Policy News: June 3

Here are some highlights from the latest Policy News by Science Policy Analyst Terence Houston.  Read the full Policy News here. COMMERCE: FORMER ENERGY CEO, NRDC COFOUNDER, NOMINATED TO LEAD DEPARTMENT On May 31, President Obama announced his intention to nominate John Bryson to the post of Secretary of the Department of Commerce. Bryson would bring a lengthy resume working on energy and environmental issues to the department that includes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Bryson is one of the co-founders of the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the United State’s top environmental groups. His credentials include several years as chairman of the California State Water Resources Control Board in the late 1970s and head of the California Public Utilities Commission. Bryson would succeed current Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, whom the president has nominated to serve as ambassador to China.  The president’s transition teams had previously interviewed Bryson for the Energy secretary job before it ultimately went to Steven Chu, according to Democratic officials. Bryson’s nomination requires confirmation by the Senate, where reaction from some Republicans has been highly critical most notably from Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Ranking Member James Inhofe (R-OK). NSF: SEN. COBURN RELEASES REPORT CITING WASTE, MISMANAGEMENT IN SCIENCE AGENCY Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK), a known conservative fiscal hawk, released a report May 26 that claims to identify $3 billion in “fraud, waste and abuse” at the National Science Foundation (NSF). In the 73 page report, entitled The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope, Sen. Coburn, states, “the consensus surrounding the importance of NSF is precisely why it is essential to increase and enhance oversight over agency expenditures.” In response, a number of scientific organizations, including the Ecological Society of America (ESA), issued “Action Alerts” calling upon Oklahoma constituents to contact Sen. Coburn’s office. Sen. Coburn also called for the elimination of NSF’s Social, Behavioral and Economics (SBE) division, questioning whether “these social sciences represent obvious national priorities that deserve a cut of the same pie.” He also charged that some of the work in these and other areas is duplicative of other federal agencies. To view the Coburn report, see: http://coburn.senate.gov/public//index.cfm?a=Files.Serve&File_id=f6cd2052-b088-44c3-b146-5baa5c01552a To view the House Research and Education Subcommittee hearing see: http://science.house.gov/hearing/subcommittee-research-and-science-education-hearing-social-bahavioral-and-economic-science WATER RESOURCES: SCIENTISTS URGE RESEARCH INVESTMENT INTO TOXIC ALGAL BLOOMS On June 1, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment considered legislation that would expand research into harmful algal blooms that have had numerous adverse environmental impacts, including creating “dead zones,”  in countless waterways. The legislation under review is tentatively titled the Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Act of 2011. The measure,...

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