The House Science and Technology Committee is making headway on a reauthorization of the America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science) Act. On 25 March, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee “marked-up” several provisions that address energy research. Included is language that would increase the funding authorization for the Department of Energy (DoE) Office of Science to $8.154 billion in fiscal year (FY) 2015. The funding authorization levels being considered for the Office of Science would sustain the funding trajectory established by the 2007 America COMPETES Act. That law authorized a doubling of the budgets for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the DoE Office of Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) over a seven year period.
The marked-up bill also lays out plans for the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program within the Office of Science. Under the developing bill, BER would engage in research and development of biofuels, biological carbon sequestration, and bioremediation of environmental contaminants. Additionally, DoE would be directed to collaborate with other federal agencies to “carry out the selection and development of a next-generation ecosystem-climate change experiment to understand the impact and feedback of increased temperature and elevated carbon levels on ecosystems.”
Meanwhile, other pieces of legislation relating to science education, NSF, and other issues are moving through other subcommittees. It is expected that the various subcommittee bills will ultimately be blended into one measure by the full Science and Technology Committee in the coming weeks.
In an effort to shape that legislation, several natural science organizations have requested that the Research and Science Education Subcommittee include science collections in the reauthorization. These organizations, which include The Field Museum, the California Academy of Sciences, Arizona State University, Tulane University Natural History Museum, and the Natural Science Collections Alliance, have requested that the final bill include language establishing an entity that can serve to establish a persistent and formalized federal structure that would consider the needs of federal and non-federal science collections.
Once a bill incorporating the efforts of the various subcommittees is approved by the full Science and Technology Committee, the measure will be considered by the full House of Representatives. Key sources from the Committee have expressed a desire to have the bill voted on by the full House before the Memorial Day recess.
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