Dec 17 2007

Shelby Announces Funding for North 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 North 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. 
Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP)- $271.5 Million

The Program Management Office for NASA’s Lunar Precursor and Robotic Program (LPRP) is based at Marshall Space Flight Center.  The program includes the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, LCROSS and Lunar Robotics Lander missions.  These missions will gather critical data for the return of the United States to the moon and the potential for a long-term presence there.  The bill includes a total of $271.5 million for LPRP, of which $42 million will be for the Lunar Lander mission and another $20 million will be for the program management office for activities associated with the Marshall Space Flight Center.  The LPRP management office will be directly involved in the planning and oversight of future lunar robotic missions, integrating lunar data from NASA and other international missions, oversee technology development, and lead NASA’s public outreach and education activities for understanding the lunar environment.

“The LPRP program is an invaluable tool for the scientists and engineers at NASA to determine the best course of action when returning to the moon,” said Shelby. “The President, Congress and the scientific community have repeatedly pointed out the importance of a robotic lunar lander as a precursor to manned flights to the moon.  I am glad the bill recognizes this need and Marshall’s role in accomplishing it.”

Space Shuttle - $4 Billion

“Marshall’s expertise has been critical to the Shuttle’s safe return to flight and continued mission of assembling the International Space Station,” said Shelby. “The legislation not only fully funds the Space Shuttle Program, it also fully supports the work of the Shuttle Propulsion Office at Marshall, which will continue to provide ongoing support for the Shuttle program.”

Marshall Space Flight Center Crew Launch Vehicle – $1.225 Billion

“The bill provides $1.225 billion for the Crew Launch Vehicle, based at Marshall Space Flight Center, which will allow for the development of our next generation of manned spacecraft,” said Shelby.   “As we prepare to retire the Shuttle in 2010, the groundwork must be laid for the nation’s next manned exploration vehicles and our return to the moon.”

National Center for Explosives Training and Research - $23.5 Million

This facility will provide the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) a post-blast research and training facility at Redstone Arsenal.  This addition will compliment the FBI’s Hazardous Devices School, as well as NASA’s research expertise.

“This legislation provides $23.5 million for the completion of a permanent site for the National Explosives Training and Research Facility,” said Shelby.  “This training facility will provide federal, state and local law enforcement one-stop training for explosives.  The co-location of these agencies will create a training and research component at Redstone that exists no where else in the world.”

Geospatial Data Analysis Center at Alabama A&M University - $423,000

This project will allow Alabama A&M to expand the number of weather stations across the state and increase its ability to fully evaluate the impact of weather on our soil and its ability to maintain agricultural capabilities.

“Alabama A&M is working to provide farmers, policy makers and the public with important information about local weather conditions,” said Shelby.  “Farmers will use this information to determine the best time to plant and harvest crops.  Likewise, emergency managers will have a much clearer picture of ground level weather conditions through the real-time data supplied by the grid of stations.”

UAH Remote Sensing Center - $1.034 Million

This funding will allow for the continued development of a NOAA Cooperative Institute for Remote Sensing Applications at UAH.  The Institute will serve to advance knowledge and understanding of the environment using information technologies and both ground and space-based remote sensing systems.

“UAH and its researchers have developed a unique and state-of-the-art capability in the compilation and evaluation of remote sensing data to answer environmental questions,” said Shelby.  “The volume of information available on our climate and atmosphere is staggering, but too often the data is not used or used improperly because researchers do not have access to integrated data or the user tools to evaluate it. This Institute will seek to solve the knowledge deficit and ensure that policy makers and researchers have the information necessary to make sound decisions based on the most accurate data.”

Tornado and Hurricane Hazards Operations Center (THOR) - $846,000

The Center will seek to improve detection, tracking and forecasting of tornadic thunderstorms and land-falling hurricanes in the Southeast.  The Center is a cooperative effort between UAH, the University of South Alabama, the NOAA Severe Storm Laboratory and the NOAA Hurricane Research Division.

“The southeastern United States is particularly prone to violent and catastrophic weather conditions created by both severe thunderstorms and hurricanes,” said Shelby.  “Research at the THOR is focused on increasing public warning times by enhancing our ability to detect and predict the nature of these events.”

Collaborative Research and Development Initiative for the Gulf of Mexico - $752,000

The Von Braun Center for Science and Innovation will work in collaboration with NOAA, Alabama research universities, the National Space Science and Technology Center and other federal agencies to more effectively complete NOAA missions.

“This project combines the skill sets and expertise of NOAA, NASA, the Army and our research universities to tackle the more complicated missions for NOAA,” said Shelby.  “The initiative will greatly increase efficiency and success.  This project will help open a dialogue between a variety of agencies and institutions to ensure that the best methods are used to accomplish goals.”

Advanced Space Propulsion Material Research and Technology Center - $564,000

The Advanced Space Propulsion Materials Research Center at the Alabama A&M University Research Institute will create a comprehensive, diverse and flexible pool of talent at lower labor rates to facilitate research and development, studies and analyses of higher temperature advanced materials research.

“This funding will help spur the growth of minority engineers providing services to NASA in the areas of physics, engineering, information technology, nanotechnology and other technical fields,” said Shelby.  “Alabama A&M University Research Institute will provide Marshall Space Flight Center access to its pool of knowledgeable faculty members and student engineers to help the agency build a skillful and diverse workforce.”

Autonomous Rendezvous and Docking System - $1.175 Million

This program will develop an autonomous rendezvous and docking capability for robotic space missions.

“As the United States moves towards its goal of future space flights, robotic assembly of lunar and Mars exploration spacecraft and its supporting infrastructure must be conducted in Earth and lunar orbit.  This will lead to a dramatic increase in rendezvous and docking missions, many of which will be un-manned.  This funding will develop a prototype to fulfill NASA’s need to have an operational autonomous rendezvous and docking system.”

Space Nuclear Power Systems - $1.645 Million

The Space Nuclear Power Systems project will develop a cost effective nuclear power system to support the long-range objectives of NASA’s missions to the moon, Mars and eventually deep space.

“Marshall Space Flight Center is researching nuclear technology in order to support sustained missions to the moon, Mars and beyond,” said Shelby.  “In order to effectively and efficiently achieve these missions, affordable and abundant power will be required.  Nuclear power technology is the most promising source to accomplish this goal and Space Nuclear Power Systems will help NASA’s development of these resources.”

Sensor Applications for Non-Destructive Evaluation - $1.175 Million

This program will provide critical breakthrough technology to NASA for materials development, testing and safety improvements to the Space Shuttle and Ares launch systems.

“The Vision for Space Exploration requires concurrent management of Space Shuttle operations and development of the new Ares Launch Systems” said Shelby.  “The Sensor Applications for Non-Destructive Evaluation will provide new capabilities that will result in significant design understanding and safety improvements for NASA’s materials development on the Space Shuttle and Ares program.”

Level 4 Data Center Prototype - $940,000

This Center will provide a secure and retrievable storage solution for Marshall’s Data Center that will meet all Presidential Directives.

“Marshall Space Flight Center currently has no secure off-site storage for its critical data, as required by Presidential Directive,” said Shelby.  “This funding will allow Marshall to determine a procedure for prioritizing data and provide a survey of possible locations.  Marshall will improve its data storage to meet security requirements set forth by the federal government.”

Composite Material Research for Space Exploration - $1.41 Million

The Composite Material Research program will assist Marshal Space Flight Center in accomplishing its current and future missions by providing critical information on composite materials as they relate to the NASA space exploration programs.

“As NASA focuses on the future of space programs, it is vital to address material options to provide alternative solutions to mission-critical issues,” said Shelby.  “Currently, NASA faces a unique challenge in advancing its knowledge of composite materials for structural and propulsion applications.  This program will be an important component in understanding the value of composite materials that will be necessary to support the development of advance space systems.”

Advanced High Temperature Materials Research - $940,000

This funding will be used for research coordinated between Southern Research Institute and Marshall Space Flight Center.  Researchers will develop modeling, testing and characterization techniques for advanced composite materials in extreme environments.

“The environments that will be encountered in planned launch systems and other aerospace applications require the use of advanced composites in both structural and thermal protection systems,” said Shelby.  “The successful utilization of these materials in these types of environments requires testing and evaluations to keep pace with the increasingly severe environments in which they are used.  This funding will identify gaps in current technology and develop applications to solve these challenges, reducing the overall risk to the programs.”

Methane Fuels for In-Space Propulsion Activities - $1.41 Million

This program at UAH will research the ignition and combustion characteristics of methane with liquid oxygen to assure realization of high performance and stable combustion in liquid rocket engines.

“Methane is currently under consideration by NASA as a key energy source for propulsion systems in its plans to return to the moon.  However, it is imperative that the full performance potential of this fuel be realized for NASA to achieve its goals.  The Methane Fuels for In-Space Propulsion Activities will research the fundamental insight of the combustion behavior of this fuel with liquid oxygen to realize its full performance potential.”

U.S. Space and Rocket Center Museum Improvements - $470,000

The museum will update exhibits to provide a more stimulating presentation of the history of our nation’s space exploration efforts and serve to increase interest in science and technology.

“As the official visitor center for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, it is important that the U.S. Space and Rocket Center move forward to create exhibits that explain NASA’s vision for space exploration,” said Shelby.  “The U.S. Space and Rocket Center is home to some of the most important artifacts of our nation’s space program and highlights the accomplishments that Alabama has played in support of NASA.  It remains important to update not only the appearance but also the educational value of the museum’s exhibits.”

Radially Segmented Launch Vehicle (RSLV) LOX/Methane Technology Maturation - $470,000

These funds will support the ongoing technology maturation program for liquid oxygen / liquid methane propulsion technology at Marshall Space Flight Center.

“The President’s Vision for Space Exploration requires investigation into the advantages of LOX/Methane technology and the advantages of this rocket propellant combination,” said Shelby.  “A partnership between Marshall Space Flight Center and the Air Force Research Laboratories will allow us to capitalize upon the ongoing RSLV risk reduction activity by utilizing the existing hardware in place at Marshall.”

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 advances 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 projects were included in the Senate bill:

Athens Police Department for mobile data units- $211,500
University of North Alabama Criminal Justice Outreach Initiatives- $282,000
City of Huntsville interoperability for local law enforcement- $564,000
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 area projects were included in the Senate bill:

City of Madison’s domestic violence program-$141,000
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 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 $152.272 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.”