposition of the FY 2009 appropriations legislation. Although the scope and timing of any stimulus action are far from certain, congressional leaders have signaled that infrastructure and “green jobs” are on the priority list. Funding for science programs that have an immediate impact on job creation or job stabilization might make the cut, but until the parameters of the stimulus bills are better defined, the possibility remains speculative.

ISSUE: POPA Activities

At the October 3rd, 2008 meeting of POPA, two draft statements were approved for presentation to the Executive Board: the APS Statement on the Civic Engagement of Scientists and the Joint Diversity Statement.  

The first statement deals with the Society’s stance on increasing representation of scientists and engineers in public office at the federal, state and local levels, and in positions of responsibility at the federal agencies, to ensure that informed policy and science funding decisions are made. It is the Panel’s hope that APS as a whole will strongly support the decision of members of the scientific and engineering communities to pursue such positions.  

The Diversity Statement’s goal is to effect change that will make physics more inclusive to under-represented minorities and foster greater diversity in physics, at all levels. The organizations jointly proposing this statement include the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Physical Society, the National Society of Black Physicists, and the National Society of Hispanic Physicists.

Two proposed studies were also reviewed at the October 3rd meeting. The first, which was approved by POPA, will study non-biological CO2 capture directly from the atmosphere and from post-combustion flue gas exiting a coal or natural gas power plant. The second report, which will be reviewed by the POPA Energy & Environment subcommittee and presented in full form at the February 6th, 2009 Panel meeting, focuses on modernizing the current US energy grid to enable significant expansion of renewable energy. POPA agreed that this was an issue worth investigating, and a vote on the study’s progression will be held in early ‘09.

ISSUE: Washington Office Media Update

The APS Energy Efficiency report has been covered in newspapers, magazines, online news sites and blogs, including Science, Politico, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Miami Herald, Sacramento Bee, Seattle Times, Patriot-News (Harrisburg, Pa.) The Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, Colo.) BusinessWeek.com, Voice of America.com, Grist.com, CoStar.com, Energy & Environment TV and Clean Skies TV. The report was also featured in news stories on about 150 radio stations across the country reaching 15.2 million households.

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Staff Writer: Ernie Tretkoff
Contributing Editor: Jennifer Ouellette
Science Writing Intern: Nadia Ramlagan