Monthly Review: August 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.
and Initial Government Response
Below is a brief and non-comprehensive timeline of the path
of Hurricane Katrina, the state and local response,
and the federal government response. Estimates
of the amount of damage are given, but could change as more is learned
in the aftermath of this disaster. No estimates of the loss of life
or injuries are provided because of the larger uncertainties in these
|Tue. 23 August
||Katrina became the 11th named tropical storm of
the Atlantic season when it was located about 175 miles southeast
of Nassau in the Bahamas.
|Thu. 25 August
||Katrina struck the Florida coast near Hallandale
as a category 1 hurricane with 80 mph winds. Heavy rains caused
extensive flooding and power was out for over one million Floridians.
|Fri. 26 August
||Katrina grew from a category 2 (100
mph winds) to a category 5 (with maximum winds of 175 mph) as
it moved west-northwest at about 7 miles per hour through the
nearly 90°F waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
|Sat. 27 August
|Sun. 28 August
|Mon. 29 August
Katrina made landfall at 6:10 am (local time) near Buras, LA
(about 63 miles southeast of New Orleans) as a category 4 hurricane
with 145 mph winds.
At 8:14 am, the National Weather Service reported a levee breach
along the Industrial Canal in east New Orleans
The storm made its second landfall at 10:00 am (local time)
near the Louisiana-Mississippi border as a category 3 hurricane
with 125 mph winds. Winds damaged a 125-mile stretch of coastline
from Alabama to Louisiana with an estimated storm surge of 20
to 25 feet in parts of Mississippi and Louisiana causing utter
devastation near the coast. That same day, at least 2 levees
broke in New Orleans.
||Tornadoes spawned from the outer bands of Hurricane
Katrina in Georgia, damaged tens of buildings and poultry houses
and caused electricity outages for thousands.
|Tue. 30 August
||By August 30th, 80% of New Orleans was under water
with the floods reaching as high as 20 feet in some areas.
Damaging winds and a massive storm surge destroyed thousands of houses
and an unknown number of buildings, roads, bridges, boats and vehicles
along the coast. Subsequent flooding damaged hundreds of thousands
of houses and more buildings, roads, boats and vehicles. Electricity
and communications (telephone land lines and mobile phones) for over
a million people and an unknown number of businesses and government
facilities were knocked out by wind and water throughout the Gulf
Coast. Over a million people were displaced and the city of New Orleans
was completely shut down. Oil production, oil refineries and oil distribution
by pipeline or other means throughout the stricken Gulf Coast region
have been limited or completely shut down.
The system of ports of South Louisiana near Fort Fourchon and Pilottown
and the New Orleans port were damaged, hundreds of barges were lost
or damaged and navigational waterways from the ports to the Mississippi
River have been blocked with debris. The port system of South Louisiana
is the largest U.S. port with 198.8 million tons in trade in 2003.
About 59% of U.S. grain exports go out through Gulf Coast ports while
90% of corn exports and 60% of soybean exports go out through the
New Orleans port. Farmers in the Midwest are concerned about the economic
impact of lower grain prices and higher transportation costs if the
Gulf Coast ports cannot handle barges of agricultural products coming
down the river after the upcoming harvest in a few weeks.
Local Government Response
|Fri. 26 August
||Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco declares a state
of emergency in her state
|Sat. 27 August
||New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of
emergency and asked residents to evacuate low-lying areas of the
city. Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour also declared a state
of emergency and ordered a mandatory evacuation of Hancock County.
|Sun. 28 August
||Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city,
less than 24 hours before the hurricane's estimated landfall.
Alabama Governor Bob Riley declared a state of emergency.
|Mon. 29 August
|Tue. 30 August
||Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco asked that the
estimated 100,000 people still left in the city (including about
10,000 at the Superdome and hundreds more at local hospitals)
evacuate New Orleans immediately.
|Fri. 26 August
||The military deployed 10,000 National Guard troops
along the Gulf Coast.
|Sat. 27 August
||President Bush declared a state of emergency in
|Sun. 28 August
|Mon. 29 August
||President Bush declared emergency disasters in Louisiana
and Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
|Tue. 30 August
||According to the Washington Post, the Department
of Homeland Security declared Katrina an "incident of national
significance" which should trigger the highest level of federal
response, but the decision was not publicly announced until the
next day. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) allowed higher-polluting
gasoline to be sold in Alabama, Florida, Louisiana and Mississippi
to ease gas shortages.
|Wed. 31 August
||The Department of Health and Human Services declared
a federal health emergency throughout the Gulf Coast and began
to send medical supplies. President Bush authorized the release
of as much as 30 million barrels of oil from the 700 million barrel
Federal Petroleum Reserve. EPA eased restrictions on the types
and blends of gasoline that can be sold in different states.
|Thu. 1 September
|| The military deployed an additional 20,000 National
Guard troops to the Gulf Coast.
|Fri. 2 September
||Congress approved a $10.5 billion spending package
to cover the immediate costs of the disaster. The Minerals Management
Service estimated that about 88% (1.3 million barrels per day)
of Gulf Coast oil production and 72% of natural gas production
have been shut down by Katrina.
|Sat. 3 September
||President Bush ordered 7,200 active duty forces
to the Gulf Coast, although by law the troops cannot engage in
domestic law enforcement and will not be under the command of
state officials. The military deployed an additional 10,000 National
Guard troops, who will be under the command of state officials
and can engage in domestic law enforcement.
AGI's Government Affairs
Response to Katrina
AGI put out a media
advisory on September 1, 2005 providing additional information
and educational tools on hurricanes.
AGI's Government Affairs Program (GAP) also released an action
alert on September 2, 2005 asking for geoscientists and geotechnical
engineers with expertise in hurricane hazard mitigation and assessing
the effect of Hurricane Katrina on Gulf Coast energy supplies and
distribution to contact us. GAP is collecting a list of experts who
can inform Congress about these issues in the wake of Hurricane Katrina
and its devastating effects on the Gulf Coast. GAP has received many
responses from petroleum geologists to coastal erosion specialist
and we greatly appreciate the response from our diverse and valuable
Member Societies. For more details and to volunteer, please see our
action alert at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/katrina_alert.html
GAP will be working to inform Congress of the geologic expertise
available to help develop sound policy for disaster assessment, hazards
mitigation and rebuilding hurricane-prone regions while the catastrophic
effects of Hurricane Katrina are the focus of national attention.
Congress will hold many hearings in the coming weeks to months about
Hurricane Katrina. Their first priority will be relief and support
for the over one million people affected by the disaster and at least
two more emergency supplemental aid packages are expected to be signed
into law in the coming weeks. Additional hearings and possible legislation
will focus on lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina and how to rebuild
devastated areas. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains legislation
authorizing as much as $1 billion for coastal restoration in the Gulf
Coast. Congress is likely to increase spending for restoration to
protect coastal communities from future hurricanes. Plans for rebuilding
New Orleans and other coastal communities are uncertain at this time,
however, sound scientific and engineering practices should be considered.
This past June, the Senate Subcommittee on Disaster Prevention and
Prediction held a hearing on severe storm preparedness, including
testimony addressing the vulnerability of New Orleans. An archived
web cast of this hearing is available on the committee
website, and a full summary of the hearing is available at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/wind_hearings.html
here for a current list of hazards legislation in the 109th congress
with links to hearing summaries completed by the Government Affairs
Caucus Coalition to Hold Earthquake Briefing
The Congressional Hazards Caucus Coalition will hold an earthquake
briefing on September 20, 2005 in the Rayburn House Office building.
Our speakers will be David Wald, a seismologist from the U.S. Geological
Survey, Stuart Nishenko, a seismologist from Pacific Gas and Electric,
Clifford J. Roblee, a geotechnical engineer and Executive Director
for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation Consortium,
Inc. and Russ Paulsen, an emergency responder with earthquake expertise
from the American Red Cross. The Coalition consists of many diverse
organizations whose members include scientists, engineers, emergency
responders and insurers. AGI and several of AGI's Member Societies,
including the American Association of State Geologists, the American
Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America and the Seismological
Society of America, are part of the coalition. Other Member Societies
are encouraged to join the coalition and help the Caucus inform Congress
about natural disasters. More information about the Coalition and
the Caucus is available at www.hazardscaucus.org.
September is National
September is National Preparedness
Month and it is sponsored jointly by the American Red Cross and
the Department of Homeland Security. They plan to hold events around
the country to help make the public more aware about the critical
need to prepare for disasters. To learn more about how you and your
family can prepare for emergencies or get involved visit: www.ready.gov
or www.redcross.org or www.citizencorps.gov.
President Bush Signs
FY 2006 Interior and Environment Budget into Law
President Bush signed the fiscal year 2006 Interior, Environment,
and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (PL 109-54) on August 23,
2005. The legislation included $1.5 billion in funding to meet shortfalls
for fiscal year 2005 Department of Veterans Affairs funding. It was
partly due to the urgency in making up this shortfall that the bill
was approved by Congress and signed by the President ahead of most
of the other appropriations bills. Besides Veterans Affairs, the bill
makes appropriations for the Department of the Interior (except the
Bureau of Reclamation), the Forest Service, the Indian Health Service,
the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Smithsonian Institution
and related agencies. Because of the reorganization of the appropriations
committees, this is the first time that Interior, EPA and the Forest
Service have been considered in the same bill. Among the geoscience-related
agencies, the USGS ($976 million), the Forest Service ($4,265 million),
the Bureau of Land Management ($1,788 million) and Smithsonian ($624
million) all received increases in total funding compared to fiscal
year 2005 levels.
For the full breakdown of budget appropriations by department, visit
EPA Issues New Radiation
Protection Standard for Yucca Mountain
On August 9, 2005, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued
its new public safety standards for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste
repository, overcoming what has been a significant obstacle to starting
the licensing process for the site.
The new two-tiered standard sets the acceptable level of radiation
exposure for an individual living near the site to 15 millirem per
year (roughly equivalent to three chest X-rays, according to EPA)
for the first 10,000 years and then increases the radiation exposure
limit to 350 millirem above background per year for up to 1 million
years. These standards are designed to address all potential sources
of exposure, including air, groundwater and soil. According to an
EPA press release, the new standards also require that the repository
"withstand the effects of earthquakes, volcanoes and significantly
increased rainfall while safely containing the waste during the 1
Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn and Attorney General Brian Sandoval quickly
the new standards as overly lax, calling the ruling "a snub to
the scientific community." According to Greenwire, the Department
of Energy did not release an expected target date for filing their
license application, but the agency will likely file the application
by early next year.
Read a full summary at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/yucca.html
Facing Rising Gas
Prices, Bush Proposes Higher CAFE Standards
In an attempt to provide some long-term relief from rising gas prices,
the Department of Transportation announced a new
policy on August 23, 2005 to raise the corporate average fuel
economy (CAFE) standards for light trucks between 2008 and 2011. The
proposal diverges significantly from the administration's previously
rigid opposition to raising fuel efficiency standards for pick-up
trucks, sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and minivans; however, environmentalists
maintain that the new regulations will not dramatically change gasoline
Under the new rules, light trucks, which currently adhere to a 21
mpg standard (22.2 mpg by 2007), would be divided into six compliance
categories by size. Efficiency targets by 2011 would range from 28.4
mpg in the smallest class to 21.4 mpg in the largest class. Vehicles
over 8500 pounds, such as the Hummer, would be exempt from these standards.
According to administration estimates, the rule would result in a
15.9% improvement in light truck fuel economy from 2004 and 2011,
and it would save 10 billion gallons of gasoline over the lifetimes
of vehicles built between 2008 and 2011. To place this savings in
perspective, the U.S. currently consumes 140 billion gallons of gas
each year according to the Department of Energy.
Environmentalists cited in recent press reports say that the true
impact of the rules will depend heavily on a variety of factors, because
automakers will have several opportunities to use the six-tiered system
to dodge significant efficiency changes. Furthermore, the impact of
the new standards might be eclipsed by the effect skyrocketing gas
prices may have on consumer choices in the near future.
Eastern States Team
Up to Reduce Power Plant CO2
After two years of collaboration, nine northeastern states have agreed
to reduce power plant emissions in the region to 10% of current levels
by 2020. On August 24, 2005 the New York Times obtained and reported
on a confidential draft proposal for the regional initiative, which
is, according to the Times, the first such cooperative regulatory
action in the history of the United States. Although the proposal
is not finalized, the Times interviewed one state official who said,
"we have very high hopes of getting a resolution through to all
the states by the end of September."
Environmentalists who were interviewed in the article said that the
proposal would achieve roughly the same emission reductions as those
instituted under the Kyoto Protocol. A regional cap-and-trade program
would freeze emissions at current levels starting in 2009, and further
reductions would be enforced after 2015. However, because such a multi-state
regulatory agreement is unprecedented, the new plan may have a greater
impact on national environmental policy than on the environment itself.
California, Washington and Oregon are already exploring a similar
regional agreement that, together with the northeastern states' agreement,
may exert considerable pressure on the federal government to change
their position on greenhouse gas control.
NAFTA Panel Rejects
Claim Against California's MTBE Ban
On August 9, 2005, a North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
panel dismissed a Canadian company's claim against California's ban
on the gasoline additive MTBE. Methanex, the world's leader in methanol
production (a key component of MTBE), said that California's ban hampered
foreign investments and demanded compensation for revenue losses.
The case was the most high-profile example of a foreign company exercising
its right under NAFTA to challenge regulations that it claims unfairly
restricts its international business. Greenwire quoted California
Attorney General Bill Lockyer as saying that the panel's rejection
of the case "sends a message to all foreign investors who would
challenge the environmental and labor laws that are the fabric of
MTBE is a chemical blended with gasoline to lower toxic emissions
that became widely used in the U.S. after an oxygenate requirement
was imposed nationwide under the 1990 Clean Air Act. California Governor
Gray Davis ordered a ban on the chemical after studies suggested the
chemical caused cancer and other neurological and skin conditions,
and may pose a threat to groundwater supply.
For more information, read reports from Methanex
Demands Halt to Iran's Uranium Processing
On August 11, 2005, the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA)
Board of Governors unanimously approved a resolution
demanding that Iran halt nuclear processing activities by September
3, 2005. After nuclear non-proliferation negotiations deteriorated
between Iran, the United States, the European Union, and the United
Nations, Iran resumed activities at its Uranium Conversion Facility
In the resolution, the IAEA "expresses serious concern"
over these developments, stating that "the Agency is not yet
in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials
or activities in Iran."
Iranian officials attacked the resolution as unacceptable because
it illegally removes their right to conduct nuclear activities that
are allowed under the Iran Nonproliferation Treaty. Regardless of
international concerns, Iran expects to become a nuclear fuel producer
and supplier within the next decade.
to Respond to Bush's Statement on Intelligent Design
Several scientific societies responded immediately to President Bush's
statement to the press that intelligent design should be taught along
with evolution in public schools. Below is a non-comprehensive list
of responses from some organizations:
Kansas Board of
Education Approves Revised Science Standards
The full, 10-member Kansas State Board
of Education voted on July 9, 2005 to accept a draft of revised
science standards requiring students "to learn about the best
evidence for modern evolutionary theory, but also to learn about areas
where scientists are raising scientific criticisms of the theory."
The Board voted 6-4 in favor of the draft despite written arguments
from the science standards writing committee, who had originally excluded
Although the revised standards do not specifically advocate for the
teaching of intelligent design, the new language could bring such
discussions into classrooms. Changes that were made on June 9th make
reference to testimony offered during three days of hearings last
May, and state that "evolution is accepted by many scientists
but questioned by some" and that "all scientific theories
should be approached with an open mind, studied carefully, and critically
The revised science standards have been sent to an external review
board based in Denver, Colorado. The review, at a cost of more than
$20,000, is intended to provide final legitimacy to the science standards.
The review will be completed by October or November.
For more coverage read AGI's Kansas update at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/evolution/index.html
House Committee Amends
Higher Education Act
The House Education and Workforce Committee approved a major bill
last month that includes provisions encouraging students to pursue
degrees in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). During
a committee mark-up of the College Access and Opportunity Act (H.R.
609), Representatives Howard McKeon (R-CA) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
successfully offered an amendment that would authorize over $41 million
over the next five years for student loan relief, math and science
scholarships, and state assistance grants aimed at strengthening STEM
education. The proposal, which would offer up to $5,000 to forgive
student loan interest for science and math majors, includes ideas
from a bill proposed earlier this year by Science Appropriations Committee
Chairman Frank Wolf (R-VA). Wolf's bill had offered up to $10,000
in loan interest relief, but lacked funds for scholarships and state-local
"It is simply unacceptable that America's high school students
are struggling to keep up with their industrialized-world peers in
the fields of math and science," said Representative McKeon.
"This is a serious crisis that we cannot wait to address."
The main purpose of the College Access & Opportunity Act is to
reauthorize and reform the Higher Education Act, which is the nation's
primary legislation governing student financial assistance and other
programs that enable low and middle-income students to pursue a college
education. Other provisions in the bill, which reform the Pell Grant
system and other programs, received mixed reviews on Capitol Hill
and throughout the education community. The committee approved the
bill along strict party lines on July 22, 2005, with House Democrats
calling the bill the "largest cut in federal student financial
aid in the 40-year history of the aid programs." The full House
is expected to take up the bill in the fall, after which it will be
passed on to the Senate.
For more information, visit the Education and Workforce website,
The minority party has posted alternative views at http://edworkforce.house.gov/democrats/hr609markup.html
ExxonMobil and Golf
Pro Sponsor Math and Science Teachers Academy
In late July, two hundred teachers participated in a five-day training
seminar intended to enhance science and math instruction in third
through fifth-grade classrooms. The
Teachers Academy was sponsored by pro-golfer Phil Mickelson and
his wife Amy, in partnership with ExxonMobil. The National Science
Teachers Association and Math Solutions Professional Development provided
curricula for the program and experienced educators demonstrated various
tools designed to increase student interest and achievement in scientific
When the Mickelsons partnered with ExxonMobil a year ago, Phil explained,
"It's hard to imagine what modern life would be like without
energy, and there would be very little usable energy without science
and technology. Amy and I are eager to work with ExxonMobil to support
education programs that will open up the world of science and math
to young people. It's our hope that these young people will become
the scientists and engineers of tomorrow."
Business Groups Call
for National Innovation Plan
In late July, fifteen business groups representing every sector of
the economy released a bold education plan to double the number of
college graduates in science, technology, engineering and math by
2015. Entitled "Tapping
America's Potential: The Education for Innovation Initiative,"
the 20-page report focuses on five critical areas in need of improvement,
including public support, K-12 education reform, visa and immigration
policies, educational incentives, and basic research funding.
"We need to build a strong focus on math and science today so
that we continue to encourage leaders in these fields tomorrow,"
said U.S. Chamber of Commerce CEO Donohue in a July 27th press release.
"It is no secret that in this country we are on the verge of
losing a future generation of highly skilled technical individuals,
and we cannot let that happen."
"The good news is that a strong consensus has emerged on what
needs to be done to bolster American innovation and maintain our scientific
and technological leadership," said John J. Castellani, President
of Business Roundtable, which organized the effort. Now we must mobilize
Americans to adopt and carry out some straightforward solutions that
will make a significant difference for our students and our economy."
For more information visit http://www.businessroundtable.org/
Google Print Stalls
over Copyright Concerns
On August 11, 2005, Google
announced that it will stop scanning copyrighted materials for
its Google Print Library Project until November, giving copyright
holders a chance to opt out of the program. Google Print, which was
launched in October, 2004 has so far partnered with five major libraries
with the ambitious mission of making the full text of all books searchable
online. The new rules will affect scanning at Stanford University,
Harvard University and the University of Michigan.
In response to concerns that the program could lead to unlawful use
of copyrighted text and compromise the business of publishers, Google's
new policy allows copyright holders to submit a list of books they
don't want Google to scan. The policy places the burden of copyright
protection on the publishers, causing concerned groups to continue
to question its lawfulness, according to the Washington Post. Google
maintains that, "the new approach would best balance the rights
and needs of users and publishers."
Library Sues Justice
Court documents released to the public on August 25, 2005 indicate
that a library has sued the Justice Department over an FBI demand
for records. The FBI can use a document called the national security
letter (NSL) to demand records from a company or institution without
the approval of a judge. The law further stipulates that the company
or institution may not disclose the request to the public. The restrictions
on using NSLs were loosened under the U.S. Patriot Act. The use of
NSLs is distinct from the "library provision" of the Patriot
Act, which the Justice Department said has never been used. According
to the Washington Post, the Justice Department has declined to state
how many NSLs have been served.
The suit was filed in Connecticut and the unknown plaintiff is described
as a member of the American Library Association in court documents.
In September 2004 a judge in New York ruled that the federal statute
governing the use of NSLs was unconstitutional, however, the Justice
Department is appealing that decision. Stay tuned for more or less
information about NSLs.
NSF Will Lease Russian
A National Science Foundation plan to hire a Russian icebreaking
vessel to carry out supply missions to Antarctic research stations
has received a chilly reception from the Senate. As of fiscal year
(FY) 2006, the NSF is supposed to take over responsibility for the
operation and upkeep of two U.S. icebreaking vessels from the Coast
Guard. In light of the considerable financial burden of maintaining
and modernizing the 30-year-old vessels, language in the House science
appropriations bill encouraged the NSF to "immediately begin
a concurrent pursuit of alternative, more economical, icebreaking
solutions." However, the Senate version specifies that NSF "shall
procure polar icebreaking services from the Coast Guard," and
must work with the White House to ensure that the U.S. fleet is "capable
of meeting NSF's future ice breaking needs." The two vessels
are currently docked in Washington State for repair and a news report
in Science Magazine (subscription
required) suggests that Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) requested the
language in the Senate bill.
NSF's decision to use the Russian vessel could save up to $5 million
in fuel and other operating costs that could go towards conducting
major repairs on the U.S. icebreakers. The decision is also in line
with an NSF advisory panel report, which provides other innovative
solutions to ensure that icebreaking costs do not jeopardize other
NSF programs. The Senate and the House will have to reconcile their
differences when the appropriations bills are considered in a conference
Forest Service Scales
Forest Service officials reduced their estimates of how much revenue
can be expected from recreational activities on National Park land.
In 2002, Bush Administration officials found that recreation accounted
for $11 billion of the agency's total revenue, roughly one tenth of
the $111 billion projected under the Clinton Administration. As a
result, the Forest Service has adjusted its estimates of the economic
contribution of recreation activities from 85% of the park system's
total contribution to 56%. Critics of the administration are concerned
that these adjustments will allow the government to justify collecting
more revenue from logging and mining on public land. Forest Service
officials maintain, on the other hand, that the agency has not diminished
the recreational value of National Forest land, but is simply relying
on better statistics. The study was done for the Forest Service by
the nonprofit, Natural Resources News Service.
More information about the final results and how the results were
obtained are available on the Forest
New NIST Director
On July 22, 2005, the Senate confirmed William Alan Jeffrey as the
13th director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
(NIST). Formerly the senior director for homeland and national security
and assistant director for space and aeronautics at the White House
Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Jeffrey boasts an
extensive professional record in national security concerns, from
computer security and communications to larger technological investments
and space operations.
Jeffrey's 17 years of experience in federal science and technology
policy includes a PhD in Astronomy from Harvard University, a B.Sc.
in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a distinguished
career at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
NIST is now the lead agency for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction
Program (NEHRP). The agency was authorized to receive abut $3 million
to coordinate NEHRP, but they have not been appropriated any funds,
leaving NEHRP without any coordinated leadership.
A press release is available on the NIST
NASA Appoints New
In mid-August, NASA's Chief Administrator Michael Griffin tapped
Mary Cleave to lead the agencies' Science Directorate. Cleave is an
engineer and former astronaut who has been a project manager at NASA
since 2000 and chief of Earth science programs since 2004. In the
coming months and years, Cleave will face the challenge of protecting
NASA's science budget while controlling price overruns related to
the James Webb Telescope and overseeing the fate of the Hubble Telescope.
Although Cleave does not have extensive experience working with the
scientific community, NASA chief scientist James Garvin is confident
that her experience with human space flight makes her a strong advocate
for scientific research, according to Science
AGI and AGU Release
Geoscience Employment Survey
On August 24, 2005, the American Geological Institute (AGI) and the
American Geophysical Union (AGU) released an analysis of 2003 PhD
recipients in Earth, atmospheric, ocean and space sciences. The results
show that, despite an economic downturn in recent years, employment
opportunities and starting salaries for geoscientists have remained
stable or increased slightly over 2001 and 2002. Of those surveyed,
87% found work directly related to their field, and women earned a
slightly higher percentage of PhDs compared to 2002.
is based on data compiled from 1996 to 2003 and takes a comprehensive
look at the nature of doctoral degrees conferred in the geosciences,
general perceptions of the job market, and the distribution of employment
opportunities across industry, government, academia and the non-profit
sector. The report also looks at several factors controlling employment
opportunities within academia, such as the quality of career development
resources and networking support at Universities.
To download a copy of the full report, go to http://www.agiweb.org/career/phdreport03.pdf.
Apply now for AGI's
Spring Public Policy Internship
The application deadline for the AGI Geoscience and Public Policy
Internship is fast approaching, on October 15, 2005. Each fall and
spring semester, AGI and the American Association of Petroleum Geologists
(AAPG) sponsor one outstanding geoscience student who has a strong
interest in public policy to work as an intern in AGI's Government
Affairs Program. The intern will gain a first-hand understanding of
the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies
as he or she helps monitor and analyze geoscience-related legislation
in Congress, attend congressional hearings and respond to information
requests from AGI's member societies. For details about the internship
and how to apply, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns.
Below is a summary of Federal Register announcements regarding federal
regulations, agency meetings, and other notices of interest to the
geosciences 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.
BLM: The Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service have
extended the public comment period for the proposed rule published
in the Federal Register on July 27, 2005. The proposed rule would
revise requirements necessary for the approval of all proposed oil
and gas exploratory, development, or service wells on all Federal
and Indian (except Osage Tribe) onshore oil and gas leases. It also
covers approvals necessary for subsequent well operations, including
abandonment. Because the recently enacted Energy Policy Act of 2005
impacts certain provisions of the proposed rule, the BLM and the FS
are extending the comment period to October 25, 2005, to give the
public additional time to comment. For more information, go to http://www.regulations.gov.
[Federal Register: August 26, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 165)]
BLM: The Bureau of Land Management posted a request for public nominations
for five members of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument
Advisory Committee (GSENM-MAC). The GSENM-MAC provides advice and
recommendations to GSENM on science issues and the achievement of
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument Management Plan objectives.
GSENM will receive public nominations until September 26, 2005. [Federal
Register: August 22, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 161)]
DOT: The Department of Transportation has released for public comment
the Bush Administration's new Light Truck Average Fuel Economy Standards
for model years 2008-2011 (See Related Story). The agency is seeking
information that will help it assess the effect of the proposed standards
on fuel economy, manufacturers, consumers, the economy, and motor
vehicle safety. Comments must be received on or before November 22,
2005 and submitted to the DOT. Instructions are available at: http://dms.dot.gov.
[Federal Register: August 30, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 167)]
EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency announced a final rule extending
the deferred effective date for the 8-hour Ozone National Ambient
Air Quality Standards until December 31, 2005. The rule applies to
14 areas of the country that have entered into Early Action Compacts,
in which they have agreed to reduce ground-level ozone pollution earlier
than the Clean Air Act (CAA) requires. [Federal Register: August 29,
2005 (Volume 70, Number 166)]
EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), proposed their revised
public health and safety standards for radioactive material stored
or disposed of in the potential repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.
The notice opens a public comment period effective until October 21,
2005. For the full notice, [Federal Register: August 22, 2005 (Volume
70, Number 161)]
MMS: The Minerals Management Service within the Department of the
Interior posted a solicitation for comments from interested and affected
parties on the preparation of a New 5-Year (2007-2012) Outer Continental
Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program. MMS will begin to prepare
environmental impact statements for the program and will consider
comments received in response to this notice in developing the draft
proposed program and in determining the scope of the imact assessment.
The MMS must receive all comments and information by October 11, 2005.
The commenting system can be accessed at http://www.mms.gov/5-year/2007-2012main.htm.
[Federal Register: August 24, 2005 (Volume 70, Number 163)]
New Updates to
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, Director of Government Affairs,
Katie Ackerly, Government Affairs Staff, and Anne Smart, 2005 AGI/AIPG
Sources: Washington Post, New York Times, Greenwire, Google Blog,
Environmental Protection Agency, Senate Appropriations Committee,
American Institute of Physics, Triangle Coalition for Science and
Technology Education, Kansas State Department of Education, Inter
Press Service News Agency, The CalTrade Report and Science Magazine.
TO SUBSCRIBE TO THE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS PROGRAM MONTHLY REVIEW, SEND
AN EMAIL WITH YOUR REQUEST AND YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS TO GOVT@AGIWEB.ORG
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted September 8, 2005.