Monthly Review: September 2006
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.
with Budget Undone
The 109th Congress adjourned on September 29th with lots of work
left to complete when they return after the mid-term elections for
at least one lame duck session from November 13-17. The biggest task
to complete is the fiscal year 2007 budget for much of the federal
government. Congress is likely to try to combine many separate bills
into one large appropriation bill called an omnibus and if this happens,
then policymakers are also likely to try to balance budget priorities
for such an omnibus by applying a small rescission (probably about
1%) across all programs. It is also possible that Congress will not
be able complete their budget work in November and may return for
an additional lame duck session in January.
Congress passed only two of 12 fiscal year 2007 appropriation bills
- one for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one for the
Department of Defense. The DHS appropriations bill contains a continuing
resolution for the other appropriation bills that have not been completed.
The resolution extends to November 17 and maintains the funding of
all government agencies, except DHS and DOD, at the lower value of
three possible levels: the fiscal year 2006 budget, the House-approved
funding or the Senate committee approved funding. The House completed
work on all 11 of their appropriation bills, however, the 12 Senate
bills have not been considered by the full chamber and thus remain
with their respective committees.
Lawmakers have also been working on a variety of non-appropriation
bills related to research, education, natural resources and natural
hazards. Summaries of the most recent actions on some of these bills
are provided in other sections of this monthly review. Additional
information about these bills and other congressional activities are
available on AGI's Government Affairs web site at: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/index.html
A table of the appropriation bills and their current status is available
on Thomas at:
A summary of appropriations for fiscal year 2007 that are of particular
interest to the geoscience community are available on AGI's Government
Affairs web site at
National Competitiveness Investment Act
Concern about Americans decreasing ability to compete in math, science,
and engineering and its effect on U.S. competitiveness in the global
marketplace has prompted the introduction of the bipartisan National
Competitiveness Investment Act (NCIA) (S.3936)
on September 26, 2006. Senate leaders Bill Frist (R-TN) and Harry
Reid (D-NV), as well as the chairs and ranking members of several
key committees have joined together in a bipartisan fashion to create
this new legislation. The new bill, combines the American Innovation
and Competitiveness bill (S.
2802), a Commerce Committee initiative and the Protecting America's
Competitive Edge (PACE) Energy Bill (S.
2197), an Energy Committee initiative with education incentives
to promote science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and critical
foreign language education, from the Housing, Education, Labor and
If passed, the NCIA would authorize doubling of National Science
Foundation (NSF) basic research over the next five years as well as
increased funding for basic research at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Energy's Office
of Science and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
The bill would also provide early career research grants to young
investigators. The NCIA would create a DARPA-modeled energy program,
ARPA-E, in order to fund exploratory, high-risk energy projects. The
NCIA would also create a new teacher's institute aimed at new math
and science teaching techniques, bolster recruitment and training
of new math and science teachers, sponsor K-12 level math and science
teacher scholarships, and encourage more students to take advanced
placement (AP) and international baccalaureate (IB) courses.
On the House side, the Early Career Research Act (H.R.5356)
and the Science and Mathematics Education for Competitiveness Act
5358) have similar components as the NCIA and would be the likely
pieces of legislation that would be combined with the NCIA if the
Senate and House can move their bills forward during the lame duck
House and Senate
Miles Apart on Offshore Drilling Legislation
The House and Senate were unable to settle their differences on offshore
drilling legislation before the recess and it remains unclear whether
they can resolve these issues when they return in November. The Senate
bill, the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (S.3711)
and the House bill, the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act (DOER, H.R.
4761) set very different limitations on new offshore drilling
for oil in the Gulf of Mexico. The extent of the drilling and the
sharing of the royalty revenues remain the most contentious issues
Within the House bill, part of the federal revenue generated from
offshore drilling royalties would fund the Energy and Mineral Schools
Reinvestment Fund Act (EMSRA). Funds would be distributed to petroleum,
mining, applied geology and geophysics schools to support education
and research and to encourage the growth of professionals in the energy
workforce. Additional funds would be available for K-12 science education.
The House bill would also establish the National Geo Fund to fund
geologic mapping, geophysical and other seismic studies, earthquake
monitoring programs, and preservation and use of geologic and geophysical
BP Pipeline Shutdown
Prompts New Legislation
Both chambers of Congress moved forward this month toward a pipeline
safety overhaul stimulated by significant corrosion problems in BP's
Prudhoe Bay pipelines along the North Slope of Alaska. BP was forced
to halt production after a spill of over 200,000 gallons of oil in
March 2006 followed by a smaller leak in August. The shutdown of Prudhoe
Bay prompted a stream of congressional hearings and new legislation
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Don Young
(R-AK) introduced the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act of 2006 (H.R.
5782) in July, which would regulate low-stress pipelines in "unusually
sensitive areas." H.R. 5782 was referred to the Committee on
Energy and Commerce where it remained with little activity until the
BP pipeline problems emerged. After several hearings on the BP pipeline
problems in the House, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Joe
Barton (R-TX) and Ranking Member John D. Dingell (D-MI) introduced
bipartisan amendments to H.R. 5782 which would enhance operator inspection
and cleaning rules on most rural low-stress pipelines with a few exceptions,
regulating more pipelines than the original bill.
In the Senate, Senator Ted Stevens (R-AK) introduced the Pipeline
Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006 (S.
3961) on September 27th which regulates the same low-stress pipelines
as the Barton-Dingell amendment. Both plans call for the authorization
of grants for pipeline damage prevention programs, public summaries
of enforcement actions against pipeline operators and minimum standards
for integrity management programs for gas distribution in areas close
Barton expressed confidence that legislation would be passed by the
end of the year.
For summaries of recent pipeline hearings, please see
House Approves Alternative
On September 29th, hours before Congress adjourned, the House approved
the Alternative Energy Research and Development Act (H.R.
5656) which brings together a series of smaller bills considered
by the Science Committee. The bill authorizes $402 million for alternative
energy research, particularly biofuels, hydrogen, plug-in hybrid vehicles
and green building technology. The bill also requests a National Academy
of Sciences study of the Advanced Research Projects for Energy (ARPA-E)
initiative. The initiative was suggested in the National Academy report,
"Rising Above the Gathering Storm" and has been proposed
in several competitiveness bills introduced in 2006. There is no comparable
bill being considered in the Senate and this bill is not likely to
advance in the lame duck session.
Bill to Create an Independent Mineral Resource Agency
On September 14th, the House introduced legislation to create an
independent mineral commodity resource administration within the Department
of the Interior. The legislation, entitled "The Resource Origin
and Commodity Knowledge (ROCK) Act" (H.R.
6080), sponsored by Thelma Drake (R-VA) would establish an administrator
(appointed by the President) who would report directly to the Secretary
of the Interior. The bill would require the transfer of not less than
200 full time equivalent positions from the U.S. Geological Survey
and not less than 100 full time equivalent positions from the rest
of the Department to this new agency.
The new agency would provide mineral commodity data that is currently
produced by the U.S. Geological Survey. In addition, the new administrator
would be required to prepare an analysis of "the foreign and
domestic mineral commodities that will be required by the United States
to sustain the energy supply, demand, and prices projected by the
[Energy Information Administration's] Annual Energy Outlook analysis."
The bill was referred to the House Committee on Resources and the
subcommittee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on the
bill on September 20th. David Kanagy, the Executive Director of the
Society of Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, one of AGI's Member
Societies, testified at the hearing about the need for unbiased, timely
and accurate mineral commodity data. There is no comparable legislation
currently being considered by the Senate and the House bill is unlikely
to advance through the 109th Congress during their brief lame-duck
Open Access Legislation
Garners More External Support
An open access bill introduced in the Senate in May 2006 is still
awaiting congressional action. The Federal Research Public Access
Act of 2006 (S. 2695) would require each federal agency with extramural
research expenditures of over $100 million to develop a specified
federal research public access policy that is consistent with and
advances the purposes of the agency. The bill is sponsored by Senators
John Cornyn (R-TX), Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
and is still waiting for consideration within the Committee on Homeland
Security and Governmental Affairs, which is chaired by Senator Susan
Collins (R-ME). There is no comparable legislation that is currently
being considered in the House and given the limited amount of time
left for the 109th Congress to complete their work, it is very unlikely
this bill will be approved by the Senate, let alone Congress.
There has been some strong support for open access legislation from
external groups, such as health and patients rights advocates, a spectrum
of organizations that favor open access and universities. This strong
external support has kept policymakers from both chambers looking
for ways to include open access in legislation. Although the House
did not introduce a separate bill on open access like the Senate,
there is language in the House fiscal year 2007 appropriations bill
for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that would require the
NIH Public Access Policy to be mandatory, instead of voluntary and
there is language in a House bill for the reauthorization of NIH that
would require greater oversight of the public access policy to determine
if it is effective. The House has not approved either bill and there
is no such language in the related Senate bills. At this time, it
seems likely that the House language will be dropped when the two
chambers conference on these bills in order to complete the approval
process in a timely fashion. Given the strong external support for
open access, the 110th Congress is likely to pursue this issue again.
House Approves NOAA
On September 20, the House Committee on Science approved the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Organic Act (HR
5450) introduced by House Science Environment, Technology, and
Standards Subcommittee Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI). According to
a Committee press release, this bill would clarify and codify the
functions and responsibilities of NOAA for the first time in the agency's
history. It would also increase congressional oversight of the agency.
The Joint Ocean Commission Initiative, made up of members of earlier
ocean advisory committees, said that more than 20 measures have been
proposed since 1971 in order to codify the agency, yet none have ever
been carried out to completion. As a result, NOAA still operates under
an Executive Order from 1970.
Although HR 5450 has advanced further in the House than previous
bills, no comparable legislation has been passed in the Senate. Moreover,
the legislation lacks a provision on oceans and fisheries, areas under
the jurisdiction of the House Resources Committee. Prospects of completing
NOAA's codification this year seem slim given the limited time for
lame duck congressional sessions and the gaps in the current legislation.
Hurricane Research Bill
Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL), Bill Nelson (D-FL) and David Vitter
(R-LA) announced the introduction of a new bill entitled "The
National Hurricane Research Initiative" at a September 25th press
conference in the Capitol. The new bill would provide funding for
the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to improve understanding
of hurricane movement and intensity and how hurricanes interact with
the coast and the built environment when they strike land. The bill
is partially based on recommendations from a draft report of the National
Science Board entitled "Hurricane Warning: The Critical Need
for a National Hurricane Research Initiative". See summary below
for more information about the draft report and an opportunity for
public comment on the report.
There is no comparable legislation currently being considered in
the House, so this bill is unlikely to advance in the 109th Congress.
It may be re-introduced, however, when the 110th Congress begins a
new session in January, 2007.
House and Senate
Nearly Finished with Water Resources Bill
The two chambers ran out of time to reconcile their differences on
two bills meant to re-authorize the Water Resources Act. The Senate
costs $15 billion, while the House version, H.R.
2864 costs $12 billion. Besides the differences in costs, the
primary sticking point is probably the Senate provision on Army Corps
of Engineers reform, stricter mitigation requirements and corps independent
review. Congressional experts also hinted that lawmakers are uneasy
about passing a pork-laden bill before the mid-term elections. It
is very likely that Congress will reconcile their differences during
the lame-duck session and send a bill to President Bush to sign in
Senate and House
Approve Drought Legislation
During the last week in September, the Senate and the House approved
bills establishing a National Integrated Drought Information System
(NIDIS) in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
The system would create an early-warning system for droughts and improved
drought mitigation and response tactics. According to a Senate press
release, President Bush has also expressed his support for a NIDIS
NOAA reported that droughts cost $6 to $8 billion in estimated losses
to the U.S. economy each year. The bill's co-sponsor Senator Ben Nelson
(D-NB) said the program would take pressure off Congress to pass emergency
aid when crops fail during dry years. "We could mitigate losses
and ultimately limit the need for large drought relief packages,"
The Senate bill (S.
2751), also co-sponsored by Pete V. Domenici (R-NM), would authorize
$59 million through fiscal year 2012 for the program. The House bill
5136), co-sponsored by Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Mark Udall (D-CO)
would authorize $81 million through 2012. Although the bills differ,
some lawmakers think it will be easy to settle these differences and
get the bill approved by Congress during the lame-duck session in
of America Holds Drought Briefing for Congress
The Geological Society of America (GSA) in cooperation with the Congressional
Hazards Caucus sponsored a briefing on drought on September 27. The
briefing, entitled "Drought: Strategies to Ensure Adequate Water
Resources for Future Generations" featured three speakers, Dr.
Stephen Wells, President of the Desert Research Institute and current
President of GSA, Dr. Donald Wilhite, Director of the National Drought
Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and Ms. Hope
Mizzell, the State Climatologist of South Carolina.
Wells and Wilhite focused their talks on the preliminary science
and policy roadmap from a GSA meeting on drought, held September 18-20.
Mizzell discussed the impacts of drought on South Carolina and emphasized
that drought is not just an issue for states west of the Mississippi.
Senator Ben Nelson (D-NE) spoke at the briefing about the importance
of additional data and research on drought to help mitigate the impacts
of future drought events. He also summarized the status of recent
drought legislation in Congress (see the NIDIS summary above). A summary
of the briefing and the presentations of the speakers are available
on the Congressional Hazards Caucus Alliance web page at www.hazardscaucus.org/events.html
Mary Cleave the associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate
has announced that she will resign this spring, according to a news
report in Science Magazine. Cleave a former astronaut with more than
262 hours in space, was a research phycologist and environmental engineer
before becoming an astronaut and she worked on several earth-observing
missions for NASA laboratories after her tenure in space. She was
named the associate administrator for science by Michael Griffin,
shortly after he became the NASA administrator. Cleave has had the
difficult task of dealing with cuts to space, planetary and earth
science programs and trying to explain the rationale for these cuts
to the research community.
In late August, three prominent scientists on the NASA Advisory Committee
(NAC) resigned after conflicts with Michael Griffin about research
priorities. The NAC, was re-organized last year and is now directed
by geologist Harrison Schmitt (former Apollo astronaut and Senator).
The NAC has been having trouble offering advice to Griffin on the
appropriate balance of science and space exploration and this difficulty
has sparked the resignations. Charles Kennel, director of the Scripps
Institution of Oceanography in San Diego, California resigned as the
chair of the NAC, while former NASA space science chief Wesley Huntress,
who is now the director of the Geophysical Laboratory at the Carnegie
Institution of Washington and Provost Eugene Levy of Rice University
were asked to step aside by Griffin.
Mark Myers Becomes
the 14th Director of the USGS
Mark Myers became the 14th Director of the United States Geological
Survey on September 26, 2006 after he was unanimously approved by
the Senate on September 14th.
Mark Myers previously served as the Director of Alaska's Division
of Oil and Gas, a position that he held for five years. He is also
a past president and board member of the Alaska Geological Society;
a certified professional geologist with the American Institute of
Professional Geologists; a certified petroleum geologist with the
American Association of Petroleum Geologists; and a licensed geologist
with the State of Alaska. He received his doctorate in geology from
the University of Alaska-Fairbanks in 1994, specializing in sedimentology,
clastic depositional environments, surface and subsurface sequence
analysis and sandstone petrography. Myers earned his B.S. and M.S.
degrees in geology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Scientists and Engineers
Visit Congress in September
The Coalition for National Science Funding, which AGI is a member
of, sponsored congressional visits by engineers and scientists on
September 13th. About 80 visitors, from 27 societies visited more
than 100 staffers for congressional members from 25 different states.
At least 10 geoscientists from the American Geophysical Union and
the Geological Society of America were among the participants. In
some cases, visitors were able to meet directly with their Members
of Congress. During an evening reception the night before, Congressmen
Vernon Ehlers (R-MI), Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), Rush Holt (D-NJ) and
Bart Gordon (D-TN) gave speeches and met with scientists and engineers.
The participants were also given information about congressional activities
and how to conduct a congressional visit during an afternoon orientation
the day before. Overall it was a good opportunity to be a citizen
scientist, highlight the importance of science and engineering, learn
more about Congress, talk to policymakers and network with other scientists
and engineers with shared policy concerns.
Day: May 1 and 2, 2007
Congressional Visits Day (CVD) has been scheduled for May 1 and 2,
2007 by the Science, Engineering and Technology Working Group (SET).
The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geophysical
Union and the Geological Society of America are members of SET and
encourage geoscientists to sign-up with their respective societies
to participate. AGI is also a member of SET and can help geoscientists
affiliated with AGI's other Member Societies participate in these
visits. Please contact Linda Rowan, AGI Government Affairs for more
SET CVD is an annual two-day event that brings scientists, engineers,
researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington, DC
to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology.
Uniquely multi-sector and multi-disciplinary, the SET CVD is coordinated
by coalitions of companies, professional societies and educational
institutions and it is open to all who believe that science and technology
are the cornerstone of our Nation's future. The two-day event consists
of a series of briefings and meetings highlighted with visits to your
The objective of SET CVD is to raise awareness of the long-term importance
of science, engineering and technology to the Nation through face-to-face
meetings with Members of Congress, congressional staff, key Administration
officials and other decision-makers.
Details about previous CVD events are available at:
EPA Issues New Rules
The Clean Air Act Extension of 1970 requires the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA) to review its air standards every five years to account
for updated scientific information. In early September 2006, the EPA
had not adjusted its standards since their creation in 1997. A court
order mandated the agency to do so by September 27. On September 21,
EPA administrator, Stephen L. Johnson, announced new regulations on
soot (particles less than 2.5 micrometers). The new EPA guidelines
for soot ignored recommendations from EPA staff and science advisors
by reducing only one of two standards.
The new rules require daily standards that influence acute exposure
to be reduced from 65 micrograms per cubic meter to 35. Although the
EPA's Clean Air Scientific Advisory Council pushed for the annual
soot standard to be reduced to 12 to 14 micrograms per cubic meter
from 15, the longer-term standard that influences chronic exposure
remains at its 1997 value.
New EPA soot regulations drew criticism from both sides of the spectrum.
Industry representatives said that the standards will drastically
hurt the economy and lead to a loss in jobs. "We think EPA has
jumped the gun by adopting a more stringent standard before the existing
standards have been given a chance to work," said Dan Riedinger,
a Con Edison spokesperson.
Clean Air Watch, an environmental lobbying group, was among many
health and environmental organizations dismayed by what they see as
an action that does not go far enough. Frank O'Donnell, the head of
the group said, "This E.P.A. decision will allow particle soot
to continue killing many thousands of Americans that would be spared
if the air were cleaned up."
The EPA estimated that the cut in daily emissions would result in
the prevention of "2,500 premature deaths in people with heart
or lung disease; 2,600 chronic bronchitis cases; 5,000 nonfatal heart
attacks," among other improvements.
"Wherever the science gave us a clear picture, we took clear
action," Mr. Johnson said. "The bottom line is these air
standards are more protective today than they were yesterday,"
For more information on the EPA rules, please visit
CBO Report Calls
for Cap on Greenhouse Gases
A 19-page Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report, released on September
18th, noted that a plan to curb greenhouse gas emissions would require
new regulations mandating caps on industry emissions coupled with
greater funds for research and development in climate change technology.
Government regulations may take the form of a tax on emissions or
a market-based system, like a cap-and-trade program. The CBO stated
that a plan requiring both components would be far more effective
than enactment of just one part of the plan.
Congress has repeatedly rejected suggestions to cap greenhouse gas
emissions. The Bush Administration and critics of suggested regulations
proclaim that such measures will hurt the U.S. economy. Alternatively,
they hope for "voluntary industry-government partnerships"
and increased efforts in climate change technology research and development.
The report came right before three congressional hearings on climate
change policies proposed by the Bush Administration. The Climate Change
Technology Program (CCTP) aims to bolster efforts toward technology
research and development. A number of the program's critics, including
Chairman of the House Science Committee Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY),
stated specifically that the problem with the program is "technology
deployment." It creates a large supply of climate change technology,
but does not address demand. Caps on greenhouse gas emissions provide
one solution to this issue.
Senators James Jeffords (I-VT) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) are pleased
with the CBO's report and hope that it will provide more momentum
for proposed climate change legislation. Jeffords sponsored S. 3698,
a far-reaching bill to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to their 1990
level by 2010. Bingaman has been working on more moderate climate
change legislation, but he doubts that any legislation will be passed
The CBO report can be viewed at:
DOE Completes Climate
Change Technology Program Strategic Plan
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released the Climate Change Technology
Program (CCTP) Strategic Plan, which details how about $3 billion
will be spent to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. U.S Secretary of
Energy Samuel W. Bodman said "This Strategic Plan is unprecedented
in its scope and scale and breaks new ground with its visionary 100-year
planning horizon, global perspective, multi-lateral research collaborations,
and public private partnerships." In the plan, technological
advances related to "hydrogen, biorefining, clean coal, carbon
sequestration, and nuclear fission and fusion" were noted as
having the highest potential to reduce emissions.
To view the CCTP Strategic Plan, please visit the CCTP website at:
Army Corps of Engineers
Lacks Plan for Katrina Levees
The Army Corps of Engineers has no strategic plan as of yet for the
$7 billion appropriated for levee system repairs in the aftermath
of Katrina, said a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released
on September 6. The GAO cautioned that if no plan develops soon, New
Orleans will see a repeat of the piecemeal approach that resulted
in disastrous systemic failures last year.
Thus far, the Corps has spent $1 billion on Louisiana's southeastern
levee system, more than the $738 million required for the cost of
the original system over 40 years. More resources will be required
for adding pumps, canal gates and improving levees and pump stations.
No long-term strategy is required until December 2007, though early
estimates predict the cost for significant upgrades to protect from
higher intensity hurricanes (category 4 or higher) will range from
$10 to 20 billion.
The GAO reported that while an external review organization established
by the Corps suggested that hurricane protection systems should be
"deliberately designed and built as integrated systems,"
the Corps lacks any sort of comprehensive plan for resourceful use
of federal funds over time and continues on its path of previous mistakes
ignoring interrelationships and integration between various elements
of the project.
To view the GAO report, click here.
Report on Critical
Need for Hurricane Research: Public Comments Requested
The National Science Board (NSB) of the National Science Foundation
has completed a draft report entitled "Hurricane Warning: The
Critical Need for a National Hurricane Research Initiative".
NSB held a joint press conference with Senators Mel Martinez (R-FL),
Bill Nelson (D-FL) and David Vitter (R-LA) to discuss the preliminary
findings of the report and the introduction of related legislation
by the senators. The report concludes that $300 million in additional
federal spending is needed to better understand the destructive nature
of hurricanes and calls for the rapid development of a national research
The public is invited to provide e-mail comments on this draft to
NSBHSE@nsf.gov until Sunday,
October 29, 2006.
The full text of the draft report is available on the NSB web site
Report Calls for Changes in K-8 Science Education
On September 21, the National Academies released a report entitled
"Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in K-8".
The report urges significant changes in the approach to teaching science
to young students in kindergarten through 8th grade. The report notes
"Today's standards are still too broad, resulting in superficial
coverage of science that fails to link concepts or develop them over
successive grades". The report noted that memorizing facts was
not effective and students are much more sophisticated learners who
should be challenged through a wide variety of learning experiences.
These experiences would include "conducting investigations; sharing
ideas with peers; talking and writing in specialized ways; and using
mechanical, mathematical, and computer-based models." The full
text of the report is available at www.nap.edu
Report on Gender
Bias in Academia
The National Academies released a report entitled "Beyond Bias
and Barriers: Fulfilling the Potential of Women in Academic Science
and Engineering" on the detriments of gender bias in academia.
The report called for immediate action by professors, administrators
and government in order to eliminate barriers in hiring and promotion
that deprive the U.S. of an intrinsic and essential body of talent.
The NAS study examined research on brain function and hormonal modulations
and found no biological differences between males and females which
would inhibit accomplishments in math and science. Biological factors
could not account for the low percentages of women scientists and
engineers with tenured faculty positions, the lower rate of promotion
of women and the lower pay of women compared to men in equivalent
academic positions. Instead decades of cognitive research, controlled
experimental studies and analyses of decision-making processes indicate
that gender bias is real and prevalent in academia and therefore,
can and does account for the more limited participation of women in
The findings of the National Academies study resulted in recommendations
to universities to provide evidence of a "fair, broad, and aggressive
search" before approving appointments. Also, the report recommends
the creation of a self-monitoring body to take control of the interview
process and keep extensive data and statistics on hiring. Finally,
leaders should implement hiring, tenure, and promotion policies that
do not sacrifice quality to meet rigid timelines and are flexible
in allowing faculty to pass through various life stages. Federal agencies
must provide the technical and administrative support for institutions
to achieve these goals.
The full NAS report on gender bias is available at:
Replaced Because of Evolution Dispute
According to a news report in Science Magazine, the Vatican is replacing
George Coyne, the Vatican astronomer since 1978 and a vocal and eloquent
critic of intelligent design, with astronomer and Jesuit priest Jose
Gabriel Funes from Argentina. Coyne was involved in a public dispute
about evolution with Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who is a close
adviser to Pope Benedict XVI. Schonborn became part of the U.S. debate
on evolution after the publication of his Op-Ed article "Finding
Design in Nature" in the New York Times in 2005, which advocated
for intelligent design. Coyne will remain on the staff of the Vatican
Observatory Research Group at the University of Arizona, Tucson.
Physics Papers Free
Online with One Small Catch
The American Physical Society (APS) will make full-text articles
of their physics journals available for free online after someone
pays a one-time fee for the article. There are no restrictions on
who pays the one-time fee, which ranges from $975 for an article in
Physical Review to $1300 for an article in Physical Review Letters.
An author, a department, a laboratory or even a government agency
can pay the fee. APS hopes this option will lead to fuller access
to their journals.
Consortium to Hold
Technical Forums on Oil and Natural Gas
According to the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA),
the Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA) will
hold technical forums to facilitate communication on regional issues,
create networking opportunities, and discuss pressing issues facing
the oil and natural gas industry. The format will generally include
a one day forum with multiple speakers, panel discussions, as well
as question and answer sessions. RPSEA was founded as a research and
development program under Section 999 of the Energy Policy Act of
2005 with the goal of encouraging development of advanced technologies.
RPSEA members include private sector companies, trade associations,
both state and national, in addition to academic institutions. More
information about RPSEA is available at their web site: www.rpsea.org
Forums scheduled to date:
University of Houston
Topic: Seismic Exploration and Production
Date: October 10th
Massachusetts Institute of Technology/Schlumberger
Topic: Autonomous Intervention for Deepwater Oil and Gas Operations
Date: October 31st
Colorado School of Mines
Topic Tight Gas/Coalbed methane
Date November 14th
University of Southern California and others
Topic: West Coast Topic TBD
Date: November 29th
University of Oklahoma
Topic: Gas Shales (comparison to the Barnett)
Date: First week in December
New Mexico Tech
Topic: Produced Water/Special needs of the Small Producer
Date: Second week in December
This summary was provided courtesy of IPAA.
Weather and Climate
Community Will Meet to Develop Priorities
The American Meteorological Society's Board on Enterprise Communication
(BEC) and the Weather Coalition will co-host a Town Hall at the January
2007 AMS Annual Meeting entitled "Developing Community Priorities:
Moving Our Weather And Climate Community Forward." The purpose
of the Town Hall is to identify and discuss the major issues facing
the entire weather and climate community and to discuss how to improve
the community's effectiveness. The discussion will cover a range of
priorities including R&D, observation systems, operations, and
end user requirements. A panel of experts from industry, academia,
and scientific and professional associations, will be asked to respond
to a draft statement about the community's top priorities. After opening
comments, the panelists will take questions and respond to comments
from the audience.
The draft statement on top community priorities is now available
for review on the AMS (www.ametsoc.org)
and the Weather Coalition (www.weathercoalition.org)
websites. All stakeholders are able to post comments on the AMS CWCE
Message Board (http://amsforums.ametsoc.org/tool/mb/amscwceforum?forum=32319),
which will feed directly into the Town Hall meeting in January.
This summary was provided courtesy of the Weather Coalition and AMS.
Scientists and Engineers
for America Advocates for Scientific Integrity
On September 27th, a group of scientists and engineers announced
a new organization called "Scientists and Engineers for America"
that will be "dedicated to electing public officials who respect
evidence and understand the importance of using scientific and engineering
advice in making public policy". The group will be a 527 organization
under the U.S. tax laws, which means it can be involved in elections
and that contributions to the group are not tax deductible. 527 groups
advocate for specific issues, but not specific candidates and therefore
are not regulated by the Federal Elections Commission. The organization
indicates that it will be non-partisan and their primary goal is to
protect the integrity of science. The board includes Nobel laureates
Peter Agre and Alfred Gilman and former Clinton science advisors John
Gibbons and Neal Lane. The group has posted a "Bill of Rights
for Scientists and Engineers" on their web site and currently
has about 2500 members.
More information about the new organization is available at their
Earth Science Week:
Earth Science Week runs
from October 8 to 14. The theme "Be a Citizen Scientist"
was selected to engage students and the public in conducting real
"citizen science" research and help spread science literacy.
The 2006 Toolkit is available and includes a school-year calendar
running from August 2006 through July 2007 that features classroom
activities, important geoscience information, and dates of relevant
current events and Earth science milestones for each month. The Toolkit
also features an overview of citizen-science and geoscience resources
available from USGS, a NASA brochure detailing geoscience education
programs and products, a National Parks DVD, a 24-page NOAA booklet
on climate, a Scholastic/AGI poster for elementary-level Earth science
teachers, and more.
Science Fellowships: AIP and NAS
I. The American Institute of Physics (AIP) is now seeking applicants
2007-2008 State Department Fellowships. Fellows can make a unique
and substantial contribution to the foreign policy process by providing
scientific and technological expertise to addresses complex issues
ranging from energy policy to homeland security.
Qualified members of any of the 10 AIP Member Societies, including
are eligible to apply. Please see www.aip.org/gov/sdf.html
for details or contact Audrey Leath (email@example.com)
for more information. Applications are due by November 1, 2006.
II. The National Academies is accepting applications for Jefferson
Science Fellows at the U.S. Department of State. Fellows will work
for one year in a State Department office and routinely provide cutting
edge expertise on relevant science and technology issues. Applicants
must be tenured academic scientists and engineers from U.S. institutions.
The application deadline is December 1, 2006. For more information
L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
The American Geological Institute is accepting applications for the
2007-2008 William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship. The
successful candidate will spend 12 months (starting in September 2007)
in Washington DC working as a staff member in the office of a member
of Congress or a congressional committee. The postmark deadline for
2007-2008 fellowship applications is February 1, 2007. Prospective
applicants should have a broad geoscience background and excellent
written and oral communications skills. The fellowship carries an
annual stipend of up to $55,000 plus allowances for health insurance,
relocation, and travel. Interested candidates should submit a cover
letter and a curriculum vitae with three letters of reference to:
William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
American Geological Institute
4220 King Street
Alexandria VA 22302-1502
Several of AGI's Member Societies also sponsor Congressional Science
Fellowships. For further information, contact the American Geophysical
Union, the Geological Society of America or the Soil Science Society
of America. AAAS also offers a number of fellowships for Congress
and the executive branch. It is acceptable to apply to more than one
society. Stipends, application procedures, eligibility, timetables,
and deadlines vary.
For more information on the AGI fellowship and links to other fellowships
AGI Government Affairs
The application deadline for the AGI Geoscience and Public Policy
Internship is approaching, on October 15, 2006. 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 fall internship
or the spring or summer internships 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 www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/frcont05.html.
Information on submitting comments and reading announcements are also
available online at www.regulation.gov.
NOAA: The National Oceanic Service (NOS) and Office of Ocean and
Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) are soliciting coastal and estuarine
land conservation acquisition projects from eligible coastal states.
Eligible coastal states may submit up to three project proposals (funding
not to exceed $3 million per project) which must be received by the
NOS/OCRM no later that 11.59 p.m. EST, October 27, 2006. Full funding
opportunity announcement and application materials available at www.grants.gov,
For further information contact Elaine Vaudeuil at (301) 713-3166
[Federal Register: September 1, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 170)]
Department of Labor: The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
proposed a new regulation for greater mine operator compliance and
improved safety and health for miners that is available at http://www.regulations.gov.
Comments must be received before October 23, 2006. MSHA will four
public hearings on the rule in October. For further information contact
Patricia W. Silvey at (202) 693-9440 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Federal Register: September 8, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 174)]
NSF: The Grants Policy Committee of the US Chief Financial Officer
Council will hold an open stakeholder meeting and webcast on Wednesday,
October 25, 2006, 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in Room B-180 of the U.S. Department
of Housing and Urban Development at 451 7th Street SW., Washington,
DC 20410. To reserve your seat, contact Charisse Carey-Nunes National
at (703) 292-5056 or email@example.com. Further information is available
[Federal Register: September 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 177)]
DOE: The State Energy Advisory Board (STEAB) will hold an open meeting
on October 18, 2006 from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Oct. 19, 2006 from 8
a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Oct. 20, 2006 from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m at Oak
Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) located at the Courtyard by Marriott,
The Hotels at Cedar Bluff, 216 Langley Place, Knoxville, TN 37922.
For further information contact Gary Burch at (303) 275-4801.
[Federal Register: September 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 178)]
NASA: The NASA Advisory Council will hold an open meeting on Thursday,
October 12, 2006, 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Goddard Space Flight Center
(GSFC), Building 1, Rooms E100 D and E, 8800 Greenbelt Road, Greenbelt,
MD 20771-0001. For further information contact Christopher Blackerby
at (202) 358-4688.
[Federal Register: September 14, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 178)]
DOI: USGS will hold an open meeting of the Advisory Committee on
Water Information (ACWI) on October 4, 2006 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:15
p.m. at the U.S. Geological Survey, Dallas L. Peck Auditorium, 12201
Sunrise Valley Drive, Reston, Virginia. For further information contact
Toni J. Johnson at (703) 648-6810 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Federal Register: September 15, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 179)]
NOAA: Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Product Development Committee
(CPDC) announced the Synthesis and Assessment of Product 5.3 - "Decision
Support Experiments and Evaluations using Seasonal to Interannual
Forecasts and Observational Data." For more information contact
Dr. Nancy Beller-Simms at (301) 427-2351 or Nancy.Beller-Simms@noaa.gov.
[Federal Register: September 18, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 180)]
NOAA: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and
Assessment Products draft report on the First State of the Carbon
Cycle Report (SOCCR): The North American Carbon Budget and Implications
for the Global Carbon Cycle is available for public comment. The draft
report can be found at www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap2-2/default.htm.
Comments must be received by November 3, 2006. For further information
contact Fabien Laurier at (202) 223-6262 x3481.
[Federal Register: September 19, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 181)]
DOE: The Methane Hydrate Advisory Committee of the Office of Fossil
Energy will hold an open meeting Wednesday, November 8, 2006, 8 a.m.
to 5 p.m., and Thursday, November 9, 2006, 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
at the Marriott West Loop-by the Galleria, 1750 West Loop South, Houston,
TX 77027. For further information contact Edith Allison at (202)586-1023.
[Federal Register: September 20, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 182)]
EPA: The Control of Air Pollution from New Motor Vehicles was issued
to yield the correct number of credits for refineries and importers
that produce Geographic Phase-in Area (GPA) gasoline and eliminate
the generation of windfall credits by refineries or importers that
have gasoline sulfur baselines below 150 ppm sulfur. For further information
contact Mary Manners at (734) 214-4053, email@example.com
or look online at www.regulations.gov.
[Federal Register: September 20, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 182)]
NSF: The National Science Foundation will hold open proposal review
meetings throughout the year to provide advice and recommendations
concerning proposals submitted to the NSF for financial support. Most
meetings will be held at NSF, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia
22230. For an advance listing of meetings visit the NSF Website www.nsf.gov.
[Federal Register: September 21, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 183)]
NSF: The Advisory Committee for Environmental Research and Education
will hold an open meeting on October 18, 2006, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m. and
October 19, 2006, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at Stafford II, Room 555, National
Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia 22230.
For further information contact Alan Tessier at (703) 292-7198.
[Federal Register: September 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 184)]
NSF: The Committee on Equal Opportunities in Science and Engineering
will hold an open meeting on October 17, 2006, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m.
and October 18, 2006, 8:30 a.m.-2 p.m. at the National Science Foundation,
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 375, Arlington, VA 22230. For further
information contact Dr. Margaret E.M. Tolbert at (703) 292-8040 or
[Federal Register: September 22, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 184)]
DOI: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will accept comments on
a proposed rule to establish a commercial leasing program for oil
shale until October 25, 2006. The Commercial Oil Shale Leasing Program
is available at www.regulations.gov.
Comments should be mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Administrative
Record, Room 401LS, 1849 C Street, NW, Washington, DC 20240, hand-delivered
to the Bureau of Land Management, Administrative Record, Room 401,
1620 L Street, NW., Washington, DC 20036 or e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject titled "Attn: 1004-AD90."
[Federal Register: September 26, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 186)]
New Updates to
The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs
portion of AGI's web site www.agiweb.org/gap
since the last monthly update:
Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
and Rachel Bleshman, 2006 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.
Sources: SPARC Open Access Newsletter, Science, National Academies,
Weather Coalition, Independent Petroleum Association of America, Thomas,
New York Times, Congressional Quarterly, Energy and Environment Daily,
House Resources Committee, The Informer, NOAA Office of Legislative
Affairs, American Institute of Physics and the Federal Register.
This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs
Program (GAP) Advisory Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies,
and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort
to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community
that it serves. Prior updates can be found on the AGI web site under
"Public Policy" <http://www.agiweb.org>.
For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit
the web site or contact us at <email@example.com>
or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted October 4, 2006.