ESA Policy News: May 18

Here are some highlights from the latest ESA Policy News by Science Policy Analyst Terence Houston.  Read the full Policy News here. APPROPRIATIONS: HOUSE CJS BILL CUTS NOAA, RESEARCH INITIATIVES On May 10, the House passed H.R. 5326, the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Act for Fiscal Year 2013, which includes funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), among other agencies. The bill passed by a vote of 247-163 with 23 Democrats joining all but eight Republicans in supporting the measure. Democrats supporting the measure included House Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Norman Dicks (D-WA) and House Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee Ranking Member Chaka Fattah (D-PA). In total, the bill provides $51.1 billion in funding for FY 2013, $1.6 billion below FY 2012 and $731 million below the president’s FY 2013 budget request. The White House has released a statement of administration policy declaring that President Obama will veto the bill, if it is presented to him in its current form. The administration asserts that the bill’s overall funding level violates those set by the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25), agreed to in August of last year, and says  that the cuts included in the bill will be a detriment in furthering “economic growth, security, and global competitiveness” for the nation. While applauding the funding for the Office of Science and Technology Policy as well as the $7.3 billion funding level for NSF, the White House says that significant funding cuts to NOAA would adversely affect the agency’s ability to implement the nation’s fisheries and oceans stewardship programs. The House bill must be reconciled with the Senate CJS bill approved in committee last month.  For additional background on the House and Senate CJS appropriations bills, see the April 20 edition of ESA Policy News. To view the full White House statement of administration policy on the House CJS appropriations bill, click here. HOUSE: SCIENCE SUBCOMMITTEE CONSIDERS POTENTIAL OF OIL SHALE DEVELOPMENT On May 10, the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Energy and Environment convened for a hearing entitled “American Jobs and the Economy through Expanded Energy Production:  Challenges and Opportunities of Unconventional Resources Technology.” “The amount of energy under own soil is striking.  With continued technological advances and the right policies to enable access to these resources, America could become the global leader in energy production for the next generation and beyond,” stated Subcommittee Chairman Andy Harris (R-MD). “The Green River Basin, located in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming, may contain up to three trillion barrels of oil, more potential oil than the rest of the world’s current oil reserves...

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Showcasing science on Capitol Hill

By Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs Last night was the 18th consecutive year that researchers and policymakers came together over finger food and beverages to talk about the science and education projects funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).  “STEM Research and Education: Underpinning American Innovation” is sponsored by the Coalition for National Science Funding.  Its goal is to showcase the wide variety of projects made possible by NSF and facilitate some good conversations between the recipients of these federal grants and those who manage the purse strings—Congress. Nearly 40 exhibit booths showcased a wide range of topics to over a hundred congressional staff and Members of Congress, including Representatives Lois Capps (D-CA), Mike Simpson (R-ID), Hanson Clarke (D-MI), Rush Holt (D-NJ) and Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI). The Ecological Society of America (ESA) was among the exhibitors and featured ESA graduate student Sarah Roley’s work on mitigating nutrient pollution in the agricultural Midwest.  Roley, a freshwater ecologist who is completing her Ph.D. at the University of Notre Dame, spoke with numerous congressional staffers who were interested in how the two-stage ditch—the focus of her research—works and how it might be applied in other areas besides Indiana.  Among those interested were Kevin Warnke, Legislative Assistant for Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Robert Bonner, with the House Committee on Appropriations (pictured above, speaking with Roley).  Roley also told several senior NSF staff about her work, including Myron Gutmann, who heads the Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences Directorate at the agency. Roley is a GLOBES NSF Fellow.  Earlier in the day, she visited her Indiana delegation to express her appreciation for their past support of STEM research and education and to talk with them about how her work can help address a persistent problem in the Midwest and in areas downstream, particularly the Gulf of Mexico.  As Roley explained during her congressional meetings and the CNSF reception, fertilizers used to grow crops move from farm fields and can contaminate drinking water and harm fishing industries downstream by fueling algal blooms.  The two-stage ditch adds floodplains to incised channels, slowing the flow of water and allowing bacteria and plants to take Nitrogen out of the system.      Farmers with whom Roley has worked seem receptive to the two-stage ditch.  They usually don’t need to give up much land because many already have grassy buffers next to existing ditches and the addition of floodplains to these ditches keeps their fields from being flooded during high-water events.  According to Roley, nutrients travel half as far from two-stage ditches than from conventional ditches and remove at least twice as many nutrients during floods.  Another bonus,...

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