National Science Board sets priorities for the National Science Foundation (Credit: NSF)

Looking To The Future: Antarctic Infrastructure And Blue Collar STEM

“As those of us who have been to Antarctica know…” is not a common introductory phrase, but at a panel discussion on research in the region during the first of five meetings of the National Science Board (NSB) this year, a number of speakers and board members reported that they had first met on the remote continent. Hailing from both from academia and industry, the 24-member board is tasked with setting the policies of the National Science Foundation (NSF) and acting as independent advisors to both the president and Congress on science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) policy.

The U.S. Coast Guard Healy Class Icebreaker (Credit: Wikipedia Commons)

Transportation And Infrastructure Lists Priorities For Year Ahead

Like getting their homework assignment in on time, the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure approved their budget views and estimates report last week ahead of the deadline. The report, submitted to the House Committee on the Budget, lays out their plan for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 and identifies priorities within the committee’s jurisdiction, which include the U.S. Coast Guard, maritime vessels and transportation, ports, and inland waterways.

The latest proposed budget cuts are receiving a cold reception from Cognress. (Credit: Pexels)

Bold Plans For Budget Cuts And New Cabinet Confirmations

It was a busy week on Capitol Hill for President Trump, with news on Monday of bold plans for his Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 presidential budget and three of his least contentious Cabinet nominees advancing in the Senate. According to White House officials, the president’s FY 2018 budget proposal (which is slated to be released in full on March 16) would increase military spending by $54 billion and cut nondefense discretionary programs (those funded by Congress on an annual basis, such as education, scientific research, infrastructure, national parks, and environmental protection) by the same amount, worrying agencies that support these programs, including the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the Environmental Protection Agency. While it is not a given that the House and Senate’s appropriation bills align with the president’s budget request, the document serves as a marker for White House priorities and policy initiatives.

The Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2017, passed both chambers last week and now awaits President Obama's signature. (Credit: Greg Bishop/Flickr)

House Defense Budget For Fiscal Year 2017 Released

In the flurry of activity surrounding the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 budget, it might be easy to forget that the FY 2017 appropriations have yet to be finalized. In October and then again in December, Congress went down to the wire in passing short-term continuing resolutions (CR), the latter of which funds the government through April 28 (PL 114-254). Appropriating committees are picking up where they left off last year, with the House Appropriations Committee last week introducing their newest version of the Department of Defense Appropriators Act, 2017 (H.R. 1301).

A number of new bills introduced in this Congress were of relevance to the ocean science community. One relates to ocean acification research.(Credit: NOAA)

New Congress Means New Legislation

In a scene more appropriate for a college laboratory than the Capitol building (lab safety protocols aside), Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (RI) measured pH on the Senate floor during an ocean acidification demonstration. The act...

The House Agriculture Committee passed a bill that deregulates pesticides near waterways. (Credit: Shannon Bond/USEPA/Flickr)

Pest Regulations

It’s likely that the downstream impact of chemicals is not the first thing on a farmer’s mind while battling dangerous pests. But the fact remains that chemicals applied on land do work their way into our nation’s waterways. The U.S. House Committee on Agriculture approved two bills including one that would simplify the approval and application of pesticides.

Stakeholders from the transportation sector advise the Senate Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety, and Securityon future transportation plans. (Credit: Alfvan Beem/Wikimedia commons)

Fair Share Wanted For Transportation Spending

Like a hungry group eyeing a delicious pie, stakeholders in the transportation sector are anticipating big moves from Congress and the administration, and they all want their fair share. To this end, the 115th Congress has had a busy start with several hearings focused on modernizing our country’s infrastructure.

The future of NASA will focus on space exploration, while climate and Earth science programs are uncertain. (Credit: Grevera / Wikimedia Commons)

We Choose To Go To The Moon

This week, students and coders in 20 cities across the country voluntarily gathered to collect and back up copies of federal climate data, while on Capitol Hill, lawmakers discussed the future of the Earth Science Mission at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The mission monitors more than a dozen earth science satellites that provide data on the ocean, atmosphere, and biosphere and account for about $2 billion of NASA’s $20 billion budget.