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House Considers Science-Related Amendments to FY 2011 Funding Measure

David A. Kronig
Number 30 - March 9, 2011  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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During last month’s floor consideration by the House of Representatives of H.R. 1, the FY 2011 Continuing Resolution, dozens of amendments were filed that would have profoundly impacted science funding beyond the cuts already included in the baseline bill. While many of these amendments were withdrawn without being voted on, several were debated and voted on by the full House.

Perhaps the most important of these is Amendment No. 149, offered by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO). The amendment, which is a single line long, prohibits any funds made available by H.R. 1 from being used to fund the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The amendment was agreed to by a nearly party-line vote of 244-179. Nine Democrats joined the Republican majority voting in favor, and three Republicans crossed the aisle to vote with the Democrats.

The IPCC, according to its website, “was established by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) to provide the world with a clear scientific view on the current state of knowledge in climate change and its potential environmental and socio-economic impacts…

“Thousands of scientists from all over the world contribute to the work of the IPCC on a voluntary basis. Review is an essential part of the IPCC process, to ensure an objective and complete assessment of current information.”

The floor debate on this amendment was between its sponsor, Rep. Luetkemeyer, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA), the Ranking Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The debate centered on the credibility of IPCC as an organization and the quality of the scientific analyses it provides.

During the debate over his amendment, Luetkemeyer described the IPCC as “an entity that is fraught with waste and engaged in dubious science.” Referring to the unauthorized release of emails from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit in November 2009, Luetkemeyer went on to say that “leading global scientists intentionally manipulated climate data and suppressed legitimate arguments in peer-reviewed journals. Researchers were asked to delete and destroy emails so that a small number of climate alarmists could continue to advance their environmental agenda. Since then, more than 700 acclaimed international scientists have challenged the claims made by the IPCC in this comprehensive, independent 740-page report.”

Waxman defended the IPCC, arguing that “[t]heir work on climate change is unparalleled. In its four assessment reports to date, they have brought together thousands of scientists around the world in disciplines ranging from atmospheric science, to forest ecology, to economics to provide objective and policy neutral information. The panel has attracted hundreds of the best U.S. scientists. In fact, a majority of the research that’s reviewed is undertaken in U.S. institutions.”  Waxman also cited praise for the IPCC from the Academy of Sciences and its 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

Waxman went on to argue that this amendment was prompted by Republicans’ belief that climate change is not occurring and need not be dealt with, saying that “[t]his is a very shortsighted proposal to cut these funds. It’s like putting our heads in the sand, denying the science, and then stopping the scientists from working because they might come to a different conclusion than the Republican majority’s ideology.”

Two other important science-related amendments to H.R. 1 were also voted on by the full House, though neither were debated:

Amendment No. 260—Rep. Latta (R-OH):  This amendment would have reduced the funding for the “Department of Commerce, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Construction of Research Facilities,” by $10 million, bringing the appropriation from $58 million to $48 million.  The amendment failed by a vote of 184-247.

Amendment No. 395—Rep. Inslee (D-WA):  This amendment would have redirected $20 million from the Department of Energy, Fossil Energy Research And Development program to the Advanced Energy Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) program, bringing the total appropriations for Fossil Energy from $586.6 million to $566.6 million and the total for ARPA-E from $50 million to $70 million. The amendment failed by a vote of 159-273.

David A. Kronig
Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
dkronig@aip.org
301-209-3094