ISSUE: Budget and Authorization Environment
Another Continuing Resolution Likely this year
Following the bruising fight over healthcare, and public anxiety over the still lagging economy, the Democratic majority in Congress will have to overcome significant hurdles to complete a FY 2011 Budget Resolution and the attendant appropriations bills. According to The Hill, a newspaper that follows Congressional developments, “House Democrats are facing a much tighter vote on the budget resolution in 2010 because of big deficit projections and the looming mid-term election. As a result, centrist Democrats will have a harder time voting for the resolution.” The bottom line: It is likely that there will be Continuing Resolutions again this year to keep government agencies running once the fiscal year ends.
America COMPETES Reauthorization
The tight fiscal environment will also have an impact on reauthorization of the America COMPETES Act. Staff for the House Science Committee, earlier this year, forecast that reauthorization of the bill would be bipartisan and somewhat easy to accomplish. However, the mood has since changed. During a March 25th markup of the DOE Office of Science section of the bill, Republicans offered seven amendments in an attempt to cut back authorization levels over concerns about spending. Included among the amendments was one offered by the bill’s original co-sponsor, Congresswoman Judy Biggert, to cut the overall authorization. Ultimately she withdrew the amendment after Committee Chairman Bart Gordon pledged to work with her to lower some of the authorization levels prior to consideration by the full Committee. The National Science Foundation (NSF) portion of COMPETES will be marked up on April 14th, and the full House Science Committee is expected to mark up the full reauthorization bill by the end of April.
With regard to the Energy and Water appropriations bill, which funds the DOE Office of Science, funding levels for FY11 could be particularly difficult. Because a number of water projects would not be funded in the President’s budget, Congress is likely to strip money from DOE/SC to make up the shortfall.
Be sure to check the APS Washington Office’s Blog, Physics Frontline , for the latest news on the FY11 Budget.
ISSUE: POPA Activities
The Energy Critical Elements Study group, which is examining the scarcity of critical elements for new energy technologies, held its first meeting in late April at MIT. Featured keynote speakers included Anthony Mariano, rare earths consultant; David Eaglesham of First Solar, Inc.; James Lancaster of the National Research Council; Cyrus Wadia of UC Berkeley; Scott Sibley of the U.S. Geological Survey; and Jung-Chan Bae of the Korea Institute of Industrial Technology (KITECH).
The Electric Grid Study group, which is examining the technical challenges and priorities for increasing the amount of renewable electricity on the grid, is in the final stages of drafting its report, which will be presented to POPA for approval in June.
A POPA subcommittee, comprising Duncan Moore, John Browne, Frances Houle, and James Drake, continued its work on the 2007 APS Statement on Climate Change. In February, the subcommittee–with APS Associate Director of Public Affairs Francis Slakey and POPA Chair Rob Socolow serving as resources–had prepared and circulated an Addendum to the Statement in response to a November APS Council motion. In March, the subcommittee reviewed and considered more than 1,700 comments sent by APS members, and updated the proposed Addendum. In April, POPA unanimously approved the updated Addendum and sent it to the APS Executive Board and Council for final action.
APS News: Council Passes Addendum to Climate Change Statement
If you have suggestions for a POPA study, please visit Suggestions for APS Policy Studies and send in your ideas.
ISSUE: Media Update
USA Today, Global Security Newswire, Science Magazine, and the Physics Today blog were among the many media and online news organizations that published stories on the release of the APS report, Technical Steps to Support Nuclear Downsizing.
The April edition of the APS newsletter, Capitol Hill Quarterly, features an op-ed by Congressman Frank Wolf (10th-VA) on investing in basic research to keep America strong.