Dec 17 2007

Shelby Announces Funding for East Alabama Commerce, Justice and Science Projects

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), ranking member of the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee (CJS), today announced funding for a number of important projects in East Alabama.  The funding is included in the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 and will soon be voted on in the House of Representatives.  The Senate will consider the bill following approval by the House of Representatives. 

“This legislation includes a number of important projects in Alabama and across the nation,” said Shelby.  “The Senate’s action on this bill reiterates our commitment to funding these projects and advancing important nationwide initiatives.”
                                                                    
The Commerce, Justice and Science subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA), the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Departments of Commerce (DOC) and Justice (DOJ), among others.  
                                 
Aquatic Genomics and Biosecurity Research Center - $940,000

This Center at Auburn University will serve as a central point for several initiatives that will assist the nation in protecting its natural aquatic resources from biotic and abiotic threats. To date, there are no national programs that work with aquatic biosecurity and bioterrorism.  This Center will analyze, evaluate and address the problems affecting the health of aquatic ecosystems, the vulnerability of our aquaculture industry and the safety of our seafood products.

“The Center’s efforts at Auburn will be leveraged off of years of research on genomics and biologic diseases and threats to marine life,” said Shelby.  “I believe this comprehensive approach to the health of our nation’s fishing and aquaculture industries will ensure the long-term safety and viability of the resources.”

National Textile Center - $4.7 Million

The National Textile Center will provide critical research and support in textile engineering and education.  Much of the research conducted at the Center provides protective equipment for first responders.  The Center also promotes textile science and helps prepare future engineers and scientists for future challenges in textile, energy, biomedicals and manufacturing.  The Center is a consortium of research universities from across the country including Auburn University.

“Our first responders are on the front lines of their communities each day, where they protect citizens from any number of disasters,” said Shelby.  “We have a responsibility to defend them with the best and most up-to-date protective gear available.  That is why the National Textile Center research is so important.”

Novel Polymerics Research - $1.316 Million

The next generation of advanced polymeric materials and novel structures will likely be a major component of the United States’ economy for the next decade.  The National Textile Center provides funding to conduct research to examine these materials and their best applications to benefit our commercial competitiveness in the global market.

“As new technologies emerge, it is critical that we conduct the appropriate research to ensure that all the possibilities for their use are discovered,” said Shelby.  “Polymeric materials and novel structures have the potential to significantly change our global marketplace.  I am proud that Auburn University is on the forefront of this emerging field.”

Center for Aquatic Resource Management - $1.551 Million

This Center will continue the partnership between Auburn University and state and federal agencies to develop and implement sustainable practices to protect and restore Alabama’s aquatic resources.  Tools developed in the Center will be used throughout the Southeast and abroad to manage other aquatic resource problems.  This funding will also provide for projects and workshops aimed at fostering communications and information exchanges between Center scientists, agency biologists and state government officials.

“This funding will allow for further development of the Center for Aquatic Resource Management at Auburn University,” said Shelby.  “This Center will focus on studying increased economic development for recreational fishing and other sustainable uses of aquatic resources, recovery of imperiled fish and aquatic species and aquatic habitat conservation.”

West Alabama Marine Shrimp and Fish Aquaculture - $235,000

Auburn University will help develop methods and find efficiencies in the development of marine shrimp and fish aquaculture using ponds and the salinic water found throughout West Alabama.

“Auburn University has proven itself time and again as an institution on the forefront of groundbreaking research that leads to economic development in Alabama,” said Shelby.  “Auburn University will use this funding to continue its efforts to develop an inland shrimp and saltwater fish industry in the Black Belt.  These funds assist farmers with the necessary information to grow and market shrimp and other fish by profitably using existing water sources in the Black Belt.”

Jacksonville State University Science Education Initiative - $235,000

This program will serve as a tool for educators to allow their students to reach their full potential through participation in exciting hands-on projects.  The projects are dynamic in scope and are structured to be less time-restrictive on the classroom schedule and the educator through self-directed curriculum. 

“As our nation becomes more and more dependent on new innovative technologies, we must provide students with the basic understanding of the amazing accomplishments that can be achieved through scientific discovery,” said Shelby.  “We must also provide science teachers with the tools they need to shape students into the doctors, engineers and computer programmers of the future.  I believe that Jacksonville State is well positioned to serve the needs of East Alabama’s youth with cutting edge, hands-on science programs.”

Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) - $587.233 Million

The bill includes critical funding for the law enforcement community to upgrade technology, including in-car computers, cameras and communications systems. The funding bolsters forensic capabilities and advance the practice of community policing nationwide.  The following grants will assist state and local law enforcement in their ability to protect and serve their communities.  The following project was included in the Senate bill:

City of Auburn for a mobile data system- $305,500
City of Phenix City for public safety communication updates- $329,000
COPS Nationwide Hiring Program- $20 million
 
“The COPS grant program aims to implement and enhance community policing,” said Shelby.  COPS funding assists law enforcement agencies across the country meet an ever-increasing range of challenges. The $587.233 million provided in the bill will allow police and sheriff’s departments throughout Alabama to take advantage of these grants and increase their enforcement efforts to become more efficient and effective.”            

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program

The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program (JAG) provides funding for law enforcement to implement programs that prevent and control crime based on their own needs.  The following projects were included in the Senate bill:

National Center for Victims of Crime for assistance and services to victims of crime- $470,000
Simon Wiesenthal Center for law enforcement sensitivity training for hate crimes and civil rights abuse investigations- $1.598 Million
A Child is Missing-Alabama to maintain and upgrade technology to assist authorities in locating missing children- $47,000
 
The following projects and programs in Alabama are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Alabama Statewide Mapping and Height Modernization Project - $423,000

The state will use this funding to continue to plan and produce a high resolution and large scale geospatial database of Alabama. 

“Accurate, high resolution Geographic Information System mapping of Alabama will allow state and local agencies to develop better master plans for the area and, more importantly, prepare for emergencies within the state,” said Shelby.  “The project will allow emergency managers and community planners to utilize the most up-to-date maps available when developing evacuation plans, traffic patterns or community development.”

Alabama Drought Research Study - $752,000

This study is developing methods for industry, agriculture, municipalities and other users of surface water to store and access Alabama’s water resources for the best economic benefit.

“While Alabama has been blessed with an abundance of water resources, we have all seen during this summer’s drought that those resources are not unlimited or constant,” said Shelby.  “Many of Alabama’s research universities, led by researchers at UAH and Auburn, are studying a variety of methods and plans that will allow government, industry and farmers the ability to capture and retain water resources when they are abundant to insulate the state from the impacts of catastrophic drought.  Considering our current severe drought status, I cannot think of a more appropriate project.”

Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center PREPARE Program - $470,000

The Planned Response Emergency Portal and Accessible Response Environment (PREPARE) program will work to establish, develop and operate a center and system for the interstate and intrastate accumulation, storage, retrieval, analysis and dissemination of vital information relating to crimes, criminals and criminal activity for the justice community.

“The integrated technology the PREPARE program provides will improve police officer response times, safety and access to court data,” said Shelby.  “The program will also improve the foundation for partner agencies to share information to better track and manage offenders, respond to incidents and support mutual aid organizations at local, state and national levels.

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Drug and Gang Prevention and Prosecution Program - $1.692 Million

The program will seek to more comprehensively attack the growing drug problem in Alabama and its connections to gang activity through coordination between the Department of Public Safety and the Office of Prosecution Services.

“Increased drug use and gang activity represent an alarming trend,” said Shelby.  “By prosecuting gang and drug offenders, this program will deter Alabamians who may be considering joining a gang or participating in drug trafficking.”

Alabama District Attorney’s Association Computer Forensics Laboratory - $752,000

The Alabama District Attorneys Association has developed three regional computer forensics laboratories to investigate and prosecute all forms of computer crimes such as child pornography and solicitation, white collar crime and identity theft.  The labs are also used to search for evidence in many other cases, to educate officers in the preservation of digital evidence and to educate the public on internet safety.

“As technology expands, unfortunately, so do opportunities for criminals,” said Shelby.  “Thousands of crimes are committed over the internet each day.  As such, our law enforcement community must have the needed technology to track down and prosecute offenders.”

Alabama Department of Corrections Electronic Training and Security Tools - $376,000

The Electronic Training and Security Tools (ETAST) project will continue an effort to develop interactive computer-based training for the Alabama Department of Corrections to satisfy requirements for new and recurring training.  The project will also convert paper architecture drawings into electronic images for the development of three dimensional situational awareness and training for crisis response teams.

“ETAST will enable the Department of Corrections to provide training more efficiently and effectively,” said Shelby. “This project also will help increase the safety of both officers and inmates at Alabama’s prisons.”

Play by the Rules: Laws for Youth - $94,000

Play by the Rules has provided students in Alabama with a better understanding of the laws that govern society. Phase II of the program will be an effort to expand the program to other states.

“Research shows that law-related education can have a direct impact on a youth’s decisions to commit a crime when put in at-risk situations,” said Shelby. “I hope that Play by the Rules can have the same impact across the country as it has had here in Alabama.”

The following nationwide projects and programs are slated to receive funds in the Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2008:

Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program - $15.608 Million

The Child Sexual Predator Elimination Grant Program is a new national initiative that will provide grants to state and local governments to locate, arrest and prosecute sexual predators.  These grants will enable state and local law enforcement entities to specifically focus on sexual predators who fail to register, sex offenders who prey upon children and those who engage in child sexual exploitation.  

“It is our obligation to protect our children against these crimes,” said Shelby.  “We must provide the necessary resources to protect our most vulnerable citizens- children- so they will not fall victim to these despicable acts.  I have long supported efforts to protect our children and strongly believe that this funding will go a long way to aid in the eradication of these horrible crimes.”

DNA Initiative and Forensic Sciences Funding - $171.072 Million

$152.272 million for DNA initiative

$18.8 million for Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants

Our nation’s forensic labs have a critical need to reduce backlogs in all areas, particularly in DNA.  This funding will help meet that need while providing the flexibility required for the men and women in the labs to determine their own priorities.

“Significant funding for forensic sciences as a whole is included in our bill, with $152.2 million specifically designated for the DNA initiative,” said Shelby.  “Also included is $18.8 million for the Paul Coverdell Forensic Science Improvement Grants. State and local forensics labs use Coverdell grants to address a variety of needs within the forensic sciences, including DNA analysis.  The bill provides significant flexibility to allow state lab directors to use Coverdell dollars to address the pressing needs of their individual labs and make important decisions regarding the best use of federal resources, including DNA backlog reduction.”

Methamphetamine Enforcement and Clean-up - $61.187 Million

Nationwide, methamphetamine usage is on the rise.  Its use continues to poison our nation and the drug knows no boundaries of age, gender, class or race.  The production of methamphetamine is particularly detrimental to communities, as the materials used to create the drugs are extremely dangerous.

“Our bill includes $61.187 million for state and local law enforcement officials to combat methamphetamine production and distribution,” said Shelby.  “This program will also work to target drug hot spots and to remove and dispose of hazardous materials at clandestine methamphetamine labs.”

Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) - $130 Million

EPSCoR works with targeted states to help them become more competitive and improve the level of science education.    

“The bill provides EPSCoR with $130 million to assist states, including Alabama, with establishing partnerships with government, higher education and industry that will provide lasting improvements in their research infrastructure,” said Shelby.  “Science is rapidly expanding our understanding of the world around us and will lead to more technology and well paying jobs.  Our students must be armed with a solid science education to succeed later in life.”

Economic Development Administration - $280 Million

The Economic Development Administration works to empower communities recovering from economic distress by assisting them in developing their own revitalization strategies.  Many communities benefiting from EDA assistance have endured economic distress as a result of natural disasters, the closure of military installations and other Federal facilities and the depletion of natural resources.

“The Economic Development Administration provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies for public works, planning and other projects designed to facilitate economic development,” said Shelby.  “Within these funds, $14.1 million is included for the Trade Adjustment Assistance program.”

JASON Project - $2.209 Million

The JASON Project provides educational and professional development programs geared to engage students in science, math and technology. Students participating in the JASON Project are given opportunities to participate in authentic, multidisciplinary research directed by leading scientists.  For educators, online professional development courses in science, math and literacy provide them with the tools needed to present these subjects to their students in an engaging manner.

“The bill includes $2.209 million for the JASON Project,” said Shelby.  “These funds will be used to help introduce innovative instructional approaches and improve student and teacher learning outcomes in the fields of math and science in classrooms across the country.”