The CHIPS and Science Act (PL 117-167), infrastructure bill (PL 117-58) and massive health, climate and energy spending package (PL 117-169) represent crucial legislative wins for science and technology over the past year. The bills establish a framework of our national commitment that the United States will not only compete but lead on the global stage. The extraordinary impact of these investments will benefit the health and economic well-being of every American, strengthen U.S. national security and position the U.S. to lead the global effort of tackling the existential challenges society faces, including climate change.
The CHIPS and Science Act authorizes $169.9 billion over five years to support research and innovation across several federal agencies, including the National Science Foundation and the Departments of Energy and Commerce. It also includes $52 billion for semiconductor production. The infrastructure bill includes $30 billion for science and technology, with a focus on clean energy and climate change mitigation strategies. And the health, climate and energy spending package contains $369 billion for energy security and climate change mitigation efforts.
The Science and Technology Action Committee’s (STAC) Action Plan recommended many of the provisions included in these pieces of legislation. Together, the three packages represent a critically important step forward in providing robust federal support to national priorities in desperate financial need. However, to fulfill the vision laid out in these bills, Congress must provide annual funding for many of these measures, including much of the CHIPS and Science Act, as well as parts of the infrastructure bill.
We celebrate the amazing progress and significant investments of the past year. But make no mistake, Congress needs to fully fund these scientific endeavors, or these efforts will be wasted.
Policy Snapshot: 2021 and 2022 Legislative Wins for Science and Technology
Here is a breakdown of the recent legislative wins for science and technology in high priority areas, including national strategy, research and development, semiconductor manufacturing, STEM education, clean energy and technology and climate change:
- Strategy and Interagency Working Groups
The Science and Technology Action Committee’s Action Plan calls for the elevation of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to a cabinet-level position and recommends that it coordinate policy and initiatives among the 20 federal agencies and departments involved in science and technology policy and between the federal government and the private sector. One of President Biden’s early acts was to elevate the OSTP Director to his Cabinet, and the Senate has confirmed his nominee, Dr. Arati Prabhakar, for that role. Additionally, two newly created programs within the CHIPS and Science Act mandate that OSTP develop a national strategy for advancing U.S. science and technology:
- National Science and Technology Strategy: A four-year, comprehensive national science and technology strategy focused on economic security.
- Interagency Working Group: Led by the Director of OSTP under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), this group will coordinate provisions involving the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Energy (DOE) and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
- Research and Development
Another of the Science and Technology Action Committee’s recommendations is achieved by significantly expanding federal funding for critically important science and technology programs, including authorizing — but not appropriating— $169.9 billion over five years to support R&D at the DOC and DOE, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), and the NSF.
- NSF: $81 billion, more than doubling the NSF’s current budget. That number includes $20 billion for the new NSF directorate of Technology, Innovation and Partnerships (TIP), which will develop and deploy next generation technologies for tackling the greatest challenges we face today.
- DOC: $11 billion for the Commerce Department, with $10 billion going toward the creation of 20 regional technology hubs spread throughout the country that will drive innovation in advanced technologies and create new jobs.
- DOE: $67.9 billion for the Energy Department, including the creation of a regional clean energy innovation program that fosters partnerships between the government and private sector; and a national clean energy technology transfer program to accelerate the commercial application of clean energy technologies across the U.S.
- NIST: $10 billion for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to support critical technology research and standards, strengthen small manufacturers, combat supply disruption and promote global competitiveness.
*includes $13 billion for STEM education
Additionally, the creation within OSTP of the National Engineering Biology Research and Development Initiative will define and support research at the intersection of biological sciences with physics, chemistry, computer science and engineering to accelerate knowledge discovery and technological innovation, including novel biomanufacturing approaches that enable end products to be produced faster, cheaper and environmentally cleaner.
Semiconductor Manufacturing and R&D: Lawmakers appropriated $52.7 billion semiconductor research and development, manufacturing and workforce development in the U.S., including:
- $39 billion in manufacturing incentives.
- $13.2 billion in research and development and workforce development.
- 25% temporary tax credit for semiconductor manufacturing investments.
- STEM Education & Diversity
For these investments to truly benefit all Americans, the scientific workforce must reflect the full diversity of our nation. The legislation includes robust provisions creating and augmenting existing programs aimed at ensuring that our investments in science benefit all Americans.
- Establishing a Chief Diversity Officer within the NSF.
- $13 billion authorized — but not appropriated — for STEM education at NSF to develop a domestic workforce, including the creation of a 10-year National STEM Teacher Corps program to develop a nationwide community of STEM teachers.
- Scaling up NSF’s Established Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) to improve STEM opportunities and partnerships in parts of the country that have not yet developed strong research and development centers.
- Supporting capacity-building for minority-serving institutions (MSIs), including the establishment of MSI Centers of Innovation, and directing OSTP to issue guidance to improve federal research agency outreach to MSIs.
- Directing OSTP to coordinate federal research agency efforts to reduce sexual harassment in STEM, and fund research to better understand sexual harassment and develop effective interventions.
- Authorizing and appropriating $10 million for higher education institutions to build centers focused on training building technicians and engineers on modern technology.
- Establishing the 21stCentury Energy Workforce Advisory Board, which will advise the Department of Energy on building a skilled energy workforce.
- Clean Energy
If we hope to power the cities of the future without continuing to warm our planet at an unsustainable rate, the U.S. must make substantial investments in clean energy today. A variety of programs in the three pieces of legislation will tackle this important area.
- Clean Hydrogen: $9.5 billion authorized and appropriated for clean hydrogen, including $8 billion to establish four clean hydrogen hubs, networks of clean hydrogen producers and consumers across the country.
- Advanced Nuclear Reactors: $12 billion authorized for nuclear energy, with $6 billion of that appropriated toward nuclear facilities under threat of closure to ensure the low-emission energy sources can stay online. The remaining $6 billion would fund microreactors, which have many advantages in addition to their small physical footprints.
- Clean Energy and Technology Manufacturing: More than $60 billion in appropriated funds for clean energy manufacturing in the U.S. across the full supply chain of clean energy and transportation technologies, including:
- An estimated $30 billion in tax credits to accelerate U.S. manufacturing of solar panels, wind turbines, batteries, and critical minerals processing.
- $10 billion investment tax credit to build clean technology manufacturing facilities, such as those that make electric vehicles, wind turbines and solar panels.
- $2 billion in grants to retool existing auto manufacturing facilities to manufacture clean vehicles, ensuring that auto manufacturing jobs stay in the communities that depend on them.
- Up to $20 billion in loans to build new clean vehicle manufacturing facilities across the country.
- $500 million for heat pumps and critical minerals processing through the Defense Production Act.
- $2 billion for National Labs to accelerate breakthrough energy research.
- Consumer Tax Credits: Lawmakers also funded a range of incentives to help consumers reduce energy costs and decrease utility bills, including:
- Home Energy Efficiency: $9 billion in consumer home energy rebate programs, focused on low-income consumers, to electrify home appliances and for energy efficient retrofits.
- Electric Vehicles: $4,000 tax credit for lower/middle income individuals to buy used clean vehicles, and up to $7,500 tax credit to buy new clean vehicles.
- Clean Energy: 10 years of consumer tax credits to make homes more energy efficient and run on clean energy by making heat pumps, rooftop solar, electric HVAC and water heaters more affordable.
- Climate Change
The existential threat of climate change hangs over the U.S. and the entire globe. We need substantial investments to win this crucial fight. Several provisions in the recently passed science and technology-focused legislative packages help position the U.S. as a leader.
- Carbon Capture: $10 billion authorized for carbon capture and sequestration projects. Of that figure, $3.5 billion was appropriated to direct air capture hubs that will remove carbon dioxide directly from the atmosphere, compared to the current generation of technology that sequesters CO2 from power plants and manufacturing facilities.
- Emissions Reduction: Lawmakers funded billions in investments to reduce emissions in every sector of the economy, including:
- $30 billion in targeted grant and loan programs for states and electric utilities to accelerate the transition to clean electricity.
- Grants and tax credits to reduce emissions from industrial manufacturing processes, including almost $6 billion for a new Advanced Industrial Facilities Deployment Program to reduce emissions from the largest industrial emitters like chemical, steel and cement plants.
- More than $9 billion for federal procurement of American-made clean technologies to create a stable market for clean products, including $3 billion for the U.S. Postal Service to purchase zero-emission vehicles.
- $27 billion for a clean energy technology accelerator to support deployment of technologies to reduce emissions, especially in disadvantaged communities.
- Methane Emissions Reduction Program: Up to $1.55 billion to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue loans, rebates, contracts and grants to help the oil and gas sector reduce methane emissions from petroleum and natural gas systems.
- Environmental and Climate Justice Block Grants: $3 billion in funds to invest in community-led projects in disadvantaged communities and community capacity building centers to address disproportionate environmental and public health harms related to pollution and climate change.
- Cleaner Ports: $3 billion in appropriations to help reduce air pollution and carbon emissions at and surrounding our nation’s ports.
- Cleaner Medium and Heavy Duty Vehicles: $1 billion in appropriations for clean heavy-duty vehicles, like school and transit buses and garbage trucks.
- Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund: $27 billion in funds to help nonprofits, states and other institutions use federal dollars to leverage private investments in projects that combat climate change.
- Climate Pollution Plans and Implementation Grants: $5 billion in appropriations in competitive grants to states, territories, D.C., tribes and municipalities to develop and implement greenhouse gas emissions reductions plans.
- Diesel Emissions Reduction Act: $60 million in funding for a bipartisan program aimed specifically at low-income and disadvantaged communities living near places that are exposed to a large amount of diesel emissions from the movement of goods, such as railyards, airports and distribution centers.
- Clean Air and Climate Grants: $476 million in funding for grants to update our aging air pollution monitoring network, such as investments in new monitoring systems to better detect air toxics.
- Wildlife Recovery and Habitat Restoration: $250 million in appropriations for wildlife recovery and to rebuild and restore units of the National Wildlife Refuge System and state wildlife management areas.
While these and other new policies in the CHIPS and Science Act, infrastructure bill and health, climate and energy spending package represent the greatest potential to strengthen U.S. science and technology in decades, our work is not done.
For the U.S. to truly lead in research, discovery and innovation, we must bring all necessary resources to bear, and that starts with securing appropriations for each and every one of the critical new approaches authorized in these bills.
For more information, check out the Science and Technology Action Plan here.