Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act Takes Final Steps Toward Becoming Law

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By Carl Maxwell, Manager, Government Affairs, Office of External Affairs and Communication

In July, both the House of Representatives and the Senate each passed the Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act, bringing it much closer to becoming law.  The measure was added to a major defense measure.  The National Defense Authorization Act (S.1790/H.R.2500) is a massive bill which provides guidance to our nation’s military and Pentagon in ways large and small.  It is passed by Congress annually, and is considered one of the only “must pass” bills each year, along with keeping the government funded.  

The Sustainable Chemistry Research and Development Act (S.999/H.R.2051) is comprehensive legislation creating an interagency taskforce to oversee and direct investment in sustainable chemistry across the federal government. It would include leading agencies such as the National Science Foundation, Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Standards and Technology, as well as other agencies.  In addition to creating a national roadmap for boosting research and development in sustainable chemistry, it would authorize public-private partnerships to assist bringing innovative technologies to market. Congress has also asked federal agencies to look at their current research portfolios to help identify where lawmakers should invest in the future.

The House separately passed similar chemistry legislation in 2019, following hearings by Congress, and a major Senate Committee also passed a version in December of 2019, but this represents the first time this legislation has passed both houses of Congress.  The two different versions of the aforementioned defense bill will need to go to conference, where a final version must be negotiated, but ACS staff have received indications from Congressional sources that the sustainable chemistry provisions are likely to remain in the bill.

In concert with this legislation, ACS worked closely with allies in the House of Representatives to boost sustainable chemistry in a wide array of other legislation.  ACS included language sponsored by key members of Congress in the Solar Energy Research and Development Act, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, and the Clean Industrial Technology Act directing agencies to focus research efforts on boosting sustainable and green chemistry.  All three passed the House of Representatives in September 2020, and ACS staff are pushing the Senate to take up their consideration. Moreover, ACS worked with industry partners to include a pilot program at the Department of Energy to facilitate technology transfer of late stage sustainable chemistry research, which was ultimately included in House appropriations report language.

The ACS promotes public policies that advance the chemistry enterprise and its practitioners. One of our four focus areas is Sustainability and the Environment. To find out more about advocacy at the ACS and how you can get involved visit: