Store

Science Policy Report

Address all comments to the Science Policy Office at:
sciencepolicy@sciencesocieties.org

13 March 2013

In This Issue:

International Corner

~ National and global market implications of the 2012 US drought
~ Council of Canadian Academies releases a new report on water and agriculture
~ State department pursues post-harvest losses to improve global food security
~ Study links climate change with recent droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather
~ H-2A cannot meet agriculture's labor needs
~ 'Strategic' livestock grazing could protect grasslands, slow desertification
~ The feminization of farming
~ High-resolution satellites could improve crop yield forecasts

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities

~ Extension Integrated Pest Management
~ Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training
~ Farmer-to-Farmer Program
~ National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP)
~ CA State Conservation Innovation Grant
~ Conservation Innovation Grants - Maine NRCS
~ Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research
~ NRCS Iowa Conservation Innovation Grants FY2013
~ Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives
~ ROSES 2013: Fellowships for Early Career Researchers
~ Opportunities in Education and Public Outreach for Earth and Space Science
~ ROSES 2013: Carbon Cycle Science
~ FY13 Region 04 Wetland Program Development Grants
~ Conservation Innovative Grants
~ Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2014
~ Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2014
~ Sea Grant-NOAA Regional Team Collaboration Grants 2013

Conferences, Meetings and Reports

~ ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Science Fellowship
~ An interactive atlas to preserve agricultural biodiversity
~ USDA state fact sheets
~ Webinar: soil health management systems, using NRCS practice standards
~ Americans' concern about warming rose in 2012, report
~ Researchers offer hope for adapting crops to climate change
~ AGI survey on geoscience impacts of sequester
~ Government non-policies are damaging science
~ 2013 AGU Science Policy Conference

Congressional/Administration News

~ Federally employed scientists can serve on the boards of scientific societies
~ Calling sequester 'bad policy,' OMB memo offers agencies specific guidelines on what to do
~ Climate concerns steer Obama's choices for EPA, DOE
~ Farm bill fumble puts USDA labeling program on 'life support'
~ Approps Chairman Rogers introduces bill to avoid government shutdown
~ House passes CR to keep spending at sequester levels
~ OSTP issues open access order to science agencies

International Corner


(TOP) ~ National and global market implications of the 2012 US drought

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs is pleased to release a new Issue Brief, “National and Global Market Implications of the 2012 US Drought," authored by Wallace E. Tyner. Professor Tyner is an energy economist and James and Lois Ackerman Professor of Agricultural Economics at Purdue University. Issues Briefs offer factual and analytical information and resources to policymakers and other non-governmental stakeholders to advance understanding of the potential implications of major developments, events, and decisions on US agricultural development and food security policy. Read full issue brief


(TOP) ~ Council of Canadian Academies releases a new report on water and agriculture

On behalf of the Council of Canadian Academies, a report has been released of the Expert Panel on Sustainable Management of Water in the Agricultural Landscapes of Canada. The report represents the work of a 15-member panel of experts, chaired by Dr. Howard Wheater, Canada Excellence Research Chair in Water Security. It explores five key areas where additional science and action can contribute to better sustainable management of water in agriculture. The report and its findings provide valuable evidence-based information that will help inform future public policies in this important area. See full report


(TOP) ~ State department pursues post-harvest losses to improve global food security

With nearly one-third of the food the world produces wasted due to post-harvest inefficiencies, the Obama administration is making a major push to improve storage and transportation facilities in developing countries to achieve global food security. "The scale of post-harvest food loss is tragic,” Undersecretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Roberts Hormats said. “Beyond the threat to food security, post-harvest losses adversely affect farmers and consumers in the lowest income groups,” Hormats said. “Post-harvest food losses are a waste of valuable farming inputs, such as water, energy, land, labor, and capital,” he added. Reducing post-harvest losses could also reduce the pressure to produce more food to feed a world population of 9 billion by 2050. While most food security initiatives have focused on raising productivity through higher yields, crop intensification and expanded crop acreage, one of the surest, and arguably most affordable, ways to feed more people sustainably is to ensure that the food already produced is not lost or wasted between the farm and the table.


(TOP) ~ Study links climate change with recent droughts, heat waves and other extreme weather

climateA new study from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany suggests climate change is at the root of recent extreme weather, such as the European heat wave of 2003, flooding in Pakistan in 2010 and a heat wave in the United States in 2011. The study focused on airflows that travel around the Northern Hemisphere and determined that these systems have slowed, becoming less effective in moving warm air from tropic regions northward and cold Arctic air southward. "During several recent extreme weather events, these planetary waves almost freeze in their tracks for weeks," wrote Vladimir Petoukhov, who led the study. The airflows are usually influenced by temperature differences between the Arctic and warmer southern regions, but warmer weather up north could be slowing the movement of the waves. Petoukhov and Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, co-author and director of the Potsdam Institute, called their findings "quite a breakthrough" but said the 32-year study could neither predict future climate change events nor rule out natural causes for the change in airflows.


(TOP) ~ H-2A cannot meet agriculture's labor needs

Immigrant farm labor was the topic of discussion at a hearing before the House Judiciary subcommittee on Immigration and Border Security. Both Democrats and Republicans were in agreement that the current H-2A visa program isn’t working for farmers and accounts for a very small percentage of those workers. Judiciary Committee chair, Bob Goodlatte told the hearing the H-2A program leaves farmers at a competitive disadvantage in the marketplace. The Virginia Republican said, ”What all of this tells us is that farmers who participate in the H-2A program do so as a matter of last resort, and conscience. They do it because they know that, realistically, most of the available labor is illegal, and they don’t want to break the law.” Read full article


(TOP) ~ 'Strategic' livestock grazing could protect grasslands, slow desertification

Zimbabwe's foremost land degradation expert has come up with a readily available solution for reversing the spread of deserts around the planet and slowing climate change in the process: He wants to let cows and sheep eat their way through the problem. In a provocative appearance on the video blog Ted Talks, biologist Allan Savory said desertification of the world's grasslands may be releasing more carbon into the atmosphere than burning fossil fuels. But the former revolutionary turned scientist recently came to a surprising conclusion about how best to bring back grasslands and in the process help address poverty and social breakdown in some of the poorest corners of the planet. He turned to holistic management of livestock like cattle and sheep, overriding his own belief that grazing animals had been part of the problem when it came to green, fertile lands widely becoming barren and dry. View the video


(TOP) ~ The feminization of farming

In this opinion piece, Olivier De Schutter, a professor of law at the Catholic University of Louvain, Belgium, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, writes that due to urbanization in the developing world, women are increasingly on the front lines of the fight to sustain family farms. But pervasive discrimination, gender stereotypes, and the low social standing of women, he argues, are hindering women’s rise out of poverty and hunger. Many of the biggest barriers for women farmers (such as lack of educational opportunities and unremunerated household chores) have little to do with farming, yet have a huge impact on food security. Read full article


(TOP) ~ High-resolution satellites could improve crop yield forecasts

Crop growth models play a major role in supporting world-wide food security. These models are used to simulate crop growth during the growing season, and the final crop yield at the end of the growing season, given the farmers’ management practices. Crop growth models also play an important role for decision makers making timely decisions regarding food import and export strategies. The simulation accuracy of crop growth models relies on the quality of the input data. Since crop yield forecasting applications are often applied over large areas that rely on a spatially distributed crop growth model, the uncertainty in the spatial variation of the input data increases. Remote sensing images are often used in crop growth models because remote sensing images provide spatially distributed input data to these models. Read full article

Research, Education, Extension Funding Opportunities


(TOP) ~ Extension Integrated Pest Management

The FY 2013 Extension Integrated Pest Management Coordination and Support Program (EIPM-CS) contains two components, EIPM-CS Coordination and EIPM-CS Support. Both components support state and local contributions in advancing the goals of the National Road Map for Integrated Pest Management (IPM) by addressing priority needs associated with the coordination, design, development, implementation, and evaluation of extension IPM programs. EIPM-CS funds will help agricultural producers and other pest managers adopt alternative pest management practices through training, demonstration, and evaluation of methods and strategies. Deadline 16 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training

This notice announces the availability of funds and solicits proposals from eligible entities, including non-profit organizations, to deliver environmental workforce development and job training programs that recruit, train, and place local, unemployed and under-employed residents with the skills needed to secure full-time employment in the environmental field, with a focus on solid and hazardous waste remediation, environmental health and safety, and wastewater-related training. Under this competition, applicants may choose to serve dislocated workers, or those laid off as a result of recent manufacturing plant closures, as well as those severely under-employed or unemployed in the target community. Deadline 9 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Farmer-to-Farmer Program

usaidThe United States Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Bureau for Food Security (BFS) under the management of the Office of Country Strategy and Implementation Support (CSI) is continuing USAID’s long-term support for the Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Program. This RFA is issued to solicit applications to manage F2F volunteer programs under Leader with Associate Cooperative Agreements (LWAs). The LWAs resulting from this RFA will enable USAID to continue its support for US voluntary assistance for economic growth in the agricultural sector at regional and country levels. Deadline 25 Mar. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP)

Improvements in oceanographic and meteorological scientific understanding as well as predictions and projections of the earth's physical system are increasingly reliant on higher resolution models, model ensembles, and explicit coupling of the physical components into simulations where the ocean, atmosphere, wave and ice fields are allowed to co-evolve during the forward time integration. However, the increased computational demand that these efforts require is beyond current research and operational computational capacity and is projected to grow faster than traditional computational infrastructure increases can support. A significantly improved capability to simulate and predict the coupled global air-ocean-wave-land-ice system at eddy-resolving spatial scales in a computationally and operationally efficient and massively parallel architecture towards real-time, predictions is desired. Deadline 12 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ CA State Conservation Innovation Grant

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) funding to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications will be accepted from California. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be up to $375,000. Deadline 22 Mar. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Conservation Innovation Grants - Maine NRCS

The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency under the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. Applications will be accepted from State of Maine. NRCS anticipates that the amount available for support of this program in FY 2013 will be up to $200,000. Applications are requested from eligible governmental or non-governmental organizations or individuals for competitive consideration of grant awards for projects between 1 and 3 years in duration. Deadline 1 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Office of Education, in cooperation with NASA’s Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate (ARMD), Human Exploration & Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD), and Science Mission Directorates (SMD), the Office of the Chief Technologist (OCT), and NASA’s ten Centers, solicits proposals for the NASA Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR). Each funded NASA EPSCoR proposal is expected to establish research activities that will make significant contributions to the strategic research and technology development priorities of one or more of the Mission Directorates or the OCT and contribute to the overall research infrastructure, science and technology capabilities, higher education, and economic development of the jurisdiction. Deadline 19 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ NRCS Iowa Conservation Innovation Grants FY2013

For FY 2013, NRCS will consider proposals that demonstrate the use of innovative technologies and/or approaches to address at least one topic listed below: soil health/quality, Iowa nutrient management strategy, grassland management, drought mitigation, or technology related to establishing cover crops innovative conservation projects or activities. Deadline 3 May. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Special Research Grants Program: Pest Management Alternatives

The purpose of Pest Management Alternatives Program (PMAP) is to provide support for the development and implementation of integrated pest management (IPM) practices, tactics, and systems for specific pest problems while reducing human and environmental risks. This purpose addresses the broad goals outlined in the "National Roadmap for Integrated Pest Management," developed by federal and non-federal IPM experts, practitioners, and stakeholders in 2004. The successful management of pest problems in commercial production is facing severe challenges due to regulatory changes, emergence of new pest problems, and the development of pest resistance to present management technologies. The greatest impact on current management technologies is in the production of specialty crops; however, other crops, including grain, forage and fiber, as well as animal health, are also being impacted by these changes. Deadline 1 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2013: Fellowships for Early Career Researchers

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. Deadline 31 Mar. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Opportunities in Education and Public Outreach for Earth and Space Science

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences. Deadline 23 May. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ ROSES 2013: Carbon Cycle Science

This NASA Research Announcement (NRA) solicits proposals for supporting basic and applied research and technology across a broad range of Earth and space science program elements relevant to one or more of the following NASA Research Programs: Earth Science, Heliophysics, Planetary Science, and Astrophysics. This ROSES NRA covers all aspects of basic and applied supporting research and technology in space and Earth sciences. Deadline 1 May. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ FY13 Region 04 Wetland Program Development Grants

Wetland Program Development Grants provide eligible applicants an opportunity to conduct and promote the coordination and acceleration of research, investigations, experiments, training, demonstrations, surveys, and studies relating to the causes, effects, extent, prevention, reduction, and elimination of water pollution. All proposals submitted under this RFP must be for projects that build or refine state/tribal/local government wetland programs. Implementation of wetland protection programs is not an eligible project under this announcement. Deadline 15 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Conservation Innovative Grants

The Idaho Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) is announcing availability of Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. This notice announces the availability of up to $150,000 for support of this program in FY 2013. These funds are in addition to up to $25 million dollars of funds that may be available through the national CIG grants program. Deadline 12 Apr. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Small Business Innovation Research Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2014

The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses. The SBIR program solicits proposals from the small business sector consistent with NSF's mission. Deadline 11 Jun. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Small Business Technology Transfer Program Phase I Solicitation FY-2014

The Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program stimulates technological innovation in the private sector by strengthening the role of small business concerns in meeting federal research and development needs, increasing the commercial application of federally supported research results, and fostering and encouraging participation by socially and economically disadvantaged and women-owned small businesses.The STTR Program requires researchers at universities and other non-profit research institutions to play a significant intellectual role in the conduct of each STTR project. Deadline 13 Jun. Read full announcement


(TOP) ~ Sea Grant-NOAA Regional Team Collaboration Grants 2013

For FY2013, the NOAA National Sea Grant College Program and Office of Program Planning and Integration anticipate making available up to $240,000 for projects that support the National Sea Grant College Program Strategic Plan 2009-2013 and NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan, and/or the applicable regional research plan. These regional collaboration grants will be awarded only to proposals endorsed and funded jointly by the NOAA Regional Collaboration Teams and the Sea Grant programs in the region. Deadline 17 May. Read full announcement

Conferences, Meetings and Reports


(TOP) ~ ASA, CSSA, and SSSA Congressional Science Fellowship

This is a final reminder about applications for the Congressional Science Fellowship Program. The Fellow selected will spend one year in Washington DC, applying his/her professional and scientific expertise as a special assistant on the staff of a member of Congress or Congressional committee. The purpose of the Fellowship is to make practical contributions to the more effective use of science and technical knowledge in government, to demonstrate the value of such science-government interaction, to inform the scientific and educational communities about public policy and the legislative process, and to provide a unique public policy learning experience. Deadline 14 Mar. Get more information


(TOP) ~ An interactive atlas to preserve agricultural biodiversity

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) scientists and cooperators have developed an interactive atlas of wild plants in Guatemala that are closely related to crop plants. The atlas will make it easier to preserve plants with genes that may be vital to global food security. The Atlas of Guatemalan Crop Wild Relatives, accessible using a Google Earth interface, gives researchers and the public access to decades of data assembled by dozens of plant collectors in one of the richest regions of biodiversity in the world, according to Karen Williams, a botanist with the Agricultural Research Service (ARS) National Germplasm Resources Laboratory in Beltsville, Md. Many of Guatemala's native plants are closely related to some of the most important crops in the United States, including corn, beans, peppers and potatoes. These crop wild relatives have genes that may be useful in addressing threats posed by emerging diseases, insect pests, and temperature and rainfall extremes arising from a changing climate. The atlas is currently available in Spanish only. See the atlas


(TOP) ~ USDA state fact sheets

The USDA Economic Research Service has updated its data sets which provide information on population, income, education, employment, federal funds, organic agriculture, farm characteristics, farm financial indicators, top commodities, and exports, for each State in the United States. Links to county-level data are included when available. See fact sheets


(TOP) ~ Webinar: soil health management systems, using NRCS practice standards

Soil Health Management Systems (SHMS) are a collection of NRCS conservation practices that focus on maintaining or enhancing soil health by addressing the four soil health planning principles: manage more by disturbing the soil less; diversify with crop diversity; grow living roots throughout the year; and keep the soil covered as much as possible. SHMS are cropping system-specific and contain practices that are considered "must-do" or are key practices that achieve the greatest impact on soil health by creating a synergistic effect as a system. This webinar is scheduled for Mar 27, 2013 2:00 pm (EST). Get more information


(TOP) ~ Americans' concern about warming rose in 2012, report

Americans were more concerned about climate change in 2012 than at any time since the months before President Obama took office, researchers at Yale and George Mason universities say in a report. The report by Yale's Anthony Leiserowitz and GMU's Edward Maibach found 70 percent of the U.S. population was at least somewhat concerned about man-made climate change, higher than at any time since fall 2008. The report is based on a survey of 1,061 people taken last August and September. The poll has an error margin of 3 percentage points. Leiserowitz and Maibach divide the U.S. public into six groups based on the level of concern about climate change, ranging from "alarmed" to "dismissive." Sixteen percent of respondents were alarmed by climate change last September, compared with 13 percent in April 2012. Dismissive respondents, or those who are the most certain that man-made climate change isn't occurring, were down to 8 percent, compared with 10 percent in April.


(TOP) ~ Researchers offer hope for adapting crops to climate change

What if plants could switch their genes on and off, depending on which traits were important in a certain climate? That's what a team of researchers at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies investigated in a series of studies on Arabidopsis thaliana, a common mustard weed across the Northern Hemisphere. Their work has led to a deeper understanding of a hidden layer of genetic diversity that could bring further advances in plant breeding and bioengineering. The potential of switching genes on and off falls under the relatively new field of epigenetics. It is the study of a pattern of chemical markers that regulate genes that sit over the DNA sequence. Genetic mutations are caused by changes in the pattern of nucleotide bases, the building blocks of DNA. Epigenomic modifications do not affect these building blocks and therefore don't leave a permanent change in DNA. Epigenetic modifications are, in theory, reversible. This means plants could temporarily activate or deactivate genes, said Joseph Ecker, a plant biologist at the Salk Institute and co-author of the compiled findings, published in the journal Nature. See full report


(TOP) ~ AGI survey on geoscience impacts of sequester

American Geosciences Institute has started a web-based survey of geoscientists to gather information on whether the sequester is having an impact on the geosciences and, if so, to gauge the nature of the effects. They are urging as many people as possible to respond, ideally on a weekly basis since the impacts are likely to increase over time. Geoscientists across the spectrum are encouraged to reply, including industry and academia in addition to those with direct links to government. Responses that report “no impact” are important and stories detailing any impacts are welcome. Participate in the survey


(TOP) ~ Government non-policies are damaging science

researchThe American culture and emphasis on freedom and creativity is an advantage that is not guaranteed in perpetuity. For the best and the brightest scientists, the inability to score federal grants for basic research, or any secure sense that such grants will be available in the future, is a huge disincentive to go through the many grueling years of post-graduate training to reach the top of the research ladder - and is an incentive, for those who still do, to turn instead to jobs in private industry, in areas such as pharmaceuticals, computers, oil and gas or medical devices. That is fine, except that private industry does applied research and has zero incentive to do basic research, which is the seed corn of innovation and the basis of American dominance. Read full article


(TOP) ~ 2013 AGU Science Policy Conference

The American Geophysical Union’s 2nd annual Science Policy Conference will be held Monday, 24 June to Wednesday, 26 June 2013 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, D. C. Join hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals as they discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers’ decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. Get more information

Congressional/Administration News


(TOP) ~ Federally employed scientists can serve on the boards of scientific societies

The Office of Government Ethics (OGE) has published a notice announcing a major change in the implementation of a federal criminal statute that prohibits federal employees from serving on the boards of outside organizations. That statute was interpreted in 1996 by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to prohibit an employee from serving, in an official capacity, as an officer, director or trustee of a private nonprofit organization, even in the absence of an actual conflict of interest. The new policy announced reflects OGE’s determination that it was appropriate to exercise its authority exempt the imputed financial interests of nonprofit organizations in which employees serve as officers, directors or trustees in their official capacity. Specifically, OGE found that such financial interests are too remote or inconsequential to affect the integrity of employees' services. Agencies will, of course, have valid management reasons to restrict the extent of an employee’s participation on the boards of outside organizations. This is particularly true in an era of declining federal budgets and reduced staffing levels. Further, as OGE notes, employees must still adhere to the agency conflict-of-interest policies and there will likely be limits on participation in lobbying, fundraising, regulatory, investigational, or representational activities, as determined by the agency. See federal register notice


(TOP) ~ Calling sequester 'bad policy,' OMB memo offers agencies specific guidelines on what to do

Since sequestration has taken effect, the White House Office of Management and Budget released its most detailed memo yet about how agency heads should address sequestration, including freezing hiring and issuing furlough notices. As it reiterated the point that sequestration is "bad policy that was never intended to be implemented," OMB acknowledged that a congressional deal may not come to fruition, thus making the memo necessary. Much of the memo's information has already been outlined in previous OMB releases, but it gives the most specific instructions from the Obama administration since the sequester shifted from a policy proposal to an actual occurance. Several of the points mentioned have already been tackled by agencies as they have planned for the sequester. See the memo


(TOP) ~ Climate concerns steer Obama's choices for EPA, DOE

Saying that fighting climate change and promoting clean energy will be second-term priorities, President Obama officially nominated U.S. EPA Assistant Administrator Gina McCarthy to lead the agency and MIT physicist Ernest Moniz to head the Department of Energy. "They're going to be making sure that we're investing in American energy, that we're doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place," Obama said. McCarthy currently heads EPA's Office of Air and Radiation, where she oversaw some of the agency's most high-profile regulations during Obama's first term. Moniz, who previously served as DOE undersecretary in the Clinton administration, replaces outgoing Energy Secretary Steven Chu. He has drawn some criticism from green groups for his views on hydraulic fracturing and nuclear power. Environmentalists welcomed the long-expected Energy and EPA picks and Obama's promise to have them fight the threat of climate change through clean air regulations and clean energy. Obama said the two would build on "the work that we've done to control our own energy future, while reducing pollution that contributes to climate change." Both picks must be confirmed by the Senate, but no hearings have been scheduled.


(TOP) ~ Farm bill fumble puts USDA labeling program on 'life support'

Congress' failure to pass a five-year farm bill has hamstrung a Department of Agriculture program that aims to create markets for products made from renewable materials, industry officials say. USDA can no longer certify new products under the program's voluntary labeling scheme, and staff can't fully run the program's federal procurement initiative. The partial farm bill extension that Congress passed in January in the emergency "fiscal cliff" deal failed to include mandatory funding for the renewable-materials program or other rural energy efforts. Advocates of the BioPreferred Program warn that benching the program could make the United States less attractive for investment in bio-based products. Applicants to the program have been left in limbo, as USDA has stopped processing applications. "It's on life support, is the way I would term it, because of the lack of funding," said Lloyd Ritter, a former Senate staffer who helped write the farm bill's original energy title. Bio-based products refer to those made at least partially from renewable materials, rather than from petroleum. It is a broad term that encompasses plastics, chemicals, cosmetics, construction products and adhesives.


(TOP) ~ Approps Chairman Rogers introduces bill to avoid government shutdown

halrogersHouse Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) introduced legislation to keep the government funded through the end of this fiscal year as lawmakers and the administration seek to avoid a government shutdown at the end of this month. Rogers' bill extends the current continuing resolution for most domestic agencies while adjusting spending levels for defense, military construction and veterans’ programs. The bill would provide a total of $982 billion across the government - the amount appropriated last year minus the $85 billion in across-the-board "sequestration" spending cuts that took effect March 1.  President Obama indicated that he would likely sign a new CR that included the sequester in order to avoid a government shutdown when funding runs out March 27. Congress is scheduled to go on recess the last week in March, meaning a CR likely would pass by March 22. "It is clear that this nation is facing some very hard choices, and it's up to Congress to pave the way for our financial future," Rogers said. "But right now, we must act quickly and try to make the most of a difficult situation. This bill will fund essential federal programs and services, help maintain our national security, and take a potential shutdown off the table."


(TOP) ~ House passes CR to keep spending at sequester levels

The House has passed legislation to maintain government funding at sequester-reduced levels for the remainder of the fiscal year. Passage of the bill, which combines a continuing resolution for most domestic agencies with new appropriations bills for military and veterans functions, sets up Senate consideration of its own spending bill. Senate appropriators have not outlined their bill, but it is expected to differ from the House bill by providing additional flexibility for domestic agencies in addition to the defense spending adjustments in the House version. Republicans touted the legislation as a recipe to avoid a potential government shutdown when the current CR expires March 27. Democrats complained that it did nothing to reverse the across-the-board spending cuts known as the sequester, which took effect March 1.


(TOP) ~ OSTP issues open access order to science agencies

On February 22, 2013, White House science advisor John Holdren released a memo directing those federal agencies that invest over $100 million in research and development to provide free open access to publications of federally funded research. The memorandum mandates that open access to articles be available one year after publication. The memo follows a petition to the White House demanding open access that garnered 65,000 signatures. Holdren’s announcement has elicited a variety of responses. Some praise the decision while others worry about additional monetary costs to researchers, reduced funding for scientific journals, and problems maintaining the integrity of the peer-review and selective process for publishing in existing journals. The Geological Society of America provides a position statement on open access issues. See the memo and See the position statement
 

Sources: Agricultural Research Service; American Enterprise Institute; American Geophysical Union; American Geosciences Institute; CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security; The Chicago Council on Global Affairs; Climatewire; Council of Canadian Academies; Energy and Environment Daily; Food Industry Environmental Network, LLC; Greenwire; Meridian Institute; New York Times; Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research; Reuters; United States Agency for International Development

Vision: The Societies Washington, DC Science Policy Office (SPO) will advocate the importance and value of the agronomic, crop and soil sciences in developing national science policy and ensuring the necessary public-sector investment in the continued health of the environment for the well being of humanity. The SPO will assimilate, interpret, and disseminate in a timely manner to Society members information about relevant agricultural, natural resources and environmental legislation, rules and regulations under consideration by Congress and the Administration.

This page of the ASA-CSSA-SSSA web site will highlight current news items relevant to Science Policy. It is not an endorsement of any position.