Printable Version

Monthly Review: April 2005


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.

House Subcommittee Restores Funding for USGS and EPA
House Passes National Energy Legislation, Senate Gets Ready
Rep. Wolf Supports Tripling of Innovation Budget
New Bill Designed to Attract College Science and Engineering Majors
House Subcommittee Moves to Authorize an Ocean Observing System
Congress Tackles Water Supply Issues
Data Integrity Controversy Fuels Yucca Mountain Debate
Farmers to Measure Carbon Dioxide Emissions
NASA
- New Administrator, Michael Griffin
- Looking Up and Down for Dollars
- Mars Rovers Keep Going and Going
Can Kansas Be Saved in Six Days?
Academic Bill of Rights
New Guidelines and New Lawsuits for No Child Left Behind
House Science Committee Honors Science Teacher Awardees
May Day: NIH Public Access Policy Begins
Open Access "Growing" Pains in Europe
Congress Acknowledges African-American Women in Science
Input from Geoscientists Requested by Mid-May
- NSF Geosciences Advisory Committee
- NRC Decadal Study: Earth Science and Applications from Space
- USGS Geospatial Programs
Staff Changes
Key Federal Register Notices

 

House Subcommittee Restores Funding for USGS and EPA

The House Appropriations Committee officially began the fiscal year (FY) 2006 appropriations process on May 4 with an Interior subcommittee markup of a draft bill to fund the Department of Interior, the USDA Forest Service and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The bill, which is headed for a full Committee mark-up on May 10th, would restore the $29 million cut that the Administration had requested for the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resources Program and $6.5 million for the Water Resources Research Institutes. Overall, the bill would allocate $974.6 million for the USGS in FY 2006, an increase of $38 million or 4.1 percent above the FY 2005 enacted level and $41 million above the President's budget request.

Subcommittee members voted to cut EPA to $7.71 billion, which is $318 million below FY05 but roughly $140 million above the President's request. Most of the EPA's overall reduction is confined to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, for which the subcommittee restored $120 million of the President's proposed $361 million reduction. Meanwhile, other major EPA accounts would see an increase over the current year. Appropriators allowed for a $95 million increase to Environmental Programs and Management and a $21 million boost for Science and Technology while they restored $9 million to the Office of Environmental Education.

There is no indication yet how subsequent mark-ups might modify the changes proposed initially by the Subcommittee. After being considered by the full committee, the $26.2 billion interior/environment spending bill will head to the House for a vote the following week. Appropriations Committee Chairman Jerry Lewis (R-CA) has announced a $26.1 billion spending cap for the bill and an ambitious schedule to move all 10 appropriations bills through the House by July 4th. The Senate is expected to begin their appropriations mark-up process the week of May 9th, according to E&E Daily.

House Passes National Energy Legislation, Senate Gets Ready

On April 21, 2005 the U.S. House of Representatives passed comprehensive energy legislation by a vote of 249-183. The Energy Policy Act of 2005, or H.R. 6, strays little from the conference report passed by the House in the 108th congress, including several controversial provisions that contributed to the bill's defeat in the Senate last year. Among these, liability protections for producers of the fuel oxygenate methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) survived a narrow vote of 219 to 213 on the House floor. Majority votes also defeated an amendment to strike a heavily debated provision that gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) primary regulatory authority over new liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities.

To increase domestic energy supply, the bill includes several incentives for oil and gas companies to explore shallow and deep-water outer-continental shelf resources in the Gulf of Mexico, onshore natural gas reserves, marginal wells and gas hydrate production. The bill also establishes a permanent Royalty-in-Kind program at the Department of the Interior, and reimburses companies for compliance with National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews. The bill would also create new federal funds to develop a nuclear hydrogen plant and hydrogen fuel cell technology.

Also included in the bill is an $8 billion tax package intended to improve electricity, nuclear, and oil and gas infrastructure. Miscellaneous incentives (totaling $1.85 billion) include a 15-20% tax credits for residential solar power and efficiency improvements, business investments in fuel cells, and credits for lean-burn motor vehicle technology. Although the Bush Administration had suggested a limit of $6.7 billion in energy tax incentives, the FY 2006 budget resolution sets aside $11 billion for the energy bill, a generous invitation for the Senate, which is expected to vote on its version of the energy bill by mid-summer.

During several highly-charged partisan debates that took place in Committee mark-ups earlier in the month, Democrats unsuccessfully challenged what they said was an overemphasis on supply-end solutions and energy industry incentives. House Resources Ranking Member Nick Rahall (D-WV) argued that the royalty and tax breaks would shift the financial burden to consumers and taxpayers while doing little to encourage energy conservation or the use of renewable sources of energy.

Along these lines, Democrats failed to pass amendments on key sticking points such as raising corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards for automobiles and raising the national renewable portfolio standard. The majority also voted down a "sense of Congress" resolution acknowledging the effects of climate change. Finally, Democrats failed to strip controversial changes to the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) that would restrict federal agencies from considering alternative plans as they assess the impacts of renewable energy projects.

Rep. Wolf Supports Tripling of Innovation Budget

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), Chairman of the House Science-State-Justice-Commerce Appropriations Subcommittee, sent a letter to President Bush on May 3, 2005 asking for a "tripling of the innovation budget - federal basic research and development - over the next decade." Rep. Wolf has indicated that he will do anything he can to gain additional support for the National Science Foundation (NSF). Rep. Wolf and Rep. Boehlert, Chair of the House Science Committee urged scientists to contact their congressional representatives and ask them to support increased funding for research and development. Rep. Wolf is also trying to organize a meeting in late May or early June to bring together scientists, engineers, manufacturers and business leaders to ask President Bush to support an increased investment in science to ensure innovative competitiveness in the near future.

New Bill Designed to Attract College Science and Engineering Majors

At a press conference on April 12, 2005, Representatives Frank Wolf (R-VA), Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) announced the introduction of H.R. 1457, the Math and Science Incentive Act of 2005. In an attempt to restore the United States' global dominance in science and innovation, the bill directs the Secretary of Education to pay the interest on undergraduate loans for science, math and engineering majors up to a maximum of $10,000. In order to be eligible, students must agree to teach or work as a professional in their areas of study for at least five years following graduation. Wolf based the bill on an idea floated in Newt Gingrich's book, Winning the Future.

"In an era in which students are graduating college with record levels of debt, I am hopeful that this incentive will be a significant motivator in attracting or retaining math, science and engineering students," Wolf said.

Senator John Warner (R-VA), who on the same day introduced an identical bill (S. 765) with Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL), stated, "Without a doubt, our ability to remain ahead of the curve in scientific and technological advancements is a key component to ensuring America's national, homeland and economic security in the post 9/11 world of global terrorism." In his statement before the Senate, Warner likened today's shortage of "homegrown, highly trained scientific minds" to the kind of national, scientific complacency that existed before the launch of Sputnik in 1957.

View the full text of the House bill here, or visit www.house.gov/wolf for more information.

House Subcommittee Moves to Authorize an Ocean Observing System

Members from the House Resources Fisheries and Oceans Subcommittee invited ocean research experts and federal agency officials to discuss H.R. 1489, The Coastal Ocean Observation System Integration and Implementation Act of 2005. The bill, introduced by Subcommittee Chairman Wayne Gilchrest (R-MD), is the latest legislation to respond to last year's Oceans Commission Report, and it would authorize $138 million to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) over four years to establish a Coastal Ocean Observation System.

Panelists from the Administration commended the bill for naming NOAA the lead agency for the observation system, and discussed how well other agencies, such as the U.S. Geological Survey, the Minerals Management Service, and the U.S. Navy are equipped to play a leading role. Ocean research experts who testified were more critical of the new bill, pressing hard for increased funding and better recognition of regional oceanographic associations who are better connected to a larger constituency of end-users than the federal government. Gilchrest expressed openness to all aired concerns and recommendations.

A full hearing summary can be viewed here.

Congress Tackles Water Supply Issues

Natural Resources Committees in the House and the Senate took up the daunting question of how to solve water supply shortages, particularly in western states. First, on April 5, 2005, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee invited 22 groups to offer their "bold and innovative solutions" for water resource issues and for improving the federal water bureaucracy.

Through four panels of expert testimony, Committee members probed the witnesses on the costs of desalination and purification technologies and the role the federal government should play in advancing these projects. Several panelists urged increased funding for federal agencies that conduct water research and emphasized that monitoring programs must be central to our water policy. "We don't need another national policy commission, but there is a role for the federal government, and that is to provide research and data," said Melinda Kassen with Trout Unlimited.

On April 13, 2005, the House Resources Committee hearing focused on the best approaches to improve water storage capacity in Arizona, California, and Wyoming. Water Resource managers who testified offered varied suggestions, from urging the federal government to support large dam projects to encouraging congress to consider policies that are based on more short-term, innovative solutions.

Full hearing summaries can be viewed here.

Data Integrity Controversy Fuels Yucca Mountain Debate

Members of Nevada's Congressional delegation tried to increase their bargaining power this month in opposition to the scientific and ethical foundation of plans to build a massive nuclear waste repository under Yucca Mountain, 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Representative John Porter (R-NV), who chairs a House Government Reform Subcommittee, convened a hearing to question Energy Department and U.S. Geological Survey officials regarding recent allegations that federal employees falsified data for the project.

On March 16, 2005, the Energy Department admitted the existence of several emails, dated between 1998 and 2000, that suggest U.S. Geological Survey employees working on water infiltration and climate modeling between 1998 and 2000 may have manipulated their records to meet strict quality assurance requirements. In the emails, employees essentially express being trapped between their scientific data and quality assurance procedures established by the license application. According to an internal DOE memo, "these e-mails may create a substantial vulnerability for the program."

Indeed, Nevada's congressional delegation sent a letter to DOE demanding a halt to the project. But DOE officials are waiting to consider the outcome of two Inspector General Investigations now underway at DOE and USGS. "It was and is our belief that the decision by Congress and the president was and is based on sound science," said Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman at an April 6 press conference.

The emails as well as all relevant documents are archived on Porter's Subcommittee website:
For a full summary of the hearing, click here.

 

Farmers to Measure Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The USDA and Forest Service are providing new accounting rules and guidelines for farmers and forest managers who want to control and report greenhouse gas emissions. The new guidelines were included in the Department of Energy's revised voluntary greenhouse gas reporting program and summarized in the federal register on March 24, 2005 (http://www.agiweb.org/gap/email/review0305.html#fedreg).

Praising the new revisions, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman said, "with the help of a wide range of stakeholders, we have improved upon our earlier effort to provide a clear and transparent accounting system that will encourage increased participation in voluntary efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in a cost-effective way." In the agricultural sector, the guidelines show landowners how to quantify and maintain records of actions such as using no-till agriculture, installing a waste digester, improving nutrient management, and managing forestland. A new online tool will also provide a simple method for estimating soil carbon sequestration.

Go to the DOE website for further information.

NASA

New Administrator, Michael Griffin

Michael Griffin, a physicist-engineer with six advanced degrees was confirmed by the Senate as the 11th NASA Administrator on April 13, 2005 after being nominated by President Bush on March 11. Griffin relinquished his chairmanship of the Space Department at Johns Hopkins University's Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) to head the space agency. Before working at APL, he was a chief engineer and associate administrator for exploration at NASA, an engineer and administrator in the Department of Defense, a contractor at Orbital Sciences Corporation and the chief operating officer of a nonprofit national security research firm run by the CIA. He has a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from the University of Maryland and Master's degrees in aerospace science, electrical engineering, applied physics, civil engineering, and business administration.

Griffin firmly supports human space exploration and favors President Bush's "Vision for Space Exploration", which focuses on manned missions to the Moon and Mars. He hopes to speed up the development of the next generation space shuttle to avoid a 5 year gap during which the United States would have no human space shuttling capabilities. A new orbiter is scheduled for completion by 2014 and the current shuttle fleet will be retired by 2010. During his senate confirmation hearing, Griffin stated "I do not believe that we wish to see a situation where the United States is dependent on any partner. It seems unacceptable to me that it should take from 2005 to 2014" to develop a new shuttle. At the hearing, Griffin also indicated that he would reconsider a shuttle mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.

Looking Up and Down for Dollars

With a new NASA administrator, Michael Griffin, a $5.5 billion budget for science, reconsideration of a Hubble repair mission and an anticipated shuttle launch, you would think things would be looking up at NASA. Unfortunately some undercurrents about cost overruns and deep cuts are causing many to look down at the bottom line budget realities and the lower priority projects being reviewed for elimination. NASA needs to cut $400 million from the current 2005 science budget to cover earmarks (totaling about $160 million) and shuttle cost overruns.

The total cost to get a shuttle ready and launched in 2005 continues to rise (~$700 million), as NASA works to ensure that all 15 of the recommendations by the Columbia Accident Investigation Board are implemented. The launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery has been postponed 3 times and on April 29, Griffin announced that the launch scheduled for May 22 would be postponed until July. Engineers are worried that chunks of ice could form on the external fuel tank, break off during launch and damage the shuttle. Columbia was damaged by a fragment of foam insulation that broke off of the external tank during launch. Discovery will be moved from the launch pad to the Vehicle Assembly Building, so that engineers can add heaters to prevent ice build-up.

The Earth-Sun Exploration Division has been targeted for the deepest cuts. President Bush's proposed fiscal year 2006 budget would cut the funding for the division from $75 million to $53 million. Seven of 13 missions might be terminated, including Voyager 1 and 2, spacecrafts that completed a grand tour of the solar system and are now exploring the fringes of the solar system; the Ulysses spacecraft which is studying the sun; Geotail, Wind and Polar, which trace solar events and their interaction with Earth; FAST which studies Earth's aurora and TRACE which studies the solar atmosphere and magnetosphere. In addition to terminating long-running missions, most of the future missions will be abandoned or indefinitely deferred, such as the Glory mission to study aerosols and related climate change issues. An interim report (http://www.house.gov/science/hearings/full05/apr28/index.htm) released on April 27 from the NRC decadal survey entitled "Earth Observations from Space" warned that the entire Earth observation program is at risk and more funding is needed now to support many of the missions proposed for termination or delay. An outside review of the 13 currently operating solar physics missions, including the Voyagers will be completed in the fall, perhaps delaying some hard budget choices for awhile.

Mars Rovers Keep Going and Going

On April 5, 2005, NASA extended the Mars Exploration Rovers mission for another 18 months. The twin rovers, Spirit, which landed in Gusev Crater on January 4, 2004 and Opportunity, which landed on Meridiani Planum on January 25, 2004, completed their original 3 month primary missions and the twins have already been extended for an additional 11 months. Opportunity, which is currently "speeding" over relatively flat terrain toward some wind eroded, regolith called Etched Terrain, overtook Spirit for the longest distance traveled by a robotic vehicle on Mars by covering more than 5 kilometers (3 miles). Opportunity also set the speed record by traveling 722 feet in one day. Spirit is busy climbing a rocky slope to get to the top of Husband Hill and has regained much of its power after a wind storm cleaned the martian dust off of its solar panels on March 9, 2005.

Can Kansas Be Saved in Six Days?

The Kansas State Board of Education will hold 6 days of "science hearings" from May 5-7 and May 12-14. The hearings were set-up to address a minority report of the state standards writing committee that requested changes to the definition of science and other aspects of the curricula standards (see the Political Scene Column "Creationism: Back in Kansas Again" in the April issue of Geotimes: http://www.geotimes.org/apr05/scene.html for more details). The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), other societies and many in the scientific community are boycotting the hearings because they believe the trial-style hearings will be biased, will confuse the public and will not change the Board's final vote. The Kansas State Board of Education, which now has a majority of members who are proponents of "teaching the controversy" are likely to approve the changes requested by the minority report of the standards writing committee.

Proponents of the teaching of intelligent design (ID) in K-12 classrooms have repeatedly entangled evolution and indirectly all of science with the decline of moral values, and with two specifically controversial and divisive issues, gay marriages and abortion. Reverend Jerry Johnson from the First Family Church in Overland Park Kansas, states in a Science news story that "Getting intelligent design into school curricula is the worthiest cause of our time and the key to reversing the country's moral decline. The evangelical and intelligent design community must work together to make that happen."

Opponents of the teaching of ID, gathered scientists, parishioners and business leaders at Plymouth Congregational Church on April 21 to emphasize that evolution is a scientific theory that is not in conflict with religious doctrine and to warn that introducing ID would undermine the state's ability to produce highly-trained workers with analytical skills. Without skilled workers, Kansas could lose some high-technology industries and the jobs that they create.

The Kansas Coalition for Science which consists of the Kansas Academy of Sciences (KAS), the Kansas Citizens for Science (KCFS), Kansas Families United for Public Education (KFUPE), The MAINstream Coalition, the Kansas Association of Biology Teachers (KABT) and the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science (KATS) will hold their own briefing on May 4. More information is available at
http://www.kcfs.org

More information about the teaching of ID in Kansas and other states is also available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/evolution/index.html

Academic Bill of Rights

The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) will hold a meeting on May 11, 2005 in Washington DC to discuss political intrusions into the responsibilities of academic disciplines. Legislation, often given the title of an "Academic Bill of Rights" that would require institutions to adopt grievance procedures to enforce a specific list of rights for students and faculty. Some of the "rights" are objectionable and might create significant problems for academic freedoms, according to AAUP. Some of the objectionable language includes "respect all human knowledge" and "provide students with dissenting sources and viewpoints". Academic Bill of Rights legislation has been introduced in 14 state legislatures and in the House majority vehicle for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act (HR 609). The meeting is open to the public and you can RSVP to Robert Burns, rburns@aaup.org. If you cannot attend the meeting you can send comments or request more information from Robert. More information about this issue is available at http://www.aaup.org/Issues/ABOR/aborintro2.htm

New Guidelines and New Lawsuits for No Child Left Behind

Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings announced on April 7, 2005 that new guidelines will allow states with strong accountability systems more flexibility in complying with the No Child Left Behind law. According to Spellings, the new guidelines would make the law more "workable" and "sensible" on a school-by-school basis, as long as important educational reforms have been implemented. For schools that have raised overall achievement and accountability, closed achievement gaps, made information more accessible to parents, and improved the quality of the faculty, federal officials will now weigh various state and local conditions when approving flexibility measures, such as modified assessments for students with learning disabilities and limited English proficiency. Spellings explained that implementing national education standards must be an "organic process" and "a shared responsibility" between the federal government and states.

Still, frustration among state education officials over whether the federal government has contributed enough funding to help meet No Child Left Behind standards has mounted over recent months. On April 20th, The National Education Association and nine school districts in Michigan, Texas, and Vermont sued the Education Department on the grounds that the 2001 law insufficiently funds its policy changes. According to CQ Weekly (April 25, 2005), states that are required to balance their budgets have been struggling to meet the law due to recession, higher Medicaid costs, and increased homeland security spending. The Utah legislature also recently passed a bill that ignores the provisions of No Child Left Behind where it conflicts with Utah's own school accountability system.

Meanwhile, other school districts around the country are taking a "wait and see" approach to gauge how significantly Spelling's new guidelines will impact their schools. One report from a rural New Mexico newspaper is hopeful the new guidelines will make allow local schools to better assess Spanish-speaking students and to adopt more flexible teacher certification requirements, as science and math teacher certification is scarce in small towns.

Visit the Education Department website to read the official announcement, or go straight to articles in the Washington Post and Alamogordo, New Mexico Daily News.

House Science Committee Honors Science Teacher Awardees

Five recipients of this year's Presidential Teacher Award offered lawmakers their suggestions on how to improve science and math education at a House Science Committee hearing on April 14, 2005. The annual award program, administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), recognizes exceptional teaching in science and math with a $10,000 grant for each recipient.

Before the hearing at an awards ceremony, Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), told the awardees, "quite frankly, Members of Congress don't spend enough time with teachers. We talk about teachers and teaching a lot … but we don't spend enough time truly listening to you, the people on the front lines of our educational system." Boehlert went on to discuss how the government is working to improve science education as well as how it may be falling short. In particular, Boehlert discussed the progress and fate of the National Science Foundation's K-12 education programs, which were reduced in the President's proposed fiscal year 2006 budget.

The teachers told the committee that highly qualified teachers were the most important element of an effective educational system, and they urged Congress to encourage better pre- and in-service training for K-12 teachers. One of the awardees, Cassandra Barnes, who teaches third grade, told the Committee, "I believe that the National Science Foundation-funded, standards-based curricula are improving math education for students across the country; however, I know that the difference for kids lies in the hearts and minds of the teachers who implement the curricula and standards. If the federal government wants to take steps to improve math and science education for our children, they need to focus energy and resources on providing high quality professional development for our teachers."

Visit the Science Committee website for press releases, the awardees' written testimony, or to view an archived webcast of the hearing.

May Day: NIH Public Access Policy Begins

The NIH-funded Public Access Policy begins on May 2, 2005. The latest version of the policy is listed below and contains two slight, but important modifications compared to their initial announcement. NIH will not post a paper until after it has been published and the publisher may take a more active role in deciding what version of the paper may appear on the NIH website. NIH estimates $2-$4 million per year in incremental costs to create and then maintain a website for submitting authors' final manuscripts and for Extensible Markup Language (XML) tagging of the manuscripts into PubMed Central's archival format.

As of May 2, 2005, NIH-funded investigators are asked to submit voluntarily to PubMed Central (www.pubmedcentral.nih.gov) an electronic version of the author's final manuscript when the article is accepted for publication. This version is defined as "the final version accepted for the journal publication, and includ[ing] all modifications from the publishing peer review process." Included are publications resulting from current projects that are funded in whole or in part by the NIH, as well as reports on previous NIH-supported research that are accepted for publication on or after May 2.

The policy applies to all research grants, career-development awards, cooperative agreements, contracts, and national research service awards, as well as NIH intramural research studies. It does not apply to book chapters, editorials, review articles, or conference proceedings.

Manuscripts are to be submitted in the usual word-processing or PDF formats through a secure Web-based system. There are procedures to ensure that submissions are consistent with copyright assignments and agreements and that the journals have been notified of the submission.

At the time of submission, the responsible author will specify when the manuscript is to become publicly accessible through PubMed Central; no article will become accessible until after it is published.

The National Library of Medicine will use a standard digital archival format to store manuscripts. After manuscripts have been converted to this format, the responsible author will be sent an electronic copy. No manuscript will be released until the author has verified its accuracy.

If the publisher provides its final version of the article, this version will supersede the author's final version. When publishers transmit manuscripts, the National Library of Medicine will ask the responsible author to sign off on the transfer and verify key information, such as the accuracy of the paper and the release date. The author's final manuscript will still be available at PubMed Central, through a link from the publisher's final version. If the publisher agrees, public access to the publisher's final version can occur before the time originally specified by the author.

As the NIH gains experience with the new process, the policy will be refined. An advisory committee, the NIH Public Access Working Group of the Board of Regents of the National Library of Medicine, is being established.

Open Access "Growing" Pains in Europe

While NIH begins their Public Access Policy on May 2, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and the Netherlands are developing their own open access plans. In the U.K., London's Wellcome Trust, the largest supporter of biomedical research in the U.K., will require Trust-funded authors to deposit a copy of their accepted manuscript within 6 months of publication. The Trust is currently seeking a host to sponsor the archive and get it designed and established by the beginning of 2006. In France, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) plans to expand its physics and math papers archive to other fields of research and perhaps even compel researchers to submit by allowing only archived papers to count in their job evaluations. In Germany, the national science funding agency, DFG, has offered to cover researchers' expenses if they submit to an open-access journal with a publication fee. The Max Planck Society launched a pilot archive called eDoc for Max Planck researchers to voluntarily deposit their papers. Participation among the diverse group of Society authors, including historians, lawyers, biologists and physicists has been highly variable and Society officials attribute this to researcher inertia. In the Netherlands, the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Royal Library and 13 universities will develop a network of databases called Digital Academic Repositories (DARE). Submission is voluntary, but the group plans to highlight recent work to active as an incentive for participation.

Congress Acknowledges African-American Women in Science

Introduced by Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) on March 15, 2005, a joint resolution is making its way through Congress that "acknowledges and recognizes the significant achievements and contributions of African American women scientists, mathematicians, and inventors." According to the resolution, whereas women comprise roughly 25% of the science and engineering professionals who hold a doctoral degree in the United States, African American women comprise less than 1% of that workforce. The resolution intends to encourage future involvement of African American women in the sciences and to establish "a special day on which these great minds may be honored and esteemed." Full text

Input from Geoscientists Requested by Mid-May

NSF Geosciences Advisory Committee

The Geosciences Advisory Committee of NSF is seeking input about current and future geoscience funding plans in advance of their May 11-12, 2005. To offer input or follow the committee's progress visit http://www.nsf.gov/geo/advisory.jsp The next meeting of the committee will be October 5-7, 2005.

NRC Decadal Study: Earth Science and Applications from Space

The U.S. Space Studies Board has begun a 2-year study to generate prioritized recommendations from the Earth and environmental sciences for space-based observations and ancillary analyses conducted by NASA and NOAA. Concepts for programs linked to societal needs and benefits are encouraged. The study is divided into the following themes: Earth science applications and societal needs; land-use change, ecosystem dynamics and biodiversity; weather (including space weather); climate variability and change; water resources and the global hydrologic cycle; human health and security; and solid-Earth hazards, resources and dynamics. Ideas should be submitted by May 16, 2005. More information is available at http://qp.nas.edu/decadalsurvey.

USGS Geospatial Programs

The USGS has created a National Geospatial Programs Office which brings together The National Map, Geospatial One-Stop, and the Federal Geographic Data Committee. The USGS is seeking comments and feedback on the strategic priorities and associated actions in the NGPO Plan for Action from May 2-16, 2005. The Plan for Action will be finalized based on input received and will be distributed at the end of May 2005. An implementation strategy will be developed by June 30, 2005, and additional comments on that approach will be sought then. Please visit www.usgs.gov/ngpo for more information about the programs and the call for comments.

Staff Changes

Emily Lehr Wallace has departed from the Government Affairs Program for a challenging new position in a consulting firm. Emily did an extraordinary job with GAP and we will miss her. The Government Affairs Program is actively seeking a new Policy Associate with experience on the Hill and an interest in the geosciences. The following ad will appear in Geotimes, Roll Call and other places. Please feel free to distribute this ad to potential candidates in the geoscience community.

Policy Associate - A non-profit federation of 42 geoscience societies, seeks a government affairs staff member. Major duties and responsibilities include: monitoring and analyzing appropriations bills, legislation and policy developments on geoscience-related issues, updating information on the website, handling logistics for fly-ins as well as internship and fellowship programs, and fostering information flow between the geoscience community and policy makers. The preferred candidate will have a successful background on Capitol Hill; outstanding writing, verbal, and organizational skills; experience in public policy; a science education and familiarity with web publishing. Candidates should submit a resume, names of three references and salary requirements, with a cover letter to jobs@agiweb.org or Government Affairs Search, American Geological Institute, 4220 King St, Alexandria VA 22302. More information about the program at www.agiweb.org/gap. Position to remain open until filled. EOE

Key Federal Register Notices

Below is a summary of Federal Register announcements regarding federal regulations, agency meetings, and other notices of interest to the geoscience community. Entries are listed in chronological order and show the federal agency involved, the title, and the citation. The Federal Register is available online at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/frcont05.html. Information on submitting comments and reading announcements are also available online at http://www.regulation.gov.

EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency is requesting comment on issues raised in a petition for reconsideration of EPA's rule to implement the 8-hour ozone national ambient air quality standard. In particular, the EPA requests comment on whether it should interpret the Act to require areas to retain major NSR requirements that apply to certain 1-hour ozone nonattainment areas in implementing the 8-hour standard. See the full notice for details. [Federal Register: April 4, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 63)]

NASA, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration will hold a meeting of the NASA Earth Science and Applications from Space Strategic Roadmap Committee on May 11-12 from 8:30-5:00, in The Latham Hotel in Washington, DC. The meeting will be open to the public up to the seating capacity of the meeting room. For the agenda or other further information view the full federal register notice or contact Mr. Gordon Johnston, at 202-358-4685. [Federal Register: April 18, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 73)]

NSF: The National Science Foundation will hold an Advisory Committee Meeting for its Geoscience Program on May 11th and 12th, from 8:30 to 5:30 at NSF headquarters. The purpose of meeting is to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight concerning support for research, education, and human resources development in the geosciences. The meeting is open to the public. Contact Dr. Thomas Spence, Directorate for Geosciences, at 703-292-8500. [Federal Register: April 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 74)]

NSF: The National Science Foundation will hold an Advisory Committee for Polar Programs on May 9-10, 8:00 to 5:00, at NSF headquarters. The purpose of the meeting is to advise NSF on the impact of its policies, programs, and activities of the polar research community; to provide advice to the Director of OPP on issues related to long range planning, and to form ad hoc subcommittees to carry out needed studies and tasks. The meeting will be open to the public. Contact Altie Metcalf, Office of Polar Programs at (703) 292-8030. [Federal Register: April 19, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 74)]

New Material on Web Site

The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site http://www.agiweb.org/gap since the last monthly update:

Monthly review prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs and Katie Ackerly Government Affairs Staff.

Sources: Hearing testimony, House Government Reform Committee documentation, House Science Committee documentation, Department of Energy documentation, Environment and Energy Daily, Greenwire, National Journal, Triangle Coalition Electronic Bulletin, Washington Post, New York Times, Alamogordo Daily News, Science Magazine, NIH PubMed Central.

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

Posted May 6, 2005.