April 3, 1998
National Science Board passes resolution on the NIE
On October 15, 1997, in response to the proposal for a National
Institute for the Environment, Congress requested that the National
Science Foundation (NSF) "study how it would establish and operate" an
nonregulatory environmental institute that "provides a major role for
stakeholders in defining questions needing scientific attention and
which funds ongoing knowledge assessments, extramural research, on-line
information dissemination, and education and training through a
competitive peer reviewed process."
Over the past two months, some 210 university chancellors and
presidents have written in strong support of the creation of a National
Institute for the Environment. In doing so, they requested that the NSF
provide a "bold and creative vision for a new national partnership on
environmental science and engineering." The U.S. Chamber of Commerce
wrote a similar letter.
On March 19, 1998, a resolution (next column) was approved by the
National Science Board (NSB), the governing Board of NSF which, by its
contents, suggests that the report being prepared for Congress by NSF
may not be responsive to the questions raised.
On March 30, 1998, Representatives Saxton (R-NJ) and Abercrombie (D-HI)
wrote to NSF stating, "[t]he Congress clearly directed the NSF to
prepare a report as to how it would incorporate an NIE, not whether it
would do so. It is incumbent upon the NSF to follow Congress' request.
If the report does go in the direction of the NSB Resolution, it should
be redrafted to more directly respond to Congress' directive."
On April 1, at the House of Representatives appropriations committee
hearing on NSF's budget request for fiscal 1999, Representative
Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), noted that "a number of us are concerned that this
is a really slow process and the [Appropriations] Committee's direction
is not being considered".
The CNIE is unwavering in its commitment to the principles of the NIE
and sincerely hopes that the NSB resolution does not reflect the final
NSF report to Congress. CNIE and our many supporters stand ready to
work with the NSF to develop an approach to an NIE that responds to
Congressional interest in improving the scientific basis of
The Resolution passed by the National Science Board:
WHEREAS the National Science Foundation (NSF) was asked by the
conference report accompanying the FY 1998 Appropriations Act to comment
on the proposal to establish a National Institute for the Environment
WHEREAS the establishment of the NIE, as proposed, within the National
Science Foundation would fundamentally affect NSF structure, programs,
Be it RESOLVED that:
The NSB has considered the NIE proposal and agrees that there is need
for expanded environmental research, education, and assessment;
NSF has a legitimate role in fundamental environmental research and
education, that it actively supports such research, and has an
opportunity to enlarge its role in the future;
NSF can most constructively exercise a legitimate leadership role in
environmental research and education within an interagency framework
coordinated by White House agencies and the various coordinating
committees of the National Science and Technology Council; and that:
A separate organization or entity would not be an effective means of
achieving the intellectual goals connected with the proposed NIE because
it could isolate environmental research from related science and
engineering research, as well as be duplicative of the existing policy
and management structure and entail unnecessary cost.
-- Kevin Hutton, Webmaster Committee for the National Institute for the Environment 1725 K Street, NW Suite 212 Phone 202/530-5810 Washington, D.C. 20006-1401 Fax 202/628-4311 firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.cnie.org
To Unsubscribe: Email email@example.com with "unsubscribe sanet-mg". To Subscribe to Digest: Email firstname.lastname@example.org with the command "subscribe sanet-mg-digest".