Thursday, March 5, 2009

The Committee's Agenda

According to the House Science & Technology Committee's "aggressive agenda" for the 111th congress, their agenda includes:

"Energy: Developing Clean Technologies
Our dependence on foreign sources of energy, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, the need for a more balanced energy portfolio, and rising energy costs will be solved by science, technology, and innovation. The Committee plans to:
• Work with the new Administration to implement the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Energy (ARPA-E) –based on the  successful DARPA model, ARPA-E is tasked with undertaking high-risk, high-reward energy technology development, especially research that is too cross-cutting or multi-disciplinary to fit into the current system, and partnering with the best talent in the private sector, universities, and the national labs
• Conduct oversight on the implementation of energy technology programs authorized in EISA 2007 (solar, geothermal, hydrokinetic, cellulosic biofuels, carbon capture and sequestration, energy storage, smart grid, and energy efficiency programs) and recommend any necessary changes
• Review programs at the DOE Office of Science, including ways to strengthen the linkages between basic energy research, applied energy research, and technology transfer and ways to make DOE lab management more effective
• Address new energy technology challenges, including nuclear reactors and reprocessing, vehicles including heavy trucks, and pipelines for new fuels and CO2

Workforce: Creating Jobs of the Future
When half of the world’s workers earn less than $2 a day, our country needs to compete at a higher level – with better skills and higher productivity. The Committee will continue seeking to ensure not only that our nation will produce the world’s leading scientists and engineers but also that all students will have a strong grounding in math and science and are prepared for technical jobs in every sector of the economy. The Committee plans to:
• Evaluate STEM education programs across the Federal government and determine how to better coordinate these efforts to make them more effective
• Assess efforts to promote diversity in the STEM workforce and gender equity at academic institutions
• Directing investments across the economy in technologies and entities – including small manufacturers and high-tech firms - to create “green jobs” that boost economic growth

Environment: Protecting Our Natural Resources
• Address the need for accurate and reliable technologies to monitor reporting and compliance with greenhouse gas emission limits in any climate change cap-and-trade scheme
• Direct more effective coordination of Federal research on water supply, quality, and conservation and set a roadmap for technologies, such as “produced water” technologies, needed to address water issues arising from the interdependency of water and energy resources
• Direct R&D programs to address the environmental and economic implications of electronic waste (e-waste) from computers, televisions, cell phones, and other consumer goods
• Conduct a wholesale review of weather and ocean research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, including work on ocean acidification and harmful algal blooms"

The rhetoric of the agenda implies at least a redirection of federal funds in R&D; given that the stimulus bill allocated some $20 bn to scientific research, this blog will watch to see if this rhetoric plays out ultimately.

As the power to make these allocations shifts to particular federal agencies, this blog will attempt track their actions in an effort to see where funds go, from legislative agenda to research project.  It probably won't be easy.

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