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AIBS Public Policy Report

AIBS Public Policy Report, Volume 24, Issue 2, January 17, 2023

  • New Congressional Committee Leadership
  • White House Announces New Scientific Integrity Framework
  • Biden Administration Previews Regulatory Agenda
  • Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day
  • Kick-off Webinar & Discussion: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement
  • Deadline Approaching: 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award
  • Short Takes
    • New EPA Database on PFAS Chemicals
    • House Science Chair Proposes to Make NOAA Independent
  • From the Federal Register
 

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks. Any interested party may self-subscribe to receive these free reports by email.

With proper attribution to AIBS, all material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. AIBS staff appreciates receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Jyotsna Pandey, at 202-628-1500 x 225.

 

New Congressional Committee Leadership

The start of the 118th Congress brought major changes to the congressional committees with jurisdiction over research and science education.  Republicans gained control of the U.S. House of Representatives in the November elections, which means that all House committees have new Republican chairs.  In general, the former Democratic chairs have retained their positions as their party’s top committee position, known as a Ranking Member.

At the helm of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee is Representative Frank Lucas (R-OK).  In the announcement of his selection as chair, Lucas stated a goal of the U.S. remaining “...the world’s leader in science and technology…, renewing our leadership in space and aeronautics, [and] researching ways to make American energy cleaner and more affordable…”  He also highlighted the committee’s “history of bipartisan work” and his hopes to “continue to have a productive and collaborative relationship with our colleagues across the aisle.”  Lucas served as Ranking Member since 2019 and previously chaired the House Agriculture Committee from 2011-2015.  Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) is the new Democratic Ranking Member.  She replaces Eddie Bernice Johnson, who did not seek reelection to Congress, as the top Democrat on the committee.

The House Appropriations Committee is now chaired by Representative Kay Granger (R-TX).  Granger has served on the committee for more than 20 years and is the first Republican woman to chair the committee.  Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), who chaired the committee during the last term of Congress, is now the Ranking Member.

Representative Glenn “GT” Thompson of Pennsylvania is the new chair of the House Committee on Agriculture.  He was previously the ranking Republican on the committee.  The former chair, Representative David Scott (D-GA), will remain the top ranking Democrat.  Key subcommittees with jurisdiction over agricultural science will be led by Representatives Doug LaMalfa (R-CA) and Jim Baird (R-IN).

The House Committee on Natural Resources will continue to be led by the same pair of Representatives, with Bruce Westerman (R-AR) as chair and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) as Ranking Member.

Similarly, the House Energy and Commerce Committee flipped its top members in leadership positions.  Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) became chair after serving as Ranking Member for the past two years.  Former chair Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) remains as the top Democrat on the committee.

The Senate has not yet announced its committee leadership, nor have many subcommittee chairs been announced yet in the House.

 

White House Announces New Scientific Integrity Framework

The Biden Administration released a new framework for scientific integrity to protect government scientists from political influence.

For the first time ever, the federal government is using a universal definition of ‘scientific integrity’ across all agencies.  “Scientific integrity is the adherence to professional practices, ethical behavior, and the principles of honesty and objectivity when conducting, managing, using the results of, and communicating about science and scientific activities.  Inclusivity, transparency, and protection from inappropriate influence are hallmarks of scientific integrity.”

Agencies will also be required to designate a scientific integrity official.  Other elements of the framework include a model scientific integrity policy and a roadmap for agency actions.

The framework builds on a January 2022 publication by the National Science and Technology Council, which flagged areas of potential improvement and consistency across government agencies.

Additionally, the Council recently created a Subcommittee on Scientific Integrity, which will advise federal agencies on their scientific integrity policies and practices.

 

Biden Administration Previews Regulatory Agenda

The White House Office of Management and Budget released its 2022 Unified Regulatory Agenda and Regulatory Plan, which outlines actions federal agencies will be considering in the coming months.  Among the hundreds of proposed regulations are several by science agencies.

The National Park Service plans to finalize revisions to the regulations implementing the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.  According to the information released by the agency, “The proposed rule responds to regular and repeated requests for regulatory revisions and would reduce the regulatory burden on all parties by streamlining requirements in accessible language with clear timelines, removing ambiguity, and improving efficiency.”  This rule was previously included in the Unified Agenda but is still in the proposed rule stage.

Another returning item is a proposal by the National Science Foundation regarding the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program.  Specifically, the agency wants to clear up the process of converting scholarships to student loans when a scholarship recipient fails to meet their required post-graduation teaching service obligations.

The U.S. Forest Service is considering regulations to allow for underground carbon sequestration and storage on National Forest System lands.

The Department of Agriculture is looking to clarify the application process and procedures for administering the Urban, Indoor, and Emerging Agriculture competitive grant program.

 

Participate in the 2023 AIBS Congressional Visits Day

Join the American Institute of Biological Sciences on April 24-26, 2023 for our annual Congressional Visits Day in Washington, DC.  We are going back to the in-person format in 2023 after holding this event virtually in 2021 and 2022.

Meet with your members of Congress to help them understand the important role the federal government plays in supporting the biological sciences. Advocate for federal investments in biological sciences research supported by the National Science Foundation and other federal agencies.

Participants will complete a communications and advocacy training program provided by AIBS that prepares them to be effective advocates for their science. AIBS will provide participants with background information and materials, as well as arrange meetings with lawmakers on April 26.

Who should participate?

Scientists, graduate students, educators, or other science community members who are interested in advocating for scientific research and education are encouraged to participate in this important event.

The ideal participant will:

  • Have an interest in science policy.
  • Work in a scientific profession or be enrolled in graduate school.
  • Be able to speak about the importance of biological research funded by federal agencies (e.g. NSF, NIH, USDA).
  • Provide compelling examples from their own experiences.

Training

The event includes a free, half-day training session on how to be an effective advocate for science policy. This training session will be held on April 25, 2023 and is mandatory for everyone who will be participating in congressional meetings.

Additionally, participants have the option to attend the highly acclaimed AIBS Communications Boot Camp for Scientists. This training course will be held in Washington, DC on April 24-25, 2023. This professional development program provides practical instruction and interactive exercises designed to help scientists (e.g. researchers, graduate students, administrators, educators) translate scientific information for non-technical audiences and to effectively engage with decision-makers and the news media. All participants who complete this optional training will receive priority access to the Congressional Visits Day and a certificate of completion indicating that they have successfully completed 16 hours of communications training. Click here for more information, including cost, for this two-day training program.

Registration

Express your interest in participating in the event by registering. Registration closes on March 13, 2023.  Space is limited and we encourage you to register early.  If registrations exceed program capacity, AIBS may prioritize registrants based on participation in the boot camp training, geographic diversity, and other factors.  Register now.

 

Kick-off Webinar & Discussion: The Need for a Specimen Management Plan Requirement

Please join representatives from the Biodiversity Collections Network (BCoN) and the U.S. Culture Collection Network (USCCN) for a joint webinar discussion on the need for a Specimen Management Plan requirement in research proposals that generate living or preserved specimens. Recommended by the National Academies’ report on biological collections in 2020, this requirement is now supported by the recently enacted CHIPS and Science Act.  Join us for a discussion about the elements of a specimen management plan and its benefits to various stakeholder communities.

Location: Online via Zoom (The program will be recorded)
Date: Tuesday, February 7, 2023
Time: 2:00 PM - 3:00 PM ET

Hosted by: American Institute of Biological Sciences & Natural Science Collections Alliance

Register now

 

Deadline Approaching: 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award

Are you a science graduate student looking to make a difference in science policy and funding? The American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS) is now accepting applications for the 2023 Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award.  This award recognizes graduate students in the biological sciences who are demonstrating an interest and aptitude for working at the intersection of science and policy.

Recipients of the AIBS Emerging Public Policy Leadership Award receive:

  • A trip to Washington, DC, to participate in the AIBS Congressional Visits Day, an annual event where scientists meet with lawmakers to advocate for federal investment in the biological sciences, with a primary focus on the National Science Foundation. The event will be held on April 24-26, 2023. Domestic travel and hotel expenses are paid for the winners.
  • Policy and communications training, including information on the legislative process, trends in federal science funding, and how to engage with policymakers and the news media.
  • Meetings with congressional policymakers to discuss the importance of federal investment in the biological sciences.
  • A one-year online subscription to the journal BioScience.

The 2023 award is open to U.S. citizens and U.S. permanent residents enrolled in a graduate degree program in the biological sciences, science education, or a closely allied field.  Applicants should have a demonstrated interest in and commitment to science policy and/or science education policy.  Prior recipients are not eligible for the award. 

Applications are due by 05:00 PM Eastern Time on January 18, 2023. Learn more about how to apply.

 

Short Takes

  • The Environmental Protection Agency launched a new online database on PFAS, so-called “forever chemicals.”  The website is the first compilation of data on PFAS spills, permitted sources, and testing of drinking water so that “communities gain a better understanding of local PFAS sources,” according to an agency spokesperson.
  • The new chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, Frank Lucas, wants to make the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) an independent agency.  NOAA currently is part of the Department of Commerce.  Chair Lucas believes the reform would make NOAA less subject to political pressure from both political parties.  The proposal would also move NOAA’s programs on endangered species to the Department of the Interior.  Lucas introduced legislation late in the last term of Congress; the bill must be reintroduced in the current session to be considered.
 

From the Federal Register

The following items appeared in the Federal Register from January 3 to 13, 2023. 

Agriculture

Energy

Environmental Protection Agency

Health and Human Services

Interior

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

National Science Foundation

 

The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a non-profit 501(c)3 public charity organization that advances the biological sciences for the benefit of science and society. AIBS works with like-minded organizations, funding agencies, and political entities to promote the use of science to inform decision-making. The organization does this by providing peer-reviewed or vetted information about the biology field and profession and by catalyzing action through building the capacity and the leadership of the community to address matters of common concern.

Founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences, AIBS became an independent, member-governed organization in the 1950s. Today, AIBS has more than 100 member organizations and has a Public Policy Office in Washington, DC. Its staff members work to achieve its mission by publishing the peer-reviewed journal BioScience, by providing scientific peer-review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients, and by collaborating with scientific organizations to advance public policy, education, and the public understanding of science.

Website: www.aibs.org.

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