Monthly Review: September 2007


This monthly review goes out to the leadership of AGI's member societies, members of the AGI Government Affairs Advisory Committee, and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

1. Earth Science Week Coming in October
2. Federal Government Budget Put on Hold
3. College Relief Act Signed Into Law
4. Congress Considers Testing in No Child Left Behind
5. Congress Passes Water Resources Legislation
6. Senate Discusses Law of the Sea
7. Congress Still Digging Away at Mining Law Reform
8. Climate Change Legislation Considered a "Hard Bugger"
9. Energy Bill May Go To a Conference Committee
10. House Oversight Committee Requests Coalbed Methane Study
11. White House Releases Freshwater Report
12. Homeland Security Opens Space Imagery Office
13. National Academies Review Climate Change Program
14. National Academies Will Study Integrity of Research Data
15. Congressional Briefing on Earthquakes and Tsunamis
16. House Soils Caucus Grows
17. Cave Conservation Café in Washington DC
18. AGI Welcomes Our Fall Intern, Liz Landau
19. AGI Seeks Spring Geopolicy Intern
20. Foreign Aid and State Department Science Fellowships Available
21. Key Federal Register Notices
22. New Updates to the Web

1. Earth Science Week Coming in October

Earth Science Week with a theme of "Pulses of Earth Science" will run from October 14 to 20, 2007. This year marks the tenth annual Earth Science Week. With this theme, Earth Science Week activities will promote public and professional awareness of the status of Earth science in education and society. The theme will also focus attention on geosciences research, such as that associated with the International Polar Year (IPY) and the International Year of Planet Earth (IYPE), of which AGI is a founding partner. Through these major initiatives Earth Science Week will help spread understanding of the impact the Earth sciences have on society.

Learn more about Earth Science Week contests, check out the Earth Science Week Calendar and the cool monthly learning exercises, find out about Earth Science Week activities in your local community and learn how you can organize an Earth Science Week activity in your community. During Earth Science Week, AGI will also launch a web page that describes the status, requirements and curricula related to Earth science in every state. Check back in mid-October to see how your state fares in Earth science education and learn how you can make a difference in strengthening Earth science education for all. Find these and more ideas by visiting http://www.earthsciweek.org/

2. Federal Government Budget Put on Hold

Congress was unable to pass all 12 of its appropriation bills by the October 1, 2007 start of fiscal year 2008. Instead they passed a continuing resolution (CR) which will keep the government running at fiscal year 2007 levels until November 16. President Bush signed the CR and chastised Congress for not completing the budget on time.

A CR is not a healthy option for federal funding of research and education. Most of the federal agencies that fund the geosciences are slated to receive increases in fiscal year 2008, but the CR puts these increases on hold and will likely reduce the overall increases that agencies may receive if the budget process is completed. In addition, the CR means that new programs cannot be initiated, new funding opportunities cannot be advertised and overall budgets are in a state of heightened uncertainty, which will harm planning for short and long-term projects.

The House has completed all 12 of their appropriations bills, while the Senate has completed 4 bills (Homeland Security, Military Life, Legislative Branch and Transportation). The Senate is expected to finish the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations this week. The bill includes increases for the National Science Foundation, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute for Standards and Technology. Once the Senate version is approved, the two versions will go through a conference committee and hopefully be approved soon afterwards by Congress. The House bill would provide $53.6 billion for CJS, while the current Senate bill would provide a total of $54.6 billion versus the President's request of $51.3 billion.

President Bush has promised to veto this bill if the funding levels are higher than his request, but so far there is no indication that Congress will attempt to cut any funding. Should the President veto the bill, Congress is unlikely to have the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto and will have to work out the differences. At a press conference on October 2, however, Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) the chair of the CJS subcommittee said "We will pass our bill and override a veto." While other policy makers have not expressed this much confidence, there are enough votes in the Senate to override a veto and based on the House vote on the CJS appropriations bill, the House is just nine votes shy of enough to override a veto.

Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that the Democrats will try to send 3 bills to the President and see if he vetoes them. CJS, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education and Defense may be among the three test cases. President Bush is holding firm to his threat of a veto of any spending that is over his requested budget and has also indicated he will have no patience for an expensive omnibus bill that might arrive at the last minute before Congress adjourns for the year. David Obey (D-WI), Chair of the House Appropriations Committee and Robert Byrd, Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee expressed consternation with some of President Bush's remarks and defended their appropriation bills. Congressman Obey is hoping for compromise, while Senator Byrd has repeatedly noted that the appropriations bills are only $22 billion (or less than 1% of the total budget) above the President's request, which is less than last year's difference and much less than the President's recent request for a $190 billion emergency supplemental for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Congress and the Administration are likely to continue their battle on spending priorities with the domestic budget for the federal government pitted against the emergency supplemental for the wars. So far the Administration has shown no willingness to compromise on any specific budget details, but is holding firm to broad budget benchmarks. Congress on the other hand, believes the President's budget benchmarks are just too low for vital domestic programs and wants increases. If no solutions are forthcoming, Congress is likely to pass another continuing resolution that extends until December 21. Hopefully the heated rhetoric that leads to media headlines belies some cool-headed compromises going on behind the scenes as the nation can ill-afford stopgap budgeting of domestic programs for much longer.

3. College Relief Act Signed Into Law

In September, Congress passed the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 which would cut interest rates on student loans and provide more funds for scholarship grants. Hailed as the largest investment in college financial aid since the GI bill of 1944, the $20 billion measure was approved with strong bipartisan support. Specifically the bill would cut student loan interest rates in half from 6.8% in July 2006 to 3.4% in July 2011, and increase the maximum amount of Pell Grants by more than $1,000. The measure will reduce special allowance payments and increase by 0.5% loan fees charged to lenders. In addition the bill invests in minority serving institutions and provides tuition for highly qualified teacher who agree to teach in high needs schools after they graduate. President Bush signed the bill into law on September 27, 2007, but indicated that the Pell Grant increases are not fully funded under this measure and must be paid for with offsets from other programs in future budgets.

Lending industry advocates decried the act, indicating the law will take away 80% of companies' federal subsidies over 5 years, which could result in fewer loan benefits for students and fewer loan options for students. Student advocates dismissed these criticisms as exaggerations and strongly supported the legislation.

The full text of the bill is available from Thomas

4. Congress Considers Testing in No Child Left Behind

Congress is working on the re-authorization of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). A major issue of concern to the geosciences community is the role of science in NCLB. NCLB called for standardized, national testing of reading and math for specific grades in elementary and secondary school, but does not include mandatory testing of science. Since the law was enacted 5 years ago, there is growing concern that teaching has been focused on math and reading to ensure adequate progress of students on these tests, while science teaching has been reduced or eliminated from curricula.

The Science, Technology, Engineering and Math Education (STEM Ed) Coalition, of which AGI is a member, has asked that the re-authorization of NCLB include mandatory testing of science in the adequate yearly progress (AYP) benchmarks. This will help to ensure that science is taught as an important and rigorous part of curricula.

5. Congress Passes Water Resources Legislation

On September 24, 2007, the Senate voted 81 to 12 in favor of the Water Resources Development Act (H.R. 1495) and the measure now goes to the President. The legislation would authorize more than 900 Army Corps of Engineers projects for flood control, navigation, hurricane protection and coastal restoration across the nation. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost to be about $23.2 billion over the many years needed to complete all of these projects. About $2 billion in projects were added to the bill during the conference to iron out differences between the House and Senate versions. The President has threatened to veto the bill because of its cost, however, Congress has responded to the threat by suggesting they have enough votes to override a veto. Given that the House approved the measure earlier by a vote of 381 to 40, it is likely that Congress does have the two-thirds majority needed to override any veto.

Congress has not passed a WRDA bill since 2000 and many legislators believe the current price tag of the bill is in line with the lack of authorized funding over the past 7 years. E&E Daily quoted Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who stated "If we had passed a $5 billion bill every two years, we are not out of step with where we should be". In the same news story, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), who voted for the measure, reminded everyone that this bill is only for authorization, not appropriation. Inhofe stated "The argument that no one will listen to … is that authorization is not appropriation," Inhofe indicated that he would oppose appropriation for some projects and the real battles are likely to occur in the annual appropriation process over the next few years.

Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) opposed the final measure as he indicated he would earlier because the language regarding an independent review of Corps projects has been weakened. Feingold believes the legislation gives too much authority to the Corps in guiding the review process and will keep the process from being independent, transparent and objective.

Some of the largest authorized projects include $3.6 billion for flood control, navigation and hurricane protection in the Gulf Coast, $2 billion for locks and dams on the upper Mississippi and Illinois rivers, $1.7 billion for ecosystem restoration on these rivers, $1.8 billion for Everglades's projects and $1.3 billion for the Indian River Lagoon project.

The full text of the bill is available from Thomas.

6. Senate Considers Law of the Sea

The Senate is holding hearings about U.S. ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. The Law of the Sea establishes territorial waters within 12 nautical miles and exclusive economic zones within 200 nautical miles of coastal States for the purposes of "…exploring and exploiting, conserving and managing the natural resources, whether living or non-living, of the waters superjacent to the seabed and of the seabed and its subsoil, and with regard to other activities for the economic exploitation and exploration of the zone, such as the production of energy from the water, currents and winds". It provides the coastal State with jurisdiction of artificial structures, marine scientific research and the protection and preservation of the marine environment. The Law of the Sea also sets forth rules for navigation in international waters and other relevant issues.

President Bush, the U.S. military, the mining, gas and oil industries and environmental groups all favor ratification, which would help to protect U.S. interests and allow access to the sea and seafloor for exploration, research and conservation. Although some staunch conservatives have strongly opposed ratification because they believe the Law of the Sea threatens U.S. sovereignty, the Senate believes they may have the 67 votes needed to ratify the convention. Still several conservative senators have promised to do whatever it takes to block the Law of the Sea from coming to a vote on the floor of the Capitol and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has indicated that the Law of the Sea is not one of his priorities for scheduling for a floor vote.

The full text of the Law of the Sea is available from the United Nations web page

7. Congress Still Digging Away at Mining Law Reform

Congress remains interested in reforming the 1872 Hardrock Mining Law. The law permits privatization or patenting of public resources for $2.50-$5 per acre, which Congress has renewed a temporary moratorium on every year since 1994. The law requires no royalties nor has any mandate for environmental remediation. The House has introduced a bill (H.R. 2262) to reform the law, which would require a reclamation plan before a permit is issued and impose royalties. The Senate has not introduced any legislation, however, both chambers are holding hearings on the hardrock mining law in September and October. Summaries of the hearings will be available on AGI's Government Affairs web page.

In addition to witnesses at hearings and discussions with stakeholders, Congress will soon have additional information related to hardrock mining from two National Research Council reports that are looking at aspects of mineral policy - "Securing Materials for a 21st Century" and "Military Critical Minerals in the U.S. Economy". Both are due to be released in early October.

The full text of the House hardrock mining bill is available from Thomas

8. Climate Change Legislation Considered a "Hard Bugger"

Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA) are still working on their draft climate change legislation and have not introduced any measures in the Environment and Public Works subcommittee. An early version of the draft called for reducing carbon dioxide emissions from industrial sources to 2005 levels beginning in 2012, followed by a 10 percent cut in 2020 and a 70 percent reduction by 2050. They are still working to get enough votes to pass a measure in the subcommittee and still addressing criticism of the draft from both sides.

On the other side, everyone is waiting for action by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which is considered the committee with the power and jurisdiction over comprehensive climate change legislation. On October 3, 2007 Congressmen John Dingell (D-MI), the chair of the committee and Rick Boucher (D-VA), chair of the Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee, released a 22-page white paper that details greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by sector and discusses possible regulatory and cap and trade solutions for each sector. The paper concludes U.S. greenhouse gas emissions can be broken down across the following sectors: electricity generation (34 percent), transportation (28 percent), industrial (19 percent), agricultural (8 percent), commercial (6 percent) and residential (5 percent). The study suggests all sectors should be subject to cap and trade and that the electricity sector in particular will see more regulations. With regards to the second largest emitting sector, transportation, the study suggests that vehicles are too numerous and difficult to regulate, so the "point of regulation" should be moved upstream to the fuel refiners and importers. In letters to their colleagues, Dingell and Boucher indicate that this white paper is the first in a series on climate change that will present relevant data and discussion on the related policy issues. Other topics will include compliance schedules, cost controls, carbon sequestration, offsets, the role of developing countries and the distribution of emission allowances. Hearings on these topics will also be scheduled as soon after the release of the white papers as possible. Given their current plans, it seems unlikely that climate change legislation will be introduced by this House Committee until next year.

In the meantime, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the results of their initial analysis of three Senate climate change bills on October 2, 2007. The three bills, which call for slightly different levels and timeframes for carbon dioxide reductions, include S.1766 from Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA), S.280 from Senator Lieberman and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and S.485 from Senator John Kerry (D-MA) and Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The analysis provides an historic perspective of carbon dioxide emissions contributed by different regions of the world and concludes that the cumulative reductions of carbon dioxide emissions by the end of the century will be similar for all three bills. The mini-climate assessment model used in the analysis is from the Joint Global Change Research Institute at the University of Maryland .

While proponents and opponents of the various climate change bills are speaking out about the latest analyses, everyone is really waiting for the introduction of a new Lieberman-Warner bill and action by Dingell and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Proponents of climate change legislation hope new measures can include all of the necessary compromises to gain approval in Congress. Even some opponents are anxious to see a bill because they would prefer climate change legislation developed and passed during the Bush Administration, rather than waiting for a new administration that might have different priorities. The outlook for climate change legislation remains pessimistic though as the Senate is almost evenly divided and one senator can hold up any legislation. In E&E Daily, Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) summed up the possibilities this way "I don't see us passing cap and trade," he said. "That's a hard bugger to pass."

Discussions about climate change legislation are ongoing and geoscientists who wish to offer input should contact their members or relevant policy makers.

The EPA analysis can be found on their web page

The Dingell-Boucher White Paper on emitting sectors is available from the House Energy and Commerce Committee web page

9. Energy Bill May Go To a Conference Committee

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) is pushing for a conference committee on the House and Senate energy bills (H.R. 6 and H.R. 3221) which were passed in the summer. There are major differences between the two bills and its unclear how those differences will be addressed. The major stumbling blocks are vehicle fuel economy and renewable electricity standards. House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) wants to complete the conference report this year. Discussions about the energy bills are ongoing and geoscientists who wish to offer input on a compromise measure should contact their members or relevant policy makers.

The full text of each bill is available from Thomas.

10. House Oversight Committee Requests Coalbed Methane Study

Congressman Henry Waxman (D-CA), chair of the House Oversight Committee told the Interior Department in a September 5th letter that they are ignoring their responsibility to conduct a study of the environmental effects of coalbed methane production. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 required the Interior Department to have the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study the environmental effects of coalbed methane in Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah and Wyoming. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) told NAS last year that the study would not be funded because there were already reports that addressed the issue. Waxman indicated in the letter that the BLM response was not sufficient and requested that the study should go forward as soon as possible.

11. White House Releases Fresh Water Report

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) released a study on the national challenges to ensure adequate fresh water supplies. The nation is facing greater competition for water resources and must make ever more critical decisions about allocations. The three scientific and technical challenges include: 1. Measure and account for the Nation's water; 2. Develop methods that will allow expansion of fresh water supplies while using existing supplies more efficiently; and 3. Develop and improve predictive water management tools. The study then outlines a federal strategic plan for addressing these challenges and provides a guide for how federal agencies will be a part of this plan. One major element is to develop a National Water Census.

The full report, "A Strategy for Federal Science and Technology to Support Water Availability and Quality in the United States" is posted on the Office of Science and Technology Policy web page

12. Homeland Security Opens Space Imagery Office

The Department of Homeland Security will open an office to coordinate access to satellites and space technology for domestic purposes on October 1, 2007. Senator Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and others expressed concern about protection of privacy and civil liberties as well as access to data. Homeland Security Secretary Chertoff responded that the new office will not change any existing authorities or restrictions on using satellite data and noted the office is meant to create an organized way for space data and technology to be used for domestic purposes. Access to data is an important issue for the geosciences community and any changes in access or access infrastructure should be closely monitored for potential problems.

13. National Academies Review Climate Change Program

The National Academies National Research Council (NRC) completed a study entitled "Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results" of the $1.7 billion U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP). The study suggests the program is proceeding toward understanding and predicting climate change, but criticizes the management structure. CCSP was initiated by President George H.W. Bush in 1990 as the U.S. Global Change Research Program to coordinate activities under one umbrella and re-organized as CCSP by his son, President George W. Bush in 2002 to involve 12 different federal agencies working on multiple reports. Twenty one reports should have been completed by now yet only 2 are finished. In addition to delays, the study worries that Earth observing capabilities will be insufficient to complete the work of the CCSP in the coming years. This particular concern echoes similar issues raised about U.S. Earth observing capabilities by other government and non-government reports, including a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the funding shortages for Earth observations at NASA. Finally the NRC report suggests that not enough progress has been made on understanding the impacts of climate change on humans and such work would require more than the $20 million that is spent annually to address this issue.

Please see the key federal register notices below for several announcements related to public meetings and public comment periods on documents related to CCSP.

The full report will be available at the National Academies web site in mid-October

14. National Academies Will Study Integrity of Research Data

The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy of the National Academies is setting up an ad hoc committee entitled "Committee on Assuring the Integrity of Research Data" to complete a study on data integrity. The ad hoc committee will study issues related to the evolution of practices in the collection, processing, oversight, publishing, ownership, accessing and archiving of research data.

More information is available from the ad hoc committee's web page

15. Congressional Briefing on Earthquakes and Tsunamis

The Congressional Hazards Caucus in coordination with the Hazards Caucus Alliance will hold a public briefing on Earthquakes and Tsunamis in the Pacific Northwest on October 11, 2007. The Seismological Society of America, the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute and the Incorporated Research Institutes for Seismology are co-sponsors and co-organizers of the briefing. The briefing will feature talks by Craig Weaver, Western Region Earthquake Group of the U.S. Geological Survey, Paul Whitmore, director of the West Coast and Alaska Tsunami Warning Center of NOAA, Mark Stewart, Hazards Manager for Washington State and Lori Dengler, a geophysics professor at Humboldt State University.

More information about this and other briefings are posted on the Hazards Caucus Alliance web page

16. House Soils Caucus Grows

The House Soils Caucus, which is less than a year old, has grown to 46 members. The full membership list and more details about the caucus are available at https://www.soils.org/sciencepolicy/caucus/ The Soil Science Society of America and many other organizations support the caucus and help to organize briefings and other public events for the caucus.

If you have not contacted your representative to seek their membership in the House Soils Caucus, please take a moment to do so now. If you are a member of ASA, CSA or SSSA you can go to the ASA-CSSA-SSSA Science Policy Action Center , scroll down to "Take Action" and click on the "Please Urge your Representative to Support the House Soils Caucus!" link.

17. Cave Conservation Café in Washington DC

The National Speleological Society, one of AGI's Member Societies, is coordinating a special discussion and film screening about policies and issues related to cave conservation in Washington DC on October 23, 2007. The Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, The Nature Conservancy and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are also coordinating with NSS on this event. It will be held at the Jefferson Auditorium of the U.S. Department of Agriculture South Building (intersection of Independence and 14th streets) from 10:30 to 12:30 pm. For more information contact Cynthia Sandeno, cmsandeno@fs.fed.us

18. AGI Welcomes Our Fall Intern, Liz Landau

AGI GAP welcomes Elizabeth Landau as our new fall AAPG/AGI GAP intern. Liz comes to us from California, where she completed her B.S. in Geological Sciences at USC, and her M.S., also in Geological Sciences, from San Diego State University. Liz is politically active and interested in a career in geosciences policy. She intends on staying in the Washington DC area to pursue her career, even if the weather is better in California.

19. AGI Seeks Spring Geopolicy Intern

AGI is seeking outstanding geosciences students and recent graduates with a strong interest in federal science policy for a fourteen-week geosciences and public policy internship in spring 2008. Interns will gain a first-hand understanding of the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies. They will also hone their writing and web-publishing skills. Stipends for the spring and fall interns are made possible through the generous support of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Applications for the spring must be postmarked by October 15, 2007. For more information, please visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/internse.html

20. Foreign Aid and State Department Science Fellowships Available

If you are a member of AGU, you can apply for the 2008-2009 American Institute of Physics (AIP) State Department Science Fellowship. Applications are due by NOVEMBER 1, 2007. As an AIP State Department Fellow, you will experience a unique year in Washington, making a personal contribution to U.S. foreign policy while learning how the policy-making process operates. The AIP State Department Science Fellowship places one or more qualified scientists in the State Department for a 12-month term to apply their knowledge and analytical skills to S&T issues that are international in scope. An annual contribution to the AIP Fellowship is provided by the American Astronomical Society. More details are available at the Fellowships web site .

AAAS also sponsors diplomacy fellowships at the State Department and other federal agencies. Details about the program are available at http://fellowships.aaas.org/02_Areas/02_Diplomacy.shtml. Applications are due by DECEMBER 20, 2007.

Key Federal Register Notices

EPA- The EPA is taking direct final action on Revising the Budget Period Limitation for Research Grants and Cooperative Agreements. This amendment will remove the budget
period limitation for research and demonstration grants and cooperative agreements. This change is administrative in nature. The current rule sets forth a maximum budget period of 24 months for all grants and cooperative agreements awarded for research and demonstration projects, which can be extended on a case-by case basis. Extensions are often requested creating an administrative burden for the EPA. All research and demonstration grants will continue to adhere to the project period limitation of five years. This change will not adversely affect any current or future research or demonstration efforts. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2007-0419 by e-mail to ord.docket@epa.gov or at www.regulations.gov.
[Federal Register: September 12, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 176)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Office of Research and Development's National Center for Environmental Assessment (NCEA) is preparing an Integrated Science Assessment as part of the review of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for carbon monoxide. This is intended to update and revise, where appropriate, the scientific assessment presented in the Air Quality Criteria for Carbon Monoxide, published in June 2000. Interested parties are invited to assist the EPA in developing and refining the scientific information base for the review of the CO NAAQS by submitting research studies that have been published, accepted for publication, or presented at a public scientific meeting. All communications and information should be received by EPA by December 14, 2007. Direct your comments to Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2007-0925.
[Federal Register: September 13, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 177)]

EPA- The Environmental Protection Agency seeks comments on its national emission standards for petroleum refineries to address the risk remaining after application of the 1995 standards. Results are also available from the 8-year review of developments in practices, processes, and control technologies that have occurred since the time EPA adopted the emissions standards. Options are available for wastewater treatment systems, storage vessels, and emissions standards for cooling towers. Comments must be received on or before November 5, 2007, and can be indentified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2003-0146 and filed online at http://www.regulations.gov.
[Federal Register: September 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 170)]

EPA- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA or Agency) Office of Children's Health Protection and Environmental Education Staff Office is soliciting applications of environmental education professionals for consideration on the National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC). There are currently five vacancies on the Advisory Council that must be filled: Two Business and Industry (2008-2011); one State
Department of Natural Resources (2008-2011); one Primary and Secondary Education (must be a classroom teacher) (2008-2011); one Senior American (2008-2011). Additional avenues and resources may be utilized in the solicitation of applications. For information regarding this request for nominations, please contact Ms. Ginger Potter, Designated Federal Officer (DFO), EPA National Environmental Education Advisory Council, at potter.ginger@epa.gov or (202) 564-0453. General information concerning
NEEAC can be found on the EPA website at: http://www.epa.gov/enviroed.
[Federal Register: September 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 178)]

EPA- The EPA National Center for Environmental Innovation (NCEI) is giving notice of its solicitation of preproposals for a 2008 grant program to support innovation by state environmental agencies-the "State Innovation Grant Program". The EPA is also seeking input from state environmental regulatory agencies on the topic areas for the solicitation. In addition, EPA is asking each state environmental regulatory agency to designate a point of contact (in addition to the Commissioner or Cabinet Secretary level) for further communication about the upcoming solicitation. All previously designated points of contact will remain on our notification list for this year's competition. EPA anticipates publication of a Solicitation Announcement of Federal Funding Opportunity on the Federal government's grants opportunities website (http://www.grants.gov) to announce the availability of the next solicitation within 45 days. Information should be submitted in writing via e-mail to innovation_state_grants@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: September 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 178)]

EPA- The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development
(ORD), will hold a public meeting of the Human Impacts of Climate Change Federal Advisory Committee (HICCAC). The meeting will be held on October 15 and 16, 2007 at the Hilton Alexandria Old Town, 1767 King Street, Alexandria, Virginia 22314. The meeting will begin at 9 a.m. on October 15 and 16, and adjourn on October 16 at 3 p.m. (Eastern Time). Members of the public may attend the meeting as observers, and there will be a limited time for comments from the public in the afternoon. Please contact Joanna Foellmer, telephone: 202-564-3208, e-mail: Foellmer.Joanna@epa.gov, Designated Federal Official, HICCAC, no later than October 5 if you wish to make oral comments during the meeting or for questions regarding information, registration, and logistics. Requests to make oral comments must be in writing (e-mail, fax or mail) and received no later than one week prior to the meeting.
[Federal Register: September 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 179)]

FS- The USDA Forest Service, Technology Marketing Unit, located at the Forest Products Laboratory, requests proposals for forest product projects that increase the use of woody biomass from National Forest System lands. The woody biomass utilization grant program is intended to help improve forest restoration activities by using and creating markets for small-diameter material and low-valued trees removed from forest restoration activities, such as reducing hazardous fuels, handling insect and diseased conditions, or treating forestlands impacted by catastrophic weather events. These funds are targeted to help communities, entrepreneurs, and others turn residues from forest restoration activities into marketable forest products and/or energy products. Pre-application deadline: Close of business November 2, 2007. Full application deadline: Close of business February 1, 2008. Detailed information regarding what to include in the pre- and full application, definitions of terms, eligibility and federal restrictions are available at http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/tmu (under Woody Biomass Grants), and at http://www.grants.gov. For questions regarding the grant application or administrative regulations, contact Patricia Brumm, Grants and Agreements Specialist, (608) 231-9298, pbrumm@fs.fed.us.
[Federal Register: September 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 180)]

NASA- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces a meeting of the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC). This Subcommittee reports to the Science Committee of the NAC. The Meeting will be held for the purpose of soliciting from the scientific community and other persons scientific and technical information relevant to program planning. The agenda for the meeting includes the following topics: (1) Planetary Science Division Update (2) Mars Program Update (3) Lunar Architecture Team 2 Study (4) Report from Assessment Groups (5) Discussion of Forming a Small Bodies Assessment Group. The meeting will be held Sunday, October 7, 2007, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time at the Rosen Centre Hotel, 9840 International Drive, Orlando, Florida 32819. For further information contact Ms. Marian Norris, Science Mission Directorate, (202) 358-4452 or mnorris@nasa.gov.
[Federal Register: September 19, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 181)]

DOC- NOAA announces that The Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for the following vacant seats on its Sanctuary Advisory Council: Recreational Diving; Maritime Archaeological Research; Conservation; Heritage Tourism; and Citizen-At-Large. Applicants are chosen based upon their particular expertise and experience in relation to the seat for which they are applying; community and professional affiliations; philosophy regarding the protection and management of marine resources; and possibly the length of residence in the area affected by the Sanctuary. Applicants who are chosen as members should expect to serve 2-year terms, pursuant to the Council's Charter. Applications are due by November 9, 2007. Application kits may be obtained on the website http://monitor.noaa.gov. For further information contact Krista Trono, Communications Coordinator, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, 100 Museum Drive, Newport News, VA 23606, (757) 591-7328, Krista.Trono@noaa.gov.
[Federal Register: September 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 184)]

DOC- NOAA announces a 45-day public comment period for the draft report titled, U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.1: "Uses and limitations of observations, data, forecasts, and other projections in decision support for selected sectors and regions." This draft document is being released solely for the purpose of pre-dissemination peer review under applicable information quality guidelines. It does not represent and should not be construed to represent any Agency policy or determination. After consideration of comments received on the draft report, a revised version along with the comments received will be published on the CCSP Web site. Comments must be received by November 8, 2007. The draft Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.1 is posted on the CCSP website at http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap5-1/public-review-draft/default.htm. Detailed instructions for making comments on the draft report are provided on the SAP 5.1 webpage. Comments should be prepared and submitted in accordance with these instructions to: 5.1-observations_DecisionSupport@usgcrp.gov.
[Federal Register: September 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 184)]

DOC- NOAA announces the availability of the draft Prospectus for one of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Products for public comment. This draft Prospectus addresses the following CCSP Topic: Product 2.3 "Aerosol properties and their impacts on climate." After consideration of comments received on the draft Prospectus, the final Prospectus along with the comments received will be published on the CCSP web site. Comments must be received by October 24, 2007. The draft Prospectus is posted on the CCSP Program Office web site. The draft Prospectus and detailed instructions for making comments on the draft Prospectus is provided is available on the website http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap2-3/default.php.
[Federal Register: September 24, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 184)]

New Updates to the Website

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:

Action Alert: Geothermal Research (9-13-07)

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Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs and Elizabeth Landau 2007 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.

Sources: Greenwire, E&E Daily, Library of Congress, and National Academies.

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

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

Posted October 4, 2007.