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Government Roundup

May 5, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 18

The House of Representatives Homeland Security Committee has approved a bill (H.R. 4007) that would extend the Department of Homeland Security’s chemical facility security program for three years. The measure, which is expected to pass the House this summer, is supported by DHS and the chemical industry. No companion legislation has been introduced yet in the Senate.

Syria has surrendered more than 86% of its total chemical weapons stockpile to international authorities for destruction outside the country, according to The Hague-based Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. The most dangerous chemical warfare materials are being delivered to a U.S. ship offshore for neutralization.

The U.S. will find it difficult to meet its pledged 17% greenhouse gas emissions reductions by 2020 because U.S. energy companies have shut down five nuclear power plants since late 2012, notes a report by the nonprofit Center for Climate & Energy Solutions. The report urges the U.S. to preserve its existing nuclear power fleet as long as possible.

The Digital Accountability & Transparency Act (S. 994) passed the House of Representatives last week. Among other things, the bill streamlines reporting requirements for federal grantees, which has long been sought by universities and medical centers. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature.

The U.K. is asking scientists how it should invest more than £7 billion (almost $12 billion) slated for improving the nation’s science and technology infrastructure. Input will be used by the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills to guide additional capital spending from 2015 through 2021.

Emissions timing is of key importance when comparing the global-warming potential (GWP) of different greenhouse gases, stresses a paper in Nature Climate Change (2014, DOI: 10.1038/nclimate2204). The paper notes that the conversion factor to compare GWP of methane and carbon dioxide can result in significant errors, a fact that regulators and planners should consider.



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