Monthly Review: April 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. Senate Passes Science Act Dubbed "America
2. President Opposes Aspects of Senate Science Act
3. House Passes Several Science Bills Like the Massive
4. House Considers National Science Foundation Re-authorization
5. Wild Sky Wilderness Designation Finally Approved
6. Paleontological Resources Preservation Act Considered
7. Student Loan Industry Challenged
8. Supreme Court Rulings Favor Environment
9. Ecological Society of America Promotes "No
Child Left Indoors"
10. Planetary Society Urges Congress to "Restore
11. Americans and Brits Plan Lunar Exploration Together
12. United Nations Security Council Debates Threats
of Global Warming
13. Council on Foreign Relations Report Reveals Dim
Future for Nuclear Power
14. Open Access Concerns Not Reflected in 2006 Commercial
15. Earth Portal Launched by National Council for
Science and the Environment
16. Scitopia.org Scheduled to Launch in June
17. Nature Geoscience Coming Soon
18. K-12 Education Grants from Toyota
19. Federal Register Notices
20. Updates to Webpage
1. Senate Passes
Science Act Dubbed "America COMPETES"
On April 25, the Senate passed the America COMPETES Act (S.761)
by a vote of 88 to 8. The catchy acronym stands for Creating Opportunities
to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education, and Science
and in a Senate press release, Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) called
the bill "The biggest piece of legislation in Congress this year,
because it goes right to the heart of how we keep our high standard
Introduced by Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican
Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), the legislation would double
the budgets of the National Science Foundation, the Department of
Energy's Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards
and Technology over 5 years, direct NASA to increase funding for research
and participate in interagency activities to foster competitiveness
and innovation and coordinate ocean and atmospheric research and education
at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with
other agencies. The legislation also contains a host of science and
math educational opportunities.
Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and George Voinovich (R-OH) sponsored
an amendment that was passed and explicitly includes the Great Lakes
in NOAA's research and education programs that are described in the
An amendment from Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) also passed and would
require the Commerce Department's inspector general to conduct "routine,
independent" reviews of NOAA's grant making process.
In addition the bill would create the Advanced Research Projects
Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) within DOE that would try to overcome "long-term
and high-risk technological barriers in the development of energy
technologies." Technologies would include renewables, fossil
energy, nuclear, efficiency and carbon sequestration. The concept
of the advanced research agency is modeled after the military's Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Finally there is short section of the bill which requires the White
House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) to develop policies
to ensure the open communication of federal scientific data and results
to the government and the public within 90 days of when the bill becomes
a public law. OSTP would have to come up with "an overarching
set of principles to ensure the communication and open exchange of
data and results ... and to prevent the intentional or unintentional
suppression or distortion" of federal research. This section
was drafted by policymakers in response to news reports and comments
about suppression of scientists at NASA, NOAA, the Environmental Protection
Agency and the US Geological Survey.
The majority of the measure implements many of the policy recommendations
of the 2006 National Academies report "Rising Above the Gathering
Storm" and is similar to legislation introduced in the previous
The House is also moving on a package of separate bills that would
implement similar measures. Once the House has voted on their separate
bills, the two chambers will need to select a conference committee
and work out any differences.
The full text and summaries of all bills are available from Thomas
2. President Opposes
Aspects of Senate Science Act
On April 23, the Administration released a three-page statement responding
to the Senate America COMPETES Act, or S. 761. Introduced by Democratic
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Republican Minority Leader Mitch
McConnell (R-KY) and backed by 55 cosponsors, the "America Creating
Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education,
and Science Act," the bill calls for greater investments in education
The statement noted that the Administration has "serious concerns
with S. 761 in its current form." In particular, the bill "does
not prioritize basic research, authorizes excessive and inappropriate
spending, and creates unnecessary bureaucracy and education programs."
Although the Administration supports the goals of the act, the statement
questioned the need for "at least 20 new programs that
divert resources from and undermine and delay the priority basic research."
Among the Administration's key concerns are the use of DOE funds
to create Specialty Schools for Mathematics and Science and National
Laboratory Centers of Excellence at K-12 schools. "The establishment
of school-based centers is not a proper role for DOE and would divert
national laboratory resources that currently benefit their surrounding
communities," the Administration said firmly.
The Administration also objected to creating new experiential-based
learning opportunities at K-12 schools "unless the need is clear
and compelling, which is not the case for this program."
S. 761 would require each federal science agency to set aside 8 percent
of its research and development budget for projects that are "too
novel or span too diverse a range of disciplines to fare well in the
traditional peer review process." The Administration strongly
objected to this provision, noting that such a large earmark "would
certainly have negative, unintended consequences."
3. House Passes Several
Science Bills Like Massive Senate Measure
In a late-April press release, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) announced
that the House is taking the "first steps in an Innovation Agenda
that will help spur the next generation of discovery and invention."
The House passed three bills (H.R.
363 and H.R.
1332) that are central to the innovation agenda and contain many
measures that are similar to the Senate bill, "America COMPETES"
which is described above. H.R.
364, which would create the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
(ARPA-E) within the Department of Energy (DOE), received a hearing
in the House Science and Technology, Subcommittee on Energy and Technology
in late April, but is not currently part of the innovation agenda
package passed by the House and now being considered by the Senate.
The 10,000 Teachers, 10 Million Minds Science and Math Scholarship
Act (H.R. 362) contains the following measures:
"Establishes a teacher education program at the National Science
Foundation (NSF) to encourage math, science and engineering faculty
to work with education faculty to improve the education of science
and math teachers and to provide scholarships to science, math and
engineering students who commit to become science or math teachers
at elementary and secondary schools; authorizes summer teacher training
institutes at NSF and DOE to improve the content knowledge and pedagogical
skills of in-service science and math teachers, including preparing
them to teach Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses
in science and math; requires that NSF include support for master's
degree programs for in-service science and mathematics teachers within
the NSF Math and Science Partnerships; and authorizes funding for
the NSF STEM Talent Expansion program and expands the program to include
centers for improving undergraduate STEM education."
The Sowing the Seeds Through Science and Engineering Act (H.R. 363)
contains the following measures:
"Supports outstanding researchers in the early stages of their
careers through grants at the National Science Foundation (NSF) and
the Department of Energy (DOE) of $80,000 per year for 5 years; establishes
a floor of 1.5% of research funding appropriated for NSF for an existing
program supporting graduate students in multidisciplinary fields of
national importance; establishes a presidential innovation award to
stimulate scientific and engineering advances in the national interest;
establishes a national coordination office to identify and prioritize
research infrastructure needs at universities and national laboratories
and to help guide the investments of new infrastructure funds authorized
for NSF and DOE; authorizes NSF to support research on innovation;
directs the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)
to report on efforts to recruit and retain early-career scientists
and engineers; and expresses the sense of Congress that a balanced
science program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) contributes significantly to innovation and competitiveness."
H.R. 1332, the Small Business Lending Improvements Act of 2007, will
improve access to capital programs for small businesses, offering
them tools to be successful.
"Democrats will continue throughout the 110th Congress to move
forward on legislation that asserts our global economic leadership,
creates new business ventures and jobs, and gives future generations
increased opportunity to achieve the American Dream," Speaker
The Innovation Agenda
can be viewed online.
The full text of the House bills are available from Thomas
4. House Considers
National Science Foundation Re-authorization
The House Science and Technology Committee completed their work on
the National Science Foundation Re-authorization bill (H.R. 1867)
which would establish funding for fiscal years 2008, 2009 and 2010
and for other purposes. The measure will be considered by the full
chamber on May 2 and if it passes, it will be sent to the Senate for
their consideration. So far the Senate has not introduced any legislation
The House measure would authorize budget increases of $6.5 billion
for 2008, $6.98 billion for 2009 and $7.493 billion for 2010 and keep
the NSF on a path toward doubling its budget within 10 years. The
legislation also sets aside specific allocations for research, education
and major facilities for the next 3 years and ensures that educational
initiatives will be kept on a 7 percent per year growth rate just
like the research initiatives. The funding authority is consistent
with the science legislation passed as an omnibus by the Senate and
as several bills by the House in late April (described in summaries
The House measure includes additional funding for early career researchers
to help address the National Science Board's concern that high risk
research is not receiving funding at NSF because the review process
is too conservative.
The Major Research Instrumentation program would receive a stepwise
increase to its maximum award amount from $2 million to $4 million
over the three years. Institutions would have to provide 30 percent
of the cost from private or non-federal sources. Exemption from the
cost-share stipulation would be granted to institutions that are not
PhD granting institutions, consortia with at least one non-PhD institution,
do not rank in the top 100 institutions receiving federal research
and development funds or for projects that make a substantial improvement
in undergraduate training and participation.
Language in the bill directs the NSF to consider industrial partnerships
as an important aspect of the broader impacts of the research during
the peer-review process. In section 10, entitled "Reporting of
Research Results" the director of NSF would be requested to ensure
that final project reports and citations of published research documents
are made available to the public by posting on the NSF web site. In
section 11, entitled "Sharing Research Results" any investigator
who fails to apply by section 734 of the Foundation Grant Policy Manual
shall be ineligible for a future award until they comply with the
section. Section 734 is copied below:
734 Dissemination and Sharing of Research Results
a. Investigators are expected to promptly prepare and submit for publication,
with authorship that accurately reflects the contributions of those
involved, all significant findings from work conducted under NSF grants.
Grantees are expected to permit and encourage such publication by
those actually performing that work, unless a grantee intends to publish
or disseminate such findings itself.
b. Investigators are expected to share with other researchers, at
no more than incremental cost and within a reasonable time, the primary
data, samples, physical collections and other supporting materials
created or gathered in the course of work under NSF grants. Grantees
are expected to encourage and facilitate such sharing. Privileged
or confidential information should be released only in a form that
protects the privacy of individuals and subjects involved. General
adjustments and, where essential, exceptions to this sharing expectation
may be specified by the funding NSF Program or Division for a particular
field or discipline to safeguard the rights of individuals and subjects,
the validity of results, or the integrity of collections or to accommodate
the legitimate interest of investigators. A grantee or investigator
also may request a particular adjustment or exception from the cognizant
NSF Program Officer.
c. Investigators and grantees are encouraged to share software and
inventions created under the grant or otherwise make them or their
products widely available and usable.
d. NSF normally allows grantees to retain principal legal rights to
intellectual property developed under NSF grants to provide incentives
for development and dissemination of inventions, software and publications
that can enhance their usefulness, accessibility and upkeep. Such
incentives do not, however, reduce the responsibility that investigators
and organizations have as members of the scientific and engineering
community, to make results, data and collections available to other
5. Wild Sky Wilderness
Designation Finally Approved
After six years of opposition from former House Resources Committee
Chairman Richard Pombo (R-CA), the House has finally approved the
Wild Sky Wilderness bill, H.R.
886. The bill, introduced by Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA), sets aside
106,000 acres of low-elevation old-growth forest in Washington's Mount
Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest as wilderness and protects about
25 miles of salmon streams in western Washington.
The measure was approved by the Senate in the 107th, 108th and 109th
sessions of Congress, but was repeatedly opposed by Pombo, who argued
that about 13,000 acres of land included in the bill did not meet
the requirements of the 1964 Wilderness Act.
Resources Preservation Act Considered
In a hearing held April 17, 2007, the House Natural Resources Subcommittee
on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands held a hearing to consider
the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act and three other measures.
Introduced by Representative James McGovern (D-MA), the Paleontological
Resources Preservation Act (H.R.
554) provides for the protection of paleontological resources
on federal lands by providing stiff penalties for crimes involving
the theft and vandalism of Fossils of National Significance (FONS).
In his opening statement, Chairman Raúl Grijalva (D-AZ) noted
his concern about the "unintended consequences" of H.R.
554. However, Congressman McGovern assured the committee that the
bill "does not place any new restrictions on amateur collectors"
and only pertains to public lands.
Recalling the "Last Chance" Dinosaur Quarry in Colorado,
discovered by a volunteer enthusiast in 2004 and regarded as one of
the most important dinosaur quarries in Colorado, the US Forest Service
embraced the bill, albeit with minor revisions. Commenting that fossils
provide "remarkable evidence of the Earth's history," Mr.
Norbury, Assistant Deputy Chief of the US Forest Service, noted that
"the establishment of a comprehensive legal framework that encourages
the integration of public and private resources, skills, and enthusiasm"
would play an enormous role in "the excavation and preservation
of these amazing remains."
Two other, non-governmental witnesses, Peter Larson and Ted Vlamis,
disagreed on the value of H.R. 554. Peter Larson, President of the
Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, describes himself as
a "degreed geologist, experienced vertebrate paleontologist and
current member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, the Paleontological
Society, and the Mid-American Paleontological Society." Larson
provided an explanation of why he opposes the bill in his written
testimony. Ted Vlamis, who described himself as an amateur paleontologist
and an active member of the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology provided
testimony right after Larson. Vlamis explained why he supported the
bill and also stated in his written testimony that "The PRPA
[H.R. 554] has been endorsed by the Society of Vertebrate Paleontology,
an organization of more than 2000 professional and amateur paleontologists,
and by the American Association of Museums, which counts among its
membership 11,500 individual museum professionals and volunteers,
3100 institutions, and 1700 corporate members."
To see the full
testimony, go to the House Natural Resources Committee web site.
7. Student Loan Industry
The U.S. Department of Education has been "asleep at the switch"
when it comes to conducting oversight of the nation's federal student
loan programs, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in
a hearing before the House Education and Labor Committee on April
25. Prompted by controversy over the industry's ethics, the hearing
explored charges that the $85 billion-a-year industry has been given
too much rein under the Bush Administration, to the detriment of student
Cuomo, who led a nationwide investigation of ties between student
loan companies and universities, called for federal action to overhaul
the student loan system. The system, a patchwork of regulations that
differ between states, is riddled with kickbacks and conflicts of
Education Secretary Margaret Spellings called Cuomo's testimony "ill-informed"
and said the department "takes its role as steward of federal
financial aid very seriously," according to a Washington Post
article. However, the issue has prompted action in Congress. In February,
the House and Senate education panel chairmen, Rep. George Miller
(D-CA) and Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) introduced bills H.R.
890 and S.
486 that would require lenders to disclose the terms of their
arrangements with schools, ban gifts from lenders to college employees,
and require schools to list lenders on the basis of the benefits they
8. Supreme Court
Rulings Favor Environment
In a surprisingly unanimous pro-environment decision, the Supreme
Court ruled 9-0 that industrial smokestacks and power plants must
meet today's cost-effective pollution control standards when facilities
are updated. The case, Environmental Defense v. Duke Energy, centered
on renovations by Duke Energy, the nation's third-largest power company,
made to 30 coal-fired electric generating units at eight power plants
in North Carolina and South Carolina. According to Environmental Defense,
many of these facilities had been operating sporadically or not at
all and were due to be retired and replaced. Instead, Duke Energy
chose to rebuild them, "resulting in significant increases in
particulate- and smog-forming pollution." However, they failed
to obtain permits or install pollution control equipment as required
by law under the New Source Performance Standards and Prevention of
Significant Deterioration amendments of the Clean Air Act.
The opinions are available from the Supreme Court web site. The case
In a case that will force the Forest Service to reconsider its logging
practices, the Supreme Court denied certiorari in Earth Island Institute
v. U.S. Forest Service in late March. The Earth Island Institute appealed
the denial of a preliminary injunction of a post-fire restoration
project in the El Dorado National Forest by the United States Forest
Service. The group claimed that the timber sales involved in the project
violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the National Forest
Despite an appeal by the Forest Service, the US Supreme Court denied
cert to the Forest Service, finding that the Forest Service had failed
to take the requisite "hard look" at the effects of the
projects on the California spotted owl. The Court also found that
the Forest Service had abused its discretion in the estimates of the
likely tree mortality from the fires and had failed to conduct population
surveys for the hairy woodpecker and Williamson's sapsucker. Both
birds are "Management Indicator Species" that aid the Forest
Service in establishing objectives for improving habitat and for evaluating
the quantity and quality of habitat and species population trends,
in accordance with the National Forest Management Act.
9. Ecological Society
of America Promotes "No Child Left Indoors"
The following text is a press release issued by the Ecological Society
of America during Earth Week, which encourages adults to take children
outdoors, especially to the nation's many parks and recreation areas,
and to help foster better stewardship and natural science literacy.
The Ecological Society of America (ESA), the nation's premier organization
of 10,000 ecological scientists, is promoting "No Child Left
Indoors" week as part of Earth Week, 2007, to encourage adults
to connect a child with nature. The locally begun "No Child Left
Indoors" concept has grown into a national movement that encourages
students, families, and adults to experience nature. Teaching children
about their "home," Planet Earth, fosters better stewardship
and science literacy.
More and more, people around the globe are migrating from rural to
urban areas, and the number of people living in cities is growing
twice as fast as total population growth. In fact, by this year, a
majority of the world's people will be living in cities.** Children
growing up over the last 20 years have increasingly limited experience
of the outdoors, which is contributing to decreased understanding
and appreciation of the environment on which humanity depends:
* National statistics show that visits to national and state parks
have fallen off by as much as 25 percent in the last decade, and kids
remain indoors watching TV and playing computer games.
* A recent scientific study found that more children knew the characters
of Pokemon (an electronic game) than could recognize an oak tree or
* Science education-especially ecology and earth-based sciences-in
America is falling behind that of other countries.
* Biological, health, and economic data indicate that children who
connect with nature perform better in school, have higher SAT scores,
exhibit fewer behavioral challenges, and experience fewer attention-deficit
ESA endorses activities locally and nationally for youth to learn
about ecology and experience ecosystems. SEEDS (Strategies for Ecology
Education, Development and Sustainability) is an ESA program established
to reduce the serious underrepresentation of individuals from certain
minority groups within the field of ecology. The program's mission
is to diversify and advance the profession of ecology by promoting
opportunities that stimulate and nurture the interest of underrepresented
The United States offers a wide array of parks and recreation areas
where children can connect with a tremendously diverse natural environment,
from the gulf shore waters, to coastal dunes, to wetlands, to oak
hammocks, to dry prairies, to treetop canopies.
The Ecological Society of America takes great pride in recognizing
the week of April 15-22, 2007, also known as Earth Week, to celebrate
"No Child Left Indoors" and to challenge all citizens-young
and old-to take a child into the natural world for a shared educational
**UNFPA State of World Population 2004. The Cairo Consensus at Ten:
Population, Reproductive Health and the Global Effort to End Poverty
(Press Summary Report)
Adopted by the Governing Board of the Ecological Society of America,
The Ecological Society of America is the country's primary professional
organization of ecologists, representing 10,000 scientists in the
United States and around the world. Since its founding in 1915, ESA
has diligently pursued the promotion of the responsible application
of ecological principles to the solution of environmental problems
through ESA reports, journals, research, and expert testimony to Congress.
For more information about the Society and its activities, visit the
10. Planetary Society
Urges Congress to "Restore NASA's Vision"
In a hearing before the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, Science, and Related Agencies on April 24, the Planetary
Society decried NASA's flagging budget. "NASA's budget should
be increased as was originally envisioned in order to restore its
scientific underpinnings and to prepare for human exploration of the
solar system," said Louis Friedman, Executive Director of the
Planetary Society in the Society's press release.
Although the Society supports the Administration's Vision for Space
Exploration, it strongly opposes the current implementation, or rather
the lack of implementation, of the plan. Among other notable cuts,
NASA has largely abandoned its search for extraterrestrial life. According
to the Planetary Society's press release, "Mars exploration has
been cut, the mission to Jupiter's moon Europa and the Terrestrial
Planet Finder mission have been eliminated, and the search for extraterrestrial
life has been cut in half."
The human exploration program is looking especially dim, and the robotic
program has suffered a series of severe budget cuts. The current budget
nearly eliminates Mars robotic exploration in the next decade.
NASA's emaciated budget not only imperils the nation's science and
exploration programs, it also "undermines the agency's ability
to develop future missions by driving away young scientists and engineers
from the field, thus, mortgaging the future of NASA science and exploration,"
the release notes.
The concluding paragraph of the Planetary Society's testimony exhorts
Congress to take action: "This past year, NASA dropped 'understanding
the Earth' from its mission statement. The Planetary Society picked
it up, and added it to our own mission statement. But we cannot pick
up the budget for the planetary and Earth science that has been cut
from the NASA budget. Congress must do that. We urge Congress to help
NASA achieve the goals articulated in the Vision for Space Exploration,
for the benefit of our future, and our children's future. Save our
Read the complete
testimony at the Planetary Society Web Site.
11. Americans and
Brits Plan Lunar Exploration Together
NASA Administrator Dr. Michael Griffin and British Space and Innovation
Minister Malcolm Wicks signed a historic agreement on April 19, 2007
to consider approaches to future collaborations on space missions,
particularly lunar exploration.
British expertise in small satellite and robotic technologies could
play a significant role in achieving NASA's goal to establish a scientific
research outpost on the Moon. Professor Keith Mason, CEO of the Science
and Technology Facilities Council and Chairman of the UK Space Board
commented to the British National Space Centre, "This latest
agreement with NASA
means the UK is fully exploiting and strategically
maximizing its technological and scientific strengths in space exploration."
12. United Nations
Security Council Debates Threats of Global Warming
Concern that warming global temperatures will gradually shrink land
and water resources and irreversibly alter the face of the planet
prompted the first-ever debate on the topic by the United Nations
Security Council on Tuesday, April 17 2007. Representatives from over
fifty countries convened in New York to discuss the security implications
of global climate change, including food and water shortages, the
displacement or migration of large populations, and new wars.
The meeting received mixed responses. China's deputy ambassador Liu
Zhengmin rejected the meeting, arguing that the UN Security Council
is the wrong forum to debate global warming. "The developing
countries believe that the Security Council has neither the professional
competence in handling climate change, nor is the right decision-making
place for extensive participation leading up to widely acceptable
proposals," he was quoted as saying in the New York Times.
The British foreign secretary, Margaret Beckett, disagreed. "An
unstable climate will exacerbate some of the core drivers of conflict,
such as migratory pressure and competition for resources," she
said. As the UN body responsible for maintaining international peace
and security, the Security Council must consider the potential for
conflicts arising from global warming. Qatar's UN ambassador, Nassir
Al-Nasser, agreed. "Since we all run the risk of being submerged,
we must work collectively to save ourselves from drowning."
13. Council on Foreign
Relations Report Reveals Dim Future for Nuclear Power
Earlier this month the Council on Foreign Relations published "Nuclear
Energy: Balancing Benefits and Risks" in partnership with Washington
and Lee University. Written by the Council's Fellow for Science and
Technology, Dr. Charles D. Ferguson, the report is a sobering analysis
of the "nuclear renaissance" currently touted by policy
makers on Capitol Hill.
Although currently in favor among politicians as a clean source of
energy, nuclear power is unlikely to play a major role in augmenting
America's energy security and reducing its greenhouse gas emissions.
In the report, Dr. Ferguson argues that the rapid nuclear expansion
needed to even moderately reduce emissions would "pose serious
concerns for how the industry would ensure an adequate supply of reasonably
inexpensive reactor-grade construction materials, well-trained technicians,
and rigorous safety and security measures."
Also sobering is the fact that, of the 103 operating nuclear reactors
in the U.S., almost all face retirement by mid-century, even with
20-year life extensions to their original 30 year lifetimes. According
to the report, replacement of existing facilities would require building
a new reactor every four or five months over the next 40 years.
The biggest challenge America faces in regard to nuclear power is
overcoming a decades-long fear of nuclear energy. Primarily due to
the dual horrors of the Three Mile Island accident in 1979 and the
Chernobyl accident seven years later, America's nuclear program has
been mothballed for the past thirty years. Finding the expertise and
infrastructure necessary to replace aging reactors and construct new
ones presents a daunting challenge: "For this reason alone,"
Dr. Ferguson argues, "nuclear energy is not a major part of the
solution to U.S. energy insecurity for at least the next fifty years."
for a copy of the report.
14. Open Access
Concerns Not Reflected in 2006 Commercial Publisher Profits
"If some publishers think the Open Access movement will rob
them of their livelihoods, you can't tell it from their balance sheets,"
authors Lee C. Van Orsdel and Kathleen Borncast note dryly in Library
Journal's Periodical Pricing Survey 2007. In 2006, the profits of
commercial publishers climbed an average of 25 percent, with the top
ten science/technical/medical (STM) publishers reaping almost 43 percent
of the revenue in a market that totaled just over $19 billion, according
to Outsell Inc.
Support for open access is growing primarily because of the rising
cost of commercial publication. Previous surveys have already shown
that commercial publishers charge more and increase costs more per
year for subscriptions to their journals than non-profit societies
charge for their journal subscriptions. Even authors choosing the
open access option for their papers, will likely pay a higher fee
to commercial publishers. An example in this survey shows that an
author could pay a minimum of about $975 for an open access article
in one of the American Physical Society journals while an author could
have to pay a maximum of about $3100 for an open access article in
a journal from the commercial publisher, T&F. Such a huge price
differential does not bode well for those who favor open access articles
and may force more authors to bear the burden of shopping around for
the cheapest journals to publish their papers in.
Of course, with limited and typically shrinking budgets, libraries
are seeking price relief from mushrooming journal costs. In 2007,
academic libraries saw overall journal price increases just under
eight percent for the second year in a row. According to the survey,
U.S. titles rose nine percent on average while non-U.S. titles rose
7.3 percent. A similar price increase is expected for 2008.
The survey also provided the average cost per article in 2007 by scientific
discipline (disciplines are defined by the Library of Congress) and
Geology articles come out about in the middle of the spread at $1424
per article, with Chemistry articles at the high end at $3249 per
article followed closely by Physics articles at $2865. At the low
end, Geography articles averaged about $1050 and Agriculture articles
averaged about $898. The average cost of a Geology article in 2003
was $1079, so there has been a 32% rise in the cost of the average
Geology article in the past 4 years.
15. Earth Portal
Launched by National Council for Science and the Environment
The National Council for Science and the Environment (NCSE) has launched
a new web-based resource. The NCSE press release describes the portal
as follows :
"Earth Portal is a comprehensive, free and dynamic resource for
timely, objective, science-based information about the environment
built by a global community of environmental experts: educators, physical,
life, and social scientists, scholars, and professionals who have
joined together to communicate to the world.
In contrast to information from anonymous sources with no quality
control, the Earth Portal is created and governed by individuals and
organizations who put their names behind their words and where attribution
and expert-review for accuracy are fundamental."
Check out the portal at: www.EarthPortal.org
Scheduled to Launch in June
Thirteen science and technology society publishers have united to
create a major new search portal called Scitopia.org. Scitopia.org
is a free federated, vertical search portal capable of accessing some
3 million articles spanning as far back as 150 years, as well as some
patents, according to Information Today. A single search on Scitopia.org
will allow users to simultaneously search all participating publishers'
Scitopia.org currently accesses the electronic libraries of the American
Geophysical Union, the American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics,
the American Physical Society, the American Society of Civil Engineers,
the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, the Electrochemical
Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc.,
the Institute of Physics Publishing, the Optical Society of America,
the International Society for Optical Engineering, the Society of
Automotive Engineers, SAE International and the Society for Industrial
and Applied Mathematics.
The portal is scheduled to be launched at the Special Libraries Association
meeting in early June.
For more information, go to www.scitopia.org
17. Nature Geoscience
Also soon to be launched is Nature Geoscience, a monthly multi-disciplinary
journal edited by Heike Langenberg, PhD who indicates the goal is
"bringing together the most significant research across the entire
spectrum of the Earth Sciences." The journal will include primary
research, review articles, and news and commentary from areas as diverse
as atmospheric science, geochemistry, space physics and tectonics.
The first issue is due out in January 2008.
To find out more about Nature Geoscience or to subscribe at pre-publication
rates, click here.
18. K-12 Education
Grants from Toyota
Each year in late January, K-12 teachers across the nation and its
territories are invited to apply for Toyota's TAPESTRY grants. The
grants are awarded for creative, innovative classroom projects in
the fields of environmental education, physical science, and literacy
and science education. This year, Toyota recognized 82 science teachers
with $550,000 in grants with fifty teachers receiving up to $10,000
each and 32 receiving grants of up to $2,500 each. According the National
Science Teachers Association's press release, this year's projects
explore topics ranging from a two-person hovercraft to diesel fuel
created from excess cafeteria fry oil. Teachers can apply individually
or in teams and applications are submitted online and are due in late
January each year. For more information, visit www.nsta.org/programs/tapestry.
DOC- NOAA announces the availability of Federal assistance under
the Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) for fiscal year 2007. The purpose
of this notice is to request proposals for special projects and programs
associated with the Agency's strategic plan and mission goals and
to provide the general public with information and guidelines on how
NOAA will select proposals and administer discretionary Federal assistance
under this BAA. This BAA is a mechanism to encourage research, technical
projects, or sponsorships (e.g., conferences, newsletters, etc.) that
are not normally funded through our competitive discretionary programs.
Proposals will be accepted on a rolling basis up to 5 p.m. ET September
28, 2007. Applications shall be evaluated for funding generally within
3 to 6 months of receipt. All proposals should be submitted at http://www.grants.gov.
[Federal Register: April 20, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 33)]
DOI- The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is proposing new regulations
that would establish a process for a shipper transporting oil or gas
production from Federal leases on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS)
to follow if it believes it has been denied open and nondiscriminatory
access to pipelines on the OCS. The rule would provide MMS with tools
to ensure that pipeline companies provide open and nondiscriminatory
access to their pipelines. MMS will consider all comments received
by June 5, 2007. For further information, contact Scott Ellis, Policy
and Appeals Division, at (303) 231-3652, Fax: (303) 233-2225, or e-mail
Scott.Ellis@mms.gov. The regulatory identification number is 1010-AD17.
[Federal Register: April 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 66)]
NRC- The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is publishing for
public comment a notice of receipt of a petition for rulemaking, dated
February 21, 2007, which was filed with the Commission by David Lochbaum,
Director, Nuclear Safety Project, on behalf of the Union of Concerned
Scientists. The petition was docketed by the NRC on February 23, 2007,
and has been assigned Docket No. PRM-73-13. The petitioner
requests that the NRC amend its regulations to close a loophole in
current regulations that would enable persons who do not meet trustworthiness
and reliability standards for unescorted access to protected areas
of nuclear power plants the permission to enter
protected areas with an unarmed escort. The petitioner believes that
current regulations create a security vulnerability that could potentially
compromise public health and safety. Submit comments by June 25, 2007.
For further information, contact Michael T. Lesar, Chief, Rulemaking,
Directives and Editing Branch, Division of Administrative Services,
Office of Administration, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington,
DC 20555-0001, Telephone: 301-415-7163 or Toll Free: 800-368-5642.
[Federal Register: April 9, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 67)]
DOC- The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP)
Advisory Committee on Earthquake Hazards Reduction (ACEHR), will meet
at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on Thursday,
May 10, 2007 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:45 p.m. and Friday, May 11, 2007,
from 8:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. The primary purpose of this meeting is to
discuss NEHRP program activities. The NEHRP Advisory Committee will
also discuss its annual report to the NIST Director. The agenda may
change to accommodate Committee business. The final agenda will be
posted on the NEHRP Web site at http://nehrp.gov/. For more information,
contact Dr. Jack Hayes, National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program
Director, National Institute of Standards and Technology, 100 Bureau
Drive, Mail Stop 8600, Gaithersburg, Maryland 20899-8600. Dr. Hayes'
e-mail address is email@example.com and his phone number is (301)
[Federal Register: April 10, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 68)]
DOI- The Minerals Management Service announces a final rule requiring
lessees of Federal oil and gas leases in the OCS to provide information
on how they will conduct their proposed activities in a manner consistent
with provisions of the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the Marine
Mammal Protection Act (MMPA). It identifies environmental, monitoring,
and mitigation information that lessees must submit with plans for
exploration and development and production. This regulation is effective
as of May 14, 2007. For further information, contact Judy Wilson,
Chief, Environmental Compliance Unit, Environmental Division, (703)
[Federal Register: April 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 71)]
NSF- The National Science Foundation announces a meeting of the Advisory
Committee for International Science and Engineering on May 4, 2007
from 3-5 pm. The meeting will be held at the National Science Foundation,
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 950, Arlington, Virginia. For more information,
contact Eduardo Feller at 703) 292-8710.
[Federal Register: April 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 71)]
NASA- The National Aeronaturics and Space Administration announces
its Centennial Challenges Lunar Lander Challenge. The Lunar Lander
hallenge is now scheduled and teams that wish to compete may now register.
The NASA Centennial Challenges Program is a program of prize contests
to stimulate innovation and competition in space exploration and ongoing
NASA mission areas. The Lunar Lander Challenge is a prize contest
designed to accelerate technology developments supporting the commercial
creation of a vehicle capable of ferrying cargo or humans back and
forth between lunar orbit and the lunar surface.
The Lunar Lander Challenge is being administered for NASA by the X
PRIZE Foundation. Their Web site is: http://www.xprize.org The Centennial
Challenges Web site is http://www.centennialchallenges.nasa.gov. For
further information, contact Kenneth Davidian, Program Manager, Suite
2S24, Centennial Challenges Program, Innovative Partnerships Program
Office, NASA, 20546-0001, (202) 358-1160, firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Federal Register: April 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 73)]
NOAA- NOAA publishes this notice to change the funding amounts, year
of funds, the approximate range of awards that will be made, and the
earliest start dates of awards for the solicitation "FR 2007
Regional Integrated Ocean Observing System Development," which
was originally announced in the Federal Register on December 27, 2006.
This notice applies to only those applicants who have already submitted
letters of intent and who have been invited to submit full proposals.
Proposals must be submitted through Grants.gov no later than 5 p.m.,
Eastern Time, April 17, 2007. Full proposal application packages should
be submitted through Grants.gov APPLY. The standard NOAA funding application
package is available at http://www.grants.gov. For administrative
issues, contact James Lewis Free at 843-740-1185 (phone) or e-mail
James.L.Free@noaa.gov. Technical questions on the IOOS announcement
should be directed to the following people according to the focus
area in question: RCOOS Development, Geno Olmi by telephone at 843-740-1230
(phone) or e-mail him at Geno.Olmi@noaa.gov; IOOS Applications and
Product Development, Dave Eslinger by telephone (843) 740-1270, or
by e-mail Dave.Eslinger@noaa.gov; and Data Management and Communications,
Jim Boyd by telephone (843) 740-1278, or by e-mail James.Boyd@noaa.gov.
[Federal Register: April 23, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 77)]
MMS- This notice announces the May 10 meeting of the Royalty Policy
Committee (RPC). Agenda items for the meeting of the RPC will include
remarks from the Director, MMS, and the Associate Director, Minerals
Revenue Management (MRM), as well as presentations on the MRM Financial
Management, Audit and Compliance, and Enforcement Programs. Updates
will be provided by the Federal Oil and Gas Valuation, Oil and Gas
Royalty Reporting, Coal, Indian Oil Valuation, and Royalty Management
subcommittees. The RPC membership includes representation from states,
Indian Tribes, various mineral interests, the public-at-large (with
knowledge and interest in royalty issues), and other Federal departments.
The meeting will take place Thursday, May 10, 2007, from 8:30 a.m.
to 4:30 p.m., Mountain Daylight Time. The meeting will be held at
the Sheraton Denver West, 360 Union Boulevard, Lakewood, Colorado,
telephone number 303-987-2000 or 1-800-325-3535. For more information,
contact Gina Dan, Minerals Revenue Management, Minerals Management
Service; P.O. Box 25165, MS 300B2, Denver, Colorado 80225-0165; telephone
number (303) 231-3392, fax number (303) 231-3780; e-mail email@example.com.
[Federal Register: April 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 78)]
DOE- This notice announces an open meeting of the Biomass Research
and Development Technical Advisory Committee to provide advice and
guidance that promotes research and development leading to the production
of biobased fuels and biobased products. This notice announces the
meeting of the Biomass Research and Development Technical Advisory
Committee of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.
The meeting will be held May 15, 2007 from 1 p.m. to 5:15 p.m. and
May 16, 2007 from 8:30 a.m. to 4:15 p.m in the Quorum Room, L'Enfant
Plaza Hotel, 480 L'Enfant Plaza SW., Washington, DC 20024, http://www.lenfantplazahotel.com.
For further information, contact Valri Lightner, Designated Federal
Officer for the Committee, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Energy, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Avenue, SW.,
Washington, DC 20585; (202) 586-0937 or Michael Manella at (410) 997-7778
x217; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Federal Register: April 25, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 79)]
New Updates to
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:
Storm Hazards Policy (04-23-07)
Climate Change Hearings
Innovation and U.S. Competitiveness
Climate Change Policy (04-10-07)
Energy Policy (04-10-07)
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping
Federal Science Education Policy
Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
and Erin Gleeson 2007 AGI/AAPG Spring Intern.
Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Greenwire, E&E Daily,
Library of Congress, Congressional Quarterly, House Natural Resources
Subcommittee on National Parks, Forests and Public Lands, White House
Office of Public Affairs, Council on Foreign Relations, National Science
Teachers Association, Environmental Defense, Ecological Society of
America, Library Journal, Information Today, British National Space
Centre, President's Panel on Tax Reform, The Planetary Society and
the National Council for Science and the Environment.
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 <email@example.com> or (703) 379-2480,
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government
Posted April 28, 2007.