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FYI THIS MONTH: MAY 2001

HIGHLIGHTS OF DEVELOPMENTS IN WASHINGTON IMPACTING THE PHYSICS COMMUNITY FROM FYI, THE AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS BULLETIN OF SCIENCE POLICY NEWS

Richard M. Jones, Audrey T. Leath
fyithismonth@aip.org

BOEHLERT SEEKS MORE SCIENCE FUNDING: At an April 25 hearing on the budget requests for several science agencies, House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) was adamant in his determination to push for greater FY 2002 science funding. Later, addressing the annual AAAS Colloquium on Science and Technology Policy, Boehlert was equally blunt: "Let me be clear: the science budgets the Administration has proposed are too low." But, he added, "these numbers are going to get better - most likely, a little better this year, and a lot better next year."

GOLDIN TESTIFIES ON SPACE STATION COSTS: At several recent hearings, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin testified about a projected $4 billion cost overrun on the international space station. He acknowledged that funding for some remaining station elements will be redirected to offset the overrun, resulting in fewer permanent crew and a reduction in research capability, but insisted that NASA has several years to assess how to add those items back. While the Members he spoke to remained supportive, they were concerned about the program's costs and the ramifications for support by their colleagues.

HEARINGS ON DOE'S SCIENCE AND ENERGY PROGRAMS: "Shocking" and "unbelievable" were some of the terms used by Members to describe the FY 2002 request for various DOE science and energy programs. House and Senate appropriators indicated that they would try to maintain or increase funding for many of these program areas.

ADMINISTRATION APPROACH ON CLIMATE CHANGE: Lawrence Lindsey, Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, spoke on climate change at the AAAS Science and Technology Colloquium. "As I will make clear this morning, good science is also the key to both defining and addressing many of the great policy challenges facing our country.... When confronting long-run challenges - and the environment is certainly one of these - investments in the research and development of new technologies, with actual applications decades in the future, are far more cost-effective than trying to act with existing technologies."

GREATER FUSION FUNDING URGED: Eighty-three House Members signed a bipartisan April 9 letter to House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Sonny Callahan (R-AL), calling for greater FY 2002 funding for fusion R&D within DOE. Many of these same Members have co-sponsored a bill that would authorize more money for fusion. The bill finds the fusion program "inadequate to support the necessary science and innovation for the present generation of experiments," and calls for the Secretary of Energy to develop a plan for a burning plasma experiment.

APPROPRIATORS SUPPORTIVE OF NSF: Both Republican and Democratic members of the House VA/HUD Appropriations Subcommittee criticized the Administration's FY 2002 request for NSF. The subcommittee chairman described NSF's proposed research budget as "wholly inadequate" and added, "we look forward to making some changes" during the appropriations process.