ACS Revises Policy Statements | March 2, 2015 Issue - Vol. 93 Issue 9 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 9 | pp. 36-37
Issue Date: March 2, 2015

ACS Revises Policy Statements

Three policy statements get a significant rewrite to reflect current economic conditions
Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS, policy statements, policy, government
ACS member John Gavenonis (left) visits with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in 2014, conveying the key messages in the ACS policy statements.
Credit: Robert Radcliffe/MIT Club of the Delaware Valley
ACS member John Gavenonis (left) visits with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del) in 2014.
ACS member John Gavenonis (left) visits with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) in 2014, conveying the key messages in the ACS policy statements.
Credit: Robert Radcliffe/MIT Club of the Delaware Valley

To better reflect the changing political and economic climate, the American Chemical Society has rewritten its official policy statements on science and technology in the federal budget, scientific integrity in public policy, and sustainability and the chemical enterprise.

“The political and economic environment in Washington, D.C., has changed dramatically in the last five years, and in these areas of major importance to the society, we’re trying to make sure that what we’re saying on behalf of the society is going to be effective,” says Ray Garant, assistant director of public policy in the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

ACS currently has policy positions on 24 issues in four broad areas: fostering innovation through research and technology, strengthening science education and the scientific workforce, advancing science through openness, and promoting science and sustainability in public policy.

These statements represent the interests of ACS’s more than 158,000 members and serve to inform members, the general public, and policy-makers on issues of interest to the society. “The goal of these statements is to inform policies that are being made by our government,” says Glenn S. Ruskin, director of the ACS Office of Public Affairs. “We want to keep the policy statements really tightly focused on what is the issue and what are ACS’s recommendations.”

Each policy statement is drafted by an ACS governance committee or a division, with input from ACS members, and then presented to the board of directors’ Public Affairs & Public Relations (PA&PR) Committee for review. In addition to approving the statements, PA&PR can also renew, revise, or retire a statement. Each statement is active for three years before it’s up for review.

Susan B. Butts, chair of the Committee on Chemistry & Public Affairs, which is involved in drafting several policy statements annually, points out that it’s important to update these policies every three years because “sometimes the science changes, or we have a better understanding of the science, or sometimes the world around us changes.”

ACS Committees Seek Member Input On Policy Statements

Six ACS position statements are set to expire at the end of 2015. Society members are encouraged to review the expiring statements and to offer their thoughts and comments to the ACS committees considering revisions, as well as to provide input on other statements that should be developed or changed. The following are links to the statements up for review:
Health Care
Inherently Safer Technologies
Innovation & Entrepreneurship
Regulation of Laboratory Waste
Testing for Endocrine Disruption

In addition, two new policy statements are currently being explored:
◾ Fracking
◾ Water
Comments and suggestions on any of these topics should be submitted to

For example, the science and technology in the budget policy statement has been rewritten to take a more conservative recommendation toward increasing federal investments in R&D. Rather than urging Congress to continue doubling its spending in R&D, which was more realistic in stronger economic times, the revised statement urges policy-makers to raise the current levels of R&D funding from 0.9% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to 1.2%, which was the funding level in the 1970s. This new target “should resonate better in the current economic and political environment,” Garant says.

The scientific integrity in public policy statement—which supports using scientific research and analysis to help develop and evaluate policy options—also got a rewrite. Garant says that major ideas within the document have been organized under specific themes such as Congress and federal agencies, scientific processes and procedures, and scientific access and advice. “We hope it’ll enable members to help make the case for how science should be used in the policy arena and why it’s important that it be considered in that arena,” he says.

The sustainability and chemical enterprise statement, which supports government incentives for sustainable technologies, got a similar update, reorganizing the statement’s key messages to be clearer and more focused. ACS recommends, for example, that the government use tax incentives and subsidies to encourage private investment in the research and development of sustainable technologies and processes.

In other actions, three policy statements underwent minor updating that does not substantially affect the policy recommendations. These are the statements on the U.S. business climate, hands-on laboratory science, and visa restrictions and scientific progress.

Four policy statements were extended for three years without any changes. These are the statements on retirement security, teaching of evolution, freedom of international scientific exchange, and encouraging Americans to support professional and educational activities through financial donations.

Butts encourages ACS members to play an active role in advocating for their science, and she encourages members to use these policy statements when visiting policy-makers. “There are choices that our policy-makers have the opportunity to make, and we would like to help them make choices that ACS feels are based on sound science,” Butts says.

The current policy statements are available on the ACS website at

Current ACS Position Statements



Energy: Urges policy-makers to lead in formulating a comprehensive, forward-thinking, and sustainable energy policy that addresses the needs of the four U.S. energy sectors by weighing national security, economic, and environmental impacts.

Science & Technology in the Budget: Urges policy-makers to restore investments in federal R&D funding to levels nearer to 1.2% of GDP and recommends strategies to ensure federal dollars dedicated to R&D are used as efficiently as possible.

U.S. Business Climate: Supports a fair and level playing field that enhances competition and stimulates research and development and supports policies that foster the growth of small research and development businesses and encourage entrepreneurship.

U.S. Innovation & Entrepreneurship: Supports investment in a world-class workforce through education and training, long-term commitments to basic research and technology development, and the development of a sustainable infrastructure for innovation.


Employment Nondiscrimination: Recommends federal legislation to extend employment discrimination protection to include sexual orientation, gender expression, and gender identity.

Health Care: Supports access to affordable, quality health care for all Americans and sets out broad principles intended to guide policy on current health care options.

Importance of Hands-on Laboratory Activities: Supports hands-on activities in education and explores the proper role of computer simulations that mimic laboratory procedures as a useful supplement to them but not a substitute for them.

Retirement Security: Urges Congress to reduce the regulatory complexity of 401(k) plans available to small-business owners and promote faster vesting and more portable plans.

Science Education: Supports ensuring that all students understand science in accordance with national standards; modernizing learning environments; strengthening science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teacher education programs; and nurturing students of all backgrounds, including from underrepresented groups, in pursuit of studies and careers in STEM.

Teaching of Evolution: Supports teaching of evolution; opposes alternative, nonscientific theories; and urges states and localities to support high-quality science standards and curricula.


Encouraging Americans To Support Professional & Educational Activities through Financial Donations: Supports tax deductions for charitable contributions and permanent extension of the Individual Retirement Account charitable rollover provisions.

Ensuring Access to High-Quality Science: Supports using sustainable publishing models that provide universal access to scientific research. Supports the 10 principles outlined in the Brussels Declaration on STM Publishing (STM is scientific, technical, and medical), as set forth by the International Association of STM Publishers.

Scientific Freedom: Advocates freedom of scientific exchange and stronger scientific collaboration to benefit humankind.

Visa Restrictions: Supports visa policies that facilitate scientific education and exchange and welcome foreign scholars, students, scientists, and engineers. Supports timely and reasonable screening processes for visits, greater transparency of the application process, and the issuance and management of visas that are more aligned with the purpose of academic study and scientific exchange.


Biomonitoring: Supports collection of biomonitoring data to better identify, understand, and communicate the potential risks associated with chemical exposures. Encourages the development of biomonitoring methodology to track the fate of chemicals, their exposure pathways, uptake mechanisms, and trends in human exposure.

Chemical Risk Assessment & Regulatory Decision-Making: Supports risk assessments that are based on sound science, that are protective of human health and the environment, and that include necessary information from the commercial chemical enterprise while protecting confidential business information.

Climate Change: Reviews the science and recommends action on greenhouse gas reduction and climate change adaptation strategies. Encourages continued funding for research into the effects of climate change while also emphasizing the importance of educating the public on the issue.

Endocrine Disruption: Endorses expanded education and research as well as the development of more effective methods to reduce the release of endocrine disruptors into the environment and to limit human exposure.

Forensic Science: Calls for scientific rigor, high-quality education, and standards in forensic science and for its integration with the broader scientific community. Backs evaluation and improvement of forensic analytical methods.

Inherently Safer Technologies: Endorses federal support for research and development to expand IST options and usage.

Peer Review—Ensuring High-Quality Science: Urges support for scientific peer review processes that evaluate grant applications on the basis of both intellectual merit and broader impacts and that are periodically evaluated for process effectiveness and efficiency and for reviewer freedom from interference in scientific merit assessments.

Regulation of Laboratory Waste: Reviews the pitfalls of regulations meant for large-scale chemical manufacturing being applied to laboratories.

Scientific Insight & Integrity: Supports the use of insightful, comprehensive, scientific, and engineering input to the development and evaluation of policy options. Encourages scientific integrity policies that help the federal government obtain and integrate scientific assessments into policy development and implementation.

Sustainability of the Chemical Enterprise: Defines the concept of sustainability in the context of the chemical enterprise. Supports government incentives for sustainable technologies.

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