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Planned budget cuts to hurt America's spirit of innovation: APS

04-09-2011 08:02 BJT

LOS ANGELES, April 8 (Xinhua) -- The American Physical Society (APS) warned that if the federal government goes ahead with its planned budget cuts across the board, the nation's scientific research facilities would be jeopardized, thus hurting America's spirit of innovation.

"It is important that the United States begin to live within its means and address the federal deficit," the APS said in a statement published Friday on the website of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

"But APS believes that as a nation we need to be smart about how we do it. Cutting spending across the board without a clear understanding of what it means for America's future jeopardizes the very future we want to secure for our children."

For more than half a century, science and technology have been the primary drivers of job creation and economic growth, the statement said.

"Slashing spending on science, as the budget plans of the House of Representatives call for, is bad policy and bad economics."

The cuts contained in the bill H.R. 1 - the legislative vehicle for funding the government for the balance of the fiscal year - would eliminate almost one billion dollars from the Department of Energy's Office of Science budget.

Such a reduction would force all Department of Energy user facilities to shut down operations, lay off or fire as many as 10, 000 technical workers, send thousands of construction workers home without pay and force 26,000 scientists and engineers in virtually every congressional district in the country to end their research or take it to other countries, according to the statement.

The national laboratories are the home to approximately 40 " user facilities," which are vital to the research performed by scientists and engineers in companies and universities throughout the nation. The specialized instruments represent a federal investment of tens of billions of dollars and have paid handsome dividends for many years.

"Shutting them down wastes taxpayer money and jeopardizes America's spirit of innovation," the statement noted.

According to the National User Facility Organization, which represents the 30,000 scientists, engineers and students who conduct research at the national laboratories, closing the facilities would have a devastating effect on America's ability to remain a global scientific leader.

"The impact of any facility shutdown on our students is very grave since most of those sophisticated experiments were planned and scheduled for several years," Rene Bellwied, professor of physics at the University of Houston, said in the statement. " Losing access to the experimental facilities will mean a loss of at least months or even years of research for many of our young people."

Companies such as Eli Lily Co., ExxonMobil, Chevron, Intel and IBM rely on the national facilities to help them develop new consumer products, new energy technologies and drug therapies for curing diseases.

"If there are reductions in the operations of the Advanced Photon Source, we will consider other options, including the possibility of conducting our research overseas," said Stephen Wasserman, a chemist at Eli Lilly Co. who uses the Advanced Photon Source at the Department of Energy's Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois. Wasserman's research consists of studying protein structures that help the company develop future pharmaceuticals.

In a related action, the Fiscal Year 2012 House Budget Resolution, released by Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan on Tuesday, would set the stage for making the Office of Science cuts permanent.

The move would endanger the U.S. science enterprise for years to come, the statement said.

"If the U.S. wants to build a better America, it must make scientific research and innovation priorities," the statement stressed.

 

 

Editor:Zhang Pengfei |Source: Xinhua

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