Issue Date: January 16, 2017 | Web Date: January 17, 2017
ACS adds policy statement on safety
The American Chemical Society has adopted a new public policy statement on safety in the chemical enterprise. “There has been a lot of urging by the chemistry community for ACS to be more up-front about advocacy for safety,” says John E. Adams, chair of the ACS Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations (PA&PR), which reviews and approves ACS’s policy statements. “This is a reinforcement of our commitment to safety.”
ACS currently has 27 policy statements, which form the basis for ACS’s advocacy efforts, says Adams. The statements are grouped into four broad categories aimed at 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. All statements are available on the ACS website at www.acs.org/policy.
“We try to focus on those things where we think we can have the biggest impact and where we feel that we can be an authoritative source of information,” Adams says.
Policy statements are drafted by ACS committees and divisions with input from ACS members and then presented to the Committee on Public Affairs & Public Relations 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 by the ACS Board of Directors.
The new statement on safety in the chemical enterprise, drafted by the society’s Committee on Chemical Safety and the Division on Chemical Health & Safety, supports the use of risk-based criteria in creating safety regulations and policies. It also supports government implementation of regulatory policies that foster innovation within a safer chemical environment.
In addition to adopting the new statement on safety, ACS extended for three years its statements on science education and on employment nondiscrimination, and it updated its statements on forensic science and peer review.
The statement on climate change, which encourages continued funding for research into the effects of climate change and emphasizes the importance of educating the public on the issue, was completely rewritten. “It’s important when you’re doing advocacy in the public policy arena that you have a clear, compelling, concise, and consistent message,” Adams says.
Ray Garant, assistant director of public policy in the ACS Office of External Affairs & Communications, which helps draft the statements, says that despite the uncertainties that the new Trump Administration will bring, “the overall portfolio of what ACS cares about most is still as solid as a rock. What we’ve been advocating for in the last five years is what we need to be advocating for in the next five years.”
One measure of how effective ACS’s policy statements have been can be seen in legislation that is passed. The recent reform of the Toxic Substances Control Act, for example, was something that ACS had advocated extensively for. “That was a win as far as we were concerned,” Adams says. Additionally, the new version of the America Competes Act included some provisions supported by ACS.
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.
ACS also hosts an annual Legislative Summit, where members of the ACS Board of Directors visit policy-makers in Washington, D.C. And ACS’s Science & the Congress Project has conducted more than 200 congressional briefings for members of Congress and their staff to gain a greater knowledge of the science involved in numerous public policy issues.
Everyone has a voice, and everyone can make a difference, Adams says. He adds: “I would encourage the entire membership to be active in making sure that science is part of the decision-making process.”
- Chemical & Engineering News
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