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ACS News

ACS updates immigration policy statement, adds environmental and community health

The changes show support for simplifying visa processes and allow the ACS government affairs team to work with legislatures on environmental justice issues

by Sara Cottle
February 17, 2024 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 102, Issue 5

Image of the US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Credit: Shutterstock
The US Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. is seat to the legislative branch of the federal government.

In 1994, President Bill Clinton signed Executive Order 12898, Federal Actions to Address Environmental Justice in Minority Populations and Low-Income Populations. This order, among other initiatives, created the Interagency Working Group on Environmental Justice, which for the past 30 years has been working to address the negative human health and environmental effects of federal programs and policies. April 2023 signaled a renewed commitment to environmental justice from the highest level of government with the signing of Executive Order 14096, Revitalizing Our Nation’s Commitment to Environmental Justice for All, by President Joe Biden.

At the American Chemical Society, the Committee on Environment and Sustainability( CES) created a new statement that was adopted as official ACS policy. The statement, “ Environmental and Community Health and the Chemical Enterprise, ” will allow ACS’s government affairs team to work with legislators and regulators to cover environmental justice issues.

“The ACS’s new policy on environmental justice and equity enables ACS to collaborate with federal agencies on EJ&E challenges,” says Elise Fox, immediate past chair of CES. “The chemical enterprise helped create many of these issues, but also has a unique role in helping solve them to create safer and healthier communities for all.”

Policy statements summarize ACS’s official positions on important issues and are developed by committees with member input.

In addition to the newly accepted environmental policy, what were previously two separate statements, “Visa Restrictions” and “Workforce-Related Immigration,” were updated to an inclusive “ Visas for Immigration, Scientific Collaboration, and Academic Study. ”

Other updated statements include “ Intellectual Property, ” “ Sustainability and the Chemistry Enterprise, ” and “ Critical Materials. ” Four statements were renewed without change: “ A Competitive US Business Climate: Innovation, Chemistry, and Jobs, ” “ Science and Technology in the Budget, ” “ Freedom of International Scientific Exchange, ” and “ Scientific Integrity in Public Policy. ”

Statements approved by the ACS Board of Directors are active for 3 years, after which they are then renewed or retired. With recent changes, ACS now has 24 active policy statements. These positions are categorized into four areas: innovation through research and technology, science education and workforce, sustainability and the environment, and science in the public policy arena.

The society also released its 2024 public policy agenda on Feb. 5. ACS plans to collaborate with and will encourage the US Congress and the Biden administration to support chemistry research through continued funding; to elevate science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education and improve workforce training; to support navigable and efficient immigration programs for academic study and scientific collaboration; to take bold action to address climate change and improve sustainability in the chemistry enterprise; and to support universal access to high-quality scientific research.

ACS members interested in policy can offer input on statements that are up for revision. Members can also join the ACS member advocacy volunteer program, Act4Chemistry Legislative Action Network, and participate in their local section government affairs committee or enroll in one of the ACS advocacy workshops. Visit for more information.

ACS policy statements

Foster Innovation through Research and Technology

“Energy Policy”: Endorses an energy policy that prioritizes energy efficiency and that includes the full life cycle costs of energy sources in their market prices, including the impacts on human health and the environment. It also encourages long-term orientation for both funding and incentives.

“Intellectual Property”: Encourages policies that improve the quality and consistency of granted patents as well as the efficiency of the patent process. Urges policymakers to support information technology upgrades to the US Copyright Office as well as to support sustainable open-access initiatives. Promotes consistent application of trade secret protections.

“Science and Technology in the Budget”: Urges policymakers to make investments in federal R&D funding to put the US at the forefront of R&D and recommends strategies to ensure that federal dollars dedicated to R&D are used as efficiently as possible.

“US Business Climate”: Supports a fair and level playing field that enhances competition and stimulates R&D. Supports policies that foster the growth of small R&D businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.

“US Innovation and Entrepreneurship”: Supports investment in a world-class workforce through education and training, long-term commitments to basic research and te


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