FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE | October 11, 2013

American Chemical Society: Federal shutdown undermines US innovation and critical services

WASHINGTON, Oct. 11, 2013 — American Chemical Society President Marinda Li Wu, Ph.D., said the budget impasse is effectively choking America’s science innovation pipeline, strangling new discoveries, future economic growth and job creation.

As a result of the shutdown, the National Science Foundation (NSF) will issue no new grants or cooperative agreements for innovative scientific research, and no continuing grant increments for existing projects will be provided, effectively suspending or completely halting critical research efforts. NSF recalled scientists from the U.S. Antarctic Research Stations on Tuesday; they will lose an entire season of research, which stands to impact hundreds of research projects in which we have already invested millions of dollars.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has had to recall furloughed workers to deal with an outbreak of salmonella that was traced to a poultry producer in California and has sickened hundreds of people in 18 states.

The National Institutes of Health has closed its cancer clinics, interrupting the treatment of hundreds of cancer patients.

And reports indicate that many of the Department of Energy national laboratories will be closing, beginning as early as Oct. 13, if Congress cannot agree to a continuing resolution or a budget.

Federally funded research facilities have proven themselves to be cradles of innovation conducting basic and applied scientific research in such diverse fields as:

  • Improving the energy efficiency of combustion engines;
  • Developing the next generation of biofuels;
  • Understanding emerging, dangerous pathogens that could put our citizens at risk;
  • Engineering rescue robots for national security situations to protect our servicemen and women;
  • Improving cybersecurity at all levels, from private to institutional systems;
  • Designing new lithium-ion batteries for the next generation of vehicles;
  • Advancing sensor technology to detect nuclear, chemical and biological threats;
  • Developing technology and protocols to safely dismantle chemical weapons;
  • Creating new methods to improve medical imaging to detect cancers as soon as possible; and many other areas of research.

“These closures may well be necessary given the current federal impasse, but to shut down a critical part of our nation’s research and innovation pipeline puts our nation at a severe competitive disadvantage globally,” said Wu. “Science cannot fuel our innovation economy without sustained, predictable funding, this we know. A government shutdown that closes the world’s largest research system can lead to unintended negative consequences putting at peril America’s economic growth and long-term stability.

“As president of the American Chemical Society, with a membership of more than 163,000 chemists and engineers — many of whom are supported by federal funding or work at national research facilities — I urge our elected officials to come to terms swiftly and provide the solid economic security we all need.”

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The American Chemical Society is a nonprofit organization chartered by the U.S. Congress. With more than 163,000 members, ACS is the world's largest scientific society and a global leader in providing access to chemistry-related research through its multiple databases, peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences. Its main offices are in Washington, D.C., and Columbus, Ohio.

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