On August 17, 2009, during the 237th ACS National Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., members of the Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee (GAC) visited Capitol Hill to meet with Congressional staff. Since the ACS meeting was taking place in Washington, D.C., the Congressional visits had a dual purpose. In addition to advocating for ACS policy positions, the Congressional meetings were part of the Committee on Chemistry and Public Affairs (CCPA) training sessions for ACS members who were interested in learning the process for organizing meetings with elected officials. During one of these training sessions, the Delaware Section GAC was fortunate to meet Dr. Juliet Hahn from the Department of Chemistry at Delaware State University. Dr. Hahn joined Narmada Gunawardena, Al Denio, and John Gavenonis for visits to the offices of Senator Thomas R. Carper and Congressman Michael N. Castle.
In Senator Carper’s office, Delaware Section members met with Ms. Jennifer Kane, Legislative Aide for environmental policy. During the meeting, the Delaware Section inquired about S.575 Clean, Low-Emission, Affordable, New Transportation Efficiency Act (CLEAN-TEA) and S.849 A bill to require the Administrator of the EPA to conduct a study on black carbon emissions. Both bills are sponsored by Senator Carper. CLEAN-TEA, which aims to reduced green-house gases emissions arising from transportation, is currently in the Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) and appears to have reasonable support among EPW members. Similar legislation is also in the House (H.R.1329). S.849 has been reported by EPW for consideration by the Senate as a whole. This bill has wide support in the Senate and is expected to pass. Ms. Kane expects broader climate change legislation to be referred from EPW later this year, likely before the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December. Climate change legislation is expected to include significant additional funding for science R&D. However, the Senate as a whole is unlikely to act on this legislation until 2010.
In Congressman Castle’s office, the Delaware contingent met with Ms. Jessica Gross, Legislative Assistant for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) policy. The Section members thanked Congressman Castle’s office for voting in favor of H.R.1709 STEM Education Coordination Act of 2009 and asked for Congressman Castle’s support of H.R.2710 Enhancing STEM Education Act of 2009. H.R.1709 passed the House and is currently awaiting action in the Senate. Congressman Castle views improving STEM education as a key component of American competitiveness. While Congressman Castle did not support the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, he is working to secure as much ARRA funding as possible for R&D activities in Delaware.
The Delaware Section Government Affairs Committee thanks Senator Carper, Congressman Castle, Ms. Jennifer Kane, and Ms. Jessica Gross for taking the time to discuss policy items of interest to ACS.