Monthly Review: March 2008


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. Geoscientists Visit Congress
2. Congressional Visits in September
3. Congress Passes Budget Resolutions for Fiscal Year 2009
4. No Earmark Moratorium in 2009 and Analysis of Science Earmarks in 2007
5. Third Senate Hearing on Mining Law Reform
6. House Natural Resources Committee Passes Landscape Conservation
7. Government Accountability Office Considers Moving the Forest Service
8. Environmental Protection Agency Explains California Emissions Waiver Denial
9. Another Physicist Comes to Washington
10. Alan Stern Steps Down as Head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate
11. Anna Palmisano is the New Associate Director for Office of Science
12. NIH Seeks Comment on Implementation of Open Access Policy
13. Climate Change Beyond the Beltway
14. Teaching Evolution: State Updates
15. Webcast of Talk on Dover Creationism Case
16. Smithsonian Soils Exhibit Opens in July
17. More Incentives for Innovations
18. Geopolicy Internship Available at AGI: Apply By April 15
19. Web Updates
20. Key Reports and Publications
21. Key Federal Register Notices

1. Geoscientists Visit Congress

Over 250 scientists and engineers gathered in Washington DC on March 4 and 5, 2008 to participate in workshops, Capitol Hill events and most importantly to visit congressional offices. The participants talked with members of Congress or congressional staff about the importance of research and development (R&D) and the value of federal support for R&D. The two-day event was sponsored by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group (SET), which is an informal network of scientific societies, institutions and trade associations. Four geosocieties, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists (AAPG), the American Geological Institute (AGI), the American Geophysical Union (AGU) and the Geological Society of America (GSA) are active members of SET.

Among the large group of participants, the geosocieties brought in 33 geoscientists and geo-engineers. These geo-participants came from 17 states and the District of Columbia and completed 60 visits in one day. The geo-participants talked with congressional offices about the value of federally-supported geoscience R&D and left behind a geoscience one-pager.  The geo-participants came from at least 9 different societies including AAPG, the American Association of State Geologists, the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the Association for Environmental and Engineering Geologists, AGU, the Association for Women Geoscientists, GSA, the National Association of Geoscience Teachers and the Seismological Society of America.

More information about Congressional Visits Day (CVD), including the geoscience one-pager and additional resources about the value of federal R&D is available from the SETCVD web page at www.setcvd.org

2. Congressional Visits in September

Join us for the first Geosciences Congressional Visits Day (Geo-CVD) on September 9-10, 2008. This two-day event brings geoscientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for the geosciences. Participants will spend the first day learning about how Congress works, the current state of the budget process and how to conduct congressional visits. The second day will consist of visits with members of Congress. In addition to the workshops and visits, participants will get to meet other geoscientists, and federal science agency representatives. Help us make the first Geo-CVD a success and convey the value of the geosciences to policymakers.

Geo-CVD will be coordinated by Washington DC staff from the AGI, the American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geophysical Union, the American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, the Geological Society of America, the Seismological Society of America and the Soils Science Society of America.

Please contact AGI’s Government Affairs staff for more information and to volunteer to participate by sending an email to govt@agiweb.org

3. Congress Passes Budget Resolutions for Fiscal Year 2009

The House and the Senate Budget Committees completed non-binding funding baselines, called budget resolutions for broad functions of the federal government that will be used as templates for funding levels for the appropriation committees. Both committees provide increases for research and education to fulfill the authorizations within the America COMPETES Act of 2007, which calls for a doubling of the research budget for the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Office of Science in the Department of Energy and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The Senate passed their budget resolution (S. Con. Res. 70) by a vote of 51 to 44. The Senate provides $30.536 billion in budget authority for Function 250 (Science, Space and Technology), which is $1 billion more than the President’s request, $7.026 billion for Function 270 (Energy), which is $2.5 billion more than the request, $39.835 billion for Function 300 (Natural Resources and Environment) which is $4.4 billion more than the request, $9.350 billion for Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), which is $4 billion less than the request, $94.7 billion for Function 500 (Education and Training) which is $7 billion more than the request and $313.1 billion for Function 550 (Health, including the National Institutes of Health) which is $16 billion more than the request. In addition, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) submitted an amendment that passed by a voice vote. The amendment adds $600 million to Function 250 in order to keep NSF (provides a $6.9 billion overall budget) and the Office of Science (provides a $4.7 billion overall budget) on a doubling path.

The House passed their budget resolution (H. Con. Res. 312) by a vote of 212 to 207. It complies with the House pay-as-you-go rule that requires all mandatory spending and revenue provisions to be deficit-neutral. The House provides $29.934 billion in budget authority for Function 250 (Science, Space and Technology), which is $500 million more than the President’s request, $4.674 billion for Function 270 (Energy), which is $1.2 billion more than the request, $38.651 billion for Function 300 (Natural Resources and the Environment), which is $3 billion more than the request, $10.818 billion for Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), which is $3 billion less than the request, $95.235 billion for Function 500 (Education and Training) which is $7.3 billion more than the request and $306.795 billion for Function 550 (Health, including the National Institutes of Health) which is $9 billion more than the request. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) credited the leadership of Science and Technology Committee Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN) and the New Democrats for the increases for science, technology and education in the House budget resolution.

The reasons for the increases for science, technology and education in the House budget resolution were also explained in a “Sense of the House on the Innovation Agenda and America COMPETES Act”.

The text of the Sense of the House is given below:
“It is the sense of the House that the House should provide sufficient funding so that our Nation may continue to be the world leader in education, innovation and economic growth; last year, Congress passed and the President signed the America COMPETES Act, bipartisan legislation designed to ensure that American students, teachers, businesses, and workers are prepared to continue leading the world in innovation, research, and technology well into the future; this resolution supports the efforts authorized in the America COMPETES Act, providing substantially increased funding above the President’s requested level for 2009, and increased amounts after 2009 in Function 250 (General Science, Space and Technology) and Function 270 (Energy);  additional increases for scientific research and education are included in Function 500 (Education, Employment, Training and Social Services), Function 550 (Health), Function 300 (Environment and Natural Resources), and Function 370 (Commerce and Housing Credit), all of which receive more funding than the President’s budget provides; because America’s greatest resource for innovation resides within classrooms across the country, the increased funding provided in this resolution will support initiatives within the America COMPETES Act to educate tens of thousands of new scientists, engineers, and mathematicians, and place highly qualified teachers in math and science K-12 classrooms; and because independent scientific research provides the foundation for innovation and future technologies, this resolution will keep us on the path toward doubling funding for the National Science Foundation, basic research in the physical sciences, and collaborative research partnerships, and toward achieving energy independence through the development of clean and sustainable alternative energy technologies.”

4. No Earmark Moratorium in 2009 and Analysis of Science Earmarks in 2007

On March 13, 2008, both houses of Congress voted down legislation that would have put a moratorium on earmarks in appropriations for fiscal year 2009. Earmarks are specific requests for funding sponsored by specific members of Congress. Proponents of the legislation believe that earmarks are wasteful spending that is not merited by existing laws or national interests. Opponents noted that earmarks are part of the constitutional right of members to make decisions on appropriations and to provide for the needs of their constituents.

The Chronicle of Higher Education published a news story on March 24 about their survey of earmarks for colleges and universities. About $2.3 billion was set aside for 2,306 projects at universities and colleges in fiscal year 2007. The earmarks have increased substantially since the Chronicle’s first survey in 1990 when $270 million was set aside for 223 earmarks.

5. Third Senate Hearing on Mining Law Reform

On March 12, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held their third hearing in a series of oversight hearings this session on the 1872 Hardrock Mining Law to examine possible reform related to abandoned mine lands and uranium mines. About 30,000 of the more than 160,000 abandoned mines on federal lands may pose environmental risks, according to a Government Accountability Office report. Federal agencies such as the Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency have spent at least $2.6 billion over the past 10 years to clean up these sites, but without a central database to prioritize cleanups or a dedicated source of funding, witnesses said that cleanups are haphazard.

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced S.2750, the Abandoned Mine Reclamation Act, that would create a federal abandoned mine cleanup fund. It would impose an 8 percent royalty on new claims in addition to high maintenance fees and a 0.3 percent reclamation fee on all hardrock mineral mining on federal, state, tribal, local and private claims.
Other senators and representatives in the House have introduced similar legislation, but the measures have never made much progress. Some senators at the hearing seemed more optimistic that meaningful legislation will progress toward law by the end of this session. Additional hearings in the House and the Senate are being planned.

A summary of the hearing and some previous hearings on mining law reform are available from AGI’s Government Affairs web site at: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis110/mining_hearings.html

The full text of the legislation is available from Thomas at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.02750:

6.  House Natural Resources Committee Passes Landscape Conservation

On March 12, the House Natural Resources Committee passed H.R. 2016, the National Landscape Conservation System Act (NLCS), by a vote of 24 to 13.  The four lead House sponsors of H.R. 2016, Representatives Mary Bono (R-CA), Rick Renzi (R-AZ), Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) and Jim Moran (D-VA) are all co-chairs of an NLCS caucus.

The conservation system was originally established during the Clinton administration by former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt. NCLS formalizes the 26 million acre conservation system managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). The text of the bill states “In order to conserve, protect, and restore nationally significant landscapes that have outstanding cultural, ecological, and scientific values for the benefit of current and future generations, there is established in the Bureau of Land Management the National Landscape Conservation System.”

The NCLS would be similar to the National Park Service based on the language in the bill, but managed by BLM and would initially consist of major conservation areas in 12 western states, including 15 national monuments, 13 national conservation areas, Steens Mountain area in Oregon, Headwaters Forest Reserve in northern California, 36 wild and scenic rivers, 148 wilderness areas, 4,264 miles of national trails, and more than 600 wilderness study areas. The measure would allow additional lands to be added to the NCLS.

While the Bush Administration supports the bill, committee Republicans led by Rob Bishop (R-UT), National Parks Subcommittee ranking member, are fearful that the “vaguely” worded legislation will have negative effects on adjacent landowners, limit grazing, recreation, natural resource access and other multi-use functions currently allowed on BLM lands.

Numerous amendments were offered during mark-up in an attempt to address those concerns, but none of the amendments were adopted. According to National Parks Subcommittee Chairman, Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), a provision in the bill prevents management of the system beyond existing federal law.  The approved measure requires that any new lands for the conservation system be approved by Congress and also removes the authorization of appropriations for current lands, which are already funded from other sources.

A similar bill (S.1139) was introduced in the Senate in April 2007, and was been reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in June 2007, but is still pending action in the full Senate.

The full text of the legislation is available from Thomas: H.R. 2016 – http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:h.r.02016: and S.1139 – http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:SN01139:

7. Government Accountability Office Considers Moving the Forest Service

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has begun a study of whether the Forest Service should be moved from the Department of Agriculture to the Department of the Interior (DOI). The 103 year old Forest Service manages 193 million acres of land and use to spend more time managing timber harvests. Its duties have changed and many see greater connections between the Forest Service and its sister agencies in DOI, which include the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) which manages 258 million acres, the Fish and Wildlife Service which manages 96 million acres and the National Park Service which manages 84 million acres.

“Today the evolution of our forests has gone away from production and more towards preservation” suggested Representative Todd Tiahrt (R-KS) at a February 12th hearing at which he supported the move of the Forest Service from Agriculture to DOI. Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA) supports the move and believes the transfer might help improve the Forest Service’s budget and align the land agencies better.

The GAO will be looking at two key issues – Would it be more efficient, effective and coordinated to move the Forest Service to DOI and can any money be saved by making the move. Stakeholders and others outside the government will also be considering whether such a move will mean any significant change in the Forest Service’s mission, particularly from harvesting and development to preservation. In addition, the Forest Service deals with mining requests on their lands, is currently revising their mining rules and will be part of any mining law reform, so the GAO may consider these factors in their study.

The study’s objectives are not as ambitious as former Representative Leon Panetta’s suggestion in 1991 to combine DOI, Agriculture and Department of Energy into one agency, a Department of Natural Resources.

8. Environmental Protection Agency Explains California Emissions Waiver Denial

On February 29, 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released more information about the government’s reasons for denying a waiver petition sought by California for greater regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from new motor vehicles.  In the notice EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson states, “In my judgment the impacts of global climate change in California, compared to the rest of the nation as a whole, are not sufficiently different to be considered ‘compelling and extraordinary’ that merit separate state GHG standards for new motor vehicles.” California is the only state which is allowed to request a waiver for air pollution control as written in the Clean Air Act because California has always had stricter emission controls and historically, atypical pollution problems compared to other states.

The initial decision was announced on December 19, 2007 after President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 into law, but there was no explanation for the decision. The law includes fuel economy standards requiring fleet wide averages of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, while the California rule would have required automakers to achieve even higher fuel economy standards in a shorter time period. Administrator Johnson said "the Bush Administration is moving forward with a clear national solution – not a confusing patchwork of state rules – to reduce America’s climate footprint from vehicles."  Fifteen other states have adopted California’s emission standards and were hoping to implement them once California received a waiver from the EPA.

EPA believes the fuel economy standards will be a more effective approach to reducing carbon dioxide, but an analysis by the California Air Resources Board disagrees. The board finds that if California adopted its emission standards GHG reduction in the state would be 74% greater than the reduction obtained by federal fuel economy standards by 2020.  The assessment also found that if federal fuel economy standards and California emission standards were implemented in all of the states seeking to do so there would be a 28% increase in cumulative GHG reduction for the nation.

California, 15 other states and 5 environmental groups have filed petitions asking the courts to reverse EPA’s decision to deny the waiver.

On March 13, 2008, just before Congress began a three week recess, House Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) issued a subpoena for EPA documents related to the waiver denial. The subpoena was issued after EPA missed a deadline to submit the un-redacted documents. Some House and Senate Democrats are concerned about undue influence from the Administration on EPA’s decision. Congress is likely to look into the reasons for the denial and perhaps ways to circumvent the denial when they return from recess on March 31.

For more information visit: http://www.epa.gov/otaq/ca-waiver.htm

9. Another Physicist Comes to Washington

After winning a special election for former Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert’s congressional seat, Bill Foster became the third physicist in Congress.  Representative Bill Foster (D-IL), who worked for 22 years at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and received his Ph.D. in physics from Harvard University, will serve out the rest of Hastert’s term.  In the fall Foster will face a rematch with Jim Oberweis in this traditionally Republican district.  Foster secured the seat with 53 percent of the vote to Oberweis’s 47 percent.

10. Alan Stern Steps Down as Head of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate

On March 26, 2008, NASA Administrator Michael Griffin announced that Dr. S. Alan Stern, NASA associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, has decided to leave the agency. Dr. Edward J. Weiler, director of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Md., will serve as interim associate administrator.

Weiler was appointed to Goddard in August 2004. Previously, he had served as the associate administrator for the agency's Space Science Enterprise from 1998 to 2004. Prior to his selection as associate administrator, Weiler served as the director of the Astronomical Search for Origins Program at NASA Headquarters in Washington. He also served as the chief scientist for the Hubble Space Telescope from 1979 until 1998. Weiler joined Headquarters in 1978 as a staff scientist and was promoted to the chief of the Ultraviolet/Visible and Gravitational Astrophysics
Division in 1979.

11. Anna Palmisano is the New Associate Director for Office of Science

Dr. Anna Palmisano was appointed as associate director for the Office of Biological and Environmental Research (BER) in the Department of Energy’s Office of Science.  As associate director, Dr. Palmisano will direct strategic program planning, budget formulation and execution, and program integration for BER. BER focuses on biological systems and their application in environmental remediation and bio-energy production, as well as research on climate change and carbon capture and sequestration. 

Dr. Palmisano, a microbiologist, joins the Office of Science from the Department of Agriculture (DOA), where she served as Deputy Administrator for the Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service, managing more than $200 million in science funding.  Before her service at DOA, Dr. Palmisano was a BER program manager, managing basic research programs in the areas of bioremediation, carbon cycling and sequestration, and genomics.

12. NIH Seeks Comment on Implementation of Open Access Policy

The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 included a public access mandate for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), requiring all investigators funded by NIH to submit electronic versions of their peer-reviewed manuscripts to PubMed Central (PMC) within 12 months of publication. Submission of an article to PMC will be required for all articles accepted after April 7, 2008.  Also, beginning on May 25, 2008 anyone submitting an application, proposal or progress report to NIH must include the PMC reference number for all applicable articles.

In conjunction with this directive, NIH held a public meeting on March 21st to receive comments from stakeholders on the implementation of their public access policy.   In addition to the public meeting NIH will soon be accepting written comments regarding the policy and will release a report on the comments no later than September 30.

For more information about NIH’s public access policy, including a list of journals that submit articles to PMC visit http://publicaccess.nih.gov/.

13. Climate Change Beyond the Beltway

On March 31, 2008, a U.S. climate change negotiator rejected a suggestion by China that the developed nations provide 0.5 percent of their gross domestic product to help developing countries battle global warming.  The suggestion was one of 26 submitted to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. About 160 nations are meeting during the week of March 31st to develop a framework to deal with climate change beyond the Kyoto Protocol.

In other news, former Vice President Al Gore is launching a three-year, $300 million advocacy campaign on climate change.  The Alliance for Climate Protection will use online, print, television and radio advertisements to increase awareness of climate change among the American public and to increase pressure on policymakers to enact policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The alliance has one million volunteers now and hopes to enlist as many as 10 million volunteers overall. It may be one of the largest public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history. There are opposing groups running their own public advocacy campaigns and the public should expect to see a large number of advertisements from both sides before and after the November elections.

14. Teaching Evolution: State Updates

Florida: Florida lawmakers introduced the “Academic Freedom Act” (SB2692/HB 1483) in response to the state Board of Education’s decision to include evolution in the revised science standards. The measure would allow students to provide religious views in answers to science class activities. The legislation closely resembles a model bill proposed by the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, the institutional home of "intelligent design" creationism.  The legislators will be considering the bills during their 60-day work period.

Louisiana: State senator Ben Nevers filed legislation that would allow the teaching of creationism in the classroom.  The text of the legislation (SB 561) states that "the teaching of some scientific subjects, such as biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning, can cause controversy". The bill permits Louisiana's teachers to "help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of existing scientific theories pertinent to the course being taught.”

Arizona: A legislative panel in the Arizona House advanced a measure aimed at protecting religious liberties in the school and while most of the discussion has been around preserving students’ right to wear religious clothing and symbols a section of the legislation states “if an assignment requires a student's viewpoint to be expressed in coursework, artwork or other written or oral assignments, A public educational institution shall not penalize or reward a student on the basis of religious content or a religious viewpoint.” This language may open the door for the discussion of creationism in the science classroom and cause confusion about science.

15. Webcast of Talk on Dover Creationism Case

Dr. Kenneth R. Miller, a professor of biology at Brown University will give a talk entitled God, Darwin, and Design: Lessons from the Dover Monkey Trial. Miller was a lead witness in the Pennsylvania "intelligent design" case that began in September 2005. The public is invited to view a Live Webcast of the lecture, April 4, 2008 at 7:00 pm (central time zone). The event is sponsored by the Environmental Science Institute of the University of Texas at Austin.

A link to the details of the lecture and the webcast could be found at:
http://www.esi.utexas.edu/outreach/ols/lectures/Miller

16. Smithsonian Soils Exhibit Opens in July

Dig It! The Secrets of Soil will be open to the public on July 19, 2008 at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History. The exhibition through dioramas, soil cross-sections, artifacts, and hands-on activities will give visitors a look into the living world of soil, not only increasing their understanding of the geologic processes involved in soil formation, but the vast and diverse extent of soil inhabitants and the central role soils have in our daily life. The exhibit will run until January 6, 2010.

17. More Incentives for Innovations

Last month, the monthly review covered prizes being offered by the X Prize Foundation and this month we bring you yet another company offering prizes for innovation. InnoCentive, a spin-off of Eli Lilly is offering cash prizes for solutions to specific problems. Since 2001, InnoCentive has posted more than 600 challenges, has a 35 percent success rate and has about 135,000 researchers signed up to solve problems right now.

As a spin-off of a major drug company many of the problems are associated with health issues, however, InnoCentive is open to addressing many problems, including some in the geosciences. For example, InnoCentive offered a $20,000 prize for a way to promote the flow of oil in barges that pick up oil from oil spills. The prize money was offered by the Oil Spill Recovery Institute, which was established by Congress after the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill. A chemist with experience pouring concrete, John Davis, won the prize by suggesting the barges insert pneumatic vibrators to keep the oil from freezing up. Davis also prepared a YouTube video for InnoCentive highlighting his discovery and suggested he would use some of the prize money for environmental cleanup and soil remediation research.

The prizes provide resources for scientists and engineers as well as some of their institutions. For example, some Russian universities have agreements to receive 10 percent of any awards won by their faculty.

InnoCentive has also taken advantage of their large database of problems, solutions and researchers to try to determine why their approach is successful. Most solutions come from researchers who are outside the field of study of the problem and it appears that a different perspective allows them to look at the problem in new ways. In addition, the program has lots of researchers involved in finding solutions and such a large and diverse number of networking researchers can help solve problems. InnoCentive thus provides an interesting new way to approach problem-solving using the full potential of the worldwide web.

18. Geopolicy Internship Available at AGI: Apply By April 15

AGI seeks outstanding geoscience students with a strong interest in federal science policy for a semester-long internship in geoscience and public policy. Interns will gain a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies in Washington DC. AGI will accept one intern for a 14 week semester in the fall. The deadline for applications is April 15. More information is available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/index.html

19. 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:

AGI Submits Appropriations Testimony on NSF, NOAA, NASA & NIST (3-27-08)
Hearings on NIST Appropriations (3-24-08)
Hearings on NASA Appropriations (3-21-08)
AGI Submits Appropriations Testimony on DOE (3-20-08)
AGI Submits Appropriations Testimony on USGS (3-20-08)
Hearings on Mining (3-12-08)
Hearings on Innovation and U.S. Competitiveness (3-12-08)

20. Key Reports and Publications

Congressional Research Service:

Government Accountability Office:

National Academies:

21. Key Federal Register Notices

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denies the California Air Resources Board's request for a waiver of the Clean Air Act's prohibition on adopting and enforcing its greenhouse gas emission standards as they affect 2009 and later model year new motor vehicles.  This decision is based on the Administrator's finding that California does not need its greenhouse gas standards for new motor vehicles to meet compelling and extraordinary conditions.
[Federal Register: March 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 45)]

EPA- The Draft Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2006 is available for public review. Annual U.S. emissions for the period of time from 1990 through 2006 are summarized and presented by source category and sector. The inventory contains estimates of carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), hydrofluorocarbons (HFC), perfluorocarbons (PFC), and sulfur hexafluoride (SF6) emissions. The inventory also includes estimates of carbon fluxes in U.S. agricultural and forest lands. Access report at: http://www.epa.gov/climatechange/emissions/usinventoryreport.html Submit Comments to Mr. Leif Hockstad at: mhockstad.leif@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: March 7, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 46)]

DOC- The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) requests comments on proposed regulations which implement the Technology Innovation Program (TIP). The proposed rule prescribes policies and procedures for the award of financial assistance (grants and/or cooperative agreements) under TIP. Submit comments at the Federal e-Rulemaking Portal:
www.regulations.gov  Information about the program can be accessed at: http://www.nist.gov/
tip
[Federal Register: March 7, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 46)]

DOC- The NOAA Integrated Ocean Observing System Program (IOOS) Program on behalf of the Joint Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology--Interagency Working Group on Ocean Observation's (JSOST-IWGOO) is noticing a 30-day public comment period for the five-year IOOS Strategic Plan. The five-year vision for IOOS will be used by the IWGOO to build an implementation plan that will describe in more detail the roles and responsibilities that will be undertaken by the interagency members.  The JSOST-IWGOO IOOS Strategic Plan is available for review at: http://www.ocean.us/IWGOO/SPcomments. Submit comments to: strategic_comments@IWGOO.net
[Federal Register: March 11, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 48)]

DOC-The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on behalf of the American Petroleum Institute (API) is announcing the development and/or revision of standards and the request for public comment and participation in standards development. API develops and publishes voluntary standards for equipment, materials, operations, and processes for the petroleum and natural gas industry. NIST does not necessarily endorse, approve, or recommend the standards referenced, but is publishing this notice as a public service. For more information visit: http://www.api.org
[Federal Register: March 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 51)]

NSF- The Advisory Committee for Geosciences will hold a meeting April 16-17, 2008 to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight concerning support for research, education, and human resources development in the geosciences.
[Federal Register: March 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 51)]

DOC- The Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction within National Institute of Standards and Technology will meet April 10-11, 2008. The primary purpose of this meeting is to review the draft National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Strategic Plan and the Committee's report to the NIST Director. The final agenda will be posted on the NEHRP Web site at http://nehrp.gov/.
[Federal Register: March 19, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 54)]
       
EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revised the Brownfields Grant Proposal Guidelines (guidelines) for FY 2009 and is soliciting comments on those revisions. EPA's Brownfields Program provides funds to empower states, communities, tribes and nonprofits to prevent, inventory, assess, clean up and reuse brownfield sites. EPA provides brownfields funding for three types of grants: assessment, revolving loan fund and cleanup. View draft guidelines at: http://www.epa.gov/brownfields/. Submit comments to Megan Quinn Quinn.Megan@epa.gov by April 7, 2008.
[Federal Register: March 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 57)]

DOA- The Forest Service requests written comments on a proposed rule that would revise the regulations for locatable minerals operations conducted on National Forest System lands. The revised rule would apply to prospecting, exploration, development, mining and processing operations, and reclamation under the Mining Law of May 10, 1872, as amended. Submit comments to: 36cfr228a@fs.fed.us
[Federal Register: March 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 58)]

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Monthly Review prepared by Marcy Gallo and Linda Rowan, Staff of Government Affairs.

Sources: Washington Post, Chronicle of Higher Education, E&E Daily, Thomas, Environmental Protection Agency, Department of Energy, California Air Resources Board, Smithsonian Institute, National Center for Science Education, TheScientist.com, National Journal.

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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.

TO SUBSCRIBE OR UNSUBSCRIBE TO THE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PROGRAM MONTHLY REVIEW, PLEASE SEND AN EMAIL WITH YOUR REQUEST AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO GOVT@AGIWEB.ORG

Posted April 1, 2008.