America COMPETES Reauthorization Incapacitates Geoscience Research

American Geophysical Union Denounces Bill, Says Congress Should Reject and Return to Success of Previous Models

22 April 2015


AGU Release No. 15-27
For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C.—The following statement is attributable to American Geophysical Union (AGU) Executive Director/CEO Christine McEntee. AGU represents more than 60,000 Earth and space scientists worldwide.

“When we invest in geoscience research the knowledge we gain helps to save lives, create jobs, support economic competitiveness, and promote national security for millions of Americans and businesses. Despite these obvious returns on our investment, the current America COMPETES Reauthorization (H.R. 1806) critically underfunds the National Science Foundation’s Geoscience Directorate (GEO)—which funds 61 percent of all basic geoscience research at universities—and makes damaging cuts to the energy programs at the Department of Energy. That’s why AGU opposes the bill in its current form. Instead, we call on Congress to reject the bill and instead support a COMPETES Act that builds off of previous efforts, truly works to advance U.S. science, technology, engineering and mathematics enterprises, and that could garner bi-partisan support.

Rather than building on the success of the two previous COMPETES acts, the new bill jeopardizes America’s leadership in Earth and space science, by funding the GEO directorate at eight percent below FY15 levels.

The bill also stifles America’s capacity for energy independence by cutting funding for research that benefits current and emerging energy technologies and resources. And it’s important to remember that the GEO directorate funded much of the immediate and long-term scientific response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, providing a clear benefit to coastal communities and all others affected.

The current version also sets precedents that will limit NSF’s flexibility and nimbleness in deploying its funds. Allocations are typically made in larger, cross-cutting areas, such as research and related activities, education and human resources, or major research equipment and facilities construction, not by individual directorates. Under the current proposal, NSF would be forced to take its direction regarding priorities from Congress instead of relying on the National Science Board, the National Research Council, and the broader science community to drive its basic and applied research portfolios.

The issues supported by the GEO directorate at NSF are not red state or blue state issues, but benefit all Americans.  We intend to work to improve the COMPETES bill going forward to ensure that it adequately addresses our concerns.”

The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing more than 60,000 members in 139 countries. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.

###


AGU Contact:

Joan Buhrman: 202-777-7509, 571-213-3812 (c), jbuhrman@agu.org