APS News

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

Just prior to the January 16th APS News deadline, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi released a draft of the Second Economic Stimulus bill (officially known as the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act”). The proposal includes “$10 billion for science facilities, research, and instrumentation” and $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research. Key elements of the $12 billion total include:

National Science Foundation (NSF): $3 billion, including $2 billion for expanding employment opportunities in fundamental science and engineering; $400 million to build major research facilities; $300 million for major research equipment; $200 million to repair and modernize science and engineering research facilities at the nation’s institutions of higher education and other science labs; and $100 million to improve instruction in science, math and engineering.

Department of Energy: $1.6 billion for basic research in the physical sciences (including high-energy and nuclear physics, fusion energy sciences and high-speed computing; and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities); $400 million for the Advanced Research Project Agency–Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency; $2 billion for competitive energy efficiency and renewable energy grants to universities, companies, and national laboratories.

National Institute of Standards & Technology (NIST): $300 million for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations; and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting interoperability standards for manufacturing.

By the time APS News went to press, the Senate had not yet released its Stimulus draft.  However, congressional leaders and President Obama have stated that the Stimulus is their top priority. The Senate and House hope to have a Stimulus bill passed and ready for the President’s signature by the President’s Day recess, which is scheduled to begin at the close of business on February 13th. If the legislative process slows down, the congressional leaders have said they will keep both chambers in session.

Readers will recall from the December Washington Dispatch that the majority of the Federal Government is operating under a Continuing Resolution (CR) for Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09) that holds federal funding at FY 2008 levels. An FY 2009 Omnibus Bill is nearing completion, but it is unclear when Congress will turn to consideration of the legislation. Should completion of the Stimulus bill bog down, preventing completion by the President’s Day recess deadline, Congress may turn to the FY09 Omnibus, particularly in light of the expiration of the CR on March 6th. Should Congress not consider the Omnibus by that date, there is a possibility that Congress would vote to extend the FY09 CR for the remainder of the fiscal year, which would keeping funding at FY08 levels.

ISSUE: POPA Activities

Since the October 3rd, 2008 meeting of the APS Panel on Public Affairs (POPA), subcommittees have been busy at work on approved and proposed studies for the coming year.

POPA approved a study on non-biological CO2 capture, and William F. Brinkman has agreed to be Study Chair. A POPA member, Robert Socolow, will Co-Chair. The study’s committee has been assembled and leadership is finalizing budget details. The inaugural meeting of the committee is tentatively scheduled for March.  

The POPA Energy & Environment Subcommittee is considering a proposal for a study focused on modernizing the current U.S. energy grid to enable significant expansion of renewable energy. This will be discussed at the February 6th POPA meeting.

The National Security Subcommittee has developed a study proposal on verification technology for reducing nuclear arsenals, a topic that arose as a supplementary item of interest from the report, Nuclear Weapons in 21st Century U.S. National Security, which was produced jointly by POPA, AAAS and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and released in late 2008. The National Security Subcommittee will present its proposal for consideration at the February 6th, 2009 POPA meeting.

Anyone who has suggestions for a POPA study can visit POPA Report Suggestions and send in his or her ideas.
Reports stemming from past POPA studies can be viewed at POPA Reports.

ISSUE: Washington Office Media Update

Bloomberg news service and PhysicsToday.org published stories regarding the nomination of Steven Chu as Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy. Chu is the current Director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an APS Fellow.

USA Today and Global Newswire published stories about the release of the APS/AAAS/CSIS Nuclear Policy report. Interested readers can find the report at website, at POPA Reports.
The APS Energy Efficiency Report has received coverage in the following media outlets:

Print: McClatchy News Service, Miami Herald, Seattle Times, Bellingham (WA) Herald, Lawrence (KS) Journal World, Politico, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Grand Junction (CO) Daily Sentinel, Patriot News (Harrisburg, PA) and Epoch Times

Magazine: Science, Physics Today

TV: CNN, Clean Skies TV, Energy & Environment TV

Radio: An audio news release aired on 150 stations in the top-50 markets, reaching more than 15 million households. Some of the stations included: CNN Radio, Wall Street Journal Radio, Metro Networks (San Francisco, Oakland, CA) and American Urban Radio Network.

Online: CNNmoney.com, Newsweek On-Air, Energy Efficiency News (UK), Business Week, Clean Earth News, Climate Wire, CoStar Group, Energy & Environment News PM, Energy Bulletin, SLAC Today, Smart Brief,  American Institute of Physics

Blogs: Grist, Energy Independence, Green Car Congress, Northern Crude Alaska, Peak Oil

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Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Ernie Tretkoff