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ACS Adds Three New Policy Statements

Statements focus on persons with disabilities, water treatment, and hydraulic fracturing

by Linda Wang
January 18, 2016 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 94, Issue 3

Pat Confalone with members of the Committee on Chemists with Disabilities.
Credit: Linda Wang/C&EN
Policy statements are drafted by ACS’s various divisions and committees. Shown here is ACS Board Chair Pat Confalone (left) with several members of the Committee on Chemists with Disabilities, which drafted the latest policy statement on persons with disabilities.

With the adoption of three new policy statements, the American Chemical Society has reinforced its commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities, to water treatment and conservation, and to the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing. These additions bring ACS’s number of policy statements to 27.

“Policy statements, by encapsulating general principles aligned with the ACS mission, provide a basis for our nonpartisan public advocacy efforts,” says John E. Adams, chair of the ACS Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations (PA&PR), which reviews and approves ACS’s policy statements. “With these statements, we attempt to elevate the role that science plays in policy-making.”

ACS Committees Seek Member Input On Policy Statements

Six ACS position statements are set to expire at the end of 2016. 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:

In addition, a new policy statement is currently being explored for the following:

Chemical Safety

Comments and suggestions on any of these topics should be submitted to

Adams points out that, in some cases, ACS’s policy statements have provided direction for the crafting of language that subsequently was incorporated into proposed legislation. For example, ACS’s policy statement on science education helped incorporate positive changes for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education into the Elementary & Secondary Education Act.

The new statements are aimed to be similarly influential. The statement on persons with disabilites supports ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and encourages international cooperation, sharing of scientific knowledge, and research and development on assistive technologies. This statement “is a natural extension of the continuing commitment of ACS to increased diversity and inclusion in the chemistry workforce,” Adams says.

The statement on water treatment and conservation supports government action to develop water-use guidelines and initiatives; encourage advancements in water reduction, treatment, and reuse technologies; protect groundwater resources; and prevent the discharge of toxic substances into ground and surface waters.

“Access to clean water is a global problem that will not be remedied without innovative technologies and novel, inexpensive water purification schemes that necessarily will involve the creative application of chemistry,” Adams says.

The statement on the science and technology of hydraulic fracturing recommends conducting research on the use of fracking compared with alternative energy resources, studying methane emissions at fracking sites, examining the causes and extent of groundwater contamination, and developing methods for treating and disposing of liquid returns from fracking.

“In crafting the policy statement, we have tried to identify those aspects of hydraulic fracturing for which the science is clear and those for which additional rigorous studies are warranted,” Adams says.

ACS’s policy statements are grouped into four broad categories: 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.

Statements are drafted by ACS committees and divisions with input from ACS members and then presented to PA&PR for review. PA&PR can also renew, revise, or retire a statement. Each statement is active for three years before it’s up for review.

In addition to adopting the three new policy statements, ACS extended for three years with only minor updates the statements on U.S. innovation and entrepreneurship, health care policy, regulation of laboratory waste, and inherently safer technology for chemical and related industrial operations.

Give your input on policy statements at

ACS also replaced its policy statement on testing for endocrine disruption to reflect the changes going on in chemical and toxicological testing.

And it has completely rewritten its statement on energy policy to focus on conservation and efficiency, conventional energy resources, renewable energy resources, and storage and distribution. “This should help our members be better positioned to contribute to the U.S. energy policy dialogue,” says Ray Garant, assistant director of public policy in the ACS Office of Public Affairs.

Adams encourages ACS members to get involved in promoting ACS’s policy initiatives. They can do so nationally through ACS’s legislative network, Act4Chemistry (, or locally through their local section’s government affairs committee. “I encourage all our members to work with their local school systems and their local and state government to promote ACS policy statements where and when appropriate,” Adams says. By doing so, he adds, our voices will be heard.

The policy statements are available on the ACS website at

Current ACS Position Statements

Foster Innovation Through Research & Technology

Energy: 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.

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 R&D and supports policies that foster the growth of small R&D 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 and entrepreneurship.

Strengthen Science Education & The Scientific Workforce

Disabilities: Supports ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and encourages international cooperation, sharing of scientific knowledge, and R&D on assistive technologies in carrying out the requirement to implement the means for equal access to medical facilities, education, workplaces, and communications technologies.

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

Health care: Supports health care policies that focus on preventive care, availability and affordability of health plans, universal eligibility, portability of health coverage across state lines, and privacy of medical information.

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.

Advance Science Through Openness

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.

Promote Science & Sustainability In Public Policy

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 funding for the development of more effective tools and methods for diagnostic testing, and also for green chemistry research into functional alternatives.

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.

The Science & Technology of Hydraulic Fracturing: Recommends conducting research on fracking and its impacts from a life-cycle perspective, its uses compared with replacement resources, methane emissions at fracking sites, causes and extent of groundwater contamination, less hazardous fracking fluids, and characterization of and methods for treating and disposing of liquid returns from fracking.

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.

Water Treatment & Conservation: Supports U.S. government action that develops water-use guidelines and initiatives; encourages advancements in water reduction, treatment, and reuse technologies; protects groundwater resources; and prevents discharge of toxic substances into ground and surface waters.


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