February 3, 2014

State of the Union Takeaways

Posted by Nick Saab

Written By Nick Saab, AGU Public Affairs

Now that sufficient time has passed to digest the President’s speech, it’s time to figure out how our State of the Union wish list fared. Below are our three big points we wanted to see mentioned, and the president’s response, if any. All of the quotations below, as well as a recording of the speech, can be found online.

 1.     Funding for the sciences

“We know that the nation that goes all-in on innovation today will own the global economy tomorrow. This is an edge America cannot surrender. Federally-funded research helped lead to the ideas and inventions behind Google and smartphones. That’s why Congress should undo the damage done by last year’s cuts to basic research so we can unleash the next great American discovery – whether it’s vaccines that stay ahead of drug-resistant bacteria, or paper-thin material that’s stronger than steel. And let’s pass a patent reform bill that allows our businesses to stay focused on innovation, not costly, needless litigation.”

Courtesy of the White House

Courtesy of the White House

2.     Retention of foreign students who earn STEM

“Teachers and principals in schools from Tennessee to Washington, D.C. are making big strides in preparing students with skills for the new economy – problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math.”

We were unsuccessful in seeing this mentioned, but it was great to hear the president call out the importance of STEM education nonetheless.

3.     A science-based agenda for swift action befitting the magnitude of the climate challenge

“Taken together, our energy policy is creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet. Over the past eight years, the United States has reduced our total carbon pollution more than any other nation on Earth. But we have to act with more urgency – because a changing climate is already harming western communities struggling with drought, and coastal cities dealing with floods. That’s why I directed my administration to work with states, utilities, and others to set new standards on the amount of carbon pollution our power plants are allowed to dump into the air. The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way. But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.” 

Overall, we’re pretty satisfied hitting two out of our three wish list goals, and are especially heartened by the president’s remarks on climate change. We’ll be watching over the next 12 months to see how his speech pans out, especially with regards to the National Climate Assessment due out this summer.

Thanks for following our State of the Union coverage, and we’d love to hear some of your thoughts in the comments section below.