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ISSUE: Science Research Budgets

Another Continuing Resolution Passed
Because the Senate had not completed consideration of all of its FY10 appropriations bills by the end of the Fiscal Year (September 30), including Energy and Water and Commerce, Justice, Science, Congress had to pass a Continuing Resolution as part of Legislative Branch appropriations bill (H.R. 2918); the CR provides funding for all Executive Branch agencies, including DOE, NIST and NSF, at FY09 levels for another thirty days. It became law on October 1 and is set to expire on October 31, 2009. If the Senate fails to complete consideration of the remainder of its appropriations bills within that time, Congress will be forced to consider another CR to keep the government operating. It is also possible that Congress will have to consider a “mini-bus” to get all the bills done quickly:  a “mini-bus” would combine a number of the outstanding appropriations bills into one package so they could then be considered en masse.

DOE/SC Funding
On September 30, the House/Senate Conference Committee agreed on an Energy and Water appropriations bill for FY2010. In sum, the bill includes a total of $27.1 billion for DOE, $318 million above 2009 and $1.3 billion below the Administration request, to fund five primary mission areas: science, energy, environment, nuclear nonproliferation, and national security. The majority of that decrease resulted from Congress providing no FY10 appropriations for the Innovative Technology Guarantee Program. The Administration had requested that Congress provide $1.5 billion. The program was established in the 2005 Energy Policy Act (EPACT) to authorize the Secretary of Energy to make loan guarantees to qualified projects for accelerated commercial use of innovative energy technologies. It is likely that Congress did not fund the Administration’s FY10 request because the program had just received $6 billion in the Stimulus Bill. The House passed the Conference report on October 1, with the Senate following suit on October 15th. The next step is for the bill to go to the President for signing into law. Since this bill will be completed by the expiration of the CR, DOE funding will not be part of a possible “mini-bus” funding package. DOE/SC is funded at $4.9 billion, an increase of 2.7% over FY09. It is also a slight increase over the funding level agreed to in the Senate.  

NSF and NIST Funding
As of this writing, the full Senate had not yet considered the Commerce, Justice, Science bill, which contains funding for NSF and NIST. Both agencies are therefore subject to the Continuing Resolution passed by Congress. Given the amount of time remaining until the expiration of the CR, it is possible that the CJS bill will be rolled into a “mini-bus” with other funding bills.

ISSUE: Panel on Public Affairs Activities
In addition to reports on nuclear arsenal downsizing and the electric grid, described elsewhere in this issue, POPA approved a proposal for a study which will examine the scarcity of critical elements for new energy technologies. The study will focus on the demands that would be created by a dramatic increase in the need for a rare element, driven by the widespread adoption of a new technology. The study committee is pulling together a list of possible participants and plans to hold a conference at MIT in early 2010.

The Carbon Capture Study, which examines non-biological CO2 Capture, is in the final stages of review and production and will be available for release in early 2010.

The National Research Policy Subcommittee is examining the general decline of the physical sciences infrastructure at major universities.  The subcommittee plans to conference prior to the first POPA meeting of 2010 and will report back on whether there is a need for ongoing investigation.
Gray arrow  Submit Suggestions for a POPA Study

ISSUE: Media Update
Nobel Laureate Burton Richter authored an op-ed in Roll Call newspaper on Aug. 3 titled “The Senate Can Improve on the House Bill,” suggesting ways to improve the climate change bill, including adding a Clean Energy Technology Fund that would invest $15 billion per year over 10 years to develop affordable, low-emission energy technologies.
Gray arrow  “The Senate Can Improve on the House Bill” Op-Ed

The Public Relations Committee of the Task Force on American Innovation recently published a brochure on basic research, highlighting innovations that developed from fundamental research at DOE, NSF, NIST, and DOD.
Gray arrow  Download American Innovation Brochure

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Editor: Alan Chodos

November 2009 (Volume 18, Number 10)

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Articles in this Issue
APS Panel on Public Affairs Tackles Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the Electricity Grid
Nation’s Capital Hosts APS “April” Meeting in February
Three Masters of Light Share 2009 Nobel Prize
Stimulus is Both Short and Long Term Investment for National Labs
Physics Majors Pull In High Starting Salaries
Media Fellow Fills Science Journalism Gap
New Edition 12.7% Funnier, Author Claims
Letters to the Editor
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
Profiles in Versatility
Washington Dispatch
International News