WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2013 — With the U.S. Senate poised this week to revisit S. 1392, the Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013, the American Chemical Society (ACS) announced its support for the bill as part of a larger, legislative science agenda for 2013.
“The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act will not only provide important energy-saving incentives, but it will also stimulate markets for energy-efficient products such as insulating foams, efficient motors and transformers, solar panels, and house wrap,” said ACS President Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D. “I am pleased to see our elected officials taking up bi-partisan legislation with the potential for long-term national energy benefits.”
“In fact, this fall, our elected officials have the potential to greatly improve the state of science and engineering, by addressing four key areas of legislation,” said Wu.
These key areas include:
- The Energy Savings and Industrial Competitiveness Act of 2013: popularly known as the Shaheen-Portman bill, this legislation would rewrite national building codes – voluntary standards that are generally used by states and municipalities – with the aim of fostering great energy savings. The bill would also establish education programs to train workers in energy-efficient building design and installation of energy-efficient products and technologies. The bill provides incentives for using highly efficient motors, transformers, and sets goals for the federal government – the single largest consumer of energy.
- The Federal Helium Program: Two bills are of concern: HR 527, which was sponsored by U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-WA) and passed by the House with bipartisan support, and S. 783, which was sponsored by U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and is awaiting Senate action. While both bills have been debated throughout the summer, elected officials have been unable to come to terms. We have now reached a critical stage.
In August, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management, which provides 30 percent of the world’s helium, indicated that supplies would begin to be curtailed by mid-September unless funding is found and otherwise on Oct. 7 unless a new law is passed. With the world’s second largest supplier of helium currently down for maintenance, available helium could drop suddenly by 50 percent. Helium is critical to many functions: including MRIs, heart surgery, processing of computer chips, building rocket engines, and conducting scientific research.
- The Research and Development Tax Credit: The R&D Tax Credit is a general business tax credit for companies that incur expenses in the process of conducting research and development of new products and processes. Originally introduced in Economic Recovery Tax Act of 1981, the credit has been allowed to expire eight times and has been extended fourteen times. The current extension expires on December 31, 2013. The R&D tax credit is a crucial incentive for fostering innovation, particularly in connection with fostering new technologies and expanding high-value manufacturing. However, a tax credit that is unpredictable is not nearly beneficial in stimulating the economy. Most other nations have a permanent R&D tax credit; ACS believes strongly that the U.S. needs a permanent R&D tax credit in order to be globally competitive.
- America COMPETES Act: Originally passed in 2007 and reauthorized in 2010, the legislation has helped support the science, technology and innovation enterprise that underpins U.S. economic growth and job creation. COMPETES has provided critical funding for basic scientific research through the federal agencies, fueling America’s research universities, developing discoveries and technological advances, and leading to important new innovations. COMPETES has also provided the means to strengthen a wide range of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs at all levels, from K-12 through graduate education. Sustained and predictable support for science, engineering and technology is essential for a healthy U.S. economy. It is important that this Congress reauthorize COMPETES in 2013.
“These areas of legislation represent very different needs of science, but all are important,” said Wu. “Solving the helium crisis is urgent. We cannot afford to disrupt manufacturing, research, healthcare, and other sectors of our economy. Neither can we expect a strong economy if we do not provide the incentive to innovate the R&D tax credit provides or the sustained support for discovery that COMPETES provides our innovation economy.”
ACS holds formal policy positions on U.S. Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Science and Technology in the FY2013 Budget, the U.S. Business Climate, Science Education Policy and Energy Policy.
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