APS News

June 2011 (Volume 20, Number 6)

Washington Dispatch

ISSUE: Budget and Authorization Environment

US Capitol viewed through treesFiscal Year 2011 and Fiscal Year 2012
In the last edition of the Dispatch, we reported that Congress was working on a short-term Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government through April 8th. The CR (P.L. 112-6), which Congress passed in the middle of March, contained funding reductions acceptable to both political parties. With neither side willing to compromise further, the stage was set for a potential government shutdown over the final Fiscal Year 2011 budget. A last minute agreement between the White House and the House Republican leadership, struck on the night of April 8th, averted the shutdown and restored most of the draconian science cuts contained in the original House bill. The agreement (Public Law 112-10) settled federal spending for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2011. A summary of the science appropriations follows, with percentage increases or decreases shown relative to FY 2010.

  • DOD 6.1: $1.95 B, +3.7%
  • DOE Office of Science: $4.89 B, +1.2%*
  • DOE EERE: $1.84 B, -5.6%*
  • DOE ARPA-E: $0.18 B†
  • NASA Science: $4.94 B, +10.0%.
  • NIH: $30.75 B, -0.8%.
  • NIST STRS: $0.578 B, +0.1%*
  • NIST CRF: $0.070 B, -30.0%*
  • NIST TIP: $0.045 B, -35.7%.
  • NSF Total: $6.81 B, -0.9%.
  • NSF R&RA: $5.52 B, -0.7%.
  • NSF MREFC: $0.117 B, 0.0%.
  • NSF EHR: $0.863, -1.1%.
* With FY 2010 earmarks removed
† No dedicated program funding in FY 2010

Although science escaped crippling reductions for the current fiscal year, major increases planned for future years are off the table, at least for now. In striking the FY 2011 compromise, the White House stated, “Even though we will no longer double the funding of key research and development agencies, you will still see strong investments in NIST, NSF and the Office of Science.” What the Administration means by “strong investments” is unclear. Although the President’s FY 2012 budget request treats science generously, it reflects funding plans that predate the FY 2011 accord. It is highly unlikely that final appropriations will in any way resemble the White House proposals. With fiscal conservatives holding the upper hand in the House, FY 2012 is shaping up as even more difficult than FY 2011.

APS Washington Office’s Blog
Check Physics Frontline, the Washington Office’s Blog, for the latest news on the FY12 Budgets.
Gray arrow Physics Frontline


The Direct Air Capture Technology Assessment was approved at the April Executive Board Meeting and was publicly released in May. 
Gray arrow   Direct Air Capture Technology Assessment Format - PDF
Representative Randy Hultgren (R-14th IL) introduced legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives in early May, written in response to the recommendations put forth in the POPA Energy Critical Elements Report
At its next meeting, POPA will consider creating an educational component associated with the Direct Air Capture Technology Assessment. The POPA National Security Subcommittee will discuss a possible workshop related to nuclear weapons issues. The POPA Energy & Environment Subcommittee will ask members to consider a follow-on activity stemming from the Electric Grid Study dealing with integrating demand-side management on the electricity grid.  Members will also consider a possible addition to the APS Guidelines for Professional Conduct. 

POPA Study Suggestions
If you have suggestions for a POPA study, please send in your ideas.
Gray arrow Suggest Future POPA Studies

ISSUE: Media Update

The New York Times, UPI and TechnewsDaily are among the many media organizations that recently published stories on the newly released POPA assessment, Direct Air Capture of CO2 with Chemicals. The assessment, released May 10th, concluded that Direct Air Capture would play a very limited role in a coherent CO2 mitigation strategy for many decades.

In other media news, The Republic in Lead, S.D., published a story on May 9th about the importance of funding DUSEL–the proposed deep underground science and engineering lab. The piece pointed out that if the US wants to remain competitive in a global economy, it must make scientific research a priority.

APS Washington Office

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Editor: Alan Chodos

June 2011 (Volume 20, Number 6)

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Articles in this Issue
New Topical Group on Climate Actively Seeks Members
New APS Online Journal Issues Call for Papers
Assessment Casts Doubt on Utility of Direct Air Capture of CO2
Physics Contributes to New Medical Imaging Technique
Four Funded Sites Join APS Teacher Education Project
Quasars Help Researchers See in 3-D
Neutrinos Can Monitor Changes in Reactor Fuel
Japanese Physics Undergoes a Slow Recovery
Letters to the Editors
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Washington Dispatch
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science
International News