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What would happen to science if Mitt won the White House?

House Republican Press Conference on Health Care Reform
I definitely owe my readership this post from a few months back when I was doing a series on the Republican candidates and their viewpoints on scientific research.

My apologies for it being All Quiet on the Blog Front as I prepare to defend and apply for jobs. As a good friend reminded me earlier today: thinking about science policy does, on some strange level, make me happy.

Plus, Romney has pretty much snapped up the nomination and it’s about time we talked a bit about his science stance. Now also the reason that I hadn’t written about this earlier is that it’s pretty difficult to find his thoughts on funding scientific research. But then Paul Ryan and the House Republican Budget came out and this is what Romney said:

Romney: I’m very supportive of the Ryan budget plan. It’s a bold and exciting effort on his part and on the part of the Republicans and it’s very much consistent with what I put out earlier. I think it’s amazing that we have a president who three and a half years in still hasn’t put a proposal out that deals with entitlements. This President’s dealing with entitlement reform — excuse me — this budget deals with entitlement reform, tax policy, which as you know is very similar to the one that I put out and efforts to reign in excessive spending. I applaud it. It’s an excellent piece of work and very much needed.

There has been quite a bit discussed about the large slashes in corporate taxes and government programs that help the poor; but in addition to those detrimental cuts there are also many things in the budget that should be a concern to scientists and those involved in federally funded research.

The Obama Administration specifically listed the programs that involved in science, technology and innovation that the Ryan-Romney budget resolution would cut, with the House Republicans claiming massive duplications, bureaucratic barriers and red tape that are preventing job creation in these sectors.

The House Budget would cut programs within the Department of Energy’s Office of Science that provide the funding for future clean energy technology and advanced manufacturing initiatives. Specifically stating in the Path to Prosperity that renewable-energy interests are only for political gain.

The President has also stifled domestic energy production by blocking or delaying production both onshore and offshore, destroying jobs and idling American energy sources. The stimulus alone allocated $80 billion of taxpayers’ dollars specifically for politically favored renewable-energy interests.

But, in fact, this statement is not true at all, that currently domestic production is at its highest since 2003. This Budget Resolution will reduce the current efforts to develop a clean-energy economy at a time when our international competitors are ramping up their investments. China is the world’s top investor in renewable energy projects investing over $120 billion between 2007-2010.

The House Budget resolution would also be detrimental to agencies like the National Science Foundation (NSF) by cutting the budget of those agencies by almost 10% on average. Cuts to these programs would not only eliminate basic research but as well as education grants and fellowships that help graduate students and postdocs pursue careers in science. OSTP indicates that this would be $670 million below 2012 enacted levels equalling 2,000 fewer competitive grants. But, Path to Prosperity does state that:

This budget would continue funding essential government missions, including energy security and basic research and development, while paring back spending in areas of duplication or non-core functions, such as applied and commercial research or development projects best left to the private sector.

ok, so then my question is where are all of these overflowing private sector investments in research and development and why haven’t they hired me yet? I am a competitive candidate with extensive laboratory skills and I am excited to do cutting-edge research. But what am I doing? I am applying for postdocs. How are postdocs funded? Exactly.

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Green Jobs for the Chemical Industry

Question: Does creating green jobs in the chemical industry promote job growth?

This week a new report was released by the BlueGreen Alliance titled: The Economic Benefits of Green Chemical Industry in the United States. Showcasing that chemistry policy reform  would create jobs and promote innovation. It addresses the concern that many have about chemical policy reform cutting jobs and stifling innovation. The authors demonstrates that innovation in sustainable chemistry would bring new opportunities. The chemical industry is a valuable part of our economic security because of its prevalence in our everyday lives from bringing products to consumers, to mitigating the impact of products on health and the environment. If we can transition to a more sustainable chemical policy, it will reduce the number of hazardous chemicals, promote innovation that will protect people’s heath and the environment.

The authors of the report claim that the current Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976 (TSCA) is weak, making it nearly impossible for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to oversee and regulate the development and marketing of chemicals it has not already proven to be harmful. Last month, Senate Democrats introduced a reformed TSCA that would require the EPA to collect basic health and safety information for 80,000+ chemicals already on the market and new compounds. The authors claim that a stricter TSCA would put US manufacturers on par with Canada and European regulations, forcing the industry to develop more innovative products, leading to new markets. However, as an article in iWatch points out, there needs to be a balance in regulation so that it does not become cumbersome.

Green innovative products are increasingly becoming essential to protect the health and well-being of consumers and the environment; however, perhaps we might need more than the forceful hand of regulations to drive the enduser, investors, buisnesses to want these green products and emerging markets.