Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Science Policy Analyst Terence Houston. Read the full Policy News here.
SENATE: APPROPRIATORS APPROVE ENERGY AND WATER, AGRICULTURE SPENDING BILLS
The week of April 26, the Senate Appropriations Committee marked up its Energy and Water Development and Agriculture Appropriations bills for Fiscal Year (FY) 2013.
Energy and Water
The Energy and Water Appropriations Act for FY 2013 is funded at $33.361 billion, $373 million less than FY 2012. The bill is primarily responsible for funding the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation. The legislation’s funding overall is slightly more than the $32.1 billion approved by the House in committee. For additional information on the House Energy and Water bill, see the April 20 edition of ESA Policy News here.
Unlike the House measure, the Senate Energy and Water bill does not include funding for the controversial nuclear waste site under Yucca Mountain, which is opposed by the Obama administration. The Department of Energy would receive $27.128 billion, $1.38 billion more than in FY 2012 to boost research related to clean energy technologies.
The Senate Agriculture Appropriations Act for FY 2013 includes $20.785 billion in discretionary spending for FY 2013, an increase over the $19.565 billion FY 2012 enacted amount. For additional information on the two bills, click here.
HOUSE: SCIENCE COMMITTEE REVIEWS LOCAL EFFORTS ON STEM EDUCATION
On April 30, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Research and Science Education held a field hearing in Madison, Alabama to review science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education programs and partnerships at the local level and their impact on the economy. The hearing was entitled “STEM Education in Action: Local Schools, Non-Profits, and Businesses Doing Their Part to Secure America’s Future.”
Among the subcommittee leadership, there was consensus on the important role STEM education can play in boosting the economy. “Our commitment to STEM education is exemplified by contributions to STEM programs in the community by the University of Alabama-Huntsville’s Propulsion Research Center and related scholarships and the U.S. Space and Rocket Center’s educational programs, as well as many other local initiatives supporting STEM programs for students ranging from elementary school through high school,” stated Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL). Ranking Member Dan Lipinski (D-IL) noted that fewer than 40 percent of college students who start in a STEM-related field obtain a degree in that field, leading to a shortage of qualified employees to fill positions in science and technology, for which there is growing demand in the economy.
Additional information on the hearing can be found here.
OCEANS: HOUSE GOP SEEKS TO BLOCK FUNDING FOR OBAMA ADMINISTRATION INITIATIVE
On April 25, a group of 23 Republican House Members sent a letter to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-KY) requesting that he prohibit funding for the Obama administration’s National Ocean Policy.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Bill Flores (R-TX), who also serves on the House Natural Resources Committee. It expresses concern that funding for the National Ocean Policy will divert scarce discretionary funds and have detrimental economic effects on a number of industries including agriculture, fishing, energy development and tourism. Prominent signers include House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans and Insular Affairs Chairman John Fleming (R-LA) and House Science, Space and Technology Committee Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX).
Natural Resources Committee Chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) sent a similar letter in early April. Chairman Hastings has voiced his criticism of the National Ocean Policy in previous hearings. For more information, see the November 4, 2011 edition of ESA Policy News here.
EDUCATION: EPA AWARDS GRANTS TO COLLEGES FOR INNOVATION PROJECTS
On April 25, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced an award of over $1 million in grants to 15 university and college teams from across the country for their work in environmental sustainability. The teams participated in the 8th Annual National Sustainable Design Expo on the National Mall in Washington, DC.
EPA’s People, Prosperity and the Planet (P3) award competition was held at the expo, and featured more than 300 college innovators showcasing projects designed to protect the environment, encourage economic growth and use natural resources more efficiently. Each P3 award-winning team will receive a grant of up to $90,000 to further develop their design, apply it or move it to the marketplace. Previous P3 award winners have started successful businesses and are marketing the technologies both across the country and around the world.
SCIENCE EDUCATION: ESA ENGAGES PUBLIC IN URBAN ECOLOGY AT SCIENCE FESTIVAL
On April 28 and 29, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) participated in the USA Science and Engineering Festival held at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. The free event, hosted by Lockheed Martin, featured over 3,000 exhibits and drew thousands of people from the Metro-Washington area.
ESA’s booth focused on urban ecology and children and adults alike were particularly drawn to the terrarium of pill bugs (Armadillidiidae), centipedes and other small creatures. The booth also featured an urban ecology game, teaching visitors about the urban heat island effect, DC’s buried streams, and unexpected wildlife living in cities.
ESA President Steward Pickett, who participated in the event both days, said: “Many people don’t think about ecology in the context of cities. There’s still this notion that you have to go to a national park or other far-away places but, in fact, ecology happens everywhere–in rivers, agricultural fields and heavily developed urban areas.