WASHINGTON – Leaders of the House Science Committee released the following statements tonight in response to the science policy initiatives in the President’s State of the Union address:

Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) said, “The President is doing exactly the right thing in focusing on science, math and engineering research and education.  The nation needs new investments and new approaches in research and education if we are to remain competitive and prosperous.  I applaud the President for seizing the initiative, even in this time of budget stringency, to propose a significant and meaningful competitiveness agenda.  This initiative should be embraced by the nation’s business and academic leaders, who have been calling for just this sort of effort to protect our economic future.  I look forward to working with the President and my colleagues in Congress to move forward with the President’s proposals as their details emerge over the next several weeks.”

Boehlert noted that he has been actively pushing for a competitiveness initiative along the lines the President is proposing.  He met with Office of Management and Budget Director Joshua Bolten in December to discuss research and development funding, and he helped organize the National Summit on Innovation in December that brought together more than 50 Chief Executive Officers from industry and university presidents to meet with cabinet officials to discuss concerns about research and education.  In addition, the Science Committee held several hearings last year to draw attention to these issues, including a hearing in November on the National Academy of Sciences report, Rising Above the Gathering Storm.  The recommendations in that report were the basis of many of the President’s proposals tonight.

Space and Aeronautics Subcommittee Chairman Ken Calvert (R-CA) said, “The President has laid out a clear strategy to ensure that American workers continue to be the best educated in the world.  America’s future depends on our technological innovation through the hard sciences.  I will work with the President and my colleagues to ensure strong funding for our science programs and agencies, including NASA, in order to retain our global competitiveness and grow our economy through the next generation.”

Environment, Technology and Standards Subcommittee Chairman Vernon J. Ehlers (R-MI), who also helped organize the National Summit on Innovation, said, “To maintain our economic competitiveness and national security, it is crucial that the federal government plays a strong role in strengthening our country’s math and science education. Such investments will create an innovative workforce that will ensure U.S. economic health. I am very pleased with President Bush’s emphasis on competitiveness and his greater commitment to scientific research and development and math and science education. I stand ready to help in this process.”

Energy Subcommittee Chairman Judy Biggert (R-IL) said, “Our dependence on foreign energy sources is our Achilles heel, not just in the realm of diplomacy, but in terms of our future as the world’s economic leader.  No one has opened a heating bill, or filled up at the pump, and not felt the pangs of worry about our budgets, not to mention our future.

“We have to stop thinking ‘oil and gas’ and start thinking ‘nuclear, hydrogen, and other alternative sources’ that our advanced technologies have made possible.  Our future competitiveness relies on science and technology, and the President got it right tonight. 

“He has taken the long view of what this country needs – not only to remain competitive, but to stay at the forefront of technological innovation in the years to come.  We have the tools, the talent, and the answers to make sure America remains a world leader.

“The one thing we needed was this expression of support from our chief executive.  No doubt we face pressing short-term budgetary demands, but we surely will never meet long-term challenges without long-term investments in technology, science, and mathematics.  

“As a principal proponent of incentives for the teaching of mathematics and science in the 2000 No Child Left Behind Act, I applaud his new initiative to train 70,000 math and science teachers.

“As Chairman of the Energy Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over our nation’s energy laboratories, I look forward to guiding through my subcommittee a number of exciting proposals the President put forward tonight to end our reliance on oil and gas and improve our energy security.  They show his vision is right on the mark.”

Research Subcommittee Chairman Bob Inglis (R-SC) said, “It’s fabulous that the President is so committed to fueling our future with something other than foreign oil. He’s absolutely right that we’re addicted to oil. That addiction is the biggest threat to our long-term national security.

“Now is the time to put the pedal to the metal on developing hydrogen and other fuels of the future. Finding a replacement fuel like hydrogen would give Americans energy security, create new jobs and clean up the air.”

Inglis and other members of the House and Senate Hydrogen Caucuses had encouraged the White House to include a commitment to hydrogen in the State of the Union.  “That was the hydrogen caucus you heard cheering,” Inglis said, referencing the applause the President received in the portions of the speech devoted to hydrogen and other fuels of the future.