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Geoscience Policy Monthly Review: May 2013

The Monthly Review is part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. Current and archived monthly reviews are available online.

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Federal Agencies

  • Update: Senate EPW Committee approves McCarthy nomination

Gina McCarthy has been approved by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee to succeed Lisa Jackson as the next head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The vote came a week late after Republicans on the committee boycotted the hearing over concerns regarding transparency issues.  McCarthy’s confirmation will now proceed to a full Senate vote.

  • Update: Senate CST Committee approves Foxx nomination

On May 22, 2013, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee held a hearing to confirm Anthony R. Foxx as the new Secretary of Transportation. Foxx, the current mayor of Charlotte, N.C., has been criticized by some Republicans for his lack of direct experience working in the transportation sector. Despite these reservations, Foxx faced few objections during the hearing and is expected to be confirmed without difficulty. A simple majority vote in the Senate is required to confirm his nomination - at the time of publication no vote had been scheduled. If confirmed, Foxx would replace Ray LaHood and would become the country’s 17th Transportation Secretary.

  • Update: Senate CST Committee hearing on Pritzker for Secretary of Commerce

Penny Pritzker, President Obama’s pick for Secretary of Commerce, was questioned by the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation committee on May 23, 2013. Though the hearing was relatively cordial, Pritzker, a businesswoman with close ties to the Hyatt Hotel chain, faced scrutiny regarding the tense management-labor relations allegedly reported at Hyatt Hotels. The Committee plans to hold a vote next month on Pritzker’s confirmation. A majority in the full Senate is required to confirm the nomination.

  • Senate Confirms Ernest Moniz as Secretary of Energy

On May 16, 2013, the Senate confirmed Ernest Moniz as the new Secretary of Energy with a vote of 97-0. Moniz replaces former Secretary Steven Chu.

The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources approved Moniz’s nomination on April 18, 2013. The confirmation was delayed by Lindsey Graham (R-SC) who placed a hold on the nomination due to concerns regarding the future of the Mixed Oxide (MOX) Fuel Fabrication Facility in South Carolina.

Moniz is a nuclear physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and heads the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI) and the Laboratory for Energy and the Environment. He previously served as Under Secretary of Energy at the Department of Energy (DOE) and Associate Director for Science in the Office of Science and Technology Policy. He also served on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, the Department of Defense Threat Reduction Advisory Committee, and the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future.







Monthly Review prepared by: Abby Seadler, Geoscience Policy Associate, Kimberley Corwin, 2013 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern, and Brittany Huhmann, Clinton Koch, and John Kemper 2013 AGI/AIPG Summer Interns.

Sources: AccuWeather, The American Institute of Physics, BuildStrong Coalition, Bureau of Land Management, Coalition for National Science Funding, Department of Energy, Department of the Interior,  Environment and Energy Daily, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Emergency Management Agency, the Federal Register, GeoOptics, Government Accountability Office, Greenwire, The Hill Blog, House of Representatives, Keck Institute for Space Studies Asteroid Retrieval Mission Study, Lunar and Planetary Institute, MIT Energy Initiative, National Academies Press, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program, National Institute of Standards and Technology, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, Science Magazine, Thomas, U.S. Geological Survey, U.S. Government Printing Office, U.S. Senate, the White House


This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Geoscience Policy Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies, and others as part of a continuing effort to improve communications about the role of geoscience in policy. More information on these topics can be found on the Geoscience Policy Current Issues pages. For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit the web site or contact us at or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.


Compiled May 31, 2013