Monthly Review: March 2007


This monthly review goes out to the leadership of AGI's member societies, members of the AGI Government Affairs Advisory Committee, and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

1. House and Senate Pass Budget Resolutions for Fiscal 2008
2. Congress Works on Emergency War Supplemental
3. Senate Leadership Introduces Competitiveness Legislation
4. House Committee Approves Legislation Strengthening Science Education
5. Advanced Energy Agency Measure Gains Momentum
6. Senate Proposes Carbon Sequestration Pilot Studies
7. Bill Introduced to Help Teach Scientists to Communicate with Policymakers
8. Senate Introduces Measure to Support More Hurricane Research
9. Senators Wade Into Water Resources Act
10. House Passes Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Legislation
11. New House Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence
12. Supreme Court Rules Carbon Dioxide Can be Regulated
13. Energy Department Releases Carbon Sequestration Atlas
14. Small Resigns as Head of Smithsonian, Scientists Step In
15. Jim Hughes is Acting Director of Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management
16. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Releases Impact Report
17. Europeans Agree to Emission Limits, While the U.S. Blocks Carbon Trading
18. Global Positioning System Altered by Solar Flares

19. One World, One Geology Mapping Project
20. AAPG/AGI Fall Geoscience Policy Internships: Apply by April 15
21. Key Federal Register Notices
22. New Updates to the Web

1. House and Senate Pass Budget Resolutions for Fiscal 2008

The House and the Senate completed their non-binding budget resolutions for fiscal year 2008 and in April the two chambers will convene a conference committee to work out differences between their spending blueprints. The budget resolution sets spending limits for major functions of the federal government and provides an outline of budget priorities for the 12 appropriation subcommittees in both chambers to follow.

The Senate approved their version of the budget resolution (S.Con.Res 21) on March 23, 2007 by a vote of 52 to 47. The resolution approves nearly $3 trillion in spending with $32.9 billion for the environment and natural resources, which is called function 300 and includes the Interior Department, the Agriculture Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The Senate also approved spending of $27.6 billion for general science, space and technology, which is called function 250 and includes the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the science programs within the Energy Department. Both functions would receive increases over the President's request and the President's request already includes healthy increases for NSF and Office of Science at DOE related to the President's American Competitiveness Initiative.

An amendment sponsored by Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) would more than triple funding (from $79 million to $279 million) for the Department of Energy's carbon sequestration initiative. An amendment sponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) would allow Congress to set-up a reserve fund for asbestos claims. The asbestos and insurance industries would contribute $140 billion into the trust fund to compensate victims of mesothelioma and the federal government would serve as the fund's administrator. Finally an amendment sponsored by Kent Conrad (D-ND) would allow the Finance Committee to extend tax breaks for wind, biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar and other clean energy technologies.

The House approved their version of the Budget Resolution, H. Con. Res. 99, by a close vote of 216 to 210 on March 28, 2007. The House provided $32.8 billion for function 300 and $27.6 billion for function 250. Although conservation and renewable energy would receive spending increases compared to the President's request and fiscal year 2007 levels, several amendments to increase spending on renewable energy and climate change by as much as $28 billion were defeated.

The extra funding requested for all of the approved amendments and additions to specific functions must come from offsets (i.e., cuts to other programs or tax increases) because of the new "pay-as-you-go" rules in Congress. In many cases, the offsets were not specified by the Budget Committees and will have to be worked out when the appropriation subcommittees start making tough decisions under tight fiscal constraints.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

2. Congress Works on Emergency War Supplemental

The Senate passed a $123 billion war supplemental spending bill in late March and must now work with the House to resolve any differences between their two bills. The measure passed on a partisan vote of 51-48 and President Bush has threatened to veto the measure because it sets timelines for military withdrawals from Iraq.

The measure also contains billions of dollars for other projects not directly associated with the war in Iraq. A few of the other projects are related to natural hazards and are of interest to the Earth science community. The House and Senate set aside $500 million for emergency wildland firefighting within the Interior Department, while the Senate provides $94 million for the Army Corps of Engineers to repair 213 sites on the levee system along the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers in California that were damaged by storms in 2006.

The two chambers will conference to work out differences between their bills and then send the measure to the President. If the President vetoes the bill, Congress does not have the votes to override the veto and they will have to start anew on a revised emergency supplemental.

3. Senate Leadership Introduces Competitiveness Legislation

The Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the America COMPETES Act. Also known as "America Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science Act," or S. 761, the bill calls for greater investments in education and innovation. The bill is similar to last year's Frist-Reid National Competitiveness Investment Act. The bill, which currently has 44 cosponsors, will not be referred to committee, but has been placed directly on the Senate's legislative calendar. This means that leadership could take action on this bill, including considering amendments and a full Senate vote in the near future.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

4. House Committee Approves Legislation Strengthening Science Education

The House is also working on competitiveness legislation that would provide more funding for science and math education. The House Committee on Science and Technology passed H.R. 362 with overwhelming support this month. Also known as the "10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds" Science and Math Scholarship Act, H.R. 362 is designed to better prepare U.S. math and science teachers to teach these subjects. The measure, sponsored by Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN), was created in response to the National Academies' 2005 "Rising Above the Gathering Storm" report, which concluded that "America's footing as a global leader is slipping," according to Chairman Gordon. The report showed that the majority of U.S. grade school students receive math and science instruction from teachers without degrees or certifications in these areas.

H.R. 362 addresses these issues by increasing scholarships for undergraduate students majoring in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields, who are also committed to pursuing a teaching career. The measure establishes a teacher education program at the National Science Foundation to encourage education faculty to work with STEM faculty on ways to improve education for math and science teachers; provides in-service training to math and science teachers to improve content knowledge and teaching skills; and authorizes the development of master's degree programs for in-service math and science teachers.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

5. Advanced Energy Agency Measure Gains Momentum

Senator Max Baucus (D-MT) introduced the Energy Research Act of 2007, or S. 696, in late February. The bill establishes an Advanced Research Projects Administration-Energy (ARPA-E) to initiate high risk, innovative energy research to improve the energy security of the United States. Aimed at reducing foreign energy imports and improving the competitiveness of the U.S. economy, the bill promotes revolutionary changes in the critical technologies that would promote energy competitiveness, brings cutting-edge science and engineering to the market, and encourages greater innovation in energy efficiency and alternative energy sources.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

6. Senate Proposes Carbon Sequestration Pilot Studies

On March 22, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced S. 962, a bill that amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to reauthorize and improve the carbon capture and storage research, development, and demonstration program of the Department of Energy. The bill tightens the language in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to make the goals of the carbon capture and storage program more specific. In particular, the bill provides more support for research and calls for greater development and demonstration efforts.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

7. Bill Introduced to Help Teach Scientists to Communicate with Policymakers

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) introduced the Scientific Communications Act of 2007 (H.R. 1453) to provide communications skills training for graduate students in the sciences. This legislation, co-sponsored by Congressman Bart Gordon (D-TN), Chairman of the Committee on Science and Technology, provides resources at the National Science Foundation (NSF) to improve the ability of scientists to convey the relevance and importance of scientific research and technical topics to policy makers.

The bill directs the NSF to establish a program to make grants to institutions to provide communications training to graduate students to improve the ability of scientists to interact with policymakers. The bill authorizes the appropriation of $10 million every year from 2008 to 2012 to the NSF to carry out such a program.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

8. Senate Introduces Measure to Support More Hurricane Research

With scientists predicting a very active hurricane season this year, the introduction of the National Hurricane Research Initiative Act of 2007 (S. 931) is timely. The bill, authored by Senator Mel Martinez (D-FL) and co-sponsored by Senators Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Thad Cochran (R-MS), and Bill Nelson (D-FL), aims to improve hurricane preparedness, further hurricane research efforts, and facilitate cooperation between agencies during research, planning, and response efforts. S. 931 addresses the National Science Board's hurricane warning report recommendations and is a reintroduction of a bill from the 109th Congress.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

9. Senators Wade Into Water Resources Act

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee passed the Water Resources Development Act without additional amendments and sent the measure to the full Senate, where it awaits a floor vote. The re-authorization of WRDA, which provides funds for about 200 Army Corps of Engineers projects, has been delayed for years. The bill would pay for navigation and ecosystem restoration to the Upper Mississippi and Illinois Waterway, ecosystem and restoration projects in Florida, environmental restoration of the controversial Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet in Louisiana, remediation of abandoned mines, restoration of Chesapeake Bay, an assessment of the national levee system and other projects.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

10. House Passes Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Legislation

The House passed legislation in late March aimed at making it a bit easier for marine mammals to survive the rigors of being stranded. Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the Ranking Republican in the House Natural Resource Committee, authored the "Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Act Amendments," or H.R.1006. The legislation will extend the John H. Prescott Marine Mammal Rescue Assistance Grant Program, which was first authorized in 2000, to address the funding needs of facilities assisting the National Marine Fisheries Service with the recovery and rehabilitation of stranded marine mammals.

H.R.1006 will increase the funding for the Department of Commerce from $4 million to $6 million a year to support rehabilitation facilities for stranded marine mammals around the country. The bill also reauthorizes funding for the Marine Mammal Unusual Mortality Event Fund, which allows the National Marine Fisheries Service to respond to mass stranding events and reimburse facilities that have assisted in the response effort. "This is an extremely important step in our effort to expand and improve stranded marine mammal programs and I hope the Senate acts quickly on our legislation," said Young.

The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas

11. New House Select Committee on Global Warming and Energy Independence

Despite a largely Republican outcry, the House has created a special panel to study and offer recommendations on how to deal with global warming. The Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, advanced by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), was approved by a vote of 269-150. "Global warming may be the greatest challenge of our time, setting at risk our economy, environment and national security," Pelosi said in a statement, With the new committee, "the House is giving these issues the high visibility they deserve."
A majority of Republicans voted against the creation of the Select Committee, arguing that the committee is unnecessary and removes funds from the ethics committee budget. Rep. Joe Barton (R-TX) said the panel serves "as a platform for some members to grandstand and play to the constituencies that are so insistent that we destroy our economy in the name of political correctness."

The committee, consisting of nine Democrats and six Republicans, will be chaired by Rep. Edward Markey (D-MA). It will hold hearings and recommend legislation, but, in a concession to existing committees, it will not write legislation and will exist for only two years. The committee will have a two-year budget of $3.7 million.

Tom Weimer, Interior's assistant secretary for policy, management and budget, resigned as the Interior's top budget official to become the minority staff director on the new House Select Committee in late March. It is not clear who will replace Weimer at Interior, however the position is of interest to the geoscience community because the assistant secretary sets budgetary priorities for many geoscience programs within Interior, including the U.S. Geological Survey.

12. Supreme Court Rules Carbon Dioxide Can be Regulated

In a close 5 to 4 ruling released on April 2, 2007, the Supreme Court agreed with 11 states and 13 environmental groups that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should regulate carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. In Massachusetts v. EPA, Justice John Paul Stevens wrote the majority opinion for Justices Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy and Souter, while Justices Roberts, Alito, Scalia and Thomas dissented.

Stevens criticized EPA and wrote "EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," and he concluded that EPA's actions were "arbitrary, capricious ... or otherwise not in accordance with law."

The Supreme Court did not stipulate any specific course of action for the EPA, but rather it ruled that there was no reason that EPA could not regulate greenhouse gas emissions. It will now be up to Congress to clarify what actions should be taken regarding greenhouse gas emissions.

The opinions are available from the Supreme Court web site. The case is docket 05-1120.

13. Energy Department Releases Carbon Sequestration Atlas

The Department of Energy has estimated the amount of potential underground storage for greenhouse gas emissions in North America. The new Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the United States and Canada is posted on their web site. It shows that there is room for more than 3,500 billion tons of carbon dioxide in geologic formations consistent with similar estimates from an independent study by Battelle. This would mean more than 900 years of emissions could be sequestered, based on the department's estimate of 3.8 billion tons of carbon dioxide per year from electric utilities and other stationary industrial plants.

Congress has recently introduced measures to estimate the amount of carbon dioxide that can be sequestered and to initiate pilot programs on sequestration. Policy makers note that the DOE study does not cover all of North America, does not estimate the amount of oil and gas that could be recovered, does not use uniform methods and was not peer-reviewed. The House measure would require the U.S. Geological Survey, DOE and EPA to complete a full inventory that addresses these discrepancies and other issues.

The Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the United States and Canada is available online.

The Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership is one of seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships created by the Energy Department in 2002. The partnership program exists so that each partnership can assess the CO2 sequestration option best suited to its specific region. Currently, the seven regional partnerships include more than 300 organizations within 40 states, three Indian nations, and four Canadian provinces. Battelle of Columbus, Ohio, leads the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership, which includes 38 partners in seven states: Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.

More information about the Midwest Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership is available online.

14. Small Resigns as Head of Smithsonian; Scientists Step In

Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small has resigned as head of the Smithsonian. Small, a banker, assumed his position as head of the Smithsonian seven years ago. Questions about Small's leadership and his personal expenditures have created a crisis for the Smithsonian, one of the world's most venerable institutions that includes 18 museums and research facilities as well as the National Zoo. In addition to Small, David Evans, the head of Smithsonian science also resigned and Ira Rubinoff, director of the Tropical Research Institute has stepped up as his temporary replacement.

Small's leadership came into question after articles in the Washington Post detailed $2 million in housing and office expenditures by Small, as well as $90,000 in unauthorized expenses. In 2007, his compensation package alone totaled $915, 698, more than triple what his starting salary was in 2000. According to the Post, Small raised more than $1 billion in donations for the Smithsonian during his tenure, the most ever by a Smithsonian director. Unfortunately controversy surrounded some of these donations and in other cases, donations were returned because of potential conflicts of interest.

Small's expenditures are, however, only the latest debacle in what may be deemed a controversy-filled tenure. Early on, he angered scientists by proposing changes in research across the institution. In 2004, he was convicted in federal court of purchasing the feathers of endangered birds. An investigation into animal care and deaths at the National Zoo led to the dismissal of the zoo director, a man handpicked by Small. And according to the Washington Post, he upset historians and filmmakers last year when he signed a semi-exclusive deal with Showtime to mine the Smithsonian's archives for a documentary film channel.

Citing an increasingly bureaucratic and political system, Small announced his resignation, saying "I really see no compelling reason for me to continue to lead the Smithsonian."
Taking his place will be Natural History Museum Director Cristián Samper. Samper, a 41-year-old biologist, was born in Costa Rica and grew up in Colombia, where he became an expert in Andean cloud forests and founded the Alexander von Humboldt Biological Resources Institute. He also helped to create Columbia's Ministry of the Environment, establish 200 nature reserves, and designed an education program that is now taught in 10,000 Colombian schools.

Said Samper, "the main issue is that the Smithsonian is a great institution; it has a long history, and what it stands for is very important. I'll be trying to work on restoring public trust and the image of the Smithsonian."

In addition to Small, David Evans, the head of Smithsonian science also resigned and Ira Rubinoff, director of the Tropical Research Institute has stepped up as his temporary replacement. Paul Risser, a botanist and chair of the University of Oklahoma Research Cabinet will become the acting director of the Natural History Museum, filling Samper's shoes for now.

15. Jim Hughes is Acting Director of Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced earlier this year that James M. Hughes will serve as the acting director for the Department's Bureau of Land Management until a new BLM director is nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. Former Director Kathleen Clarke, who has served as BLM's Deputy Director for Programs and Policy since 2002, announced her resignation in December of last year.

Hughes, who earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from New Mexico State University and did graduate work at the University of Minnesota, has more than 20 years of experience in the management of public lands. As Acting Director of the BLM, Hughes is responsible for the agency's stewardship of about one-eighth of the land in the United States and more than 700 million acres of sub-surface mineral estate across the nation. Secretary Kempthorne welcomed Hughes experience, saying "He understands the policy issues we face and can work with the wide variety of BLM stakeholders."

16. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Releases Impact Report

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released the second of four reports on April 6, 2007. The Working Group 2 Report is entitled, "Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability" and details the expected impacts of climate change based on scientific observations and modeling. The major impacts were divided into sections on freshwater resources, ecosystems, food and forest products, coastal and low-lying areas, industry, settlement and society, and health. Adaptability and vulnerability were discussed in the context of the impacts.

More details and the full report are available at the IPCC web site

17. Europeans Agree to Emission Limits, While the U.S. Blocks Carbon Trading

Taking a landmark stride toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, European Union leaders have agreed to binding targets to reduce the bloc's emissions and boost its renewable energy capacity by 2020. At a meeting in Brussels on March 9, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who is also the current EU President, convinced the other EU leaders to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020. Leaders also agreed to require the bloc to generate 20 percent of its power from renewable sources.

The agreement was reached by allowing leaders to compromise on the renewable energy target by agreeing to "differentiated national overall targets" that will be set "with due regard to a fair and adequate allocation." The decision of whether to use nuclear power has also been left to individual states, provided that "nuclear safety and security" are "paramount in the decision-making process."

According to BBC News Online, British Prime Minister Tony Blair applauded the targets for giving "Europe a clear leadership position on this crucial issue facing the world." He added that the goal would give "a good chance" for engaging China, India, and the United States.

On March 17 and 18, the environment ministers from the Group of Eight industrialized nations (U.S., Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Italy, Canada and Russia) plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa engaged in climate discussions and agreed on seven points concerning climate change, including acceptance of the scientific explanation that global warming is human-induced. The U.S. objected to endorsing a carbon trading market to help reduce emissions, leaving one point of contention and evoking disappointment, but not surprise from the other ministers. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Stephen Johnson wanted to seek input from economists and other financial experts before proceeding with a carbon-trading market.

18. Global Positioning System Altered by Solar Flares

Global Positioning System (GPS) and other communication technologies that use radio waves can be altered or disturbed by large solar flares that generate intense radio bursts according to Cornell and Boston College researchers. A December 6, 2006 solar flare caused a large number of GPS receivers to stop working and affected the Wide Area Augmentation System, which is used for civil air navigation. The Global GPS Network, which provides precise measurements for scientific and real-time applications was also affected. NASA, NOAA and other scientists and engineers are looking into this problem as the Sun moves toward its solar maximum.

19. One World, One Geology Mapping Project

With the launch of the One World, One Geology mapping project, geological mapping has taken on a new dimension. One Geology is an international, multilateral attempt to create dynamic digital geological map data for the world led by the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM).
The geological map data, with a target scale of 1:1 million, will be made available as a distributed web service though Google Earth and other dynamic map browsers. England hosted the project kickoff in mid-March, with scientists from over 55 countries present to mark the beginning of "perhaps the largest, most extensive and ambitious mapping project ever contemplated," according to the British Geological Survey. The first test datasets are anticipated to become available during 2007. Data will be added continuously, with the goal of presenting the first results at the International Geological Congress in Oslo in 2008.

For more information about the project, go to www.onegeology.com

20. AAPG/AGI Fall Geoscience Policy Internships: Apply by April 15

AGI is seeking outstanding geoscience students and recent graduates with a strong interest in federal science policy for a fourteen-week geoscience and public policy internship in fall 2007. Interns will gain a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies. They will also hone their writing and web-publishing skills. Stipends for the summer interns are made possible through the generous support of the AIPG Foundation. Applications must be postmarked by April 15, 2007. For more information, please visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/internse.html

Key Federal Register Notices

DOE-FERC: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is inviting comments on its procedures with respect to the treatment of preliminary permits under Part I of the Federal Power Act for wave, current, and instream new technology hydropower projects. Comments on this Notice of Intent are due on April 30, 2007 and may be submitted electronically at http://ferc.gov or by mail to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, Office of the Secretary, 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20426. For more information, contact William Guey-Lee, Office of Energy Projects, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, 888 First Street, NE., Washington, DC 20426, (202) 502-6064.
[Federal Register: March 1, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 40)]

DOI-MMS: The Minerals Management Service proposes to amend the regulations regarding oil and natural gas production. This is a complete rewrite of these regulations, addressing issues such as production rates, burning oil, and venting and flaring natural gas. The proposed rule would eliminate most restrictions on production rates and clarify flaring and venting limits. The proposed rule was written using plain language, so it will be easier to read and understand. Submit comments by June 4, 2007 electronically at rules.comments@mms.gov. Use RIN 1010-AD12 in the subject line. For more information, contact Amy C. White, Regulations and Standards Branch, 703-787-1665.
[Federal Register: March 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 43)]

DOA, DOI - The U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management announced the final revision of the Onshore Oil and Gas Order Number 1 rule, which was published in the October 21, 1983 edition of the Federal Register. The Order provides the requirements necessary for the approval of all proposed oil and gas exploratory, development, or service wells on all Federal and Indian (other than those of the Osage
Tribe) onshore oil and gas leases, including leases where the surface is managed by the U.S. Forest Service. This final rule is effective April 6, 2007. For more information, contact James Burd at (202) 452-5017 or Ian Senio at (202) 452-5049 at the BLM or Barry Burkhardt at (801) 625-5157 at the Forest Service.
[Federal Register: March 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 44)]

NSF- The National Science Foundation (NSF) is required to publish notice of permit applications received to conduct activities regulated under the Antarctic Conservation Act of 1978. NSF has published regulations under the Antarctic Conservation Act at Title 45 Part 670 of the Code of Federal Regulations. This is the required notice of permit applications received. Interested parties are invited to submit written data, comments, or views with respect to this permit application by April 6, 2007. Comments should be addressed to Permit Office, Room 755, Office of Polar Programs, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia 22230. For further information, contact Nadene G. Kennedy at the above address or (703) 292-7405.
[Federal Register: March 7, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 44)]

DOE- The Office of Fossil Energy (FE) of the Department of Energy (DOE) gives notice of receipt of an application filed jointly on January 10, 2007 by ConocoPhillips Alaska Natural Gas Corporation (CPANGC) and Marathon Oil Company (Marathon), requesting blanket authorization to export on their own behalf or as agents for others on a short-term or spot market basis from existing facilities near Kenai, Alaska up to 99 Trillion British thermal units (TBtu's) (approximately 99 Billion cubic feet (Bcf)) of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Japan and/or one or more countries on either side of the Pacific Rim over a two year period commencing April 1, 2009 and terminating March 31, 2011. Protests, motions to intervene or notices of intervention, as applicable, requests for additional procedures, and written comments are to be filed at the following address no later than 4:30 p.m. Eastern time, April 9, 2007. For further information, contact Larine Moore or Beverly Howard, Office of Oil and Gas Global Security and Supply, Office of Fossil Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, Forrestal Building, Room 3E-042, FE-34, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585. (202) 586-9478; (202) 586-9387.
[Federal Register: March 8, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 45)]

DOI- Minerals Management Service (MMS), in accordance with Federal Regulations that implement the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), announces the availability of NEPA-related Site-Specific Environmental Assessments (SEA) and Findings of No Significant Impact (FONSI), prepared by MMS for the following oil and gas activities
proposed on the Gulf of Mexico OCS. For further information, contact Public Information Unit, Information Services Section at the number below. Minerals Management Service, Gulf of Mexico OCS Region, Attention: Public Information Office (MS 5034), 1201 Elmwood Park Boulevard, Room 114, New Orleans, Louisiana 70123-
2394, or by calling 1-800-200-GULF.
[Federal Register: March 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 46)]

NSF- The Mathematical and Physical Sciences Advisory Committee will hold a meeting on April 6, 2007 to provide advice and recommendations concerning NSF science and education activities within the Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences. The meeting will be held from 9 am to 12 pm at the National Science Foundation, Room 1235, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. For more information, contact Dr. Morris L. Aizenman, Senior Science Associate, at (703) 292-8807.
[Federal Register: March 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 46)]

DOI- The Secretary of the Interior has established the Wind Turbine Guidelines Advisory Committee. The Committee will provide advice and recommendations to the Secretary of the Interior on developing effective measures to avoid or minimize impacts to wildlife and their habitats related to land-based wind energy facilities. Requests to participate on this Committee must be postmarked by April 12, 2007. For further information, contact Susan L. Goodwin, 202/327-5346.
[Federal Register: March 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 48)]

DOI- The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is seeking comments on our intention to propose regulations pertaining to permit application requirements and
performance standards related to the placement of coal combustion byproducts on sites with a surface coal mining operations permit under Title V of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 or in the reclamation of abandoned mine lands as part of projects funded or approved under Title IV of the Act. Comments must be received on or
before May 14, 2007. For more information, contact John Craynon, P.E., Chief, Division of Regulatory Support, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 1951 Constitution Ave, NW., MS-202, Washington, DC 20240; Telephone 202-208-2866; E-mail: jcraynon@osmre.gov.
[Federal Register: March 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 49)]

DOE- DOE is extending the EPAct 1992 goal of achieving a production capacity for replacement fuels sufficient to replace 30 percent of the projected U.S. motor fuel consumption to 2030. DOE determined through its analysis that the 30 percent Replacement Fuel Goal cannot be met by 2010 but can be achieved by 2030. This final rule is effective June 1, 2007. For further information, contact Mr. Dana V. O'Hara at (202) 586-9171; regulatory_info@afdc.nrel.gov; or Mr. Chris Calamita at (202) 586-9507. Copies of this final rule and supporting documentation for this rulemaking will be placed at the following Web site address: http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/epact/private/index.html.
[Federal Register: March 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 50)]

NSF- The NSF Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and
Education will hold a meeting April 11, 2007 from 9 am to 5 pm to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight concerning support for environmental research and education. The meeting will be held at Stafford I, Room 1235, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230. For further information, contact Alan Tessier at 703-292-7198.
[Federal Register: March 19, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 52)]

DOL- The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) announces the final rule revising MHSA's existing civil penalty assessment regulations and implements the civil penalty provision of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response (MINER) Act of 2006. This final rule will increase mine operator compliance with the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (Mine Act), as amended by the MINER Act, and the agency's safety and health standards and regulations, thereby improving safety and health for miners. This final rule is effective April 23, 2007. For further information, contact Patricia W. Silvey by email at silvey.patricia@dol.gov, by phone at 202-693-9440 (telephone), or by fax at 202-693-9441.
[Federal Register: March 22, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 55)]

New Updates to the Website

The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site www.agiweb.org/gap since the last monthly update:
Hearings on Energy Policy (03-29-07)
Hearings on Climate Change (03-29-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Hearings (03-29-07)
Hearings on Climate Change (03-23-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Hearings (03-23-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations for DOE (03-23-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations for DOI (03-23-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations for NSF (03-21-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations for NASA (03-21-07)
Action Alert: Request Increased Funding for NSF (03-20-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Hearings (03-15-07)
Hearings on Climate Change (03-14-07)
Energy Policy (03-14-07)
Innovation and U.S. Competitiveness (03-14-07)
Hearings on Earth Observations (03-14-07)
Fossils On Public Lands (03-12-07)
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act (03-12-07)
Climate Change Policy (03-06-07)
Energy Policy (03-06-07)
Ocean Policy (03-06-07)
Innovation and U.S. Competitiveness (03-06-07)
Federal Science Education Policy (03-06-07)
Fiscal Year 2008 Appropriations Hearings (3-6-07)
Hearings on Energy Policy (3-6-07)

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Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs and Erin Gleeson 2007 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern.

Sources: Associated Press, Washington Post, BBC News Online, Greenwire, E&E Daily, Library of Congress, Congressional Quarterly, Department of the Interior, Department of Energy, U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate.

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This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs Program (GAP) Advisory Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies, and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves. Prior updates can be found on the AGI web site under "Public Policy" <http://www.agiweb.org>. For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit the web site or contact us at <govt@agiweb.org> or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted April 9, 2007.