Tuesday, June 09, 2009
U.S. House Science & Technology Subcommittee Holds Hearing on Environmental Research, Luján’s Energy Park Bill
Today, the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Committee on Science and Technology held a hearing on environmental research at the Department of Energy. The hearing examined climate and environmental research programs conducted by the Department of Energy as well as Rep. Ben Ray Luján’s National Environmental Research Park (NERP) bill, H.R. 2729. Dr. Nate McDowell of Los Alamos National Laboratory gave testimony at the hearing (see written testimony (pdf). Rep. Luján is a member of the Committee on Science and Technology.
“I’m glad that we conducted a hearing to discuss environmental research by the Department of Energy along with the National Energy Research Park legislation I introduced last week,” said Rep. Luján in a statement released today. “The witnesses provided excellent testimony that will help shape future efforts to address issues from climate change to contamination.”
According to Rep. Luján's office, Dr. Nate McDowell of Los Alamos National Laboratory talked about the advanced laser facility at the Los Alamos NERP which uses laser technology to observe and monitor carbon dioxide emissions. He discussed the importance of coordination between the NERPs and collaboration on their respective research projects. He also talked about how NERPs are not consistently funded and often do not have the necessary resources to utilize their full environmental research potential.
Other witnesses included Dr. Dave Bader, Director, Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison; Dr. Paul Hanson, Group Leader, Ecosystem and Plant Sciences, Environmental Sciences Division, Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and Dr. J. Whitfield Gibbons, Professor of Ecology at the University of Georgia and a Senior Research Ecologist at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.
Dr. Hanson discussed how the NERPs are comprised of preserved land in its natural state which provides a research environment necessary to understanding the environmental impacts of humans and industrial development. Dr. Bader discussed climate modeling and simulation. Dr. Gibbons elaborated on the habitat reconstruction research performed at the Savannah River NERP and how they use the NERP to study and create new energy technologies.
Last week, Rep. Luján introduced legislation that will promote environmental science programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory by authorizing funding for its NERP as well as for six other NERPs throughout the country.
The research conducted at the NERPs produces valuable data that can be used to fight climate change and clean up contaminated sites. The NERPs have existed for decades and have enormous potential for studying the impact of climate change on the environment. With the new authorization and consistent funding, they can expand their research activities. Rep. Luján’s legislation authorizes $5,000,000 for each NERP for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014. The legislation has been referred to the Committee on Science and Technology.
“These parks are unique outdoor laboratories that offer secure settings for long-term research on a broad range of subjects, including wildlife biology, ecology, climate change effects, and maintenance of freshwater ecosystems,” Rep. Luján said when the legislation was introduced last week. “The parks also provide rich environments for training future researchers and introducing the public to environmental sciences.”
For more information about the Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Parks, visit www.nerp.rnl.gov/. For more information about the Los Alamos National Environmental Research Park, visit this web page. Click for a transcript of Rep. Luján's remarks upon introducing his NERP bill.
To see our previous posts on Rep. Luján, visit our archive.
Friday, June 05, 2009
Rep. Luján Introduces Bill to Promote Environmental Science and Research Programs at LANL, Other Sites Nationally
There's a big push going on within the New Mexico Congressional delegation to help New Mexico's national labs in Albuquerque and Los Alamos reshape their missions to include projects on green energy research and environmental studies. New Mexico's labs have plenty of expertise, resources and science and technology facilities to conduct such research, and the Obama administration is getting behind a wide array of green job and environmental initiatives around the country. Clearly, the federal government will increasingly focus on helping to create a vibrant green economy and fund relevant research projects to provide needed scientific data. New Mexico's labs would seem to be a natural fit to conduct a number of these projects.
In that vein, Rep. Ben Ray Luján introduced legislation yesterday that will promote environmental science programs at Los Alamos National Laboratory by authorizing funding for its National Environmental Research Park (NERP) as well as for six other NERPs throughout the country. The research conducted at the research parks produces valuable data that can be used to fight climate change and clean up contaminated sites, according to a statement released by Rep. Lujan's office.
“These parks are unique outdoor laboratories that offer secure settings for long-term research on a broad range of subjects, including wildlife biology, ecology, climate change effects, and maintenance of freshwater ecosystems,” said Rep. Luján. “The parks also provide rich environments for training future researchers and introducing the public to environmental sciences.”
In the mid-1970s, the Department of Energy developed a policy for current and future research parks. The mission of the parks is to conduct research and education activities to assess and document environmental effects associated with energy and weapons use; explore methods for eliminating or minimizing adverse effects of energy development and nuclear materials on the environment; train students in ecological and environmental sciences; and educate the public. The Parks maintain several long-term data sets on ecology that are available nowhere else in the world. These data sets are uniquely valuable for understanding wildlife biology, ecology, and for the detection of long-term shifts in climate.
In 1972, AEC established the first NERP at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina. The plan for a research park emerged during a formal review of the environmental research activities at Savannah River. The review team consisted of scientists, representatives from other Federal agencies, and members of the newly formed President's Council on Environmental Quality.
The Los Alamos NERP was designated at in 1973. Its 40 square miles include the entire site of Los Alamos National Laboratory and a landscape of canyons, mesas, mountains, and the Rio Grande, providing a diverse range of ecosystems to explore. The Los Alamos Research Park’s ongoing environmental studies include: interaction between its local ecosystems and the hydrologic cycle; contaminant transport; landfill cap performance; woodland productivity; and long-term data sets developed to monitor climate change effects, soil moisture, and fire ecology providing valuable baseline reference information. Notably, over 125 publications related to the interaction between lab operations and the environment have been written about Los Alamos and the Pajarito Plateau it rests on.
“For decades, the National Environmental Research Parks have been conducting critical research for our nation and the world’s environmental research portfolio,” said Rep. Luján in a written statement. “They are one of our nation’s most valuable environmental research assets, and it is time for them to be recognized in law and explicitly provided the resources they need to continue their valuable work. This legislation offers guidance for the Parks’ research and monitoring programs as well as their education and outreach activities, and it authorizes core funding needed to support their important work.”
Rep. Luján’s legislation authorizes $5,000,000 for each National Environmental Research Parks for each of the fiscal years 2010 through 2014. The legislation will be referred to the Committee on Science and Technology of which Rep. Luján is a member.
Thursday, April 23, 2009
Speak with Congressman Teague Friday in Las Cruces, Anthony
Congressman Harry Teague will continue his “Harry in Your Hometown” outreach program on Friday with events in Anthony and Las Cruces, according to a statement released today. (See details below the fold.) “Harry in Your Hometown” is a community outreach program developed by Rep. Teague to help him stay in touch with constituents throughout New Mexico’s second congressional district. Members of the public are encouraged to attend to share their thoughts and questions with Congressman Harry Teague and to learn more about how his office can help them solve problems with federal agencies.
While in Anthony, Congressman Harry Teague will also tour Rio Valley Biofuels. The plant uses recycled oil from local food processors as well as a large variety of lipid oil sources including crude cottonseed, UVO, tallow, sunflower, canola, soy, and other oil sources to produce the biofuels and is the Southwest's only commercial producer of biofuels.
While in Las Cruces, Congressman Harry Teague will visit recent regional science fair winners at Sierra Middle school. The students will show Congressman Harry Teague their winning project and he will take questions from the class. In May, the students will be taking a trip to Washington, DC to compete in the National Science Bowl competition.
Harry in Your Hometown
Ernesto’s, 200 Anthony Drive, Anthony
Friday, April 24th, 7:30-8:30 AM
Rio Valley Biofuels Tour
1940 Anthony Drive, Anthony, NM 88021
Friday, April 24th, 9:15-9:45 AM
Science Class Visit
1700 E. Spruce, Las Cruces, NM
Friday, April 24th, 11:00-Noon
Harry in Your Hometown
Las Cruces District Office, 135 W. Griggs, Las Cruces
Friday, April 24th, 5:00-7:00 PM
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Al Gore Urges Bold Action on Climate Change at Senate Foreign Relations Committee Today
Clip of Gore at today's hearing
At today's Senate Foreign Relations Committee meeting, Al Gore urged lawmakers not to let the current economic situation get in the way of addressing global warming. Committee Chairman John Kerry asked Gore to testify, signaling that he intends to put the energy-global warming-security issue front and center as preparations begin for the United Nations' climate talks, scheduled for December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Gore told lawmakers they should pass the Obama Administration's economic stimulus package as a first step in curbing global warming. He said the stimulus money would provide “unprecedented and critical investments” in energy efficiency, renewable energy, an improved electricity grid and cleaner cars, according to the New York Times.
Gore also urged Congress to pass legislation to create a federal cap-and-trade system to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and laid out steps for the United States to take in preparation for international climate negotiations in Copenhagen in December. Gore's involvement can help emphasize the importance of legislation supported by Dems to decrease C02 emissions and rejoin international efforts to fight climate change.
My favorite quote: "We're borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change."