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Public Policy Report for 26 May 2009

FY 2010 NSF Budget Details Released

On 18 May 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) released its long-anticipated fiscal year (FY) 2010 budget request. In total, NSF’s FY 2010 request is for $7.045 billion, an increase of $555 million (8.5 percent) above the FY 2009 request (Note: The FY 2009 and 2010 budget numbers do not include the one-time appropriation of $3 billion NSF received earlier this year via the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 [ARRA]). Currently, NSF is working to allocate FY 2009 and ARRA funds totaling approximately $9.49 billion. These funds must be allocated during the current fiscal year. The 2010 fiscal year begins on 1 October 2009.

The FY 2010 request for the NSF’s Research and Related Activities (R&RA) accounts is $5.733 billion, an increase of $550.14 million (10.6 percent) from the FY 2009 request of $5.183 billion. This planned new investment in R&RA programs is intended to reflect the President’s priorities for science and innovation with a focus on high-risk, transformative research; new faculty and young investigator support; graduate research fellowships; and support for research on global climate change.

The total FY 2010 request for the Biological Sciences Directorate (BIO) is $733 million, an increase of 11.8 percent ($77.19 million) from the FY 2009 request. However, even with this significant increase in funding, it is expected that the funding rate for research proposals will remain at approximately 20 percent, as more grant applications are anticipated.

In FY 2010, BIO investments would focus on understanding biosphere dynamics and bioenergy, stimulating transformative research, and enhancing education and participation in the biological sciences. Climate change research, interdisciplinary basic research, research centers, education activities, and the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) have been identified as five directorate-wide priorities.

Within BIO, funding would be allocated to the divisions as follows:

Molecular and Cellular Biology (MCB) would receive $128.83 million (up 6.2 percent). If fully funded, MCB would place an emphasis on research that studies the transfer of energy and information between and among molecules, cells, organisms, and populations, all properties which could inform researchers about potential new energy sources and biofuels innovation.

Integrative Organismal Systems (IOS) would receive $221.84 million (up 4.8 percent). Within the division, 49 percent of the IOS Project Support and 31 percent of the Plant Genome Research budgets would be available for new grants. In both programs, priority would be given to projects that focus on understanding environmental adaptation and climate change. A portion of the Plant Genome budget would be used to fund the Basic Research to Enable Agricultural Development (BREAD) program, which supports basic research and innovative technologies that find sustainable solutions for agriculture in developing countries. The BREAD program is co-supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Environmental Biology Division (DEB) would receive $133.92 million (up 11.2 percent). If funded at this level in FY 2010, 41 of the budget would be used to support new grants. This request includes enhanced support for innovative projects on climate change and biodiversity to enable researchers to determine the extent of Earth’s biodiversity within a decade. Some of the FY 2010 request will also be dedicated towards the Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program.

The Division of Biological Infrastructure (DBI), which supports the development and acquisition of research tools, instrumentation, infrastructure, and human resources would receive $130.14 million (up 11.4 percent). These funds would be directed toward enhanced support for bioinformatics, instrumentation, the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center (NESCent), and would help cooperatively establish a Climate Change Education program.

The Emerging Frontiers (EF) division would receive $118.27 million (up 37.9 percent). Roughly 50 percent of this funding would be available for new research grants. These funds would enable the transfer of centers to DBI to enhance cross center synthesis, they would support research on complex systems and climate change, and would help co-develop undergraduate biology education initiatives. EF will also continue to support NEON as well as establish an “innovation fund” that will co-fund innovative research projects in collaboration with other BIO divisions.

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NSF Webinar to Discuss Infrastructure Funding Opportunities

On 21 May 2009, the National Science Foundation (NSF) issued a Dear Colleague letter alerting interested parties to “…two new program solicitations and an informational webcast to be held on May 28, 2009. During the webcast, the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Academic Research Infrastructure - Recovery and Reinvestment program (the ARI-R2 solicitation, NSF 09-562) and Major Research Instrumentation - Recovery and Reinvestment program (the MRI-R2 solicitation, NSF 09-561) will be discussed.”

Key excerpts from the Dear Colleague letter follow, including instructions for those interested in this event:

NSF’s inclusion in the ARRA reflects widespread recognition that short-term and long-term investments in fundamental science and engineering research and education are important for stimulating the American economy and ensuring that the United States continues its leadership in innovation.

Together, these two solicitations are intended to strengthen the nation’s academic research capabilities by providing opportunities to develop or acquire research instrumentation (MRI-R2), and to renovate research facilities (ARI-R2).

For the Academic Research Infrastructure solicitation, the deadline for letters of intent, mandatory for those institutions wishing to submit full proposals, is July 1, 2009. The deadline for full proposals is August 24, 2009. For the Major Research Instrumentation solicitation, the deadline for full proposals is August 10, 2009. (No letter of intent is required for MRI-R2.)

Those interested in submitting proposals are encouraged to carefully review the solicitations and program websites, and . An interactive webcast summarizing both solicitations will be held on Thursday, May 28, 2009 from 1pm - 2:45pm EDT. Those wishing to participate in the webcast should register in advance at . The registration site includes an opportunity to submit, by email, questions about the ARI-R2 and MRI-R2 solicitations in advance of the webcast.

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House Committee Moves Climate Change Legislation Forward

The House Energy and Commerce Committee passed comprehensive climate change and energy legislation on 21 May 2009 by a vote of 33 to 25. The bill, HR 2454, sponsored by Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) and Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), would cut greenhouse gas emissions by 17 percent of 2005 levels by 2020, by 42 percent by 2030, and by 83 percent by 2050. The legislation would also increase energy efficiency of buildings, appliances, transportation, and industry, as well as require 20 percent of electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020.

Reports indicate that intense negotiations and compromises were required to develop legislation that could be passed out of the Committee. In recent weeks, Chairman Waxman made a number of concessions to moderate and conservative Democrats on the Committee to gain their support for the measure. One major change was the target for the 2020 emissions reduction target, which was reduced from 20 percent to 17 percent below 2005 levels. Another major change is that the cap and trade program that would be established by the legislation would give away 85 percent of the emission allowances and auction the remaining 15 percent, a significant difference from the 100 percent auction President Obama endorsed on the campaign trail. Auctions would begin in 2012 and the revenue gained would largely be used to offset rising energy costs. The free allowances would be distributed to electric utilities, natural gas distributors, and energy intensive industries such as the paper, steel, cement, and auto industries, and would be phased out by 2030. The allocation also includes efforts to prevent tropical deforestation and for climate adaptation efforts, including natural resource protection.

The bill lays out a policy for the federal government to “use all practicable means and measures to protect, restore, and conserve natural resources to enable them to become more resilient, adapt to, and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification.” The US Geological Survey (USGS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would collaborate to establish a process for the National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center to conduct research and to provide tools and strategies for natural resource adaptation. Federal agencies and states would also be required to develop and implement natural resource adaptation plans to account for the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. Additionally, a National Wildlife Habitat and Corridors Information Program would be established to support the development of GIS databases to inform natural resource management.

A few provisions in the bill address climate change science. Most notably, a new National Climate Service within NOAA would be charged with developing and distributing national and regional climate information and forecasts to states, local governments, and the public. Additionally, NOAA would conduct marine spatial planning to inform siting of offshore energy facilities.

The Energy and Commerce Committee ‘marked-up” the legislation over a four-day period during which more than 90 amendments were considered. The final vote to report the legislation from the Committee was primarily along party lines. One Republican, California’s Mary Bona Mack, voted for the bill. Four Democrats, Mike Ross (AR), Jim Matheson (UT), Charlie Melancon (LA), and John Barrow (GA) voted against HR 2454. The legislation will now be considered by up to eight other House Committees that have jurisdiction aspects of the legislation. So far, only the Agriculture, Natural Resources, Science and Technology, and Ways and Means Committees have indicated that they are seriously interested in holding their own markups of the bill.

Meanwhile, the Senate is also considering legislation to address climate change. The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has been reviewing legislation sponsored by Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) that would set a national renewable energy standard of 15 percent by 2021. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, is also planning on moving forward a version of climate legislation from the EPW Committee.

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Holdren Testifies Before Congress About Research Budgets

The federal budget for fiscal years (FY) 2009 and 2010 represent the biggest federal investment in R&D in US history, reported the President’s Science Advisor Dr. John Holdren on 14 May 2009, at a House Science and Technology Committee hearing on research and development (R&D) in the federal budget. He also noted that the focus for these two budgets will be on the “research”, rather than the “development” portion of science, reflecting the President’s priorities for more basic, transformative research. The total federal R&D investment in the FY 2010 budget proposal is $147.6 billion. This is a 0.4 percent increase from the FY 2009 budget, and does not include a massive $18.2 billion investment through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

During the hearing, Holdren was questioned about science in the FY 2010 budget, as well as about the President’s priorities for this R&D budget request. Many of the questions posed by legislators centered on NASA, the energy bill, technology transfer, and biofuel development. Holdren also discussed science diplomacy and commented on scientific integrity. Holdren reported that the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) within the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) is well-aware of the need to act on scientific evidence, even if incomplete. Holdren, who is director of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), also stated that his office is aware of the potential boom and bust cycle that could occur as a result of the large infusion of ARRA funds. He said three steps would be taken to insure that such a cycle does not detrimentally affect scientific research. First, OSTP will work to increase baselines for all research programs in the coming years. Second, they are trying to adjust the ARRA such that it funds multi-year grants, which have funds out the door by the time the ARRA authorization ends in September 2010. Finally, a focus on funding infrastructure projects with the stimulus funds will help prevent a boom and bust cycle.

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Obama Nominates Green Chemist to Lead EPA Research Division

President Obama has nominated Dr. Paul Anastas to lead the Office of Research and Development (ORD) within the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Anastas is currently a professor of chemistry at Yale University. His research, which follows the principles of green chemistry, focuses on the development and synthesis of ‘green’ molecules, designing safer chemicals, and developing biomaterials and biofuels. Green chemistry, a field Anastas helped to found, seeks the development of safer, more sustainable chemical products. Previously, Anastas led the Industrial Chemistry Branch at EPA and worked in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. If confirmed by the Senate, Anastas would lead EPA’s science branch, ORD, which is charged with studying air, drinking water, ecology, human health, pesticides and toxins, and climate change in order to provide information to the regulatory branches of EPA.

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In the AIBS Webstore


AIBS Congressional Directory - 111th Congress, 2009

A valuable primer on Capitol Hill and the legislative process, the Congressional Directory contains biographies, photographs, and contact information for all members of Congress. Contact information and assignments for all Congressional Standing Committees, Select Committees, and Joint Committees are included. This pocket-sized resource (9” x 4”, 190 pp., spiral bound) also includes Executive Branch and Supreme Court data, a glossary of legislative terms, and maps of Washington, DC, and Capitol Hill.

To pre-order your copy today, please go to This publication is expected to be available for shipping after 16 April 2009.


Evolution, climate change, stem cell research — Scientists are frequently called upon to provide expert information on hot button issues that pervade the daily news headlines, yet most find themselves woefully unprepared for the bright lights of the television studio or leading questions from a newspaper journalist. A new publication from AIBS, “Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media,” by Holly Menninger and Robert Gropp in the Public Policy Office, will prepare scientists for successful and effective media interviews.

Recognizing that many scientists are reluctant to engage in media outreach, “Communicating Science” outlines compelling reasons for scientists to interact with the media and describes key differences between journalism and science that may not be apparent to practicing scientists. Step-by-step, Menninger and Gropp walk scientists through the entire interview process - from appropriate questions to ask when a reporter calls to practical advice for looking and sounding one’s best on-air or on-camera.

The information and advice in “Communicating Science” is presented in eight easy-to-read chapters that provide vital information for scientists new to media outreach, as well as a quick refresher for seasoned experts - an ideal text for a graduate course on science communication or a professional development course for students and faculty. The primer’s authors speak from their own experiences as PhD scientists in the biological sciences with years of experience in media outreach.

The concise, user-friendly volume has several unique features that set it apart from other media guides for scientists. “Communicating Science” includes first-person interviews with nearly a dozen scientists who have successfully navigated print, radio, and television interviews. The scientists-including the “Island Snake Lady,” Kristin Stanford, recently featured on the Discovery Channel show, “Dirty Jobs” - share advice and experiences on a number of topics, including safely speaking on behalf of an organization, avoiding trouble when discussing socially or politically controversial topics, and reflections on first interviews.

“Communicating Science” also provides worksheets to assist readers with interview preparation: building a message framework with talking points and transition phrases, developing analogies, and using illustrative props or images. It includes pages for readers to organize contact information of journalists with whom they have worked directly and those who have reported on stories related to their own research to keep as potential contacts for future story pitches.

“Communicating Science: A Primer for Working with the Media” is available now in the AIBS Webstore.

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New in BioScience - "Great Lakes: Sailing to the Forefront of National Water Policy?

In the Washington Watch column in the May 2009 issue of BioScience, Adrienne Froelich Sponberg, reports on significant water policy developments.

An excerpt from the article follows, but the complete article (along with prior Washington Watch columns) may be viewed for free at

While all eyes were on the presidential election last fall, the US Congress quickly-and rather unceremoniously-approved legislation that will shape the face of US water policy for years to come. On 3 October, then President George Bush signed into law the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (S.J. Res. 45). Although federal passage was swift, the compact itself was nearly a decade in the making, and it represents significant progress in how the Great Lakes are managed. In turn, the compact sets the stage for the future of water policy in the United States.

Accounting for 84 percent of the surface freshwater in North America, the Laurentian Great Lakes represent one-fifth of the world’s freshwater supply. Management of the lakes, with their more than 17,000 kilometers of shoreline, has always been complex. Two countries, eight US states, two Canadian provinces, 40 tribal nations, and numerous metropolitan areas, counties, and local governments in the Great Lakes basin share governance of the lakes. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that within the US federal government alone, 10 agencies administer 140 programs related to the lakes.

To continue reading this article, please visit

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Become an Advocate for Science: Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center

Quick, free, easy, effective, impactful! Join the AIBS Legislative Action Center today!

The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) has launched the AIBS Legislative Action Center. The online resource allows biologists and science educators to quickly and effectively influence policy and public opinion. The AIBS Legislative Action Center is located at

This new tool is made possible through contributions from the Society for the Study of Evolution, American Society for Limnology and Oceanography, Association of Ecosystem Research Centers, and the Botanical Society of America.

Each day lawmakers must make tough decisions about science policy. For example, what investments to make in federal research programs, biodiversity conservation, how to mitigate climate change, or under what circumstances to permit stem cell research. Scientists now have the opportunity to help elected officials understand these issues.

This exciting new advocacy tool allows individuals to quickly and easily communicate with members of Congress, executive branch officials, and selected media outlets.

AIBS and our partner organizations invite scientists and science educators to become a policy advocate today. Simply go to to send a prepared letter or to sign up to receive periodic Action Alerts.

For additional information about the AIBS Legislative Action Center, please visit To further help AIBS advance biology and science education, consider joining AIBS. To learn about other membership benefits and to join AIBS online, please visit

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