Friday, 15 March 1991 Washington, DC
1. THE SHRUNKEN SPACE STATION DESIGN IS UNFIT FOR BASIC RESEARCH,
according to a National Research Council panel. As we reported
last week (WN 8 Mar 91), the White House
asked the Space Studies
Board to comment on the scientific merit of the redesigned space
station; the Board's position was made public today. It was a
devastating assessment. In trimming Space Station Freedom to
satisfy Congress, NASA jettisoned much of Freedom's scientific
capability, which wasn't much to begin with. In the judgement of
the panel, "Continued development of Space Station Freedom, as
currently redesigned, cannot be supported on scientific grounds."
2. THE NATIONAL ENERGY STRATEGY DECLARES WAR ON THE ENVIRONMENT!
With Kuwait's oil fields burning out of control in the aftermath
of the World's first energy war, Senate Environment Subcommittee
hearings were held on the environmental consequences of the Bush
Administration's energy policy. Chairman Baucus (D-MT) opened
the hearing by charging that the Energy Strategy fails to address
global warming. The US currently emits 22% of the world's carbon
dioxide from fossil fuels. Under the Bush strategy, US emissions
would increase by 26% between 1990 and 2010, and still be rising
in 2030, which is the final year of the projection. By contrast,
Germany is committed to reduce emissions 30% by 2005. The Energy
Strategy focuses on meeting energy needs through increased US oil
production, but the US, which is currently responsible for 26% of
global oil consumption, has only 3% of the world's oil reserves.
3. IT'S HARD TO FIGHT AGAINST PORK FROM INSIDE THE BARREL.
week, the House killed a $0.5M project to convert Lawrence Welk's
childhood home in North Dakota into a museum. The action, taken
at the urging of Rep. Jim Slattery (D-KA), who presumably hates
champagne music, was opposed by the entire North Dakota House
delegation--Byron Dorgan (D-ND)--and by the Appropriations Comm-
ittee Chairman, Jamie Whitten (D-MS), who was elected to Congress
six years before Slattery was born. But Slattery was caught with
his plants down: an earmark for a $5.3M Plant Science Center at
Kansas State U., as well as a $5M National Agricultural Hall of
Fame in Bonner Springs, Kansas. Both projects fall under the
control of Sen. Burdick (D-ND), the Agricultural Appropriations
Subcommittee Chair--who inserted the Welk earmark in the first
place. We leave it to the reader to guess what will happen next.
4. ANYONE WHO STILL BOTHERS TO FOLLOW THE AUTHORIZATION PROCESS
might have been surprised this week to find the House Science
Subcommittee holding hearings on reauthorizing NSF--which was
reauthorized for five years just two years ago! In the interim,
however, NSF appropriations exceeded authorized levels in every
category except Research. Subcommittee Chairman Rick Boucher (D-
VA) is calling for early reauthorization to make it legitimate--
like getting married after the baby is born. Under the new
budget rules, no one pays any attention to authorization anyway.