Volume 88 Issue 3 | p. 3 | Editor's Page
Issue Date: January 18, 2010

Congressional Outlook

Department: Editor's Page | Collection: Homeland Security
Keywords: Congressional Outlook, editorial, 2010

THIS WEEK’S cover story is C&EN’s annual “Congressional Outlook,” which surveys many of the important issues of interest to the chemistry enterprise that will (or will not) be addressed by Congress in the coming year. C&EN’s entire Government & Policy Department staff, headed by Assistant Managing Editor Susan Morrissey, contributed to the feature.

With Democrats firmly in control of Congress and President Barack Obama in the White House, one would expect that many pressing science, technology, and environmental issues would receive attention from the second session of the 111th Congress.

However, 2010 is an election year, and it won’t be many months before congressional attention moves from issues to campaigning. Additionally, as the government and policy staff point out: “Topics familiar from the first session will continue to dominate congressional activity. That means health care, Wall Street financial reform, and economic-stimulus-related legislation all will again compete for congressional attention. Being added to the agenda this year is the reauthorization of the USA Patriot Act.”

Partisan gridlock will also contribute to stymieing progress on issues like energy and climate change, revamping the 1976 Toxic Substances Control Act, passing permanent chemical plant security legislation, modernizing U.S. food safety laws, and reforming patent laws. That’s too bad because all of these issues are critical to the health of the U.S. economy and environment and to the security of the nation.

Progress on energy and climate-change legislation is not only about protecting the environment, for example. It’s also about U.S. competitiveness and U.S. jobs. “We need cap and trade as a road map to make sure resources are going to the right places,” Charles O. Holliday Jr., former chairman and chief executive officer of DuPont, told C&EN at a World Resources Institute briefing. In the marketplace for clean energy, Holliday said, “China is a leader, and they see this coming. When clean energy markets open up, they are going to beat us. Our advantage is we are fast and entrepreneurial, but we need market signals to move that way. This is a revolution, and it won’t happen for us without a market.”

In the area of homeland security, to take another example, the current plant security regulatory program will expire in October. The battle lines here center on how legislation will deal with “inherently safer technology” (IST). If implemented in a ham-handed fashion, IST could prove to be a nightmare for the chemical industry.

On a different matter, many of you will receive in the coming days an e-mail from ACS CEO and Executive Director Madeleine Jacobs in which she asks you to complete a 13-question survey about yourself. The survey has questions such as the following:

■ Which best represents your employer?

■ Which best represents your current title?

■ What is the highest academic degree you have received?

■ What category best describes your field of research?

This demographic survey of ACS members is of great importance to the ACS Membership & Scientific Advancement Division and the Publications Division, in particular C&EN. As Jacobs notes in her letter, “As we plan for the future, we want to ensure that all of our ACS programs are relevant to the needs and interests of our members. To that end, it is imperative that we have up-to-date demographic information on our members. Knowing where our members work, what areas of science they work in, and other important information will assist the ACS leadership, technical divisions, local sections, and committees in launching new programs, evaluating existing membership benefits, and conducting strategic short- and long-range planning.”

Such information is also of great importance to C&EN in having a strong audit statement on which to base our advertising rates. Advertising revenues, remember, are what pay for the journalism you have come to rely on from C&EN. Please take five minutes or so to complete the questionnaire and return it today.

Thanks for reading.

Rudy Baum

Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
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