House Science Committee Announces Priorities For the 115th Congress

2017-02-06T14:43:11+00:00 February 6, 2017|
Majority Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology target reforms at EPA, DOE, and NASA as well as STEM education  (Credit: Peter Kratochvil/PublicDomainPictures.net)

(Click to enlarge) Majority Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology target reforms at EPA, DOE, and NASA as well as STEM education (Credit: Peter Kratochvil/PublicDomainPictures.net)

Republicans on the Committee on Science, Space, and Technology announced their top five priorities for the 115th Congress, with Chairman Lamar Smith (TX-21) emphasizing the creation of “transparent environmental policies based on sound science and focused on innovation rather than regulation.”

The first priority stresses cutting red tape and using sound science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The committee will revisit two laws passed by the House last Congress (H.R. 1029, the Science Advisory Board Reform Act, and H.R. 1030, the Secret Science Reform Act) and will examine the social cost of carbon, a metric used by the EPA and other federal agencies (as directed by Executive Order 12866) to value how agency rules affect climate.

The committee also aims to make reforms at the Department of Energy (DOE) and the DOE national labs to increase partnerships with the private sector. While basic research will still be prioritized, reforms will be made “to ensure the Department of Energy spends limited federal research dollars on discovery science that the private sector cannot conduct” and will prioritize investment in user facilities and research infrastructure. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) investment will ensure our nation’s leading role in space exploration and space science (but no mention is made of Earth science). Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) initiatives will be a priority, with STEM, the READ Act, and major facilities reforms “addressed under the paradigm of the National Science Foundation (NSF).” Reauthorizing of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) programs will prioritize labs and vulnerable technologies that lead to cyberattacks. Cybersecurity will also be addressed through government-wide oversight. The committee’s activities during the 114th Congress grew increasingly partisan; it remains to be seen if the 115th will be similar.