Thursday, February 12, 2009

American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Package Looks to Science to Grow Economy and Jobs

(Washington, DC) –Today, the House Appropriations Committee released an executive summary of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009, which included substantial funding for agencies under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Science and Technology and funding for enacted legislation that originated in the Committee.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 will strengthen American competitiveness, create high-quality jobs, and improve access to clean, affordable energy,” said Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN). “Research and development have an incredible return on investment for our nation. The U.S. spends less than 3% of the GDP on research and development, but almost half of the growth in GDP over the past 50 years is a result of developing and adopting new technologies. Innovation—especially new energy technologies—is the path to solving climate change, meeting our growing needs for energy, reinvigorating our economy, and ensuring our competitiveness over the long-term. Funding for science, technology and new kinds of infrastructure will help address the underlying problem—our economic competitiveness. If we do not take action, we could create jobs now, only to lose them in the future to foreign competition.”

The Appropriations bill funds the America COMPETES Act at or above the authorized levels. COMPETES creates and strengthens science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs, sets basic research in the physical sciences on a path to double funding in seven years, supports young researchers by expanding early career grant programs, and addresses our need for innovation. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill includes: $3 billion in funding for the National Science Foundation (NSF); $1.9 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) basic research into the physical sciences and improvements to DOE laboratories and scientific facilities; and $400 million to establish the Advanced Research Project Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) to support high-risk, high-payoff research into energy sources and energy efficiency. It includes $300 million for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) for competitive construction grants for research science buildings at colleges, universities, and other research organizations and $100 million to coordinate research efforts of laboratories and national research facilities by setting standards for manufacturing.

The Appropriations bill will promote energy independence and clean energy. It includes $11 billion to create a Reliable, Efficient Electricity Grid, a portion of which is will promote research and development, pilot projects, and federal matching funds for the Smart Grid Investment Program to modernize the electricity grid making it more efficient, secure, and reliable. The legislation includes $2.4 billion for clean fossil energy for carbon capture and sequestration technology demonstration projects. It includes $2 billion for energy efficiency and renewable energy research, development, demonstration, and deployment activities to foster energy independence, reduce carbon emissions, and cut utility bills. Funds are awarded on a competitive basis to universities, companies, and national laboratories.

The legislation includes $600 million in funding for National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), including $400 million to put more scientists to work doing climate change research, including Earth science research recommended by the National Academies, satellite sensors that measure solar radiation critical to understanding climate change, and a thermal infrared sensor to the Landsat Continuing Mapper necessary for water management, particularly in the western states; $150 million for research, development, and demonstration to improve aviation safety and Next Generation air traffic control (NextGen); and $50 million to repair NASA centers damaged by hurricanes and floods last year.

The legislation includes $600 million for satellite development and acquisitions, including climate sensors and climate modeling at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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