The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology today approved two important bills that coordinate and prioritize federal research expenditures. H.R. 3199, introduced by the Committee's Vice Chairman, Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to coordinate with the National Academy of Sciences to comprehensively assess scientific and technical research on gasoline blends with 15 percent ethanol, commonly referred to as E15, before such fuels may be approved for consumer use.
"I am pleased that the Committee voted today to put science before politics," Sensenbrenner said. "When it comes to a decision of this magnitude that would impact every American who owns a car, boat, or lawnmower, we must base our decisions on sound science, not political expediency. The Administration has fast tracked E15 without considering that increasing the percentage of ethanol in our gasoline will cause premature engine failure, lower fuel efficiency, and void vehicle warranties. In small engines, E15 is downright dangerous and the EPA has no credible plan to stop mis-fueling. If ethanol is going to be the "fuel of the future,' then there should be no problem conducting independent, comprehensive scientific analysis of its effect on American drivers."
A diverse group of 31 organizations ranging from Friends of the Earth to the American Petroleum Institute to the Milk Producers Council signed a letter in support of H.R. 3199, urging further study of E15 before EPA permits its use. The Committee approved the bill by a vote of 19-7.
The Committee also unanimously approved H.R. 3834, a bipartisan bill introduced by Chairman Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Ranking Member Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), along with Research and Science Education Subcommittee Chairman Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Ranking Member Daniel Lipinski (D-IL), and Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), which reauthorizes the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Act. The NITRD program, now in its 20th year, represents the federal government's central R&D investment portfolio for unclassified networking, computing, software, cybersecurity, and related information technologies.
"I would like to point out that our efforts on this bill have been a true illustration of the bipartisan work for which this Committee and this Congress is capable," said Chairman Hall.
Networking and information technology includes an array of evolving technologies from smart phones to cloud computing. Among its many goals, NITRD works to minimize and prevent disruptions to critical infrastructures like power grids and emergency communication systems.
"These investments are necessary not only to help maintain world leadership in science and engineering and strengthen U.S. competitiveness, but also to grow the economy through the creation of networking and information technology jobs and enhance national security," Chairman Brooks said. "I applaud the Committee's approval of this important bipartisan legislation."
Rep. Biggert added: "The NITRD program provides critical support for some of the most promising research on the high-end computing horizon. American scientists are using these computing technologies to accelerate the pace of research on everything from new energy sources to new medicines. I applaud Chairman Hall for his bipartisan work on this proposal, which will reauthorize and strengthen the NITRD program for the 21st century."