March 24, 2017

5 Things to Know About the New House Earth & Space Science Caucus

Posted by bwebster

What is a caucus and why is it important?

A caucus is a way for members of Congress to show support or interest in an issue outside of the committees on which they serve. Some caucus are well-known such as the Congressional Black Caucus or the Oceans Caucus. The Earth & Space Science (ESS) Caucus seeks to increase understanding amongst Congress of the sciences’ impact on policy and to facilitate engagement with scientists.

How did the Earth and Space Science Caucus get started?

In 2015, the U.S. House of Representatives introduced legislation that sought to de-prioritize the geosciences. AGU and other organizations, through education and advocacy efforts, successfully lobbied Congress to remove language from the bill before the bill became law.

Building upon the success and momentum of those efforts, those same organizations decided to create a caucus dedicated to the Earth and space sciences in 2016. Congressman David Jolly (R-FL) and Congressman Jared Polis (D-CO), who are both champions of the geosciences, agreed to co-chair the caucus. Read more about the caucus kick-off in Eos and FYI.

What does the Caucus do?

Highlight the value of Earth and space science. To achieve this goal, the ESS Caucus is planning a series of fun and educational congressional events to showcase inspiring science and innovations. One of our bigger initiatives this year was the ESS Caucus’ first briefing, which was held on 28 February 2017, and featured discussions on critical minerals, Earth observation satellites, and exoplanets. Check out the Storify from the briefing for highlights.
The caucus will also host a reception featuring applied Earth and space science innovations that are addressing national needs, such as economic growth, public health, and national security. In addition to these educational events, the ESS Caucus will also work to ensure that the value of Earth and space science is reflected in policies considered by Congress.

How does the ESS caucus promote Earth and space science funding?

The caucus promotes robust funding for the Earth and space sciences by showcasing the value of federally-funded research, as well as how research leads to innovations and technological advancements that benefit society. The caucus also showcases the importance of supporting the scientific workforce, especially students and early-career scientists.

How can I get involved?

Share this one-pager with your Representative and ask them to demonstrate their support for the Earth and space sciences by joining the House Earth and Space Science Caucus.

If you lead an organization or agency connected with the Earth and space sciences, consider joining the alliance that supports the caucus. As a member of the alliance, you’ll have the opportunity to plan and participate in future ESS caucus events.

For more information or to get involved with the Earth and Space Science Caucus, please contact Brittany Webster (bwebster@agu.org) at the American Geophysical Union.