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Hillary Clinton's Agenda to Reclaim Scientific Innovation

Press Release From: Hillary Clinton for President
Posted: Thursday, October 4, 2007

Editor's note: We will post any press release or policy statement from 2008 candidates - regardless of party - that deals directly with space exploration. Items overtly dealing with space are in bold

Today, on the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik, which galvanized our country to lead the world through the 20th Century's space age, Hillary Clinton announced her agenda to restore a national commitment to science so that our country can lead the world through the 21st Century's innovation age. Hillary declared that when she is President, the Bush administration's war on science will be over and a new era of promoting scientific discovery will begin. Her administration will support scientists, value scientific investigation, promote innovation and medical research, and return to evidence-based decision-making.

Hillary will restore the federal government's commitment to science by:

  • Signing an Executive Order that:
    • Rescinds President Bush's ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research and promotes stem cell research that complies with the highest ethical standards.
    • Bans political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions in government publications without any legitimate basis for doing so, and prohibits unwarranted suppression of public statements by government scientists.
    • Directs all department and agency heads to submit annual reports on the steps they have taken to (1) safeguard against instances of political pressure threatening scientific integrity; and (2) promote openness and transparency in decision-making.
    • Reverses President Bush's new directive that dramatically expands political appointees' control over agency rulemaking.
    • Revives and expands the national assessment on climate change, going above and beyond the requirements imposed by Congress.

    • Restoring the science advisor's direct access to the President.
    • Working to re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment.
    • Protecting the integrity and independence of federal scientific advisory committees.

    • Strengthening whistleblower protections for those who disclose potential instances of political interference with science.

Hillary will enhance American leadership in space, including:

  • Pursuing an ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program, by implementing a balanced strategy of robust human spaceflight, expanded robotic spaceflight, and enhanced space science activities.
  • Developing a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda, including full funding for NASA's Earth Sciences program and a space-based Climate Change Initiative that will help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming.
  • Promoting American leadership in aeronautics by reversing funding cuts to NASA's and FAA's aeronautics R&D budget.

Hillary will promote a nationwide commitment to innovation by:

  • Establishing a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund to invest in technologies to promote conservation, combat global warming, and reduce our dependence on foreign oil.
  • Pursuing a comprehensive innovation agenda to enhance the nation's research capacity; help ensure we continue to have a premier science, engineering, technology and mathematics workforce; and upgrade our innovation infrastructure.

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Restoring the Federal Government's Commitment to Science

Hillary will:

Sign an Executive Order that:

_ Rescinds President Bush's ban on ethical embryonic stem cell research. In 2001, President Bush issued an Executive Order banning federal funding for some of the most promising avenues of stem cell research. And this year - yet again - he vetoed legislation to open up new lines of embryonic stem cells for federal funding. Within these cells may lay the cures for Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injuries, diabetes, Huntington's disease and more. One hundred million Americans live with these diseases - and their families live with them too. The President's ban damages more than hope - it hurts our chances to lead the world in innovative new fields. Countries like Singapore and the United Kingdom are filling the biotech gap that this president has created, investing in research for cures and jobs of the future. As President, Hillary will end the ban and promote stem cell research that complies with the highest ethical standards.

_ Ends political interference with science. Hillary will ban political appointees from altering or removing scientific conclusions in government publications without any legitimate basis for doing so, and prohibit unwarranted suppression of public statements by government scientists. She will promote open communication among scientists and between scientists and the public. President Bush's political appointees have exercised unprecedented influence over the scientific content of government reports on global warming and other issues. In one particularly egregious case, the Chief of Staff for the White House Council for Environmental Quality - a lawyer with no scientific training - systematically edited and weakened government scientists' conclusions on global warming. (Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming, New York Times [June 8, 2005].) In another case, the Bush administration added statements to the National Cancer Institute website that suggested a link between abortion and breast cancer, when experts agreed that no such link existed. (Abortion and Breast Cancer, New York Times [Jan. 6, 2003].) Similarly, the EPA published reports on the environment and air pollution without information on or references to climate change, and political appointees reportedly added references to a study funded by the American Petroleum Institute questioning climate change evidence. Hillary will stop these and other practices once and for all, and ensure that scientists play their proper role in ensuring that the public receives accurate information on matters of public interest.

_ Promotes vigilance in protecting scientific integrity. Hillary will direct all department and agency heads to submit annual reports on the steps they have taken to (1) safeguard against instances of political pressure threatening scientific integrity; and (2) promote openness and transparency in decision-making. In a survey of government scientists conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists, nearly half of all respondents perceived or personally experienced pressure to eliminate the words "climate change," "global warming" and other similar terms for a variety of government communications. A full 87% perceived pressure on government scientists to make changes to their reports that altered the meaning of scientific findings. Dr. James E. Hansen, a climatology expert at NASA, spoke out about pressure by senior officials to minimize the impact of global warming. Hillary will ask all of her agency and department heads to provide a thorough accounting of any improper efforts to influence or suppress scientific conclusions and their efforts to prevent or deal with those instances.

_ Restores expert-driven, evidence-based agency decision-making. Hillary will reverse President Bush's new directive that political appointees exert total control over the development of agency rules. Earlier this year, President Bush issued a new Executive Order 13,422, which among other things mandates that each agency have a politically appointed "regulatory policy officer" to oversee the development of new agency rules and regulations. In previous Administrations, career civil servants and scientific experts often took the lead in generating these new rules. This new directive means that no rulemaking can begin without express permission from a political appointee. The regulatory policy officer also is charged with approving the agency's overall regulatory plan. Previously, only the agency head could sign off on the regulatory plan, and there was no policy prohibiting rulemaking in the absence of the regulatory policy officer's approval. Hillary will return to the longstanding practice of giving experts a central voice in agency rulemaking and will direct agencies to pursue evidence-based decisions. She will also review and where appropriate rescind other sections of this Executive Order.

_ Revives and expands the national assessment on climate change. A 1990 Act of Congress requires the Executive Branch to issue a national assessment every four years outlining the most recent scientific data on climate change and global warming and its projected effects on the country's environment, economy, and public health. Despite this clear mandate, the Bush administration has not released an assessment in six and a half years - the last one was issued by the Clinton administration in 2000. In August, a federal court ruled that the administration had broken the law. The judge mandated that it complete an assessment by May 31, 2008. Hillary will not only comply with the Congressional directive - she would go further. Her Executive Order will expand the assessment to include not only the anticipated impacts of climate change, but also how U.S. regions and economic sectors can respond to climate change through mitigation and adaptation.

Restore the science advisor's role in the White House. President Clinton, and President George H.W. Bush before him, relied on the advice of an Assistant to the President for Science and Technology - a senior adviser who reported directly to the President. President Bush eliminated the position of Assistant to the President, and the credibility of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has suffered under accusations that the Administration has manipulated and politicized science. Hillary will once again name an Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, and will do so quickly so that he or she can help recruit top scientific talent into government. That individual will not have his or her advice filtered through political advisors, but instead will be empowered to speak candidly with the President on matters of science and technology policy. Hillary will also fully fund and fully staff the Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Re-establish the Office of Technology Assessment. The Congressional Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) should be restored to provide authoritative and objective analysis of complex scientific and technical issues for the federal government. From 1972 to 1995, the OTA had been a small department in the federal government providing authoritative and objective analysis to Congress on science and technology issues. Hillary will encourage Congress to re-establish the OTA and ensure that we restore the role of evidence, not partisanship and ideology, to decision making.

Protect the integrity and independence of federal scientific advisory committees. Roughly 1,000 federal advisory committees have been formed over the years to provide advice to the government on a range of issues, including scientific, medical, and technical matters. The Bush administration has been criticized by a number of organizations, including the National Academy of Sciences and the Union of Concerned Scientists, for making politically motivated appointments to these committees. A 2004 GAO investigation and report recommended a number of steps to enhance advisory committee independence. As President, Hillary will not allow political considerations to factor into selections; she will improve conflict-of-interest protections; and she would increase the transparency of committee recommendations. She will also enforce and build upon the scientific integrity provisions of the recently passed FDA reform bill.

Strengthen whistleblower protections for those who disclose potential instances of political interference with science. Ensure that federal employees feel free to speak out when they see threats to scientific integrity.

Enhancing American Leadership in Space

Pursue an Ambitious 21st century Space Exploration Program. Hillary is committed to a space exploration program that involves robust human spaceflight to complete the Space Station and later human missions, expanded robotic spaceflight probes of our solar system leading to future human exploration, and enhanced space science activities. She will speed development, testing, and deployment of next-generation launch and crew exploration vehicles to replace the aging Space Shuttle. And in pursuing next-generation programs, Hillary will capitalize on the expertise of the current Shuttle program workforce and will not allow a repeat of the "brain drain" that occurred between the Apollo and shuttle missions.

Develop a comprehensive space-based Earth Sciences agenda. A National Academy of Sciences report found that "[a]t a time of unprecedented need, the nation's Earth observation satellite programs, once the envy of the world, are in disarray." (NAS final report of the Decadal Survey Panel, [January 2007].) Incredibly, the number of operating sensors and instruments on NASA satellites that observe the Earth is likely to drop by 35 percent by 2010 and 50 percent by 2015. Among its many other important purposes, NASA's Earth Sciences program is vital to our country's - and the world's - long-term efforts to confront climate change. Hillary will fully fund NASA's Earth Sciences program and initiate a Space- based Climate Change Initiative to help us secure the scientific knowledge we need to combat global warming and to prepare for extreme climate events.

Shore up American leadership in aeronautics. At the beginning of this year, President Bush requested roughly $554 million for NASA's aeronautics research budget, down from more than $1 billion in 2004. The United States has enjoyed a positive trade balance in aeronautics and aerospace technologies that runs into the tens of billions, even as we've faced a growing overall trade deficit. To address the twin challenges of a declining skilled aeronautics workforce and increasing global competition in aeronautics, Hillary will make the financial investments in research and development necessary to shore up and expand our competitive edge. She will also work in partnership with industry to build technologies and capabilities that yield benefits far beyond aerospace.

Promoting a Nationwide Commitment to Innovation

Establish a $50-billion Strategic Energy Fund. The Fund would finance an energy research agency that gathers the best minds from academia, the private sector, and government to devise ways to make the United States energy independent and reduce the threat of global warming. Oil companies would have the choice of either investing in alternative energy or contributing a portion of their earnings into the Fund. The Fund would also provide tax incentives for homeowners and businesses to make their houses and offices more energy efficient; provide gas station owners a tax credit for installing E85 (ethanol) pumps; provide loan guarantees for the commercialization of cellulosic biofuels; and provide incentives for the development of new technologies that contribute to a cleaner environment. By investing in alternative energy, we can create hundreds of thousands of well-paying new jobs in the United States.

Pursue an innovation agenda. Hillary will aggressively implement her plan to renew the nation's commitment to research; help create the premier science, engineering, technology and mathematics workforce; and upgrade our innovation infrastructure. She will increase the NIH budget by 50% over 5 years and aim to double it over 10 years. Since 2003, the National Institute of Health (NIH) budget has been largely flat, and President Bush proposed reducing it by 1.1% in 2008. She also will overhaul the R&D tax credit to make the U.S. a more attractive location for high-paying jobs, and increase support for the physical sciences and engineering by the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the Department of Defense.

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