ESA Policy News: June 22

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Science Policy Analyst Terence Houston.  Read the full Policy News here. APPROPRIATIONS: HOUSE COMMITTEE MOVES AGRICULTURE, INTERIOR SPENDING BILLS  This month, the House Appropriations Committee has continued work on its Fiscal Year (FY) 2013 spending bills. Most recently, it has released legislation funding environmental and agricultural federal programs. On June 19, the committee approved its Agriculture Appropriations Act for FY 2013. That day, the committee also released its FY 2013 Interior and Environment appropriations bill, which was marked up by subcommittee the following day. Agriculture In total, the Agriculture Appropriations Act for FY 2013 includes $19.4 billion in discretionary spending, a $365 million reduction from FY 2012 and $1.7 billion less than Obama’s FY 2013 budget request. Agricultural research programs, including the Agricultural Research Service and the National Institute for Food and Agriculture, would be funded at $2.5 billion, a $35 million reduction from FY 2012. The Natural Resources Conservation Service would receive $812 million, a $16 million decrease from FY 2012. The Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service would receive $787 million, $33 million below FY 2012. A funding program to help farmers make environmental improvement on their lands was cut by $500 million compared to the current farm bill’s authorized levels. Interior The House Interior and Environment Appropriations Act for FY 2013 contains $28 billion in funding, a cut of $1.2 billion below FY 2012 and $1.7 billion below the president’s FY 2013 budget request. The bill funds the Department of Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Forest Service and related environmental initiatives. EPA funding undergoes a particularly high number of cuts in the House bill. The bill funds EPA at $7 billion, a $1.4 billion (17 percent) cut from FY 2012. This brings total funding in the bill below FY 1998 levels. The legislation continues a cap on EPA’s personnel at the lowest number since 1992 and cuts the office of the EPA administrator by over 30 percent. The EPA Congressional Affairs office receives a 50 percent cut. For additional information on the Agriculture bill, click here. For additional information on the Interior bill, click here. OSTP: SCIENCE COMMITTEE REVIEWS WHITE HOUSE PRIORITIES On June 20, 2012, the House Science, Space and Technology Committee hosted White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Director John Holdren for a hearing entitled “Examining Priorities and Effectiveness of the Nation’s Science Policies.” During the hearing several Republicans inquired if the U.S. was maintaining investment in certain areas, including space technology and high-energy physics, relative to other countries. Holdren responded that the U.S. remains “on the cutting edge” and “unmatched”...

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Obama speaks to National Academy of Sciences

President Obama addressed the attendees at the 146th annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences this morning, where he highlighted new directives that support his science initiatives, including a new agency for high-risk energy research and increased funding for education at the secondary and graduate levels. According to NAS President Ralph Cicerone, who gave introductory remarks, every room of the NAS building in Washington, including the hallways, was packed with people -scientists and politicians alike. The president began by addressing a recent major complaint: that increasing funding for science isn’t practical in this recession, a claim with which he “fundamentally disagrees.” “Science is more essential for our prosperity, our security, our health, our environment and our quality of life than it has ever been,” Obama said. Here are some highlights from his speech. Funding: The President promised that more than three percent of the U.S. gross domestic product will be used to fuel science and development.  He reiterated his campaign promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050 and highlighted his budget’s planned $150 billion over the next ten years to invest in sources of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Research: The president announced funding for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy, which was signed into law in the 2007 America COMPETES Act. ARPA-E will seek to do high-risk, high-reward energy research. Obama said this agency will help “make renewable energy the profitable kind of energy in America.” Secondary education: States making strong commitments and progress in math and science education will be eligible to compete this fall for funds, the President said, under the $5 billion Race to the Top. Examples of this progress could be by raising standards, modernizing science labs, upgrading curriculum, and forging partnerships to improve the use of science and technology in our classrooms, he said. Graduate education: The president’s budget will triple the number of National Science Foundation graduate research fellowships. But the one announcement that drew the greatest reaction, in the form of raucous applause and even shouts from the crowd, was a hark back to the last eight years. “Under my administration, the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over,” Obama said. “Our progress as a nation, and our values as a nation, are rooted in free and open inquiry. To undermine scientific integrity is to undermine our...

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