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Monthly Review: October 2008


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

1. House Representatives Release Climate Change Legislation Plans
2. Economic Stimulus Package Possible in November
3. Update on Mining Reform in Congress
4. Congress Funds EPA Libraries
5. Congress All a Twitter
6. Agencies to Issue Multiple New Rules Before the End of Bush Administration
7. DOE Releases Methodology for Estimating Storage Potential of Carbon Dioxide
8. IRS Request for Universities to Detail Compliance
9. Report Warns that Lagging Restoration Efforts Spell Disaster for Everglades
10. New Building Codes Approved Based on NIST Report
11. Freedom to Speak? A Report Card on Federal Agency Media Policies
12. SETDA Releases Report on STEM Education
13. Evolution Lawsuit Dismissal Upheld
14. Texas Science Standards Review Board Has Three Creationists
15. Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program Seeks Applicants
16. NSF Requests Nominations for Singular Young Researcher
17. Apply for William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
18. Key Reports and Publications
19. Key Federal Register Notices

1. House Representatives Release Climate Change Legislation Plans

On October 7, 2008, House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-MI) and Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality Chairman Rick Boucher (D-VA) released a new proposal for climate change legislation. The proposal would set-up a cap and trade system to lower U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050.

The 461-page draft bill would cover about 88 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and includes restrictions on electric utilities, petroleum producers and importers, large industrial plants, producers and importers of bulk gases, natural gas and local distribution companies and geologic sequestration sites. Smaller sources (emissions less than 25,000 tons per year) would be controlled by standards set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an interesting choice given that EPA remains unsettled about its authority and ability to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.

New coal-fired plants would be required to use carbon dioxide capture and sequestration technology (CCS) as soon as the technology is available. The draft also provides incentives for efficiency and conservation programs, many of which rely on new or developing technologies. Other incentives would be provided for the deployment of clean technologies in the transportation sector, an area of growth that Representative Dingell has a keen interest because his district (and state) includes a large fraction of the auto industry.

The draft provides flexibility to emitters to keep costs in check. To stay within the increasing caps over time, emitters can bank and borrow emission allowances, can access a “strategic reserve” of allowances under set conditions and purchase EPA-approved domestic and international offset credits to meet allowances. In particular international deforestation projects would be considered eligible offsets. This feature is likely to stir debate given the global interest in deforestation and concern that such projects are not effective when used as part of a cap and trade system. Finally the draft would set-up bonus allowances for power plants that use CCS to reduce emissions or generate electricity from alternative cleaner energy sources such as wind and solar.

The draft is comprehensive, covering most emitters, and also very flexible in allowing emitters multiple avenues to offset their own emissions with banked or other allowances. The flexibility is likely to cause the greatest debates in the next Congress because it is uncertain whether all of these approaches would allow the U.S. to meet the stated reduction goals in the allotted time.

The proposal is meant to be a template for discussion for new climate change legislation in the next Congress. Any new bills would need to go through the House Energy and Commerce Committee which Congressman Dingell chairs. Representatives Dingell and Boucher are trying to start the debate early and indicate they are willing to consider changes to the draft proposal. Look for an early introduction of a climate change bill from the House Energy and Commerce Committee that uses this proposal as its blueprint.

About 5 days before the Dingell-Boucher proposal was publicized, 152 Representatives signed a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi that outlined principles “to guide Congress as it produces legislation to establish an economy-wide mandatory program to address the threat of global warming.” The letter calls for reducing emissions, transitioning to clean energy, minimizing the costs of global warming legislation and aiding communities and ecosystems that are at risk from global warming.

Like many recent energy and climate change bills, these plans would require help from the geosciences in terms of the development of CCS, methods and instrumentation to monitor emissions, development of alternative energy technologies and further research and development to understand and mitigate climate change.

2. Economic Stimulus Package Possible in November

As the economic crisis continues, Congress appears more likely to consider an economic stimulus package when they reconvene on November 17, 2008. The final days of the 110th Congress may see a rapidly approved stimulus package that includes funding for infrastructure. The House has been holding a series of hearings on the economic crisis throughout October.

Of most relevance to the geoscience community is possible funding for infrastructure. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has called for stimulus funding for transportation infrastructure in particular. On October 29, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held a hearing on major water projects that might be included in a $150 to $300 billion stimulus package. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report from 2002 noted that $300 billion to $1 trillion over 20 years would be necessary for water and wastewater facilities.

In the Senate, Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) has indicated that her committee will play a key role in defining the funding and type of infrastructure projects that might be included in a stimulus package.

The Bush Administration was initially against a stimulus package, but has suggested that they might consider one in November.

3. Update on Mining Reform in Congress

Reform of the Hardrock Mining Act of 1872 has been discussed from as early as 1934 and many expected that long-anticipated changes might finally take place in 2008. Although a number of political issues have delayed action on mining reform this year, it is likely to continue to receive attention in the 111th Congress.

The Hardrock Mining Act has remained unchanged since President Ulysses S. Grant signed it in to law in 1872. The law was originally designed to help attract new settlers to the under populated western United States by allowing private entities to stake claims on public resources for only $2.50-$5.00 per acre. Although Congress has placed a moratorium on such sales since 1994, hardrock mines continue to operate royalty-free.

In late 2007 the House passed a bill (H.R. 2262) which would impose a royalty system on hardrock mining that is similar to royalties for oil, gas, and coal industries. New claims would be subject to an 8 percent royalty on gross returns and existing claims would start to pay a 4 percent royalty. Part of the revenue generated from the new royalties would be dedicated to the cleanup of the estimated 100,000 abandoned mine sites located on national forest and Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands. The House bill also gives the federal government more authority over where hardrock mining can take place.

The reception of the House bill in the Senate has not been positive. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and other senators from western states instead support a net royalty that would only apply to new operations. Their concern is that the royalty structure in the House bill would place such a large burden on mining companies that they would discontinue operations in the United States, destroying local economies dependent on mining and causing an overall loss in revenues to the federal government At the same time, the U.S. would become more dependent on foreign sources to meet our demand for hardrock minerals. Environmentalists counter that the less stringent royalty would generate insufficient funds to address cleanup projects. The mining industry has resigned itself to some type of royalty but is lobbying for legislation to include provisions for long-term security of permits and loans for mine operations.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members from both parties are reported to be developing drafts of legislation but neither group has released a proposal. Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) has said the issue will be a priority in the next Congress and both presidential candidates support some form of mining reform. Congressman Nick Rahall (D-WV), Chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee and sponsor of H.R. 2262, has said he is open to the possibility of developing another House bill. So the stage is set for action in the 111th Congress.

4.Congress Funds EPA Libraries

Congress provided $1 million for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reopen 4 libraries - regional libraries in Chicago, Dallas and Kansas City and the library at EPA headquarters in Washington DC. Also, all EPA libraries received additional funding for equipment, staffing, or materials to enhance the public's access to environmental information.

For more information about EPA's National Library Network Services click here.

5. Congress All a Twitter

The Senate and the House passed new rules on the use of internet-related communications. Members may now use Twitter, YouTube, Flickr and other social media to communicate with constituents. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) called the revisions a “significant step toward bringing the House rules into the multimedia age and allowing for members to effectively communicate with their constituents online…” while Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) noted “It is imperative that Members have the ability to use whichever web services they feel will best inform their constituents about the important issues facing this country.”

The new rules state that member web use will be evaluated based on the “official content” and not the venue. Members of Congress are not allowed to use their position to advertise for commercial products and the primary concern with social media has been the advertising that often surrounds content. Although social media often “targets” advertising based on the audience, Congress hopes it is clear that members are not endorsing any of the advertisements that might appear near their content. In arguing for the new rules, an analogy was made with Op-Ed articles published by Members of Congress in the online version of the print media, such as newspapers. The content often appears amidst a sea of online advertising that the author does not control or endorse.

Congress has entered a brave new world of communications with abundant opportunities to reach their constituents and the global social network. Of course there are some potential pitfalls given that the content has immediacy and world wide distribution and any real or perceived flaws in the content could cause controversy. In addition, unfortunate or inadvertent advertisement placement could lead to embarrassing or conflicting messages.

For a list of members who Twitter please click here.

6. Agencies to Issue Multiple New Rules Before the End of Bush Administration

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of the Interior and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are set to complete new rules on a wide variety of environmental and public land issues before the end of the Bush Administration. Rules can take a long and difficult path to approval and once implemented can take a long and difficult path to change. Many past administrations go through a flurry of last-minute rule-making before they leave office and the Bush Administration, which has issued more rules and regulations than any previous administration, is in a sprint to complete additional rules before President Bush leaves office. Likely rule changes of note to the geoscience community include the following.

Several changes are likely for the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review that would favor industry and increase pollution. One change would require regulators to determine if utilities undergoing repair and maintenance are emitting more pollution on an hourly basis instead of an annual basis. Using an hourly rate versus an annual rate could make it easier for utilities to comply with pollution limits without upgrading their facilities with expensive pollution reduction infrastructure. EPA estimates the change would lead to about 74 million more tons of emitted carbon dioxide per year. Other changes include allowing “fugitive” emissions, such as leaks from pipes and fittings at petroleum refineries and allowing “batch process facilities” like oil refineries and chemical plants to ignore emissions when determining whether a new source review is needed.

Interior is working on a rule to allow visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to carry loaded guns and to alter offshore leasing rules for renewable energy generators. The Fish and Wildlife Service is trying to complete changes to the regulations related to the Endangered Species Act. The Office of Surface Mining is working on new rules for mountaintop coal mining related to protections for waterways and to exempt such practices as permanent coal waste disposal facilities.

The Bureau of Land Management hopes to complete rules on issuing leases for commercial oil shale development after Congress allowed a moratorium to expire and to eliminate a regulation that allows for emergency withdrawals of public land from energy or mineral production to protect natural resources. NOAA plans to change rules governing federal fisheries management and perhaps create what would be the world's largest marine wildlife sanctuary in the Pacific Ocean.

Plans and changes are announced in the Federal Register. A summary of Federal Register notices of interest to the geoscience community are included in each monthly review, however, if you would like more timely notice, please visit the daily announcements of the Federal Register.

7. DOE Releases Methodology for Estimating Storage Potential of Carbon Dioxide

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released its Methodology for Development of Geologic Storage Estimates for Carbon Dioxide on October 1, 2008. This document describes the methodology used to estimate carbon dioxide storage potential and represents a consensus of researchers at the Office of Fossil Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) and members of DOE's regional carbon sequestration partnerships. The document will be included as an appendix in the second edition of the Carbon Sequestration Atlas of the United States and Canada, which will be released later this year.

8. IRS Request for Universities to Detail Compliance

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has distributed voluntary compliance questionnaires to about 400 U.S. colleges and universities in an effort to “build a better understanding of the largest, most complex organizations in the tax-exempt sector.” Specifically, the survey will gather information about methods used to report revenues and expenses from trade or business activities, to classify activities as exempt or taxable, and to calculate and report income or losses on taxable activities.  The questionnaire also requests information about how the schools invest, use endowment funds, and determine compensation of certain highly paid individuals. The IRS expects to release a report of the findings in 2009.

To read the IRS press release click here.

9. Report Warns that Lagging Restoration Efforts Spell Disaster for Everglades

On September 29, 2008, the National Research Council issued its second biennial review on the government's Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP). The review finds the progress of CERP to be slow and ineffective and warns that "unless near-term progress is achieved on major restoration initiatives, the Everglades will likely face further loss of species and habitat deterioration, which could be difficult or impossible to reverse." CERP was approved by Congress in 2000 and was initially expected to cost $7.8 billion over 30 years. The project is now expected to cost at least $11 billion.

10. New Building Codes Approved Based on NIST Report

The International Code Council will institute new building codes based on the recommendations of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which conducted a review of codes based on the collapse of the World Trade Center towers on September 11, 2001.

The new codes address areas such as increasing structural resistance to building collapse from fire and other incidents; requiring a third exit stairway for tall buildings; increasing the width of all stairways by 50 percent in new high-rises; strengthening criteria for the bonding, proper installation and inspection of sprayed fire-resistive materials (commonly known as "fireproofing"); improving the reliability of active fire protection systems (such as automatic sprinklers); requiring a new class of robust elevators for access by emergency responders in lieu of an additional stairway; making exit path markings more prevalent and more visible; and ensuring effective coverage throughout a building for emergency responder radio communications.

Click here to access the full NIST report and other details.

11. Freedom to Speak? A Report Card on Federal Agency Media Policies

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a report on October 17, 2008, entitled “Freedom to Speak? A Report Card on Federal Agency Media Policies.” The report grades 15 federal agencies on their policies affecting scientists’ ability “to participate in the scientific community and speak freely about their research to the media and the public.” The report also evaluates how well scientific freedom is maintained in practice and provides general and agency-specific recommendations for improvement. Agencies evaluated in the report include The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).

12. SETDA Releases Report on STEM Education

As part of the Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education, the State Educational Technology Directors Association SETDA released its "Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM)" report on September 23, 2008. The report emphasizes the need to provide all children with a strong foundation in STEM areas. Such preparation is critical to any individual’s success in the 21st century. A shortage of new graduates in STEM fields will make it difficult for the United States to fulfill its workforce needs and to stay competitive in the global market.

Key recommendations of the STEM report include obtaining societal support for STEM education, exposing students to STEM careers, providing on-going and sustainable STEM professional development, providing STEM pre-service teacher training, and recruiting and retaining STEM teachers. The report provides many examples of broad-based initiatives that have been successful at national, state, and district levels. States and school districts are encouraged to draw on these models to strengthen STEM education programs.

13. Evolution Lawsuit Dismissal Upheld

On October 3, 2008, a federal appeals court ruled to uphold a lower court’s March 13, 2006, decision to dismiss a lawsuit that accused the website “Understanding Evolution” of unconstitutionally endorsing religious viewpoints. The website is a joint project of the University of California Museum of Paleontology and the National Center for Science Education. The website provides resources for teaching evolution. Understanding Evolution is hosted by the University of California-Berkeley and is funded by the National Science Foundation. The lawsuit targeted a page that discusses the misconception that religion and evolution are incompatible and offers a link to statements from various religious organizations about evolution.

14. Texas Science Standards Review Board Has Three Creationists

In mid-October, the Texas State Board of Education chose three creationists to sit on the six-member science review panel. Creationists, Stephen Meyer, vice president of the Discovery Institute, Ralph Seelke, a professor of the department of biology and earth sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Superior and Charles Garner, a professor of chemistry at Baylor University in Waco will review the school science standards. All three signed the Discovery Institute’s “Dissent from Darwinism” statement and Meyer and Seelke co-authored an anti-evolution textbook and testified against evolution at hearings for the Kansas State Board of Education in 2005.

The other three members of the panel include David Hillis, professor of integrative biology and director of the Center of Computational Biology and Bioinformatics at the University of Texas at Austin; Ronald K. Wetherington, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University and director of the Center for Teaching Excellence; and Gerald Skoog, professor and dean emeritus of the College of Education at Texas Tech and co-director of the Center for Integration of Science Education and Research.

Such a split panel is likely to make the review of the new Texas science standards difficult and contentious.

15. Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program Seeks Applicants

The Triangle Coalition and the U.S. Department of Energy seek experienced teachers with a strong interest in education policy to apply for the 2009-2010 Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellowship Program. Fellows will receive funding to spend an academic year in Washington, DC, during which time they will provide practical insights and "real world" perspectives to policy makers and program managers developing or managing education programs. The deadline for application submission is January 13, 2009. For more information about the Einstein Fellowship Program and to access the application, please click here.

16. NSF Requests Nominations for Singular Young Researcher

The National Science Foundation is pleased to accept nominations for the 2009 Alan T. Waterman Award. Each year, the Foundation bestows the Waterman Award to recognize the talent, creativity and influence of a singular young researcher. Established in 1975 in honor of the Foundation's first Director, the Waterman Award is the Foundation's highest honor for researchers under the age of 35.

Nominees are accepted from any field of science or engineering that NSF supports. The award recipient will receive a medal and an invitation to the formal awards ceremony in Washington, DC. In addition, the recipient will receive a grant of $500,000 over a three-year period for scientific research or advanced study in any field of science or engineering supported by the National Science Foundation, at any institution of the recipient's choice.

Click here for detailed nomination information.


17. Apply for William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship

The American Geological Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce the William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship. The successful candidate will spend 12 months (starting September 2009) in Washington, DC, working as a staffer for a Member of Congress or congressional committee. The fellowship is a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the legislative process and contribute to the effective use of geoscience in crafting public policy. Minimum requirements are a master's degree with at least three years of post-degree work experience or a Ph.D. at the time of appointment. The fellowship carries an annual stipend of up to $56,000. Support for the fellowship is provided by an endowment, established through the AGI Foundation, in honor of William L. Fisher. All application materials must be transmitted by February 1, 2009.

Click here for more details on this fellowship and similar fellowships offered by AGI Member Societies (AGU, GSA and SSSA).

18. Key Reports and Publications

*** Congressional Research Services (CRS) ***

U. S. Nuclear Cooperation With India: Issues for Congress, posted on October 9, 2008. This report considers issues related to the new civil nuclear energy cooperative agreement between the U.S. and India.

Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) Import Terminals: Siting, Safety and Regulation, posted on October 7, 2008. This report considers the expansion of LNG terminals in the U.S. and proposed legislation to ensure safety and oversight.

Unauthorized Alien Students, Higher Education, and In-State Tuition Rates: A Legal Analysis, posted on October 7, 2008. This report provides a legal overview of cases involving immigrant access to higher education, as well as an analysis of the legality of state laws that make in-state tuition rates available to illegal immigrants.

The Environmental Protection Agency's Brownfields Program: Scope, Authorities and Implementation, posted on October 7, 2008. The report looks at the federal role in cleaning up brownfields.

EPA's Final Health and Safety Standard for Yucca Mountain, posted on October 6, 2008. This report looks the Environmental Protection Agency’s final standards for health and safety at the Yucca Mountain geologic repository for nuclear waste and the continued congressional and legal challenges the facility faces.

Measuring and Monitoring Carbon in the Agricultural and Forestry Sectors, posted on October 6, 2008. This report considers the nation’s ability to measure and monitor carbon sequestration through agriculture, forestry and other land practices as part of congressional interest in legislation related to carbon dioxide emission reductions.

Coast Guard Polar Icebreaker Modernization: Background, Issues, and Options for Congress, posted on October 3, 2008. This report looks at the dire state of the nation’s polar icebreaker capabilities and possible congressional action to re-establish icebreaker capabilities through the U.S. Coast Guard and/or the National Science Foundation.

*** National Academies ***

Urban Stormwater Management in the United States, posted October 15, 2008. The report recommends radical changes to the Environmental Protection Agency’s stormwater program to meet national needs.

An Assessment of the National Institute of Standards and Technology Building and Fire Research Laboratory Fiscal Year 2008, posted October 2008. This report assesses the scientific and technical work of the NIST laboratory, which includes earthquake engineering and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP).

Internationalization of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle: Goals, Strategies, and Challenges, posted September 30, 2008. This report discusses efforts for the United States, Russia and the International Atomic Energy Agency to ensure a reliable supply of nuclear fuel for all countries seeking nuclear energy.

19. Key Federal Register Notices

NSF – The National Science Foundation announces a meeting of the Advisory Committee for Polar Programs on November 4, 2008, and November 5, 2008 at the National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. The purpose of this meeting is to advise NSF on the impact of its policies, programs, and activities on the polar research community, and to provide advice to the Director of OPP on issues related to long-range planning. For more information or to obtain a copy of the minutes, contact Sue LaFratta, Office of Polar Programs (OPP), National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. Phone: (703)292-8030.
[Federal Register: October 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 197)]

NASA - National Aeronautics and Space Administration issues notice of the renewal of the Charter for the NASA Advisory Council. The purpose of the NASA Advisory Council is to provide advice and make recommendations to the NASA Administrator on Agency programs, policies, plans, financial controls and other matters pertinent to the Agency's responsibilities. The structure and duties of this Council is unchanged. For more information contact Ms. P. Diane Rausch, Advisory
Committee Management Officer, Office of External Relations, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC 20546. Phone: 202-358-4510.
[Federal Register: October 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 197)]

NRC - The Nuclear Regulatory Commission seeks public comment on proposed revisions to the 1984 Waste Confidence Decision. Among other changes, the revisions state that spent fuel generated in any reactor can be stored safely without significant environmental impacts for 50 to 60 years, instead of the 30 years of the previous version of the report. Comments must be submitted to by December 8, 2008, and can be emailed to Rulemaking.Comments@nrc.gov or mailed to Secretary, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington, DC 20555-0001, ATTN: Rulemakings and Adjudications Staff.
[Federal Register: October 9, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 197)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency invites public comment for the draft document titled, ``BASINS 4.0 Climate Assessment Tool (CAT): Supporting Documentation and Users Manual.'' BASINS CAT provides a flexible set of capabilities for creating user-defined climate change scenarios for assessing the influence of climate variability and change on water quantity and quality using the Hydrologic Simulation Program--FORTRAN (HSPF) watershed model. BASINS 4.0 (with the BASINS CAT) can be downloaded from EPA's BASINS Web site at http://www.epa.gov/waterscience/basins/b3webdwn.htm. Technical comments must be received in writing by EPA by November 3, 2008. The draft is available under the “Recent Additions” and the “Data and Publications” menus at http://www.epa.gov/ncea.
[Federal Register: October 2, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 192)]

DOE - The Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and
Energy Reliability issues a notice of intent to prepare a programmatic environmental impact statement (PEIS), entitled Designation of Energy Corridors on Federal Land in 39 States (DOE/EIS-0406), to identify any environmental impacts that may result from the proposed action of designating Section 368 corridors and incorporating them into applicable land use or equivalent plans. The DOE will work with the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) (the Agencies) in this endeavor, and will also identify the environmental impacts from the range of reasonable alternatives to the proposed action. Public comments or suggestions on the scope of the PEIS and the proposed action are invited through December 2, 2008, and should be sent to: Brian Mills at the U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability (OE-20), 1000 Independence Avenue, SW., Washington, DC 20585, or by electronic mail at Brian.Mills@hq.doe.gov.
[Federal Register: October 3, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 193)]

DOE - Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy announces an open meeting of the National Coal Council (NCC) on Friday, November 14, 2008 at the Westin Grand Hotel, 2350 M Street, NW., Washington, DC. For more information, contact Mr. Robert Kane, Phone: (202)586-4753, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Fossil Energy, Washington, DC 20585.
[Federal Register: October 6, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 194)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency gives notice of its preliminary regulatory determination for perchlorate in accordance with the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The Agency has determined that a national primary drinking water regulation (NPDWR) for perchlorate would not present ``a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction for persons served by public water systems.'' EPA requests public comment on this preliminary regulatory determination and will make a final determination after considering those comments. Comments must be received on or before November 10, 2008, and can be submitted (identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2008-0692) online at www.regulations.gov. For more information contact Eric Burneson, Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water, Standards and Risk Management Division, at (202)564-5250 or burneson.eric@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: October 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 198)]

NSF – The National Science Foundation announces a meeting of the Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical Sciences November 5-7, 2008, at National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22230. For more information contact Dr. Morris L. Aizenman, Senior Science Associate, Directorate for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, at (703)292-8807.
[Federal Register: October 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 198)]

USDA – The Natural Resources Conservation Service announces a meeting to discuss air quality issues relating to agriculture, including climate change and renewable fuels issues. The meeting is on November 6 and 7, 2008, at the Doubletree Hotel located at 300 Army Navy Drive, Arlington, Virginia, 22202. Questions and comments should be
directed to Michele Laur, Designated Federal Officer, at (202)720-1858 or michele.laur@wdc.usda.gov.
[Federal Register: October 10, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 198)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency announces the availability of the final Guidance for Conducting Prospective Ground-Water (PGW) Monitoring Studies. The PGW guidance document describes how to conduct a PGW monitoring study, milestones for consulting with EPA, and how to report results to EPA. For more information contact Betsy Behl in the Environmental Fate and Effects Division of the Office of Pesticide Programs at the Environmental  Protection Agency at (703)305-6309 or behl.betsy@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: October 15, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 200)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency’s National Center for Environmental Innovation (NCEI) announces the availability of its solicitation for proposals for the 2009 State Innovation Grant Program to support innovation by state environmental regulatory agencies. “Innovation in permitting” is this year’s theme. The solicitation is available at: http://www.epa.gov/innovation/stategrants/solicitations2009.pdf or may be requested from the Agency by e-mail to: innovation_state_grants@epa.gov. Eligible applicants will have until December 10, 2008 to respond with a pre-proposal, budget, and project summary.
[Federal Register: October 16, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 201)]

NASA – The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announces a meeting of the Planetary Protection Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council (NAC) for the purpose of soliciting from the scientific community and other person's scientific and technical information relevant to program planning. The meeting will be held on November 6 and November 7, 2008, at NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW., Room 6H45, Washington, DC 20546.For more information contact Ms. Marian Norris, Science Mission Directorate at (202)358-4452 or mnorris@nasa.gov.
[Federal Register: October 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 202)]

NSF – The National Science Foundation announces an open meeting of the Advisory Committee for Geosciences to provide advice, recommendations, and oversight concerning support for research, education, and human resources development in the geosciences. The meeting will be held on November 19 and November 20, 2008, at Stafford II, Room 555, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, Virginia 22230. Minutes and/or more information can be obtained from Melissa Lane at 703-292-8500.
[Federal Register: October 17, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 202)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency announces a conference call meeting of the National Drinking Water Advisory Council to discuss EPA's proposed rule describing Federal Requirements under the Underground Injection Control Program for Carbon Dioxide Geologic Sequestration Wells. The meeting will be held via Webcast on Thursday, November 6, 2008, from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. EST. To register for the Web cast and obtain additional information including the call in number, attendees should visit http://gswebinar.cadmusweb.com. For more information or to submit a written or oral statement, contact Veronica Blette at blette.veronica@epa.gov or at 202-564-4094.
[Federal Register: October 21, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 204)]

DOE - The Department of Energy announces its intent to prepare an additional supplement to previous environmental impact statements for the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada, to consider repository-related impacts on groundwater. For additional information on the supplement or to submit comments (through Nov. 24), contact Dr. Jane Summerson, EIS Document Manager, Regulatory Authority Office, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, U.S. Department of Energy, 1551 Hillshire Drive, Las Vegas, NV 89134, or to 1-800-967-3477.
[Federal Register: October 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 207)]

DOC – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces a
meeting of the Sea Grant Review Panel to discuss and provide advice on the National Sea Grant College Program in the areas of program evaluation, strategic planning, education and extension, science and technology programs, and other matters. The agenda for the meeting can be found at http://www.seagrant.noaa.gov/leadership/review_panel.html.  The meeting will be held November 11 to 13, 2008, at the Hilton Baton Rouge Capitol Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. For more information contact Ms. Melissa Pearson at 301713-1083.
[Federal Register: October 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 207)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency announces a meeting of the National
Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) to discuss the draft findings from NACEPT's 20th anniversary report, sustainable water infrastructure, biofuels, EPA's 2009-2014 Strategic Plan Change Document, and EPA's Draft Information Access Strategy. A copy of the agenda for the meeting will be posted at http://www.epa.gov/ocem/nacept/cal-nacept.htm and a draft of the report will be posted at http://epa.gov/ocem/nacept/reports/index.html. For more information or to submit comments, contact Sonia Altieri, Designated Federal Officer at altieri.sonia@epa.gov or (202)564-0243. The meeting will be November 13 and 14, 2008, at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD 20745.
[Federal Register: October 27, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 208)]

DOI – The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM), announce the availability of a final environmental impact statement, which analyzes the potential impacts of a rule concerning excess spoil, coal mine waste, and stream buffer zones. The report is available on the internet at http://www.regulations.gov, Document ID OSM-2007-0008-0553. For more information contact David Hartos, Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, 3 Parkway Center, Pittsburgh, PA 15220; Telephone: 412-937-2909.
[Federal Register: October 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 207)]

DOI – The Minerals Management Service announces the availability of North American Datum of 1983 (NAD 83) and North American Datum of 1927 (NAD 27) Outer Continental Shelf Official Protraction Diagrams.
[Federal Register: October 24, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 207)]

EPA – The Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Children's Health Protection and Environmental Education Staff requests nominations of environmental education professionals for consideration on the National Environmental Education Advisory Council (NEEAC). There are currently two vacancies on the Advisory Council that must be filled: one State Department of Education (2009-2012) and one Primary and Secondary Education (2009-2012). The deadline for application submission is November 21, 2008. For more information contact Ginger Potter, Designated Federal Officer, EPA National Environmental Education Advisory Council, at 202-564-0453 or potter.ginger@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: October 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 209)]

DOD – The Department of the Navy announces two meetings of the Ocean Research and Resources Advisory Panel (ORRAP) at the Consortium of Ocean Leadership in Washington, DC. The first, on November 6, 2008, is to finalize the content of the ORRAP administration transition document. The second, on December 5, 2008, is a regularly scheduled meeting and discussion items will include ocean research to applications, ocean observing, professional certification programs, and other current issues in the ocean science and resource management communities. For more information contact Dr. Charles L. Vincent, Office of Naval Research, at 703-696-4118.
[Federal Register: October 28, 2008 (Volume 73, Number 209)]

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Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan (Staff of Government Affairs) and Merilie Reynolds, AAPG/AGI Fall Intern.

Sources: National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL), Greenwire, Associated Press, National Center for Science Education (NCSE), Triangle Coalition for Science and Technology Education, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), Union of Concerned Scientists, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Environment and Energy Daily, New York Times, Washington Post, American Association for the Advancement of Science and Science Magazine.

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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 November 3, 2008.

 

 

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