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Issue Position: Space and Science

Issue Position

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As Chairman on the Science and Technology Committee one of my primary goals has been to ensure that taxpayer dollars are being spent wisely and efficiently. In the current economic climate it is imperative that we keep a critical eye toward cost and set priorities that will get the most out of limited taxpayer dollars. When appropriate, I have and will continue to offer cost-saving amendments to make certain Federal programs are run as efficiently as possible. I will oppose legislation that would create unnecessary new government spending and offer amendments to:

· Minimize duplicative research
· Ensure State, local and tribal governments do not incur unfunded Federal mandates
· Reduce authorization levels
· Increase merit based awarding of research grants
· Add sunset provisions to bills in order to ensure that programs do not continue indefinitely, and produce worthwhile results for the American taxpayer

While cutting unnecessary spending is important, it is equally important to prioritize programs that provide a good return on investment. NASA, whose budget represents only one half of one percent of the total federal budget, is estimated to contribute $257 billion/year to the U.S. economy and provide approximately half-a-million skilled American jobs through NASA programs and the contractors who support them.

It is vital that America continues to support an ambitious space program. On the 40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing, it is clear that America's leadership in exploration and research translates into economic opportunities, national security, secure manufacturing jobs, and an increased standard of living for all Americans.

On May 7, 2009, the Administration called for a review of options for the future of human space flight.

Mr. Norman Augustine, the review panel's lead author, testified before the Committee laying out the panel's central findings:

"In the opinion of this Committee, NASA has for too long sought to operate in an environment where means do not match ends. In the unforgiving arena of human space flight this is a particularly hazardous policy to embrace… with the existing budget plan The Committee concludes that no rational exploratory program can be funded under the existing funding constraint and that plans for America's space exploration program would de facto be halted and human operations limited to low earth orbit."

With an impending five-year gap in U.S. spaceflight capability following retirement of the Space Shuttle at the end of 2010 or in early 2011, the U.S. will likely have to rely on Russia and our international partners to ferry crew and cargo to and from the International Space Station. I believe the gap can be minimized with a renewed commitment to space exploration.

America and our global partners have nearly completed the International Space Station (ISS), which is possibly the most elaborate complex and demanding engineering endeavor of all time. And NASA has made great progress in developing the Orion crew vehicle and the Ares launch systems. I will continue to support a robust manned spaceflight program at NASA because I believe our space program provides a great return on our investment.

The Committee will be reauthorizing NASA in 2010.

In June, the Science Committee marked up H.R. 2407, legislation creating a National Climate Service at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This bill was then included in H.R. 2454, the Waxman/Markey Cap and Trade bill, which I voted against.

Especially when considered in the broader context of a national energy tax, I raised several concerns with the creation of a climate service within NOAA:

· Cost -- the Congressional Budget Office estimates that H.R. 2407 could cost anywhere from $1.4 - $2.4 billion, depending on how the authorization language is interpreted;
· Massive bureaucratic expansion - The interagency structure grants broad, sweeping authority to the Executive branch with little Congressional input. Such a vague structure could evolve into a defacto agency;
· Indistinct language -- The bill could allow for significant expansion of the service beyond the intended purpose of advancing the understanding of climate variability at the national, regional and local levels;
· Non-peer reviewed data -- The bill does not require climate model data to be peer reviewed before dissemination by the Federal government -- this could lead to decisions being made based on poor science.

I will continue to encourage adequate climate monitoring and verification systems are in place prior to considering government action to address emissions.

* Americans need and deserve quality climate information based on accurate and verifiable science.
* Climate model data and information should be peer reviewed by qualified specialists before dissemination by the Federal government.
* It is essential for decision makers to know the base-line assumptions and information included in climate models before determining the appropriate course of action to take in response to climate variability.

During Committee consideration of H.R. 2407, the National Climate Service Act of 2009, the Majority repeatedly rejected GOP amendments that would ensure the accuracy and verifiability of data and information from all observing, monitoring and measuring systems.

Lessons from the Climate-Gate Scandal

Recent events have uncovered extensive evidence from the Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia in England, which involved many climate researchers across the globe discussing the destruction, alteration and suppression of data that did not support global warming claims. Leaked email exchanges detail attempts to alter data that is the basis of climate modeling. These exchanges reveal actions that constitute a serious breach of scientific ethics.

This scandal made it clear that I was correct in a call for better monitoring and verification infrastructure.

In response to Climate-Gate, I, along with 11 Committee Republicans, introduced H.Res. 954, a resolution expressing the Sense of the House of Representatives that certain scientific protocols and standards should be honored prior to the United States considering and official action to address climate change.

The signing of an international agreement or taking other official government action based on questionable science could undermine our economic growth and kill American jobs.

Exploring Implications of a "Cap and Trade" Regulatory Regime

* By 2035, cap and trade would reduce aggregate gross domestic product by $7.4 trillion. (Heritage Foundation)
* In an average year, 844,000 jobs would be destroyed. (Heritage Foundation)
* The cost to the average farmer would be $175 on every dairy cow and $80 for beef cattle. (The American Farm Bureau)

Cap and trade would require accurate scientific observations, monitoring, and verification of emissions of greenhouse gases in order to gauge the effectiveness of the regulation. Such monitoring and verification systems are not in place, so it would be impossible to evaluate the effectiveness of cap and trade.

The National Academy of Sciences has reported that deficiencies in the national climate observing systems seriously limit the quality of data and information used in climate models.

Technologies to address carbon emissions are not commercially available and won't be for decades to come, yet our economy will suffer immediately.

Carbon capture and sequestration (CCS), which many hope would provide a means for industry to reduce their emissions, is still in the research phase and has not been demonstrated on a commercial scale. Experts predict CCS technologies will take at least a decade before they will be ready.

In a hearing before the Science and Technology Committee, Energy Secretary Steven Chu described what cap and trade will really accomplish:

· Energy prices will increase
· Costs will be passed on to consumers
· The U.S. will be at a disadvantage to other nations
· The Government will need to impose duties on imported goods

Improving Energy Efficiency and Promoting Energy Independence

I believe that we need all forms of energy in order to advance energy independence. I have been successful in passing legislation supporting energy efficient technologies and alternative fuels, along with offering amendments to support clean coal, coal-to-liquid technologies and nuclear power.

On September 9, 2009, the House overwhelmingly passed H.R. 445, the Heavy Duty Hybrid Vehicle Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 2009, a bill I co-sponsored that came through the Science and Technology Committee.

· The bill funds research and development (R&D) of hybrid technologies for medium and heavy duty trucks, creating grants for manufacturers to build, test, and ultimately sell plug-in utility and delivery trucks.
· Plug-in hybrid trucks would use less fuel, potentially lowering the amount of fuel used by up to 60%.

Further, under my leadership, Science Republicans successfully offered amendments to improve H.R. 3585, the Solar Technology Roadmap Act. These amendments helped to ensure efficient use of taxpayer dollars while remaining competitive with other nations and moving toward energy independence. The legislation requires industry, academia, and government researchers to develop a long-term roadmap that will advance U.S. clean energy alternatives.

On July 8, 2009, The House approved H.R. 2965, a bill reauthorizing the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs. These programs support innovation at small high-tech American firms and aim to promote the economic welfare of the Nation. The bill passed by a vote of 386-41.

With 12 participating agencies and total funding in excess of $2.3 billion, the SBIR and STTR programs serve to facilitate increased private sector commercialization of promising research, while helping the government advance its R&D goals and meet its technology needs.

I have long believed that wealth is not created by government, but rather in the private sector by risk-taking, entrepreneurial Americans with ideas and capital.

Small firms:

· Employ 41% of high tech workers, such as scientists,
engineers, and computer workers;
· Employ half of all private sector employees; and
· Produce 13 to 14 times more patents per employee
than large patenting firms.[1]

Accordingly, America's high tech small businesses are well equipped to drive the economic turnaround and the SBIR program supports them in that effort.

· The cost to train and equip a firefighter is approximately $7,400[2]

· There are over 30,000 fire departments in the United States, over 70% of which are staffed entirely by volunteers[3]

On October 21, 2009, the Science and Technology Committee reauthorized the Assistance to Firefighter Grant (AFG) and the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) Grant programs, together referred to as the FIRE grants.

FEMA administers the FIRE grants, which are competitively awarded based on peer review recommendations of fire service members.

In rural and many suburban areas, communities rely heavily upon volunteer departments. The equipment needed to fight fires and save lives and property is costly, and requires departments to have certain minimum response capabilities regardless of whether they are protecting a community of a few thousand people or a large city of a few hundred thousand people.

Firefighter grants have proven absolutely vital for rural and volunteer fire departments that have small tax bases and the least ability to acquire such equipment.

The Committee unanimously approved legislation reauthorizing these programs, which subsequently passed the House on November 18, 2009.

Assessing the Condition of our Nation's Research Universities

The America COMPETES Act passed by the Science Committee in the 110th Congress and signed into law by President Bush, helped set the framework to keep America a leader in innovation.

America's research universities drive the innovation that has made America an economic superpower.

I, along with three other Congressional leaders, recently asked the National Academies to form a distinguished panel to assess the competitive position of the Nation's research universities, and to answer the following question:

"What are the top ten actions that Congress, state governments, research universities, and others could take to assure the ability of the American research university to maintain the excellence in research and doctoral education needed to help the United States compete, prosper, and achieve national goals for health, energy, the environment, and security in the global community of the 21st century?"

Nanotechnology: Early in the 111th Congress, the House passed H.R. 554, which I co-sponsored, reauthorizing the National Nanotechnology Initiative, the Nation's federal nanotechnology R&D program.

NITRD: The House also passed H.R. 2020, the Networking and Information Technology Research and Development (NITRD) Act of 2009, which I also co-sponsored. NITRD provides the primary mechanism by which the federal government coordinates this nation's more than 3 billion dollars of unclassified networking and information technology (NIT)
R&D investments.

Cybersecurity: The Committee has held several hearings on the Nation's cybersecurity in order to assess the challenges and has considered legislation to better secure computer networks.

Improving the K-12 System
On June 8, 2009, the House passed H.R. 1709, the STEM Education Coordination Act, establishing a Committee under NSTC to better coordinate federal STEM activities.

The Committee continued to hold STEM hearings covering a range of issues in an effort to improve and grow the Nation's future STEM workforce.

The Committee Vice-Ranking Member introduced a resolution which I co-sponsored supporting computer science and the designation of a National Computer Science Education Week to raise awareness about the challenges facing computer science education.

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