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ALERT: Request DOE-Office of Science Support From House

(Posted 11-16-07)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: Each year during the appropriations process, members of Congress may circulate "Dear Colleague" letters, obtain signatures and submit these letters to an appropriations subcommittee in support of a specific program or project. These letters allow members of Congress to demonstrate their support for a program. A large number of signatures indicate strong support for the program discussed in the letter.

Representatives Biggert, Tauscher and Holt are asking their colleagues in the House of Representatives to sign onto a letter to appropriators asking for support for $4.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science in any final fiscal year 2008 (FY08) funding bill. Please contact your Representative by telephone, fax or email and ask them to sign the letter.

Communication with such a positive and simple request provides a great opportunity for members of the Earth science community to also briefly tell Congress about the value and importance of Earth science research. In your brief correspondence, please note that Earth science is a critical component of competitiveness and innovation initiatives put forward by Congress, the Bush Administration and dozens of competitiveness reports, from the National Academies and others. Ask for support for essential increases in federal investments in Earth science research at DOE-Office of Science and other federal agencies.

Representatives Judy Biggert (R-IL), Ellen Tauscher (D-CA), and Rush Holt (D-NJ) circulated a Dear Colleague letter yesterday asking Members of Congress to sign on to a letter to Reps. Peter Visclosky (D-IN) and David Hobson (R-OH), Chair and Ranking Member of the House Appropriations Energy and Water Development Subcommittee. The letter requests their support for $4.5 billion in funding for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science in any final fiscal year 2008 (FY08) funding bill. This is the level approved by the House earlier this year in its version of the FY08 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill.

Member of the Earth science community are urged to encourage Members of Congress to sign this letter, which is aimed at ensuring that the funding proposed for the DOE Office of Science in the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI) and the Democratic "Innovation Agenda" is achieved in FY08.

Please note that Earth science is a critical component of competitiveness and innovation initiatives put forward by Congress, the Bush Administration and dozens of competitiveness reports, from the National Academies and others. Ask for support for essential increases in federal investments in Earth science research at DOE-Office of Science and other federal agencies.
The text of letter that will go to the subcommittee leaders is copied below. House members who would like to sign the letter should contact Paul Doucette in Rep. Biggert's Office at 225-3515, Simon Limage in Rep. Tauscher's Office at 225-1180, or Chris Hartmann in Rep. Holt's Office at 225-5801.

No deadline has been set for signing the letter. The deadline will be determined based upon developments in the appropriations process.

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Text of Dear Colleague Letter from Representatives Biggert, Holt and Tauscher

Dear Chairman Visclosky and Ranking Member Hobson:

Thank you for making basic research funding and economic competitiveness a priority by including $4.5 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Science in the Fiscal Year 2008 (FY08) Energy and Water Appropriations bill approved by the House in July. We share your commitment to increase federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences, and therefore urge you to retain this funding in the final bill for FY08.

As part of their innovation and competitiveness initiatives, Congressional Democrats, Republicans, and President Bush have proposed doubling federal funding for basic research in the physical sciences over the next five to ten years. Because the DOE Office of Science supports over 40 percent of total federal funding for basic physical sciences research - more than any other federal agency - increasing its funding is critical if we are to achieve our shared, bipartisan goal.

We face a world in which our economic competitors in Asia and Europe are making significant new investments in their own research capabilities. These investments are beginning to pay off, as Asian and European countries challenge U.S. leadership in the sciences no matter how it is measured - by number of patents won, articles submitted to scientific journals, degrees awarded, Nobel prizes won, or the percentage of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) dedicated to research and development.

Report after report - from the National Academy of Sciences and the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to the Task Force on the Future of American Innovation and the Council on Competitiveness - has called on Congress and the President to invest in U.S. research capabilities. The benefits of such an investment to the U.S. economy and U.S. competitiveness are well known. Economic experts have concluded that science-driven technology has accounted for more than 50 percent of the growth of the U.S. economy during the last half-century.

Even as we face greater international competition, these are exciting times for science in the United States. There are many great opportunities for scientific discovery, and with adequate funding, the DOE Office of Science will ensure the U.S. retains its dominance in such key scientific fields as biotechnology, nanotechnology, materials science, and supercomputing well into the next century. Leadership in these areas will benefit our health, our environment, our economy, and our national security. And through critical new investments in biofuels research and basic energy science, the DOE Office of Science will continue to play a vital role in developing the knowledge and the technologies essential to ensuring the nation's future energy security.

U.S. scientists are as bright as any in the world, but they traditionally have had better tools than everyone else. The DOE Office of Science has led the way in creating a unique system of large scale, specialized user facilities for scientific discovery. This collection of cutting-edge - often one-of-a-kind - tools makes the DOE Office of Science a unique and
critical component of the federal science portfolio. Other federal science agencies, such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF), greatly depend upon these DOE Office of Science facilities in carrying out their own research activities. Under the President's budget, 21,500 researchers would have access to these DOE facilities. Nearly half of those users will be university faculty and students - many whose research is being supported by other federal agencies - and a significant number will be from U.S. industry.

For these many reasons, we urge you to retain the House-approved funding level of $4.5 billion for the DOE Office of Science in the final FY08 appropriations bill. Furthermore, we urge you to focus this funding on mission-related activities, facilities, and DOE requested activities, and to avoid using core DOE research program budgets to fund projects extraneous to the President's request. With this funding, the DOE Office of Science will attract the best minds, educate the next generation of scientists and engineers, support the construction and operation of modern facilities, and conduct even more of the quality scientific research that will ensure the U.S. retains its competitive edge for many years to come.

Thanks for your continued support for the DOE Office of Science. We are cognizant of the difficult budget situation under which your subcommittee is working, and we urge you to contact us if we may be of assistance in any way.

End of Letter
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To determine who your Representative is, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code+4. The link will also provide the contact information for your Representative, so you can call, fax or email them.

1. Call your Representative's Washington, DC office.

You may obtain the phone number from their official website (via www.house.gov) or you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to Representative [name] office. NOTE: You must know the name of your Representative prior to calling the switchboard; they will not be able to tell you who your member of Congress is.

Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for DOE-Office of Science. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Representative [name] sign the Biggert-Tauscher-Holt DOE-Office of Science Dear Colleague letter. Be prepared to mention how important DOE-Office of Science funding is to your research, academic department/institution, and/or your community. Please note that Earth science is a critical component of competitiveness and innovation initiatives put forward by Congress, the Bush Administration and dozens of competitiveness reports, from the National Academies and others. Ask for support for essential increases in federal investments in Earth science research at DOE-Office of Science and other federal agencies.

Legislative staff are busy, so you may be asked if you would like to leave a voice mail - you do. Simply convey the same information you would have if you spoke to the staffer in person, but be sure to leave your contact information.

2. E-Mail or Fax your Representative

Your Representative's e-mail address and fax number are available on their website at www.house.gov.

Tips for an effective e-mail or fax message:

-Be sure that the subject line in your e-mail is clear: Please sign the Biggert-Tauscher-Holt DOE-Office of Science Dear Colleague, or Request Rep. [name] support increased funding for DOE-Office of Science.

-Be sure that you include your contact information at the top of the e-mail/letter; this must include your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. NOTE: many offices will discard correspondence that does not include contact information, or that comes from outside of their district.

-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you are writing to ask that your Representative to sign the Biggert-Tauscher-Holt DOE-Office of Science Dear Colleague letter. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide the Office of Science with $4.5 billion in FY 2008 funding.

-Briefly explain why DOE-Office of Science funding for basic research is important to you and/or your institution (e.g., only source of funding for your area of research, helps support undergraduate/graduate student research experience, leads to innovation, etc).

-Please note that Earth science is a critical component of competitiveness and innovation initiatives put forward by Congress, the Bush Administration and dozens of competitiveness reports, from the National Academies and others. Ask for support for essential increases in federal investments in Earth science research at DOE-Office of Science and other federal agencies.


DEADLINE:
Please contact your Representative as soon as possible. There is no specific deadline for this letter yet, but things tend to move quickly.
Please fax or e-mail a copy of your letter to AGI at Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502; fax 703-379-7563; email govt@agiweb.org.

Many thanks for taking the time to be an active citizen-scientist!


Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, Government Affairs Staff

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted November 16, 2007


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