Issue Date: January 18, 2016
ACS Adds Three New Policy Statements
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.”
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.
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 (www.Act4Chemistry.org), 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 www.acs.org/policy.
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