Saturday, February 14, 2009

Stimulating Science - Science Funding in the $787 Billion Economic Stimulus Bill

Science actually came out with a significant increase in new funding as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill passed by Congress this week and expected to be signed by President Obama early next week. Key provisions related to science include:

National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH will get an additional $10 billion spread over two years, ironically, in large part due to lobbying by Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, who as one of only three Republican Senators to vote for the bill had a bit of influence. Specter is a cancer survivor.

Department of Energy Office of Science: The Energy Department will get $1.6 billion for its office of science, which funds research in areas such as biofuels, nuclear physics, fusion energy, high-energy physics, and also climate change, which is expected to become a priority issue for the new administration as well as Secretary Chu.

National Science Foundation (NSF): NSF is the largest government funder of basic research in science and engineering, and will get an additonal $3 billion to provide in grants. ResearchAmerica, an advocacy group, has said the money could create up to 70,000 jobs, many in laboratories at college campuses.

NASA: The space agency received just over $2 billion, with $400 million to be used for its Earth science climate research missions, as well as to increase its supercomputing abilities.

High-speed and inner-city rail: The final version of the bill included $8 billion for improvements in railway capacity and existing infrastructure, key facets of a sustainable future. Another $6.9 billion is alloacated to improve and maintain public transit. On top of that, Amtrak received $1.3 billion for its operations, though there is a stipulation that no more than 60 percent can go to the Northeast Corridor (essentially Washington DC to Boston).

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