Monthly Review: August 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. Senate Passes Great Lakes Compact
  2. Congress Packs Agenda for September
  3. Bipartisan Energy Legislation Prepared for Congress’ Return
  4. EPA Denies Texas’ Request for Biofuel Waiver
  5. USGS Releases Report on Groundwater Availability
  6. SSA Releases New Summary of Public Policy Positions
  7. Detrick named NSF Earth Sciences Division Director
  8. OneGeology Project Launched
  9. Google Invests in Geothermal
  10. Christian Courses Denied Credit at UC
  11. Michael Collier Exhibit Back on Tour
  12. AGI Spring Geoscience and Public Policy Internship
  13. Key Reports and Publications
  14. Key Federal Register Notices
  15. New Updates to the Web

1. Senate Passes Great Lakes Compact

On August 1, 2008, only three weeks after the bill was introduced, the Senate passed the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact (S.J. Res 45) by unanimous consent. The resolution provides congressional consent and approval of the compact which involves the Great Lake states (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) and the Canadian Provinces of Ontario and Quebec. The compact provides a framework for the protection and management of the Great Lakes ecosystem and addresses the major impetus for the compact --the threat of water diversion, by prohibiting most new sources of diversion. Other specific management areas addressed include lake level stabilization, navigation, pollution measures, hydroelectric power development, fish and wildlife management, and soil and bank erosion.

While the compact does not make any binding policies or require any commitments of funding from the involved parties, by signing the compact, each party “agrees to consider” the recommended actions of a special commission. The compact also includes provisions for “improved scientific understanding” of the water body, including the study of groundwater and the “development, transfer and application of science and research related to water conservation and water use efficiency.”

The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence River Basin Water Resources Compact H.R. 6577, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on July 30, but the interstate compact awaits final consent and approval by the full House in September. The legislation it is expected to move smoothly through the body.  Additionally, President Bush has already announced his support and willingness to sign the resolution.

To read the full text of S. J. Res 45 visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:s.j.res.00045:

To read the full text of H.R. 6577 visit: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d110:HR06577:

2. Congress Packs Agenda for September

Congress will have to hit the ground running if it wants to accomplish all of the items on its agenda for the September work period. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that the items on the top of his list are energy legislation, such as extending tax incentives for renewable energy and increasing oversight of the oil speculation market, and the passage of a continuing resolution to ensure the government is funded before it would be forced to shut down on October 1. 

These two items are also the most contentious topics in Congress, with speedy action being threatened by the desire of some members to open up parts of the outer continental shelf (OCS) to drilling.  The moratorium preventing drilling on the OCS has traditionally been included in the Interior appropriations bill and was part of last year’s continuing resolution.  The threat of adding OCS drilling amendments has halted movement of individual appropriations measures this year and remains a leveraging point during negotiations on the specifics of a continuing resolution.  The “Gang of 10,” a bipartisan group of senators, hopes to eliminate this threat by offering a compromised, comprehensive energy package that will open parts of the OCS as well as increase energy conservation and efficiency measures.  Reid has indicated that he is reviewing the proposal and may allow for its debate on the floor.

Reid also hopes to bring the Department of Defense authorization bill to the floor, a tax-extenders bill that has been repeatedly filibustered due to concerns over how to offset the tax breaks, legislation to increase funding for low-income home heating assistance programs, the Americans with Disabilities Act, a Food and Drug Administration measure, and a package of public lands bills that has been blocked by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK).

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer’s (D-MD) top agenda items include a second economic stimulus package and the passage of a continuing resolution. The House will also have to deal with energy issues, including an OCS drilling amendment as it negotiates a continuing resolution.  In similar fashion to the “Gang of 10,” a bipartisan group of House members is hoping to push an all encompassing energy package on the floor.  Hoyer also noted that the House will address the tax extenders package, mental health parity legislation and a bill to address the alternative minimum tax.

Politics will be in full force in September as members try to highlight the differences between their parties with the swift approach of the election, leaving the potential for little of these ambitious agendas to be accomplished before Congress’ tentative end date of September 26. 

3. Bipartisan Energy Legislation Prepared for Congress’ Return

Prior to the August break, Congress was locked in a heated energy debate, each party trying to pass its own energy legislation.  The lack of agreement prevented any legislation from passing .  In preparation for Congress’ return in September, a bipartisan group in each chamber has been preparing a member-driven comprehensive energy bill that will require concessions from both parties. 

The Senate “Gang of 10” is led by Senators Kent Conrad (D-ND) and Saxby Chambliss (R-GA).  The other eight members are Senators John Thune (R-SD), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Blanche Lincoln (D-AK), Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), Bob Corker (R-TN), and Mark Pryor (D-AK).   

The House working group includes thirteen members.  The eight republicans are: Representatives Rob Bishop (UT), Shelly Moore Capito (WV), Robin Hayes (NC), Timothy Murphy (PA), John Peterson (PA), Henry Brown (SC), Thelma Drake (VA), and Dan Burton (IN).  The five democrats are: Tim Walz (MN), Gene Green (TX), Nick Lampson (TX), Jim Costa (CA) and Neil Abercrombie (HI).

Both working groups have yet to formally release their bills and have continued to negotiate the terms over the August recess.  It is speculated that both the House and Senate bills will open up parts of the outer continental shelf (OCS), but that the federally controlled leases will be at least 50 miles offshore.  The bills will also put large amounts of money into conservation and renewable fuels programs.  The House bill will probably put 40% of the leasing revenues towards those programs and split the rest between the federal and state governments.  The Senate bill proposes putting $80 billion towards alternative transportation fuel and conservation measures with $30 billion coming from the oil revenues.

The all encompassing bills hope to garner support from otherwise staunch opponents to offshore drilling.  For one, Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has avidly opposed drilling off the coast of California since she was elected in 1987, and as the Speaker, has prevented any offshore drilling votes on the House floor.  However, during the August recess she stated that while she still opposes offshore drilling, she would permit a vote on ending the ban as long as it was part of a comprehensive energy package that includes conservation and renewable energy initiatives and withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

The concern for Democrats is that Republicans will push for drilling amendments to be added to the appropriations bills.  It is expected that a continuing resolution (CR) will be needed to fund the government next year.  As debate is postponed on the Department of the Interior Appropriations bill and Republicans threaten to use those bills as a battleground for the OCS drilling debate, there is concern of a government shut-down if a CR does not get passed.  Though a shut-down is highly unlikely, the necessity of passing a CR and coming to an agreement in the energy debate has bolstered support for the bipartisan initiatives. 

4. EPA Denies Texas’ Request for Biofuel Waiver

On August 7, 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) denied Texas’ request to lower the national renewable fuels standard (RFS) for 2008.  In April, Texas Governor Rick Perry asked that the RFS be cut in half, citing rising food and feed costs.  Perry believes that increased biofuel production, which relies heavily on corn, has driven up corn prices and consequently affected the food and feed prices.  He cited a $3.6 million economic burden on Texas alone.  However, the EPA rejected the claim that the RFS has increased food prices and the waiver denial aims to dispel this public concern.  According to a Texas A&M study released in April, “corn prices have had little to do with rising food costs.”  The study deemed the rapid rise in corn prices to be more a result of rising oil prices.  EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson responded, “The EPA's professional staff conducted a detailed analysis ... and found that the renewable fuel standard mandate is not causing severe economic harm, but rather strengthening the nation's energy security and farm communities.”

Some environmental groups, who supported the waiver, felt that Perry should have focused less on the economic concerns and more on environmental concerns.  Climate advocates believe that corn-based biofuels increase agricultural pollution, are too energy intensive to produce, and degrade and deplete the land.

The Congress mandated RFS calls for 9 billion gallons of biofuels in 2008, growing to 11 billion gallons by 2011.  Last December, President Bush signed the energy law that expanded the biofuels mandate to 36 billion gallons annually by 2022, but only 15 billion gallons can come from corn while the rest would have to come from “advanced” biofuels not produced from food crops.  The mandate can only be reduced if the EPA finds the RFS would “severely harm” a state or the nation economically or environmentally.  This year only states could submit waivers to the mandate.  However that will change next year, possibly bringing in many more requests, when any entity affected by the RFS can submit a waiver.

5. USGS Releases Report on Groundwater Availability

Last month the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) released a report entitled, “Groundwater Availability in the United States.” The report details current information on groundwater availability and outlines a strategy for further and improved groundwater assessment. The report builds upon regional ground-water availability studies undertaken as part of the USGS Ground-Water Resources Program and is an outgrowth of a pilot study, “National Assessment of Water Avail­ability and Use,” which began in 2005 at the request of Congress.

The last federal groundwater assessment took place from 1978-1995 with most of the data now between 15-25 years old. USGS Office of Ground Water Chief, William Alley, explained that it is time to look again, “An assessment of ground-water availability is critical for state and local agencies to make decisions about important issues such as drinking water, industrial and energy production, and agricultural uses.”

The full text of the USGS report can be accessed at: http://pubs.usgs.gov/circ/1323/

6. SSA Releases New Summary of Public Policy Positions

The Seismological Society of America (SSA) released a new summary of its public policy positions on August 7, 2008.  SSA promotes “public safety through education, mitigation, and risk management, as well as fundamental scientific and engineering research.”  To achieve these goals, SSA has five key policy interests: the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP), EarthScope, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), Global Earthquake Monitoring/Tsunami Warning, and Outreach/Education. 

The summary, which states the recommendations of the SSA in these five areas, was developed by SSA’s Government Relations Committee and approved by their Board of Directors.  It will be treated as a “living document” that will be revised as new issue areas arise and SSA’s role is further developed.  If there are comments or questions on the statement, contact the committee though the Executive Director, Susan Newman (snewman@seismosoc.org).

The public policy summary can be found at:
http://www.seismosoc.org/society/government/position_statements_summary.php

7. Detrick named NSF Earth Sciences Division Director

Robert Detrick has been named as the new director of the Division of Earth Sciences within the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Directorate for Geosciences. Detrick, who is currently a senior scientist and vice president for Marine Facilities and Operations at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) will begin his NSF position in November.

Detrick’s research has focused primarily on the structure and evolution of oceanic crust, the size, depth and physical properties of ridge crest magma chambers, and the effect of hotspots on the thermal evolution of the lithosphere. During his tenure at WHOI, he oversaw several large projects, including the development of the institution's successful proposal for the coastal and global components of the NSF-funded Ocean Observatories Initiative.

Detrick joined the WHOI staff in 1991 as a senior scientist after 13 years as a professor at the University of Rhode Island. He received a bachelor's degree in geology and physics from Lehigh University in 1971 and a master's degree from the University of California, San Diego in marine geology in 1974. He earned his doctorate from the MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Oceanography in 1978.

8. OneGeology Project Launched

The OneGeology project, offering a digital global geologic map, was officially launched this month, at the 33rd International Geological Conference. The purpose of the project is to make web accessible the best available geological map data worldwide at a scale of about 1:1,000,000 million and to serve as a geological survey contribution to the International Year of Planet Earth.  The project involved 79 countries and was based on the principles that geological surveys and geoscientists around the world have a responsibility to make accessible the best geological map data they currently have; to work towards consistent standards for data access; and to enhance and increase the use and usability of their data.

Check out OneGeology at http://www.onegeology.org/portal/home.html.

9. Google Invests in Geothermal

Google.org, the philanthropic arm of Google.com, has launched an initiative entitled “Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal” with a goal to produce 1 gigawatt of renewable energy capacity “in years-not decades.” The company has thus far invested $95 million, has its own R&D branch for renewable technology and is dedicated to enabling external success through grants, investments and public policy. As part of the initiative, Google.org recently announced an investment of $10.25 million to advance projects in geothermal electricity production, including R&D developments for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) and heat mapping reconnaissance.

"EGS could be the 'killer app' of the energy world. It has the potential to deliver vast quantities of power 24/7 and be captured nearly anywhere on the planet", stated Director of Climate and Energy Initiatives for Google.org, Dan Reicher.

10. Christian Courses Denied Credit at UC

On August 15, 2008 U.S. District Court Judge James Ortero of Los Angeles ruled that the University of California (UC) can deny specific course credit to high school students applying from some Christian schools.  The lawsuit was filed in 2005 after the UC’s review board deemed some religious courses as unacceptable for satisfying admission requirements.  The August ruling claimed that the UC’s denial of credit was legal because the rejected courses ignored key science or history topics, presented the Bible as an unerring source, or failed to develop students’ critical thinking skills.  Ortero found no evidence of anti-religion bias in the UC’s actions, citing other courses and textbooks with religious viewpoints that have been approved such as “Chemistry for Christian Schools”. 

The UC system says their course rejection rate is the same for religious and secular schools and maintains that it is just a matter of universal standard to make sure students are prepared for college.  Thomas Buckley, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Jesuit School of Theology said, “Not getting credit for religious courses [is] a longstanding practice in higher education and it makes sense…You want all entering students to have a level playing field and to be treated equally.” Still, the Associations of Christian Schools International is claiming religious discrimination and trying to repeal the ruling in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco.

11. Michael Collier Exhibit on Tour Again

Geologist, doctor, and professional photographer Michael Collier will exhibit, Stones from the Sky, at the Houston Museum of Natural Science starting September 13, 2008.  Collier specializes in aerial landscape photography, taking dramatic shots of areas such as the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Canadian Rockies, and Alaskan Glaciers.  His current exhibit consists of 45 prints that highlight the American geologic landscape.  His passion for nature and landscapes led him to study geology at Northern Arizona University and receive a master’s degree in structural geology from Stanford University.  He has since used his geoscience training in his photography and subsequent book-writing career.  In 2005, AGI honored him with the Outstanding Contribution to Public Understanding of Geosciences Award for his work.  He currently spends about half his time in the field, or the air, taking photos.  The other half is spent as a family doctor in Arizona. 

The photography exhibit was co-sponsored by AGI and AAAS last summer while it was on display in Washington D.C.  The exhibit will be on display in Houston until March 1, 2009 when it will then move to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  It will be on display in Denver from March 15, 2009 until August 1, 2009.    

12. AGI Spring Geoscience and Public Policy Internship

AGI’s Government Affairs Program seeks outstanding geoscience undergraduate or graduate students with a strong interest in federal science policy for a semester-long internship. Representing the geoscience community in Washington D.C., the program actively works with Congress and federal agencies to foster sound public policy in areas that affect geoscientists, including water, energy, and mineral resources; geologic hazards; environmental protection; and federal funding for geoscience research and education.  Applications for the spring semester are due by October 15, 2008. For more information about the internship, including how to apply visit: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/index.html 

13. Key Reports and Publications

***Government Accountability Office (GAO)***

Hardrock Mining: Information on State Royalties and Trends in Mineral Imports and
Exports, <http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-849R> August 20, 2008. Congress is considering amending the General Mining Act of 1872. The report responds to Congress’s request for information by evaluating royalty policies for hard rock mining within 12 Western states, tracing the importation statistics of 15 hardrock minerals since 1975, and assessing the difficulty of aggregating information on the collection and maintenance of mining data.

Superfund: Funding and Reported Costs of Enforcement and Administration Activities.
<http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-841R> August 18, 2008.
 The report examines the sources of funding for the Superfund trust fund, which lost authority to collect new tax revenues in 1995, and attempts to assess the allocation of those resources to program activities including direct cleanup, enforcement and administration expenditures.

Hurricane Katrina:  Continuing Debris Removal and Disposal Issues, <http://www.gao.gov/cgi-bin/getrpt?GAO-08-985R> August 25, 2008. The report focuses on debris and disposal issues related to Hurricane Katrina.

***Congressional Research Service (CRS)***

Managing Disaster Debris: Overview of Regulatory Requirements, Agency Roles, and
Selected Challenges, <http://opencrs.com/document/RL34576> Posted August 10, 2008. The report discusses the types of debris found in a disaster, applicable regulatory requirements to debris removal, and which federal, state and local agencies have roles in debris removal. It also discusses available federal funding for certain debris removal activities.

Advanced Nuclear Power and Fuel Cycle Technologies: Outlook and Policy Options,
<http://opencrs.com/document/RL34579> Posted August 10, 2008. The report looks at the considerations involved in transitioning advanced nuclear technologies from laboratory research into more expensive development stages and the role of federal government support.
                                                                                                                          
Community Acceptance of Carbon Capture and Sequestration Infrastructure: Siting
Challenges, <http://opencrs.com/document/RL34601> Posted August 10, 2008. The report considers increased urgency in assessing the importance of community acceptance for the life cycle requirements (source facility, pipelines and sequestration site) of carbon capture and sequestration.

Energy Tax Policy: History and Current Issues,<http://opencrs.com/document/RL33578> Posted August 10, 2008. This report traces the changes in Energy Tax policy from the 1918 to the present. It includes a discussion of the bills currently under the consideration in Congress.

The Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA): Implementation and New Challenges,
<http://opencrs.com/document/RL34118> Posted August 10, 2008.  The report investigates the arguments for and against modification of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), which has not been amended since its creation in 1976.

 Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress,<http://opencrs.com/document/RL34391> Posted August 24, 2008. The report considers options for Congress in light of a 2007 National Research Council report suggesting the lack of up-to-date polar ice breaking ships within the Coast Guard, placing the ability to serve the national interest in the north and south at risk.

Biofuels Incentives: A Summary of Federal Programs,
<
http://opencrs.com/document/RL33572> Posted August 24, 2008. The report provides details including administering agency, authorizing statute(s), annual funding, and expiration date for federal programs providing direct and indirect incentives for biofuels.

Renewable Energy Policy in the 2008 Farm Bill,<http://opencrs.com/document/RL34130> Posted August 24, 2008. This report looks at the provisions for renewable energy and energy efficiency in ), known as the farm bill.
Oil Development on Federal Lands and the Outer Continental Shelf,
<http://opencrs.com/document/RS22928> Posted August 24, 2008. This report examines bills introduced in the 110th Congress concerning two threads of opinion for oil development: opening drilling on the outer continental shelf and encouraging development and production where leases already exist.

***National Research Council (NRC)***
Earth Observations from Space: The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements,
<http://books.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=11991> This report highlights the importance of satellite earth observations that provide an unmatched view of the dynamics and details of many earth processes over time, are enhancing our understanding of the Planet. Achievements listed include space geodesy and GPS, air pollution, energy exchange and radiation budgets, weather prediction, ocean and agricultural land observations and more.

Key Federal Register Notices

MMS- The Minerals Management Service is requesting comments on the preparation of a 5-Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing plan, including comments on areas that are restricted from leasing by Congressional moratoria, but are no longer restricted after the Presidential withdrawal on July 14, 2008. Comments must be received by September 15, 2008. Contact: Ms. Renee Orr, 5-Year Program Manager, at (703) 787-1215.  [Federal Register: August 1, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 149)]

DOE- The Department of Energy will hold an open meeting of the Ultra-Deepwater Advisory Committee on September 9-10, 2008 at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town. Contact: Elena Melchert, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Oil and Natural Gas, Washington, DC 20585. Phone: 202-586-5600. [Federal Register: August 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 151)]

DOE- The Department of Energy will hold an open meeting of the Unconventional Resources Technology Advisory Committee on September 11-12, 2008 at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town. Contact: Elena Melchert, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Oil and Natural Gas, Washington, DC 20585. Phone: 202-586-5600. [Federal Register: August 5, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 151)]

USDA – The United States Department of Agriculture is requesting public input on its effort to prepare a strategic plan for climate change research, education, and extension. USDA recently prepared a major scientific assessment of the effects of climate change on agriculture, land resources, water resources, and biodiversity in the United States for the Climate Change Science Program. Public comments must be received by September 19, 2008 and should be sent to Eleanor Rollings, Special Assistant to the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Extension, at Eleanor.rollings@usda.gov, 202-720-1542. [Federal Register: August 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 152)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency is requesting nominations for the 2008 Clean Air Excellence Awards Program (CAEAP). This is an annual awards program to recognize outstanding and innovative efforts that support progress in achieving clean air. Entries are open to public and private entities, but are limited to the United States. Award categories include: (1) Clean Air Technology; (2) Community Action; (3) Education/Outreach; (4) Regulatory/Policy Innovations; (5) Transportation Efficiency Innovations; and two special awards categories: (1) Thomas W. Zosel Outstanding Individual Achievement Award, and (2) Gregg Cooke Visionary Program Award. Applicant information can be obtained at: http://www.epa.gov/oar/caaac by clicking on awards program or by contacting Mr. Pat Childers, U.S. EPA at 202-564-1082 or 202-564-1352. All submission must be postmarked by September 19, 2008. [Federal Register: August 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 152)]

NSF- The National Science Foundation (NSF), National Science Board requests public comment on the use of cost sharing in NSF-funded activities.  Visit the following website for more information: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/committees/cs/comment.jsp. Additional background material about the Task Force can be found at: http://www.nsf.gov/nsb/committees/tskforce_cs.jsp. Comments must be received by October 1, 2008. [Federal Register: August 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 152)]

NOAA- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces a 45-day public comment period for the draft report titled, U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.2 “Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes.” Comments must be received by September 25, 2008. The draft Synthesis and Assessment Product: 1.2 is posted on the CCSP Web site at:http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap1-2/default.php. For more information contact Dr. Fabien Laurier (202) 419-3481. [Federal Register: August 11, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 155)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Office of Research and
Development (ORD), gives notice of two meetings of the Board of Scientific Counselors (BOSC) Water Quality Mid-Cycle Subcommittee. Proposed agenda items for the conference calls include, but are not limited to: Overview of the subcommittee's charge, rating the water quality research program performance and overall progress, and reviewing the revised Multi-Year Plan. The meetings will be held on September 4, 2008 and September 15, 2008 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Members of the public may obtain the call-in number and access code for the call from Susan Peterson, (202) 564-1077 or peterson.susan@epa.gov. [Federal Register: August 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 159)]

NASA- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration announces that the Lunar Lander Challenge, 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, is now scheduled and teams that wish to compete may now register. The Centennial Challenges Web site is http://centennialchallenges.nasa.gov. [Federal Register: August 18, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 160)]

NOAA- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration requests public comment on a preliminary draft report of the Fire Weather Research Working Group (FWRWG). FWRWG was tasked to examine fire weather-related research efforts conducted by groups external to NOAA and to identify areas of commonality where research activities might be leveraged for mutual benefit. The report is available at http://www.sab.noaa.gov/Reports/FWRWG. Submit comments electronically to noaa.sab.comments@noaa.gov. [Federal Register: August 20, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 162)]

USGS – United States Geologic Survey will host a meeting of the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council (NEPEC). The Council will receive a briefing on the Colaboratory for Study of Earthquake Predictability (CSEP), a report on a workshop on Episodic Tremor and Slip held last winter, and short reports and updates on several other topics. The Council will also discuss the potential need to provide advisory reports on short notice if natural observations suggest an increased earthquake risk, and the form and content of such reports. Meetings of the National Earthquake Prediction Evaluation Council are open to the public. September 10, 2008, commencing at 1 p.m. and adjourning at 4 p.m. on September 11, 2008. The location is the Hilton Palm Springs Resort, 400 East Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, California 92262-6605. [Federal Register: August 26, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 166)]

NOAA – National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – Nominations for Climate Working Group. The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere requested the NOAA Science Advisory Board (SAB) to establish a standing working group to provide scientific advice and broad direction NOAA's climate program in the context of both national and international activities. The Climate Working Group (CWG) focuses on the broad research and operational components of the climate program as well as on the underlying observations and data management issues. The CWG assists NOAA's climate programs in establishing plans, reviewing progress, and setting priorities on a continuing basis. As the terms of current members end, additional members are needed and the SAB is soliciting nominations for four vacancies. Nominations must be received October 27, 2008, and should be submitted electronically to noaa.sab.climate@noaa.gov. For more information contact: Dr. Cynthia Decker, 301-734-1156; cynthia.decker@noaa.gov. [Federal Register: August 27, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 167)]

EPA - The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is holding two public hearings to solicit public comment on the recently proposed regulations for the underground injection of carbon dioxide (CO2) for geologic sequestration under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The SDWA requires EPA to protect underground sources of drinking water. The hearings will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., CDT, September 30, 2008 in Chicago, IL, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., MDT, October 2, 2008 in Denver, CO. For more information on Geologic Sequestration and the Underground Injection Control Program, please visit http://www.epa.gov/safewater/ To register http://gshearing.cadmusweb.com/ . Contact Mary Rose (Molly) Bayer by phone (202) 564-1981, by e-mail at bayer.maryrose@epa.gov [Federal Register: August 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 169)]

DOE- The Department of Energy announces a meeting of the National Petroleum Council (NPC) on September 17, 2008, 9 a.m. The council will review the status of the National Petroleum Council Hard Truths Report. The meeting will be at the Fairmont, Washington, DC, 2401 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20037. For more information contact: James Slutz, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Oil and Natural Gas, Washington, DC 20585. Phone: 202-586-5600. [Federal Register: August 29, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 169)]

OSTP- Office of Science and Technology Policy -Meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) on September 16, 2008. The PCAST is tentatively scheduled to convene three panels. The first panel will address broad policy issues associated with science and engineering education. The second panel will explore the impact of science policy on innovation. The third panel will provide an update on energy-related technologies. The meeting will be held in Room 100 at the Keck Center of the National Academies at 500 5th St., NW, Washington DC. Please submit a request for the opportunity to make a public comment five (5) days in advance of the meeting. Contact: Dr. Scott Steele at (202) 456-6549. [Federal Register: August 29, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 169)]

15. New Updates to the Web

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Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan and Marcy Gallo Staff of Government Affairs Program and by Corina Cerovski-Darriau and Jillian Luchner AGI/AIPG 2008 Summer Interns.

Sources:  San Francisco Chronicle, ABC News, CNN, The New York Times, CongressDaily, Greenwire, E&E Daily, U.S. Geological Survey, OneGeology.org, Seismological Society of America

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

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

Posted August 29, 2008.