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Monthly Review: April 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. Cost Overruns in 2010 Census May Squeeze NOAA and NIST
2. House Passes Natural Resources Measure
3. Farm Bill Resolution Still Unclear
4. Hearings Held on Clean Water Restoration Act
5. NOAA Organic Act Vote in House Subcommittee
6. President Offers Climate Change Plan
7. NEHRP Strategic Plan Open for Public Comment
8. Teaching Evolution: State Updates
9. Earth Science Literacy Initiative
10. Report Recommends Establishment of National Innovation Foundation
11. Congressional Visits in September
12. Web Updates
13. Key Reports and Publications
14. Key Federal Register Notices

1. Cost Overruns in 2010 Census May Squeeze NOAA and NIST

The Census Bureau had planned to modernize the 2010 census, sending workers out with hand-held devices to collect information from the millions of Americans who do not return the Bureau’s paper forms. Unfortunately, technical challenges such as data transmission problems, as well as communication problems between the Census Bureau and Harris Corporation, the outside contractor tasked with the technology upgrade, have caused Secretary of Commerce Carlos M. Gutierrez to revert to the old paper format. 

According to Gutierrez, the change in course will cost an additional $2.2 to $3.0 billion in funding.  The administration is seeking legislative authorization to reprogram $33 million within the Census Bureau in fiscal year (FY) 2008 as well as the transfer of between $166 million and $233 million from other Commerce Department divisions, which include the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).  According to House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee Chairman Alan Mollohan (D-WV) the transfer plan would remove $27 million from NOAA’s FY 2008 budget. 

Early estimates also indicate an additional $600 to $700 million is needed in FY 2009, and rather than seeking emergency funding to address the shortfall for the constitutionally-mandated census, the administration plans to alter its FY 2009 request to stay within the President’s overall spending levels, but specifics on this plan have not been made public as the Commerce Department is working toward more concrete estimates. The large increase in funding needed by the Census Bureau will probably force the Commerce Department to take funds away from other agencies in FY2009 and beyond. NIST and NOAA are likely to lose some much-needed funding over time and it remains unclear how the “pain” from the census funding fiasco will be distributed across the Commerce Department.

To read Secretary Gutierrez’s full testimony before the House Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Subcommittee visit: http://www.commerce.gov/NewsRoom/SecretarySpeeches/PROD01_005468

2. House Passes Natural Resources Measure

On April 29, 2008, the House passed the Consolidated Natural Resources Act of 2008 (S.2739) by a vote of 291 to 117. The Senate passed the measure earlier this year and it now moves to a final vote by Congress and then to the President for his signature to become law. The bill provides a myriad of specific provisions regarding land conveyances, park boundaries, studies, memorials, commissions and park protections. Two more general items of note for the geoscience community is a section on cooperative agreements for national park resource protection and the establishment of a network of advanced energy technology centers.

The cooperative agreements would be between the Secretary of the Interior and ” State, local, or tribal governments, other Federal agencies, other public entities, educational institutions, private nonprofit organizations, or participating private landowners” to protect natural resources within national parks. The agreements must demonstrate “science-based natural resource stewardship”.

The advanced energy technology centers were in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 and the new bill amends some of the details related to these centers. The Secretary of Energy will make grants to “nonprofit institutions, State and local governments, cooperative extension services, or institutions of higher education” to operate programs that “encourage demonstration and commercial application of advanced energy methods and technologies through education and outreach to building and industrial professionals, and to other individuals and organizations with an interest in efficient energy use.”

The full text of the legislation is available from Thomas at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/D?c110:3:./temp/~c110nRcI9m::

3. Farm Bill Resolution Still Unclear

Congress reached a compromise on a $300 billion, five-year farm bill to re-authorize key agriculture, conservation, energy and nutrition programs within the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on April 28. The President sharply criticized the measure in an April 29th speech on energy and it remains unclear whether Congress can reach resolution on changes demanded by the administration and some members before the latest short-term extension of the 2002 farm law expires on May 2.

The key issues are costs and crop subsidies. The administration wants to limit crop subsidies to farmers who make less than $200,000, while Congress provides subsidies for higher-income farmers and landowners. Another major hurdle is the overall cost of the bill, which is partly attributed to the subsidies. The original bills started at $280 billion in the House and $285 billion in the Senate. However in order to reach a compromise and garner enough votes to pass the farm bill, additional funding has been added for some key programs, while the subsidies have been left relatively untouched and thus remain controversial.

About $10.3 billion has been added for nutrition, primarily food stamp and school lunch programs, in an effort to address the rising cost of food and its impact on lower-income families. About $4 billion has been added for conservation programs, including more funds for the Wetlands Reserve Program, the Grasslands Reserve Program, the Environmental Quality Incentives Program, the Conservation Stewardship Program, and the Farm and Ranch Land Protection Program. About $372 million of the $4 billion would be provided for a new Chesapeake Bay program. Both additions are meant to help gain more support from members of Congress, who may not support farm subsidies, but do support these other programs.

Another important compromise reached on April 28th is related to the $1.5 billion in tax incentives in the bill. Subsidies for corn-based ethanol would decrease, such that the current 51-cent-a-gallon tax credit would drop to 45 cents and a new subsidy of $1-a-gallon would be included for cellulosic ethanol. This is a big shift for corn-belt legislators and shows how a majority of lawmakers favor greater focus on non-corn-based ethanol for future energy resources.

Unfortunately, none of the additional funds are directed toward agricultural research.  This combined with the drastic decline proposed in the President’s fiscal year (FY) 2009 budget for USDA research programs casts a shadow over agriculture research. The Cooperative State Research, Education and Extension Service (CSREES), which funds extramural research would be cut by 16 percent in the FY 2009 budget and the Agricultural Research Service, USDA's intramural research arm would decrease by 10 percent.

The short-term extension expires on May 2 and it is unclear if another extension will be granted to the House and Senate Agriculture Committees or if party leaders will push for a long-term extension of current law.

4. Hearings Held on Clean Water Restoration Act

On April 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee held a hearing to examine S. 1870, the Clean Water Restoration Act of 2007. The legislation, introduced by Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and co-sponsored by 20 senators, would replace the phrase “navigable waters” throughout the Clean Water Act (CWA) with the term “waters of the United States.” 

As indicated by the opening statements of EPW members, S.1870 will likely be a partisan issue.  Republicans voiced concerns that the replacement phrase would greatly expand the jurisdiction of the CWA and infringe on states’ rights, specifically that water quality issues would override local water allocation authority.  Ranking member James Inhofe (R-OK) stated “the federal government owes it to the American public and individual property owners, including the millions of homeowners across the country, to have a clean, concise and constitutional definition of “waters of the United States.”  The Clean Water Restoration Act does not meet any of these goals and will simply result in more lawsuits and more confusion.”

Democrats characterized the legislation as restoring the original intent of the CWA and according to Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) removes “the shadow [cast by two Supreme Court decisions] over nearly 30 years-worth of expert agency interpretations in protecting America's waters.”  Democrats claim varying court opinions create more confusion in the regulated community and the uncertainty over covered waters will increase litigation and negate the historical interpretation of waters covered by the CWA.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure examined identical legislation introduced by Chairman James L. Oberstar (D-MN), H.R. 2421 on April 16th.  A total of 26 witnesses testified at the House hearing representing a variety of viewpoints. After the hearing Oberstar sent a letter to each witness calling on them “to reach a consensus, to give the Committee specific recommendations, and to move beyond the rhetoric and address the legitimate concerns about protecting our nation’s waters.”

Full committee hearings in both chambers suggest Congress will move forward on the legislation this year and try to get the legislation signed into law. While the administration has not commented on the legislation, some legislators hope the revisions to the CWA will clarify what “waters” are covered so that water resources are protected without delays, confusion, economic losses and more litigation. Unfortunately costly and often ineffective litigation is the only recourse right now to resolve water issues and the pressures on water quantity and quality are increasing, meaning either more litigation or more federal oversight is necessary. 

Full text of the legislation can be accessed at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.1870:

Senate hearing testimony can be accessed at: http://epw.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Hearings.Hearing&Hearing_ID=116d6ddd-802a-23ad-4f2f-4d329c912bb2

House hearing testimony can be accessed at: http://transportation.house.gov/hearings/hearingDetail.aspx?NewsID=486

Letter from Chairman Oberstar can be accessed at: http://transportation.house.gov/News/PRArticle.aspx?NewsID=605

5. NOAA Organic Act Vote in House Subcommittee

A comprehensive ocean policy bill, H.R. 21, the Oceans Conservation, Education, and National Strategy for the 21st Century or the “OCEANS Act” was passed out of the Fisheries, Wildlife and Oceans Subcommittee on April 23 by an 11-3 vote.

The legislation originally introduced by Representative Sam Farr (D-CA) formally establishes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has been operating by executive order since 1970.  It also implements a number of other recommendations from the United States Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, including the establishment of a national oceans advisor for the President; a federal advisory committee on ocean policy; the designation of certain ocean regions for ecosystem-based management and establishes a regional ocean partnership for each region.

Ocean policy advocates have been pursuing comprehensive reform for three years and the passage of the OCEANS Act by the subcommittee represents the furthest the legislation has progressed.  The bill now will have to undergo examination by the full committee.  Similar legislation has not been introduced in the Senate lessening the likelihood the measure will be enacted this Congress.

Full text of the bill can be accessed at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:H.R.21:

6. President Offers Climate Change Plan

On the eve of a United Nations meeting in Paris on the next steps the world economies should take to deal with climate change, President George W. Bush outlined the administration’s approach for the United States. In a Rose Garden speech on April 16, 2008, the President called for a national goal to stop the growth of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by 2025.

To reach this new goal he suggested the following:
“To reach this goal, we will pursue an economy-wide strategy that builds on the solid foundation that we have in place. As part of this strategy, we worked with Congress to pass energy legislation that specifies a new fuel economy standard of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, and requires fuel producers to supply at least 36 billion gallons of renewable fuel by 2022. This should provide an incentive for shifting to a new generation of fuels like cellulosic ethanol that will reduce concerns about food prices and the environment.

We also mandated new objectives for the coming decade to increase the efficiency of lighting and appliances. We're helping states achieve their goals for increasing renewable power and building code efficiency by sharing new technologies and providing tax incentives. We're working to implement a new international agreement that will accelerate cuts in potent HCFC emissions. Taken together, these landmark actions will prevent billions of metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions from entering the atmosphere.

These objectives are backed by a combination of new market-based regulations, new government incentives, and new funding for technology research. We've provided billions of dollars for next generation nuclear energy technologies. Along with the private sector, we've invested billions more to research, develop and commercially deploy renewable fuels, hydrogen fuel cells, advanced batteries, and other technologies to enable a new generation of vehicles and more reliable renewable power systems.

In 2009 alone, the government and the private sector plan to dedicate nearly a billion dollars to clean coal research and development. Our incentives for power production from wind and solar energy have helped to more than quadruple its use. We have worked with Congress to make available more than $40 billion in loan guarantees to support investments that will avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gas emissions or air pollutants. And our farmers can now compete for substantial new conservation incentives to restore land and forests in ways that help cut greenhouse gases.

We're doing a lot to protect this environment. We've laid a solid foundation for further progress. But these measures -- while these measures will bring us a long way to achieving our new goal, we've got to do more in the power generation sector. To reach our 2025 goal, we'll need to more rapidly slow the growth of power sector greenhouse gas emissions so they peak within 10 to 15 years, and decline thereafter. By doing so, we'll reduce emission levels in the power sector well below where they were projected to be when we first announced our climate strategy in 2002.”

The President noted that as we proceed with this plan, the nation faces a problem, which is the following: 
“Some courts are taking laws written more than 30 years ago -- to primarily address local and regional environmental effects -- and applying them to global climate change. The Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, and the National Environmental Policy Act were never meant to regulate global climate. For example, under a Supreme Court decision last year, the Clean Air Act could be applied to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles. This would automatically trigger regulation under the Clean Air Act of greenhouse gases all across our economy -- leading to what Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell last week called, "a glorious mess."

If these laws are stretched beyond their original intent, they could override the programs Congress just adopted, and force the government to regulate more than just power plant emissions. They could also force the government to regulate smaller users and producers of energy -- from schools and stores to hospitals and apartment buildings. This would make the federal government act like a local planning and zoning board, have crippling effects on our entire economy.

Decisions with such far-reaching impact should not be left to unelected regulators and judges. Such decisions should be opened -- debated openly; such decisions should be made by the elected representatives of the people they affect. The American people deserve an honest assessment of the costs, benefits and feasibility of any proposed solution.”

The President then provided a list of the wrong ways and right ways to deal with climate change in the U.S. and concluded that technology was the key. He said “We must all recognize that in the long run, new technologies are the key to addressing climate change. But in the short run, they can be more expensive. And that is why I believe part of any solution means reforming today's complicated mix of incentives to make the commercialization and use of new, lower emission technologies more competitive. Today we have different incentives for different technologies -- from nuclear power, to clean coal, to wind and solar energy. What we need to do is consolidate them into a single, expanded program with the following features.

First, the incentive should be carbon-weighted to make lower emission power sources less expensive relative to higher emissions sources -- and it should take into account our nation's energy security needs.

Second, the incentive should be technology-neutral because the government should not be picking winners and losers in this emerging market.

Third, the incentive should be long-lasting. It should provide a positive and reliable market signal not only for the investment in a technology, but also for the investments in domestic manufacturing capacity and infrastructure that will help lower costs and scale up availability.

Even with strong new incentives, many new technologies face regulatory and political barriers. To pave the way for a new generation of nuclear power plants, we must provide greater certainty on issues from licensing to responsible management of spent fuel. The promise of carbon capture and storage depends on new pipelines and liability rules. Large-scale renewable energy installations are most likely to be built in sparsely populated areas -- which will require advanced, interstate transmission systems to deliver this power to major population centers. If we're serious about confronting climate change, then we have to be serious about addressing these obstacles.”

The President concluded his remarks by calling for international cooperation on climate change and for the formation of an international clean technology fund to help finance low-emissions energy projects in the developing world.

7. NEHRP Strategic Plan Open for Public Comment

The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) Interagency Coordinating Committee has developed a five-year strategic plan which “outlines a cooperative program of earthquake monitoring, research, implementation, education, and outreach activities performed by the NEHRP agencies”. The agencies include the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). The draft plan which has three long-term comprehensive strategic goals, plus 14 related objectives is open for public comment. The three overarching goals are: 1) to improve the understanding of earthquake processes and impacts, 2) to develop cost-effective measures to reduce earthquake impacts on individuals, the built environment, and society-at-large, and 3) to improve the earthquake resilience of communities nationwide.  The draft plan as well as instructions for the submission of comments which are due by 5 p.m. EST May 9, 2008, can be accessed at: http://www.nehrp.gov/plans/publiccomment.htm.

8. Teaching Evolution: State Updates

Texas: On April 24, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board unanimously denied certification of the Institute for Creation Research’s (ICR) master’s degree in science education.  Board members agreed that a program based on the creation of the Earth as described in the Bible was not adequate preparation for the resulting graduates to teach middle school and high school science courses. The ICR has 45 days to appeal the board’s decision or 180 days to resubmit a revised proposal for consideration.

Florida: A group of scientists, including Nobel laureate Harold Kroto, urged Florida lawmakers to reject theAcademic Freedom Act,” a bill that could allow teachers to discuss religious beliefs in the science classroom, at event in Tallahassee.  But on April 23, the Florida state Senate passed the measure by a vote of 21-17. Proponents of the legislation say it is about preserving first amendment rights for teachers, but opponents stand firm that it is just a backdoor to the teaching of creationism in the science classroom. The legislation was filed in response to the state Board of Education’s decision to include evolution in the revised science standards.  The Florida House is scheduled to take up a more stringent version of the bill next month that will require teachers to present creationism as an alternative to evolution in the science classroom.

Louisiana: On April 17, the Senate Education Committee passed legislation that would allow teachers to use state-approved “supplemental textbooks and other instructional materials” and would provide teachers with guidance on “effective ways to help students understand, analyze, critique and review in an objective manner the strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories." The language of the legislation focuses on “teaching the controversy, “meaning it allows the teaching of religious beliefs in the science classroom.

Missouri: On April 1, a bill similar to the “America Freedom Act,” legislation promoted by the Discovery Institute, the home of intelligent design, was introduced in the state legislature.  The text of the bill calls on teachers “to find more effective ways to present the science curriculum where it addresses scientific controversies," and allows teachers “to help students understand, analyze, critique, and review in an objective manner the scientific strengths and scientific weaknesses of theories of biological and chemical evolution." Again, the legislation opens the door to the teaching of religion in the science classroom by claiming there is controversy over the acceptance of evolution.

9. Earth Science Literacy Initiative

Applications are now being accepted for participation in the Earth Science Literacy Initiative (ESLI) funded by the National Science Foundation.  The two-week online workshop aims to create the basis of a document that will describe the concepts and principles of Earth science that all Americans should know.  ESLI will be incorporated with complimentary efforts in the Oceans, Atmospheres and Climate communities, to form a larger geoscience Earth Systems Literacy effort.

The workshop will occur May 12-24, 2008 with participants committing about an hour per day to the online effort.  Research scientists and post-secondary educators are especially encouraged to participate. Although the number of participants will be limited the entire Earth science community can observe the process, just by signing up. For more information about ESLI and to apply, please visit:
http://www.earthscienceliteracy.org/index.html

10. Report Recommends Establishment of National Innovation Foundation

This month the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation released a report entitled “Boosting Productivity, Innovation, and Growth through a National Innovation Foundation.”  The report recommends the establishment of the National Innovation Foundation (NIF), “with the sole mission of promoting innovation” to help keep America competitive in a technology-driven and knowledge-based global marketplace.

The report details the loss of innovation leadership experienced by the U.S. citing declines in the percent of U.S. gross domestic product devoted to research and development, the number of new patent applications by Americans, the number of scientific publications authored by Americans, and the number of college degrees in science and engineering awarded in the U.S. since the mid-1980s. It also highlights the limitations of existing federal policy to spur innovation at the scale needed for the U.S. to regain leadership stating that “federal innovation programs that do exist operate in an ad hoc manner” and “treat innovation as a byproduct of other goals.”

The report suggests three different organizational options for the NIF, proposing an annual budget of $1 billion for the agency. According to the authors NIF would:
1) catalyze industry-university research partnerships; 2) expand regional innovation-promotion; 3) encourage technology adoption; 4) support regional industry cluster; 5) emphasize performance and accountability; and 6) champion innovation.

The full report can be accessed at: http://www.brookings.edu/reports/2008/04_federal_role_atkinson_wial.aspx

11. 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

12. Web Updates

·  AGI Submits Testimony on FY 2009 Appropriations to Senate (4-24-08)
·  Hearings on NOAA Appropriations (4-18-08)
·  Hearings on Water Resources (4-18-08)
·  Hearings on NASA Appropriations (4-9-08)

13. Key Reports and Publications

Congressional Research Service
The Role of Offsets in a Greenhouse Gas Emissions Cap-and-Trade Program: Potential Benefits and Concerns , < http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34436_20080404.pdf> Posted April 4, 2008. A cap and trade, greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction program will most likely include “offsets” which would allow carbon dioxide emitters to lower their costs by funding projects that reduce GHGs, such as agriculture and forestry projects, renewable energy projects, or energy efficiency projects.  Offset programs have a number of benefits, but have also generated concern, such as the ability to verify permanent GHG reductions.

The Disparity Between Retail Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Prices, <http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34431_20080331.pdf> Posted April 6, 2008.  The report outlines the factors effecting diesel prices and why diesel, which has been historically lower in cost compared to gasoline has soared above.

Safeguarding the Nation's Drinking Water: EPA and Congressional Actions, <http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL31294_20080130.pdf> Posted April 6, 2008.  The report outlines the roles of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to protect America’s drinking water from terrorist attack; it includes a discussion of research needs to detect and respond to water contaminants.

The Strategic Petroleum Reserve: History, Perspectives, and Issues, <http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL33341_20080214.pdf> Posted April 7, 2008. Many lawmakers object to the filling of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) with the current cost of fuel. This report provides background on the SPR including the establishment of the SPR, how the reserve is filled and the debate surrounding it.

Government Accountability Office (GAO)
NASA: Ares I and Orion Project Risks and Key Indicators to Measure Progress, <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08186t.pdf> April 3, 2008.  The GAO testimony outlines the challenges faced by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the development of the Ares I and Orion vehicles and identifies key indicators for use in Congressional oversight of the project. 

Nuclear Material: Several Potential Options for Dealing with DOE's Depleted Uranium Tails Could Benefit the Government, <http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08613t.pdf> April 3, 2008.  GAO discussed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) options for selling depleted uranium stores; based on uranium prices in February 2008 prices GAO estimated the current value of DOE’s stockpile at $7.6 billion. The report also discusses re-enrichment of the stores versus selling them in their current depleted state.

Key Federal Register Notices

DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is planning to update and revise its Guidelines for the Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program (CELCP) after five years implementing the program under these guidelines. This notice invites interested parties to provide comments or suggestions to NOAA for consideration in updating the CELCP guidelines. Comments on the CELCP guidelines are requested by June 9, 2008. The current Guidelines for the CELCP can be found at: http://www.coastalmanagement.noaa.gov/land/media/CELCPfinalo2Guidelines.pdf
Submit comments to Roxanne Thomas by email at:
Roxanne.Thornas@noaa.gov, Subject: CELCP Guidelines
[Federal Register: April 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 69)]

EPA- The Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is making available for public review and comment two draft documents. The first document is titled “Risk and Exposure Assessment to Support the Review of the NO2 Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard: First Draft.” The title of the second document is “Risk and Exposure Assessment to Support the Review of the NO2 Primary National Ambient Air Quality Standard: Draft Technical Support Document (TSD).” The purpose of these draft documents is to convey the approach taken to assess exposures to ambient NO2 and to characterize associated health risks, as well as to present the results of those assessments. Comments on the above reports must be received on or before May 30, 2008. These documents are available online at: http://www.epa.gov/ttn/naaqs/standards/nox/s_nox_cr_rea.html.
Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2006-0922, either online at: http://www.regulations.gov: or by email to a-and-r-docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2006-0922.
[Federal Register: April 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 72)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is announcing the availability of a final report titled, “Application of Watershed Ecological Risk Assessment Methods to Watershed Management” (EPA/600/R-06/037F), which was prepared by the National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) within EPA's Office of Research and Development (ORD). The report is available at http://www.epa.gov/ncea. The report provides guidance for assessing risks associated with watershed management.
[Federal Register: April 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 72)]

DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces a 45-day public comment period for the draft report titled, U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.3 “Re-analyses of historical climate data for key atmospheric features: Implications for attribution of causes of observed change.” Comments must be received by May 29, 2008. The report and details for making comments can be accessed at: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-3/public-review-draft/sap1-3draft-invite.htm. Comments must be submitted to: 1.3-reanalysis@climatescience.gov
[Federal Register: April 14, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 72)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office is soliciting nominations for consideration of membership on EPA's Advisory Council on Clean Air Compliance Analysis (Council), EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee (CASAC), and EPA's Science Advisory Board (SAB) and its Standing Subcommittees. Nominations should be submitted in time to arrive no later than May 19, 2008. Nominations should be sent to: bright.wanda@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: April 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 76)]

DOA- The Forest Service announces a final rule on the National Forest System (NFS) land management planning framework. The intended effects of the rule are to strengthen the role of science in planning; to strengthen collaborative relationships with the public and other governmental entities; to reaffirm the principle of sustainable management and to streamline and improve the planning process by increasing adaptability to changes in social, economic, and environmental conditions. This rule is effective April 21, 2008. For more information visit: http://www.fs.fed.us/emc/nfma/2008_planning_rule.html.
[Federal Register: April 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 77)]
 
DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) requests proposals for special projects and programs associated with the Agency's strategic plan and mission goals, as well as to provide the general public with information and guidelines. This announcement is a mechanism to encourage research, education and outreach, innovative projects, or sponsorships that are not addressed through our competitive discretionary programs. It is not a mechanism for awarding congressionally directed funds. Funding for potential projects in this notice is contingent upon the availability of Fiscal Year 2008 and Fiscal Year 2009 appropriations. Full applications can be submitted on a rolling basis starting April 22, 2008, up to 5 PM Eastern Daylight Time September 30, 2009. Applications received after this time will not be reviewed or considered for funding. Applications are available through http://www.grants.gov, and can be searched for using Funding Opportunity Number NFA-NFA-2008-2001388.
[Federal Register: April 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 77)]

ED- The Department of Education (ED), Office of Postsecondary Education announces a funding opportunity within the Minority Science and Engineering Improvement Program (MSEIP) for fiscal year 2008.  The MSEIP is designed to effect long-range improvement in science and engineering education at predominantly minority institutions and to increase the flow of underrepresented ethnic minorities, particularly minority women, into scientific and technological careers. Applications are due May 22, 2008 and must be submitted electronically at http://www.Grants.gov. Application packets and further information can be found at by searching the CFDA Number 84.120 at http://www.Grants.gov.
[Federal Register: April 22, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 78)]

DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces a 45-day public comment period for the draft report titled, U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2: “Best practice approaches for characterizing,  communicating, and incorporating scientific uncertainty in decision-making.”  The draft Synthesis and Assessment Product: 5.2 is posted on the CCSP Web site at: http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap5-2/default.php. Detailed instructions for making comments on this draft report are provided at the CCSP link. Comments must be prepared in accordance to these instructions and must be submitted to: 5.2-uncertainties@climatescience.gov by June 9, 2008.
[Federal Register: April 23, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 79)]

NSF- The National Science Foundation (NSF) gives notice of the request for public comment on a draft Programmatic Environmental Assessment (PEA) for the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI). The OOI, a multi-million dollar Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction effort intends to put moored and cable infrastructure in discrete locations in the coastal and global ocean. Comments must be submitted on or before May 16, 2008. The draft PEA is available at: http://www.nsf.gov/geo/oce/pubs/OOI_Draft_EA_4_08.pdf .  Comments can be submitted electronically to PEA-comments@nsf.gov
[Federal Register: April 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 80)]

DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announces the availability of the draft NOAA Hurricane Forecasting Improvement Project Plan for public comment. The plan is being developed to reflect the evolution of NOAA's research activities and priorities; it frames research in NOAA within the context of societal needs and by working with other government and academic organizations working on critical environmental challenges, particularly those associated with hurricanes, facing the United States today and in the future
Comments on this draft document must be submitted by 5 p.m. EDT on May 27, 2008 to noaa.review.hfip_plan@noaa.gov. The plan is available at http://www.nrc.noaa.gov/HFIPDraftPlan.html .
[Federal Register: April 25, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 81)]

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

Sources: E& E Daily, Politico, Hearing testimony, earthscienceliteracy.org, Brookings Institute, Greenwire, Houston Chronicle, Orlando Sentinel, The Times-Picayune, National Center for Science Education 

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

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

Posted April 30, 2008.

 

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