Fear of sequestration: U.S. scientists fear cuts to research
Being merely the latest in a series of fiscal near-meltdowns, the U.S. "sequestration" set to take effect on March 1 has barely made waves in Canada.
But scientists down south seem truly worried. If U.S. politicians can't make a deal to avert the sequester, automatic cuts will slash $85 billion from the federal budget. The American Association for the Advancement of Science estimates $54 billion will be cut from research and development programs by 2017.
Back in September, when sequestration was still a distant threat, Science magazine (which is published by the AAAS) helpfully broke down what the cuts would look like:
- "At the National Institutes of Health, authorized spending would drop by more than $2.5 billion, to about $28.3 billion, according to the report.
- The National Science Foundation would see a $586 million cut to its overall budget authority, which currently is $7.14 billion.
- A $400 million reduction would reduce the budget of the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science to about $4.5 billion.
- NASA's science programs would drop by $417 million to about $4.7 billion, and its Exploration account would fall by $309 million to about $3.5 billion.
- The Environmental Protection Agency's science and technology account would see a $65 million cut to about $730 million.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's research, operations, and facilities account would drop $257 million to about $2.9 billion.
- The U.S. Geological Survey would get an $88 million cut to about $1 billion.
- The cuts would be somewhat deeper—9.4 per cent—for defense research programs."
For those who (understandably) haven't been paying attention, the sequestration was a plan implemented during the 2011 deal to raise the debt ceiling. Its broad, indiscrimate cuts were supposed to be a way to insure politicians would create smarter ways to trim the federal budget before the cuts took effect.
So far, that hasn't happened.
The AAAS has a petition to protect funding for research and development, which they said had attracted over 6,500 signatures by Friday afternoon.
Kate Allen is the Star's science and technology reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @katecallen