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
S&T IN HOMELAND SECURITY: As Congress works on legislation to create a Department of Homeland Security, questions have arisen on how science and technology will be incorporated into the functions of the new department. Several committees have examined this issue, and a House Science Committee provision authorizing an Under Secretary for Science and Technology was approved by the House on July 10.
SENATE VOTE ON YUCCA MOUNTAIN: Following the lead of the House, on July 9 the Senate approved a resolution enabling DOE to move forward with an underground nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. The next step is for DOE to submit a site approval license to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
SCIENCE AND SECURITY: A new report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies' Commission on Science and Security finds flaws with DOE management and makes recommendations on how the department can enhance security at its national labs without compromising the conduct of world-class science.
APPROPRIATIONS IN THE SENATE: Senate appropriators completed all 13 FY 2003 spending bills before departing for August recess. They provided small increases over FY 2002 for USGS, NASA, and NIST. DOD science and technology programs would grow by 9.2% under the Senate DOD funding bill, while NSF and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering would see double-digit increases. Within DOE, High Energy Physics, Nuclear Physics, Fusion Energy Sciences, Basic Energy Sciences, and Biological and Environmental Research would all see small to moderate increases under the Senate bill. These bills will need to go to the Senate floor when Congress returns after Labor Day.
APPROPRIATIONS IN THE HOUSE: House appropriators have acted on several FY 2003 bills but are not as far along as the Senate. Rejecting the Administration's proposed cuts, House appropriators would increase USGS funding, as did Senate appropriators. The House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee has also drafted its bill for DOE. It would provide increases for High Energy Physics and Nuclear Physics, would cut Basic Energy Sciences and Biological and Environmental Research, and would provide flat funding for Fusion Energy Sciences. After the full House and Senate have approved their appropriations bills, a House-Senate conference will need to be convened on each bill to reconcile the differences.
SPACE STATION SCIENCE: A task force of scientists reviewed and prioritized research for NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research, including research to be performed on the International Space Station (ISS), and concluded that if the ISS is not enhanced beyond the scaled-back, three- person U.S. Core Complete configuration, "NASA should cease to characterize the ISS as a science driven program."
GLOBAL WARMING HEARINGS: Both House and Senate committees held recent hearings on the Administration's global climate change policy. Contention still remains over how to address the problem, and the Administration's use of intensity (the rate of emissions per dollar of GDP) rather than absolute emissions as a metric.