Committee on Science and Technology
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Press Releases :: July 21, 2009

House Approves S&T Bills That Authorize Environmental Research Parks, Advance Natural Gas Vehicle R&D

(Washington, DC)—Today, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 2729, introduced by Technology and Innovation Subcommittee Vice Chair Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), which authorizes the designation of National Environmental Research Parks by the Secretary of Energy, and for other purposes, by a vote of 330 to 96.

The Parks were created between 1972 and 1992, although they have not been formally authorized before now.  The land was originally designated as buffer zones around research labs to ensure security and safety of the nation’s work on nuclear weapons. The protection inadvertently preserved large, intact ecosystems, including undisturbed native vegetation and wildlife, representing the major ecosystems of the U.S.  The long-term data sets that have been collected from the Parks are used to understand natural ecosystem development and variability, including how ecosystems respond to climate change and other factors.
 
“These Parks provide large tracts of undisturbed land that enable long-term research in environmental sciences, climate change, and the development and testing of methods to clean up past pollution,” said Committee on Science and Technology Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).
 
“These Parks have been a critical resource to the national and the global environmental research community for decades, yet they have never had a clearly defined source of support in the Department of Energy before. This bill finally addresses this issue and provides important guidance for research, development, education, and outreach activities at the Parks. Los Alamos National Laboratory includes a landscape of canyons, mesas, mountains, and the Rio Grande, providing a diverse range of ecosystems to research.  The Los Alamos environmental research park conducts ongoing environmental studies on everything from contaminant transport to woodland productivity to long-term climate change effects on the land,” said Luján
 
The House also approved H.R. 1622, to provide for a program of research, development, and demonstration on natural gas vehicles, by a vote of 393 to 35.
 
“This bill reauthorizes the Department of Energy’s research, development, and demonstration program in natural gas powered vehicles and related infrastructure,” said Gordon.  “Since Natural Gas is both cleaner than petroleum and domestically available, it will likely play an important role in a more sustainable transportation sector.”
 
For more information, please see the Committee’s website.
 
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