Monthly Review: November 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. Congress Returns to Appropriations in December
2. Energy Bill Still in Play
3. House Passes Mercury Export Ban Act of 2007
4. DOE's Nuclear Fuel Recycling Program Losing Support
5. Climate Change Bill May Pass Senate Committee
6. Climate Change Adaptation Bill Introduced
7. Restructuring the Climate Change Science Program
8. Businesses Want Carbon Dioxide Regulations
9. IPCC Releases Final Report for Policymakers
10. Government Report Highlights Demise of Oil and Gas R&D
11. International Conference on Earth Observations Highlights Funding Woes
12. Texas Science Board Ouster over Creationism
13. New Journal about Teaching Evolution
14. Publishers Sharpen Restrictions on Access
15. Top Public High Schools
16. International Science Tests: American Students Rank Low
17. Join Us for Congressional Visits in March
18. Apply for Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
19. Students Can Apply for Geopolicy Internship
20. Key Federal Register Notices
21. New Updates to the Web

1. Congress Returns to Appropriations in December

Congress left for the Thanksgiving recess on November 16, 2007 with one appropriation bill approved by the President and eleven more to work on in December. They completed the Department of Defense appropriations (H.R. 3222), which President Bush signed into law. The measure included language to extend the first continuing resolution (Public Law 110-92) from November 16, 2007 to December 14, 2007. The extension also included emergency funds of $329 million for the Forest Service (Agriculture Department) and $171 million for the Bureau of Land Management (Interior Department) to suppress and mitigate wildfires. In addition, the extension included $2.9 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) for disaster relief and $3 billion for the Department of Housing and Urban Development to pay for eligible grants as part of Louisiana's Road Home recovery plan. The costs of hurricane Katrina and other hazards continue to affect the federal budget in large and small ways.

Congress also completed the Labor, Health and Human Services and Education appropriation bill in November, but the President vetoed the measure and the House fell ten votes short of overriding the veto. Soon after the vote, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) announced that the Senate would consider a compromise omnibus to resolve the budget stalemate. Essentially the Senate would cut $11 billion from domestic spending bills, which is exactly half of the difference between the President's request and the congressional bills. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) also announced that the House is considering a similar compromise. On November 16, new allocations for the appropriation subcommittees were announced.

For Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS), the President's request allocated $51,241 million and the new subcommittee allocation is $52,630 million, which means that the House subcommittee needs to eliminate $921 million from their bill and the Senate subcommittee needs to eliminate $ 2,016 million from their bill. For the geosciences community this means the subcommittees will be under pressure to reduce funding for NSF, NASA, NOAA and some programs at USGS that fall under the purview of the CJS subcommittees. For example, cuts to the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) have been suggested. NEHRP is a collaboration of NSF, USGS, FEMA and NIST and much of its funding comes under the purview of CJS.

For Energy and Water (EW), the President's request allocated $30,298 million and the new subcommittee allocation is $31,351 million, which means the House subcommittee needs to eliminate $255 million and the Senate subcommittee needs to eliminate $922 million. Again for the geosciences, this means the subcommittees will be under pressure to reduce funding for the Department of Energy, including basic and applied research supported by the department. While investments for oil, natural gas and geothermal R&D have been terminated in the President's budget request and are unlikely to be reinstated in this very difficult and contentious budget cycle, the geosciences receive a significant amount of funding through the Office of Science at the Energy Department and this funding is under some pressure to be cut.

Finally the Administration has apparently already indicated that it will not consider the $11 billion in cuts as a sufficient compromise and so the President may yet veto any omnibus or individual bills that contain increases in domestic spending above his requested levels. Congress has vowed not to leave the nation without a budget at the end of December, however, it is unclear how the budget stalemate might be resolved.

2. Energy Bill Still in Play

Although Congress was on recess at the end of November, congressional staff and members were busy trying to negotiate compromises on an energy bill the Democrats would like to complete in December. The compromises to the Senate and House bills include small changes to fuel efficiency targets, biofuels, and taxes on renewable energy. For fuel efficiency, congressional negotiators are trying to maintain the Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFÉ) target of 35 miles per gallon by 2020 in the original Senate bill, but are being asked to give automakers fuel efficiency credits for flexible-fuel vehicles, consider separate mileage standards for light trucks and cars and give automakers more time to reach the 35 miles per gallon quota. For biofuels, the request for 3 billion gallons of "advanced biofuels" to come from sources other than corn is being pushed forward from 2016 to 2013 in the hope of easing corn prices and in recognition of advances in biofuel research. Four items in the original bills appear unlikely at this time to be included in the final bill in order to garner enough votes for passage. The four include a requirement for utilities to use minimum amounts of renewable energy, a rollback of the oil industry's share of a tax break for manufacturers, a measure to recover oil royalties lost in the late 1990s and an extension of tax breaks for renewable energy.

CAFÉ standards have not been changed since they were introduced in the mid-1970s. An energy bill that includes new CAFÉ standards would be a major accomplishment in the politically rarefied air around Capitol Hill.

3. House Passes Mercury Export Ban Act of 2007

On Tuesday November 13, 2007 the House passed H.R. 1534, the Mercury Export Ban Act of 2007, which prohibits the sale, distribution, and transfer of elemental mercury by the federal government and U.S.-based private businesses. The export ban would begin January 1, 2010, and the prohibition against sale or distribution of elemental mercury would begin once the bill becomes law. H.R. 1534 was created by Representative Tom Allen (D-ME), who says that this legislation "is a major step toward eliminating a key source of this powerful neurotoxin and the serious health threats it poses."

Elemental mercury is used in artisanal mining and other unregulated activities in countries in Asia and South America, causing contamination of air, water, and food sources worldwide. Allen hopes that H.R. 1534 will work with other proposed regulations from Congress, the European Parliament, and the European Commission to decrease mercury use and contamination globally.

H.R. 1534 allows U.S. companies to store mercury in long-term facilities, and requires the DOE to store mercury from private companies for a fee. The DOE and the Department of Defense (DOD) already have some of the largest domestic supplies of elemental mercury.

A statement released by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) says the Administration "opposes H.R. 1534 as a premature and potentially ineffective means for addressing global mercury risk, and believes that EPA already has authority under current law to address risks from domestic uses of mercury." The Administration also fears that global mercury use may increase if U.S. exports are cut off. Many organizations do support H.R. 1534, including the American Medical Association, the American College of Preventive Medicine, and the Nature Conservancy.

A Senate companion bill, S.906, was created by Senators Barack Obama (D-IL) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK).

To read the House Committee on Energy and Commerce press release click here.

4. DOE's Nuclear Fuel Recycling Program Losing Support

The Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a Department of Energy (DOE) nuclear energy program to promote safe, clean nuclear energy use worldwide, has recently lost many of its previous supporters. The program advocates recycling spent nuclear fuel and sharing technology and resources between countries to help all nations achieve reliable energy without greenhouse gas emissions.

The decrease in support is due to increasing budget estimates and a 2007 National Academies of Science (NAS) report which suggests "the GNEP program should not go forward and that it should be replaced by a less aggressive research program." The authors justify their decision by stating that GNEP "is premised on an accelerated deployment strategy that will create significant technical and financial risks, engendered by the premature narrowing of technical options."

The DOE issued a response stating that the NAS report "is premised on a faulty assumption that DOE intends to facilitate premature commercial deployment of technologies that have not been demonstrated beyond laboratory-scale" and due to "large expected increases in the demand for electricity as well as serious concerns about climate change, a substantial increase in nuclear capacity is required worldwide" faster than recommended by NAS. The DOE response admitted that "although the analysis in the report was based on outdated, early-program information, the recommendations developed by the committee mirror many of the conclusions developed and incorporated in the program by the Department."

Senator Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) strongly supports nuclear energy initiatives and until recently showed similar support for GNEP. During a November 14th Senate hearing, Domenici said "I have remained committed to helping nuclear power reach its full potential in this country, yet we are still lagging behind on what to do with our nuclear waste. If the Department of Energy cannot start taking spent fuel from our reactors, the liability for DOE's failure will continue to accumulate and accelerate. We must act quickly to address our spent nuclear fuel issue and ensure that taxpayers are spared the direct costs resulting from our flawed Yucca Mountain strategy."

The current Yucca Mountain storage facility program is over twenty-five years old, has been plagued with budget increases and timeline delays, and is still in the design process. The U.S. needs a permanent, safe strategy for nuclear waste recycling and storage, but no other options have been developed as far as Yucca Mountain.


5. Climate Change Bill May Pass Senate Committee

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee hopes to complete their mark-up of their climate change bill, the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007 (S.2191) and approve it before the United Nations Summit on Global Warming in Bali, Indonesia. The scenario involves a manager's amendment to be introduced by Chair Barbara Boxer (D-CA) at the start of the mark-up. The amendment would replace the current version with a new version that would include 80 percent versus 75 percent of emitters under the cap and trade scheme, phase out free credits to emitters by 2031 instead of 2036 and create a separate cap system for hydrofluorocarbons. Rumors suggest that once this new version is amended in the two-day mark-up it will pass mustard with the full committee.

There is no similar legislation ready in the House and the fate of the Senate legislation remains uncertain. The Environmental Protection Agency and the Energy Information Administration are both tasked with assessing the measure but have not begun their analyses. Both agencies are working to complete analyses of the Specter-Bingaman climate change bill first. It is also unclear whether President Bush would consider signing a bill that is similar to the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act of 2007. For now, it seems extremely unlikely that any climate change bill will be placed on the President's desk for signature until sometime in 2008.

6. Climate Change Adaptation Bill Introduced

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) introduced a bill entitled the "Climate Change Adaptation Act" (S.2355) in November that requests the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to assess the vulnerability and adaptability of the nation's coastal and ocean resources. With funding of $35 million per year for 5 years, NOAA would assess the effects of storm surge, sea level rise, ocean acidification and changes in the Great Lakes among other things and also help states to develop adaptation and mitigation plans. The bill was motivated in part by a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report in August about the federal agencies inability to manage national parks, forests, oceans and monuments to deal with climate change. The report is entitled "Climate Change: Agencies Should Develop Guidance for Addressing the Effects on Federal Land and Water Resources" (GAO-07-863).

The full text of the bill is available from Thomas at: http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c110:S.2355:
The GAO report is available at: http://www.gao.gov/docsearch/abstract.php?rptno=GAO-07-863


7. Restructuring the Climate Change Science Program

In August, 2007, a federal court ruled that the federal government must complete its national assessment of climate change as required by law by May 2008. President Bush replaced the national assessment with a Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) that called for a series of 21 separate reports. Only four of the reports have been completed and the program has been described as chaotic and confusing by some. At a Senate hearing on CCSP, the discussion became so heated that Senator John Kerry (D-MA) called for the resignation of the Bush Administration's Science Advisor John Marburger, after Marburger refused to consider the climate change problem "urgent". Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME) called climate change a "matter of life and death," and concluded "I believe the administration is in a time warp on this issue."

To remedy concerns about the CCSP, Senators Snowe and Kerry have introduced a bill that would restructure CCSP. The bill entitled "Global Change Research Improvement Act of 2007" (S.2307) would replace "Earth and environmental sciences" with "global change research" throughout the Global Change Research Act of 1990, would establish an Integrated Program Office at the Office of Science and Technology Policy to ensure the programs are well organized, would require the President to submit an integrated climate budget and would require the President to establish guidelines to ensure the integrity of scientific communications. The measure mentions the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and calls on each agency to take some specific action. The bill does not acknowledge the important research conducted by the United States Geological Survey, which is lumped in the category of other federal agencies.

A similar bill in the House (H.R. 906) was folded into the energy bill and it is unclear what will happen to the Senate measure as Congress must focus on many other pressing issues in December.

8. Businesses Want Carbon Dioxide Regulations

One hundred and fifty international companies signed a statement calling for mandatory cuts in greenhouse gas emissions on the eve of the United Nations Summit on Global Warming in Bali, Indonesia. The statement appeared in the Financial Times and was organized by Prince Charles' Corporate Leaders Group on Climate Change. Twenty U.S. companies, including Coca Cola, General Electric, Nike, Shell Oil and Johnson and Johnson signed the agreement which said that the scientific evidence for climate change is "now overwhelming" and that a legally binding agreement among businesses "will provide businesses with the certainty it needs to scale up global investment in low-carbon technologies."

A different coalition of environmental groups and U.S. companies including Honeywell, Shell Oil and Pacific Gas and Electric helped underwrite a report analyzing the costs of greenhouse gas reductions. The report concludes that the U.S. could cut emissions by 3 to 4.5 billion metric tons per year through existing and emerging technologies, which represents a 7 to 28 percent reduction in greenhouse gases from 2005 levels. The costs for these reductions would be less than $50 per metric ton and the report concludes that about 40 percent of these measures would save money in the long run. The authors cautioned that such reductions would require the determination of the federal government in the form of standards, mandates and incentives. The report was prepared by McKinsey and Co.

The full report is available from McKinsey and Co. at: http://www.mckinsey.com/clientservice/ccsi/greenhousegas.asp

9. IPCC Releases Final Report for Policymakers

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports that even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly in the future temperatures will increase, sea level will rise, and regions of the globe will experience increased drought. The data, released Saturday November 23rd as a summary report for policymakers, comes from the IPCC fourth assessment reports (2007). One of the largest impacts in the U.S. will be decreased snowpack in the West causing increased floods in winter and drought in summer. U.S. cities that experience heatwaves are expected to see increased frequency, duration, and severity of heatwaves during the next century.

While some aspects of climate change are deemed unavoidable, others can be reduced or avoided by implementing greenhouse gas emission reduction policies. Combined adaptation and mitigation strategies may allow countries to avoid some of the most catastrophic consequences of climate change. The report underscores the importance of swift, comprehensive legislation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and includes selected examples of key sectoral mitigation technologies, policies and measures, and constraints and opportunities. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said at the release of the report that "concerted and sustained action now can still avoid some of the most catastrophic scenarios under [IPCC] forecasts."

The report will likely play a major role in the December 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Bali, Indonesia, where countries will negotiate an environmental policy agreement to follow the expiration of the Kyoto Protocol. At the conference, the U.S. government will likely promote policies that encourage energy-efficient technologies while spurring the economy. During the negotiations of the summary for policymakers it was reported that Bush Administration officials tried to edit the reports to downplay certain harmful aspects of climate change, but the Administration claims that they support greenhouse gas reductions and their actions were merely part of the normal editing process. White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman Jim Connaughton said "we are operating within the construct of, again, strong agreement among world leaders that urgent action is warranted."

For a press briefing via conference call by senior Administration officials on the IPCC report summary click here.

10. Government Report Highlights Demise of Oil and Gas R&D

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has completed a report entitled "Department of Energy: Oil and Natural Gas Research and Development Activities" as requested by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND), chairman of the Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee. For the third consecutive year, the President's budget request does not include funding for the Department of Energy's oil and natural gas research and development (R&D) programs, largely based on the premise that the large oil and gas companies can fund their own R&D, especially during times of high oil and natural gas prices.

The report produced five key results: (1) DOE oil and natural gas R&D appropriations have declined from $162 million in fiscal year 1997 to $14 million in fiscal year 2007; (2) DOE oil and natural gas appropriations have resulted in increasing exploration and production, addressing environmental protection, extending reservoir lives, developing gas hydrates, and other activities such as fuel cells, gas turbines, and infrastructure improvements; (3) most of these appropriations go to small independent producers who drill 90 percent of the domestic oil and gas wells, produce 68 percent of domestic oil and 82 percent of domestic natural gas; (4) future DOE oil and natural gas R&D investments could increase domestic oil and natural gas production especially for independent producers to levels that would otherwise not occur, reduce environmental impacts, and develop "game changing" technologies such as gas hydrates, and next generation enhanced oil recovery methods that would help further CO2 sequestration; (5) DOE supported R&D has resulted in technical innovations. Although the benefits of R&D can be difficult to quantify according to the GAO, considering key questions about the need for research, industry commitment to research, and the costs and benefits associated, the research can help define the role of the Federal Government and assist the Congress in its policy choices.

The full report is available from the GAO's website at: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d08190r.pdf

11. International Conference on Earth Observations Highlights Funding Woes

An international conference of more than 70 countries, the European Commission and international scientific organizations gathered in Cape Town, South Africa on November 30th to discuss the status of the "Global Earth Observation System of Systems," or GEOSS. The global effort is meant to weave together a fuller picture of changes in Earth's lands, oceans and atmospheres. The data will be used to examine long-term threats such as climate change, deforestation and drought as well as immediate threats like tsunamis, hurricanes and earthquakes. GEOSS was initiated in 2005 by the Group of Eight Nations and is 2 year into a 10 year implementation plan.

The global conference will focus additional attention on declines in U.S. Earth observing capabilities. A National Academies report published in January and a Senate hearing in July highlighted the cuts and delays in upcoming Earth observation missions and the significant reduction of Earth observing capabilities over the next decade. In particular the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) jointly managed by NASA, NOAA and the Pentagon and the Landsat Satellite Series jointly managed by NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey are in serious financial trouble. Congress has tried to add funding for these projects in the fiscal year 2008 budget deliberations, however, given the extreme uncertainty in these fiscal deliberations it is unclear whether these programs will be able to effectively move forward.

12. Texas Science Board Ouster over Creationism

The Associated Press reported on November 29, 2007 that the Texas state science board director, Chris Comer, is being removed because of her alleged criticism of intelligent design. According to the report, Comer sent an email announcement about an upcoming presentation by Barbara Forrest, an author of "Creationism's Trojan Horse." The book suggests that creationists are behind the efforts to get intelligent design taught in public schools. According to documents obtained by The Austin American-Statesman, Texas education officials said "Ms. Comer's e-mail implies endorsement of the speaker and implies that T.E.A. endorses the speaker's position on a subject on which the agency must remain neutral" The officials go on to say that Comer is being fired for repeated acts of misconduct and insubordination. Comer held her position for nine years and it is unclear how her ouster might affect the continuing review of the Texas science curriculum. The actions of the Texas Education Agency are of particular interest to the broader Earth science community beyond Texas in part because Texas has one of the largest public school systems in the nation and their standards affect curriculum and textbook content development throughout the country.

13. New Journal about Teaching Evolution

Springer announced the print version debut of its new journal entitled "Evolution: Education and Outreach" on November 28, 2007. The journal "promotes understanding and teaching of evolutionary theory for a wide audience. Targeting students of all ages including undergraduates, teachers and scientists alike, the journal publishes articles to aid members of these communities in the teaching of evolutionary theory." according to their press release. The press release goes on to say: "The quarterly journal connects teachers with scientists by adapting cutting-edge, peer-reviewed articles for classroom use on a variety of instructional levels. Teachers and scientists collaborate on multi-authored papers and offer tools for teachers such as unit and lesson plans and classroom activities, as well as additional online content such as podcasts and PowerPoint presentations."

Springer is also awarding prizes of as much as $10,000 annually for enhancing research and teaching of evolution.

More information about the journal is available from a social networking site: http://www.myspace.com/springer_evoo

14. Publishers Sharpen Restrictions on Access

A consortium of publishers announced new rules to allow a web site to block indexing of web pages, specific directories or the entire web site. The Automated Content Access Protocol (ACAP) grew out of disputes with Google, Yahoo and other search companies that were posting content without permission. Google claimed "fair use" provisions of copyright laws allowed them to post such content, however, Google settled claims with Agence France-Presse and the Associated Press recently, suggesting the "fair use" argument was not holding up in legal challenges.

ACAP replaces a 13 year old system in which search companies voluntarily respected the wishes of the web site as declared in a text file known as "robots.txt". It is unclear how the new protocol will affect access to scientific journals and data at this time. Not everyone is using ACAP and sites can set-up their own rules within ACAP.

15. Top Public High Schools

U.S. News and World Report published a ranking of 18,790 public high schools in 40 states using data from the 2005-2006 school year. The schools were rated on their scores on standardized tests, their participation and performance in advanced placement courses and the performance of each school's disadvantaged students. The highest ranking (gold) was given to just the top 100 schools, 405 schools received a silver ranking and 1086 schools received a bronze ranking.

More details about the ranking and a full list of the top high schools is available at http://www.usnews.com/sections/education/high-schools/index.html

16. International Science Tests: American Students Rank Low

The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is administered by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and is an internationally standardized assessment that was jointly developed by participating countries and administered to15-year-olds in schools. The survey was implemented in 43 countries in 2000, 41 countries in 2003, 57 countries in 2006 and 62 countries have signed up for the test in 2009. In each country between 4,500 and 10,000 students take the tests.

PISA is one of the few mechanisms for regularly and directly comparing the quality of educational outcomes in the countries that make up almost 90 percent of the world's economy. PISA measures the capacity of fifteen-year-old students in OECD countries to apply what they've learned in the classroom in order to analyze, reason, and communicate effectively.

On December 4, 2007, PISA announced the results of the 2006 tests in press conferences throughout the world, including one in Washington DC. The 2006 tests focused on science, while also testing math and reading. U.S. students achieved a mean score of 489 points in science, below the OECD average of 500 points. Finland scored the highest at 563 points, six participants scored between 530 and 542 points (Canada, Japan and New Zealand and the non-OECD countries/economies Hong Kong-China, Chinese Taipei and Estonia) and thirteen participants scored above the 500 point average (Australia, the Netherlands, Korea, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, Ireland and the non-OECD countries/economies Liechtenstein, Slovenia, and Macao-China). The U.S. ranked 21st in science among the 30 OECD countries.

Results were similar for the PISA math tests. The U.S. achieved a mean score of 474 points below the average of 498 points for OECD countries and the U.S. ranked 25th among 30 OECD countries in math. Due to an error in printing of the tests the reading results for U.S. students are not available.

PISA provides a much more detailed analysis of their tests and their results on their web page. For more information about the testing and the possible reasons for the scores, please visit their site at: http://www.pisa.oecd.org

17. Join Us for Congressional Visits in March

Join us for the 13th annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on March 4-5, 2008. This two-day annual event brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology. Participants will spend the first day learning about how Congress works, the current state of the budget process and how to conduct congressional visits. The second day will consist of visits with members of Congress. In addition to the workshops and visits, participants will get to meet other scientists and engineers, meet federal science agency representatives and attend a reception and breakfast at which members of Congress will speak and meet with the audience.

Please consider participating in these visits and plan early to come to Washington DC. Many scientific societies are involved in CVD, including several of AGI's Member Societies. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America are very active participating societies in CVD and can help coordinate your visits. In addition, these societies and AGI will coordinate a geoscience workshop on March 4 for the geoscientists and geo-engineers who participate.

Individuals interested in participating should contact the Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org

More details about Congressional Visits Day (CVD) and examples of past visits are available at the Working Group web site: http://www.setcvd.org/cvd2008/index.html

18. Apply for 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 2008) 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 $55,000. 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, 2008.

More details on this fellowship and similar fellowships offered by AGI Member Societies (AGU, GSA and SSSA) are available here.

19. Students Can Apply for Geopolicy Internship

The American Geological Institute (AGI) seeks outstanding geoscience students with a strong interest in federal science policy for a semester-long internship in geoscience and public policy in Washington DC. 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. AGI is planning to accept one intern for spring 2008 at a fixed stipend of $4,500 for fourteen weeks. The application deadline has been extended to December 21, 2008. Please contact Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs at rowan@agiweb.org if you are interested in applying.

More information is available at: http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/index.html

20. Key Federal Register Notices

NRC- NRC announces an extension of its comment period on its intent to prepare a generic environmental impact statement for Uranium milling facilities. The GEIS will focus on the construction, operation, and decommissioning of ISL mills and also assesses alternative methods of uranium recovery. For more information on the uranium fuel cycle, please see Regulating Nuclear Fuel, NUREG/BR-0280, Rev. 1, which can be found online at: http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doccollections/nuregs/brochures/br0280/. Submit your comments by November 30, 2007 by e-mail to NRCREP@nrc.gov. Please refer to the ''Uranium Recovery GEIS'' when submitting comments.
[Federal Register: November 1, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 211)]

DOI- Minerals Management Service is seeking interested individuals to serve on its Outer Continental Shelf Scientific Committee during the period of April 29, 2008 through April 28, 2010. The OCS SC is chartered under the Federal Advisory Committee Act to advise the Secretary of the Interior through the Director of the MMS on the appropriateness, feasibility, and scientific value of the OCS Environmental Studies Program and environmental aspects of the offshore energy and marine minerals programs. Interested individuals should send a letter of interest and resume within 30 days to: Ms. Phyllis Clark, Minerals Management Service, Offshore Minerals Management, 381 Elden Street, Mail Stop 4041, Herndon, Virginia 20170. She may be reached by telephone at (703) 787-1716.
[Federal Register: November 2, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 212)]

EPA- EPA is taking direct final action to amend the Federal Implementation Plans (FIPs) for the Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR) to provide for automatic withdrawal of the CAIR FIPs in a State upon the effective date of EPA's approval of a full State implementation plan revision meeting the CAIR requirements. Submit your comments, identified by Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OAR-2007-0510, at http://www.regulations.gov.
[Federal Register: November 2, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 212)]

EPA- The EPA's Environmental Laboratory Advisory Board (ELAB), will have teleconference meetings on November 29, 2007 at 1 p.m. ET; December 19, 2007 at 1 p.m. ET; February 20, 2008 at 1 p.m. ET; March 19, 2007 at 1 p.m. ET; and April 16, 2007 at 1 p.m. ET Items to be discussed by ELAB over these coming meetings include: (1) Expanding the number of laboratories seeking National Environmental Laboratory Accreditation Conference (NELAC) accreditation; (2) homeland security issues affecting the laboratory community; (3) ELAB support to the Agency's Forum on Environmental Measurements (FEM); (4) implementing the performance approach; and (5) follow-up on some of ELAB's past recommendations and issues. For comments or to request attendance, contact Ms. Lara P. Autry at autry.lara@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: November 5, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 213)]

DOI- Minerals Management Service (MMS) invites comments concerning the authorization of activities on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) involving the installation of meteorological or marine data collection facilities to assess alternative energy resources (e.g., wind, wave, and ocean current) or to test alternative energy technology to produce or support production of alternative energy. The MMS requests comments by January 7, 2008. Submit comments at https://ocsconnect.mms.gov, or for further information contact Ms. Maureen Bornholdt at (703) 787-1300.
[Federal Register: November 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 214)]

EPA- The Board of Scientific Counselors Technology for Sustainability subcommittee will hold an open teleconference meeting Tuesday, December 11, 2007 from 3:00-5:00 pm EST. To participate in the meeting, contact Clois Slocum at slocum.clois@epa.gov. To submit comments by e-mail to ORD.Docket@epa.gov, Attention Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-ORD-2006-1010.
[Federal Register: November 6, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 214)]

DOC- NOAA publishes this notice to change the full proposal submission deadline for the solicitation ''FY 2008 Regional Integrated Ocean Observing Systems.'' Proposals must be submitted no later than 5 pm, Eastern Time, December 3, 2007. For administrative issues, contact James Lewis Free at 843-740-1185 (phone) or by e-mail at James.L.Free@noaa.gov. Technical questions on the IOOS announcement should be directed to the following people: Mary Culver at 843-740-1250 (phone) or by e-mail at Mary.Culver@noaa.gov, or Geno Olmi at 843-740-1230 (phone) or by e-mail at Geno.Olmi@noaa.gov.
[Federal Register: November 14, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 219)]

EPA- The EPA Science Advisory Board (SAB) Staff Office announces a public face-to-face meeting of the chartered SAB to: continue its discussions of the strategic research directions for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; complete its discussions of science use in disaster response programs; complete its quality review of the draft SAB report Advisory on Hypoxia in the Gulf of Mexico; and to continue its planning activities for future SAB meetings. The meeting dates are Thursday, December 6, 2007, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. through Friday, December 7, 2007, from 8:30 a.m., no later than 12 p.m. EST in Washington, DC. For further information contact Mr. Thomas O. Miller by telephone at (202) 343-9982or by e-mail at: miller.tom@epa.gov.
[Federal Register: November 15, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 220)]

DOE- DOE announces that the National Coal Council has been renewed for a two-year period ending November 7, 2009. The Council will continue to provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on a continuing basis regarding general policy matters relating to coal issues. For further information contact Rachel Samuel at 202-586-3279.
[Federal Register: November 23, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 225)]

DOE- DOE announces that the National Petroleum Council has been renewed for a two-year period ending November 7, 2009. The Council will continue to provide advice, information, and recommendations to the Secretary of Energy on matters relating to oil and natural gas, and to all segments of the oil and natural gas industries. For further information contact Pat Halsey at (865) 576-4025 or check the web site at http://www.oakridge.doe.gov/em/ssab.
[Federal Register: November 23, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 225)]

NSF- NSF announces its intent to hold proposal review meetings throughout the year. The purpose of these meetings is to provide advice and recommendations concerning proposals submitted to the NSF for financial support. The agenda for each of these meetings is to review and evaluate proposals as part of the selection process for awards. These closed proposal review meetings be announced on a quarterly basis in the Federal Register. For an advance listing of the closed proposal review meetings that include the names of the proposal review panel and the time, date, place, and any information on changes, corrections, or cancellations, please visit the NSF web site: http://www.nsf.gov/events/advisory.jsp. This information may also be requested at 703-292-8182.
[Federal Register: November 23, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 225)]

21. 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:

Hearings on Climate Change (11-20-07)
Hearings on Climate Change (11-16-07)
Action Alert: Request DOE Support From House (11-16-07)
Hearings on Climate Change (11-14-07)
Hearings on Energy (11-13-07)

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

Sources: E&E Daily, National Academies, U.S. Senate, Energy Department, Climate Science Watch, White House press releases, House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Associated Press, Springer, Independent Petroleum Association of America and McKinsey and Co. AGI-GAP is especially grateful to IPAA for providing much of the summary of the GAO Oil and Gas Report in item number 10.

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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 December 4, 2007.