Monthly Review: December 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. Join Us for Congressional Visits in March
2. Final Budget Passed with Cuts to Non-Defense Spending
3. Geosciences Squeezed in Final Omnibus: NASA, DOE,
NSF and USGS (*Addendum to USGS - 1/15/2008*)
4. Energy Bill Driven Into Law
5. California Emissions Waiver Denied: Fallout from Energy
6. Europe Considers Vehicle Emission Standards Too
7. Climate Change Adaptation and Research Sails Through
8. Climate Change Cap and Trade Darts Through Senate
9. Bali Road Map: Where Does International Climate Change
10. New Elementary Science Education Coalition
11. National Academies Publish Revised Creationism Booklet
12. AGI Announces Edward Roy Teaching Award
13. Apply for Congressional Geoscience Fellowship
14. Key Federal Register Notices
15. New Updates to the Web
1. 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 geosciences
workshop on March 4 for the geoscientists and geo-engineers who participate.
Individuals interested in participating should contact the Government
Affairs Program at email@example.com
More details about Congressional Visits Day (CVD) and examples of
past visits are available at the Working
Group web site.
2. Final Budget Passed
with Cuts to Non-Defense Spending
After a very long year with a new, yet slim Democratic majority in
Congress squaring off for the first time with a seasoned, seventh
year Republican President on fiscal priorities for 2008, all of the
non-defense discretionary spending was wrapped in a massive omnibus
and signed into law by President Bush on December 26, 2007. The omnibus
includes $555 billion for 11 appropriation bills, $70 billion in emergency
funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and $11.2 billion in
emergency funds for veterans ($3.7 billion), drought relief ($1 billion),
wildfire suppression ($300 million) and other priorities. The Department
of Defense appropriation bill, which provides $460 billion, was handled
separately and agreed to on November 8, 2007 and signed into law (Public
Law 110-116) by President Bush on November 13, 2007.
The completion of the 2008 budget comes almost three months after
the October 1st, 2007 start of fiscal year 2008 and required four
continuing resolutions to keep the government functioning. The main
battle was over $22 billion in additional discretionary spending that
Congress approved, but President Bush refused to consider.
Congress passed a mini-omnibus of the two next largest bills (Departments
of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education plus Military Construction
and Veterans Affairs) with extra spending (about $215.4 billion in
total and $10 billion more than the President's request) at the same
time as they passed the massive Department of Defense bill. Both measures
were sent to the President on the same day, hoping for his signatures.
Instead President Bush vetoed the mini-omnibus and Congress failed
to override the veto on November 16, 2007. After a Thanksgiving recess,
some heated rhetoric and no remaining options, Congress cut about
$22 billion from the 11 appropriation bills to satisfy the President's
requested budget level and the omnibus became law.
The total budget is $2.9 trillion with discretionary spending taking
about a third of the budget ($460 billion for defense and $555 billion
for non-defense). For those who wish to compare spending with other
key economic indicators, the gross domestic product is about $13.97
trillion for the third quarter of 2007 and the total national debt
as of January 2, 2008 is $9.2 trillion. The 110th Congress passed
a joint resolution raising the statutory limit on the national debt
from $8.9 trillion to $9.8 trillion (H.J. Res 43) in May 2007, anticipating
the rising debt.
Two other characteristics of this year's budget worth noting are
the earmarks and conference reporting. The 12 discretionary spending
bills include 11,043 earmarks worth about $14.1 billion. The cost
of earmarks in fiscal year 2008 was reduced by about 50 percent compared
to the last approved budget for fiscal year 2006 (9,963 earmarks worth
$29 billion) and fulfills a Democratic majority promise to reduce
earmarks (or at least their costs). The 110th Congress required the
authors of earmarks to put their names on projects, which not only
helps to identify earmarks, but probably to stem some specified spending.
Regarding the conference reports that typically accompany bills and
provide guidance on congressional intent beyond the concise legislative
language, the 110th Congress prepared an additional report entitled
"Joint Explanatory Statement to Accompany Consolidated Appropriations
Amendment." This report indicates that the language in the Senate
and the House conference reports is approved and should be interpreted
accordingly, unless the joint statement is different and thus overrides
these conference reports.
Anyone looking for additional guidance on congressional intent in
its budgetary allocations will need to look at all three reports and
there may still be some budget battles ahead because of the atypical
joint statement as well as the rush to complete the huge omnibus.
Indeed, President Bush, unhappy with earmarks, has threatened to cancel
some of them. He has asked the Office of Management and Budget to
look into the Administration's authority to alter or ignore specific
earmarks, especially earmarks that were only included in conference
reports rather than in the actual legislation.
For the full text of the omnibus and the related reports please visit
Thomas and link to their extensive appropriations section, http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app08.html
The Bureau of Economic Analysis press release on December 20, 2007
summarizes the gross
domestic product for the third quarter of 2007
Information on the national
debt is available from the Treasury Department.
3. Geosciences Squeezed
in Final Omnibus: NASA, DOE, NSF and USGS
The omnibus for fiscal year 2008 included significant cuts to science
and engineering compared to the House and Senate approved bills. The
competitiveness initiatives of legislators and the Administration
were unable to compete with other fiscal priorities and perhaps some
partisanship at the end. Although President Bush has allowed past
Republican-led congresses to send him budgets that were significantly
over the Administration's total spending limit requests, this year
he demanded that legislators meet his spending limits and would not
compromise on any details. Congress attempted and failed to override
the President's veto of a mini-omnibus and then spent a few days rapidly
cutting the extra spending of about $22 billion across 11 appropriation
The outcome is a squeeze on funding of geosciences research across
the federal agencies. The National Science Foundation, one of the
largest sources of basic geosciences research, will receive a disappointing
2.5 percent increase in total funding after being slated for a 10
percent increase in House and Senate proposals. The Geosciences Directorate
will have to cut research support because less funding will be available
overall, the Directorate faces significant rising costs for operation,
maintenance and infrastructure and any small increases distributed
to the Directorate will not keep pace with the cost of inflation,
meaning a decrease in funding in real dollars.
The Department of Energy's Office of Science, where additional basic
geosciences research is funded also received a last minute reduction
of about $500 million compared to funding levels in the House and
Senate proposals. Again the geosciences will see real cuts to basic
research support, continuing a trend in the Office of Science of decreasing
funding for geosciences.
On a more positive note, NASA's Earth science division, Department
of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy and the U.S. Geological Survey
will receive small, sustaining increases for geosciences research
to keep a wide variety of programs and projects afloat. Over the longer
term, these programs and projects will need real increases above the
costs of inflation and basic operations and maintenance to ensure
that these agencies meet their objectives.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) provides
a useful summary of federal investments in research and development
(R&D) on an annual basis. According to AAAS, total R&D would
increase about 1.2 percent to $142.7 billion for fiscal year 2008
and would be the fourth straight year of decline in real terms in
federal R&D. The omnibus bill contains $927 million in non-defense
R&D earmarks in 2008, down from $1.5 billion in non-defense R&D
earmarks in 2006. The Defense Department budget includes $77.8 billion
for R&D and $3.5 billion is specified for earmarks.
Among the major agencies of interest to the geosciences, NASA would
receive $12.5 billion for R&D (a 5.7 percent increase compared
to fiscal year 2007), the Energy Department would receive $9.376 billion
for R&D (a 7.4 percent increase), the National Science Foundation
would receive $4.53 billion for R&D (a 1.1 percent increase),
USGS would receive $583 million for R&D (a 3.4 percent increase),
NOAA would receive $573 million for R&D (a 7.6 percent increase),
NIST would receive $514 million (a 4.7 percent increase) and the Smithsonian
would receive $175 million for R&D ( the same as their budget
for 2007). These numbers from AAAS are focused solely on R&D funding
within these agencies and do not consider expenditures that might
indirectly affect R&D. Below are some highlights of the overall
budgets of select agencies of interest to the geosciences.
NASA would receive a total budget of $17.3 billion, a few hundred
million dollars below House and Senate proposals and excluding a $1
billion emergency funding proposal set forth in the Senate bill. The
Science, Aeronautics and Exploration Division would receive $10.543
billion with $5.577 billion for science, $625 million for aeronautics
and $3.842 billion for exploration systems. The joint report noted
that $57.9 million would be reduced from the Division and that none
of the funds could be used for the human exploration of Mars.
Congress also expressed disappointment with the small increases for
science at NASA projected by the Administration and stated in their
consolidated report: "The Appropriations Committees are disappointed
by the Administration's request of a less than one percent increase
for fiscal year 2008 and projected minimal increases of approximately
one percent over the next several years. "
Congress also expressed support for Earth science research at NASA
and stated in their report: "The Appropriations Committees recognize
the importance of NASA Earth science research missions to the Nation
to advance our ability to monitor climate, weather, and hazards and
therefore recommends $40,000,000 for NASA to initiate missions identified
in the National Research Council (NRC) report, Earth Science and Applications
from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond. To
the extent possible, the initial seven missions should begin in fiscal
NASA would receive at least $90.2 million for the Global Precipitation
Measurement mission and $626.4 million for the Mars Exploration Program.
The Mars Exploration Program would include the following: "Full
funding is provided to: continue operating all present missions (Odyssey,
Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, Spirit and Opportunity); prepare Phoenix
for launch in 2007, Mars Science Lab for a launch in 2009, and Scout
in 2011; and to start the definition and development of Mars Science
orbiter for launch in 2013, and the Astrobiology Field Lab or Mid
size rovers for launch in 2016. NASA is expected to continue with
the development and launch of the Mars Science Lab."
Congress also provided an increase of $15 million for the Earth Science
Application Program. The increase would be "
new competitively selected applications projects to be selected during
fiscal year 2008. These projects will integrate the results of NASA's
Earth observing systems and earth system models (using observations
and predictions) into decision support tools to serve applications
of national priority including, but not limited to: homeland security;
coastal management; agriculture efficiency; and water management and
Congress also provided funding for the solar probe, a magnetospheric
mission and the lunar lander mission. Education would be funded at
$180 million, a compromise between higher House levels and lower Senate
Department of Energy (DOE)
DOE would receive a total budget of $24.675 billion, about one billion
dollars less than earlier congressional requests and about $375 million
more than the President's request. Congress would provide increases
for renewable energy R&D, restore some funding for geothermal,
hydropower, natural gas and oil R&D that was terminated in the
President's request and boost funding for carbon sequestration R&D.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would receive $1.739 billion
and of those funds, $213 million would be for hydrogen technology
R&D, $200 million for biofuels R&D, $170 million for solar
energy R&D, $50 million for wind energy R&D, $20 million for
geothermal R&D, $10 million for hydropower R&D, $215 million
for vehicle technologies and $110 million for building technologies.
Most of these numbers reflect increases in funding compared to the
President's request (including a restoration of funds for geothermal
and hydropower), reflecting congressional priorities to boost efficiency
and the use of renewable energy throughout the nation through R&D.
Fossil Energy would receive $750 million, which is a compromise between
the higher Senate bill and the lower House bill. Congress would restore
funding for natural gas R&D to $20 million, of which $15 million
would be for methane gas hydrate research and $5 million for "effective
environmental production" according to the joint report. Congress
would also provide a small amount of funds, about $5 million for oil
R&D for specific programs (Stripper Well Consortium, Risk Based
Data Management Systems and unconventional and enhanced oil recovery
Congress would provide a large increase of $107 million compared
to the President's request for Fuels and Power Systems within Fossil
Energy. In particular, $120 million is provided for carbon sequestration
(an increase of $40 million compared to the President's request) and
the Department is encouraged "to study the CO2 accelerated growth
algae technology to recycle carbon and produce fuels." In addition,
Congress approved $25 million for fuels, an increase of $15 million
compared to the request to support biomass and hydrogen fuels research
and $37.5 million for "Advanced Research", an increase of
$15 million compared to the request, which includes $8 million for
a liquefied natural gas report to Congress.
Congress cut the Strategic Petroleum Reserve within Fossil Energy
to $188.5 million compared to the President's request of $331.6 million.
The joint report indicated that the appropriation committees do not
support the expansion of the reserve to 1.5 billion barrels.
The Office of Science would receive $4.055 billion, about $500 million
below earlier congressional and Administration proposals. A 0.91 percent
rescission decreases the total funding to $4.018 billion (which includes
$223 million in earmarks). Biological and Environmental Research would
receive $544 million for biological research and for climate change
research. Climate change research would receive $138 million, the
same amount as fiscal year 2007. Congress requested the Department
to separate the two lines of research into separate sub-accounts in
future fiscal years, presumably to help them manage overall funding
for climate change research in the Department of Energy and across
all agencies in the future. Basic Energy Sciences, where the bulk
of basic geosciences research is located, would receive $1,269.9 million
(rescission-adjusted), a small increase of about $19 million compared
to fiscal year 2007.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
NSF would receive $6.065 billion, a small increase of $147.8 million
or 2.5 percent over the fiscal year 2007 budget. NSF was slated to
receive a 10 percent increase in earlier House and Senate bills and
the last minute cuts are a major disappointment to the science and
engineering communities as well as the public and private sector groups
that have repeatedly called for a doubling of the NSF budget over
the next 5 to 10 years. The total funding was distributed to the following
accounts: $4.821 billion for Research and Related Activity and of
those funds at most $510 million is for polar research and operations
support and $57 million for polar icebreaking services; $220.7 million
for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction; and $725.6
million for Education and Human Resources.
In the joint report, Congress expressed support for research funding
at NSF, writing: "The Appropriations Committees strongly support
increases for the math and physical
sciences, computer sciences, and engineering directorates in fiscal
year 2008 for research and related activities (R&RA). However,
the Committees also believe the Foundation should maintain comparable
growth in fiscal year 2008, to the extent possible, for the biological
sciences and social, behavioral and economic sciences directorates."
The Geosciences Directorate is not specifically called out in this
language, which would suggest that Congress considers it part of the
physical sciences and thus strongly supports a doubling of the Geosciences
Directorate at NSF. The geosciences community should not assume this
is the case however and should continue to communicate the importance
of the geosciences at NSF and its value for the nation's competitiveness
initiatives in the 21st century.
The joint report expressed concerned about whether NSF is truly funding
"transformative research" and asked for a report from NSF
that includes a definition of transformative research. Congress also
expressed concern about the academic research fleet and aging infrastructure
and how NSF could allocate additional funds to these problems.
Finally, Congress noted the toll of indirect and increasing costs
on the geosciences writing "The loss of buying power resulting
from the decline of the dollar and other commodity related impacts
such as the recent dramatic increase in the cost of oil and steel
is of concern to the Committees. Taken together these two factors
seriously affect many of the international programs operated by the
NSF. These include the Arctic and Antarctic programs, earth, ocean,
and atmospheric programs, and both radio and optical telescope facilities
operated at various locations worldwide. The NSF should provide a
report to the Committees within 90 days after the enactment of this
Act on current actions and future plans, including an analysis of
establishment of a currency and commodity internal reserve fund, to
address this issue."
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
The USGS would receive $1.022 billion for fiscal year 2008, about
a 3 percent increase over 2007. Of the total, $64 million was set
aside for water resource investigations in cooperation with states
and municipalities, $40 million was allocated to satellite operations
and $8 million was allocated to maintenance and capital improvements.
The join report also stipulated that no more than 50 percent of the
costs of mapping or water resources will be shared with the states
The National Cooperative Geologic Mapping program would receive $1
million and the multi-hazard initiative would receive $3 million,
Among programs slated for cuts in the President's request, Congress
restored a $22 million requested cut for the Mineral Resources Program,
giving it a total budget of about $50 million and provided $6.4 million
for the Water Resources Research Institutes. Congress also provided
the following increases above the President's request: An additional
$2 million for earthquake hazards and the multi-hazard initiative,
an additional $0.5 million for volcano hazards and the global seismographic
network, an additional $1.5 million for the national streamflow information
program and multi-hazard initiative and an additional $1 million for
hydrologic networks related to the ocean action plan.
Congress also included $7.5 million for new climate change research
at the survey and stated in their report: "The funds should be
allocated for high priority research efforts, and up to $2,500,000
should be used by the Survey to establish the National Global Warming
and Wildlife Science Center. The Survey is directed to notify the
Committees on Appropriations of its allocation of global climate change
research funds within 60 days of enactment."
Biological research would receive $143.5 million (a $5 million increase
over 2007), while Enterprise Information would receive $112 million,
Science Support would receive $68 million and Facilities would receive
ADDENDUM: An across-the-board rescission
of 1.56 percent will be applied to all of the programs at the USGS.
The numbers given above do not reflect these reductions. (1/15/08)
For more details on federal R&D funding from AAAS, please visit
their R&D Policy
For the full text of the omnibus and the related reports please visit
Thomas and link to their extensive appropriations
4. Energy Bill Driven
After clearing Congress with large majorities, the Energy Independence
and Security Act (H.R. 6) was driven to the White House in a hybrid
vehicle to garner the President's signature. President Bush signed
the measure into law (Public Law 110-140) without hesitation on December
19, 2007. The major component of the bill is a requirement to raise
corporate average fuel economy standards for cars, light trucks and
sport utility vehicles to 35 miles per gallon by 2020. The measure
includes incentives to help the U.S. auto industry reach these standards.
Other key components include a requirement to use 36 billion gallons
annually of biofuels by 2022, phase-out the incandescent light bulb
in four to six years and more appliance and federal building efficiency
The final measure does not include a requirement for utilities to
use more renewable energy or a tax package that would have expanded
tax incentives for the renewable energy industry and increase the
taxes on large oil companies to offset the costs. Democratic leaders
have pledged to continue to consider these items in future legislation.
The energy measure also includes authorization of funds for research
and development (R&D), some of it in the geosciences. The House
Science Committee, whose members were heavily involved in this part
of the legislation, put out a press release summarizing the science
in the bill.
The press release states "The bill directs new investments in
solar energy, ocean and wave energy, and new geothermal technologies
that can be deployed in every part of the country. It significantly
expands research into biofuels, so that we realize the potential of
new fuels like cellulosic ethanol. In addition, this bill will help
advance energy storage technologies that are critical to more widespread
use of renewable electricity and advanced batteries for vehicles.
Finally, and importantly, this bill provides significant increased
investment in technologies to capture and store carbon dioxide from
coal-fired power plants, helping to ensure that we can continue to
use our country's vast coal supply in cleaner and more efficient ways."
More details about the energy
bill are available from Thomas.
5. California Emissions
Waiver Denied: Fallout from Energy Bill
Only hours after the President signed the energy bill, Stephen Johnson,
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced
that EPA was rejecting California's request for a waiver to enact
tougher carbon dioxide emission standards on vehicles. Johnson indicated
that the tougher standards in California were no longer necessary
because of the new efficiency standards in the energy bill.
The California standards would have required automakers to cut carbon
dioxide emissions by 30 percent by 2016. Fuel efficiency is an important
way to achieve emission reductions and the EPA estimated that the
California law would have increased efficiency to 33.8 miles per gallon
by 2016, which is very close to the mandate in the energy bill. California
officials dispute the estimate and automakers have suggested the law
would require efficiencies of 44 miles per gallon. Johnson also indicated
that California's request went beyond the intention of the Clean Air
Act because California wanted to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from
vehicles to combat global warming, which is not a California-specific
California has filed a suit against the EPA, claiming it has no legal
justification for denying the waiver. The EPA provided minimal information
beyond Johnson's statement for the denial even though the EPA had
delayed the waiver decision by many years and had recently suggested
it needed even more time to review the 100,000 comments on the waiver.
In the past, the courts have ruled in California's favor and have
also ruled that the EPA has the responsibility to regulate carbon
dioxide as a pollutant, so this issue is likely to remain viable in
the courts, the states and at the federal level. California legislators
in Congress have promised hearings, debate and even possible legislation
on this issue.
The ruling affects more than just California because 17 other states
have passed laws or were considering measures that were identical
to California's. The Clean Air Act allows other states to adopt California
measures if the legislation is identical and California has received
a waiver from the EPA.
6. Europe Considers
Vehicle Emission Standards Too
On the same day that President Bush signed the energy bill, the European
Commission announced proposed legislation to reduce carbon dioxide
emissions in new cars by 25 percent by 2012. The proposal would include
hefty fines on automakers who do not comply with the standards that
would be phased in at increasing levels starting in 2012. Among the
major automakers the French, Italian and Japanese have the lowest
European-average carbon dioxide emissions, the Americans are in the
middle and the German carmakers have the highest average emissions.
The Germans and Americans are likely to have the greatest difficulties
with emission requirements and fines in Europe, the U.S. and the rest
of the world because they produce the largest vehicles, which also
have the largest profit margins.
7. Climate Change
Adaptation and Research Sails Through Committee, Ahead of Cap
The Climate Change Adaptation Act (S.2355)
introduced by Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) was approved by the Senate
Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee on December 4, 2007.
The measure requires the government to develop a five year strategic
plan to address global warming and ways to adapt. The legislation
is based partly on a recent Government Accountability Office (GAO)
report which determined that most federal agencies are unprepared
to deal with global warming, especially when managing public lands.
The bill also addresses ocean and coastal adaptation plans, by directing
the Commerce Secretary to assess vulnerability and develop tools to
deal with impacts associated with climate change, sea level rise,
storm surge, ocean acidification and other problems. The measure emphasizes
more research and use of research results for mitigation and adaptation,
interaction with states and development of regional-scale models.
The Commerce Department would be authorized to spend $35 million for
the ocean and coastal plan.
In addition to the adaptation bill, the committee approved the Global
Change Research Improvement Act, sponsored by Senators John Kerry
(D-MA) and Olympia Snowe (R-ME). The measure would re-structure the
Climate Change Science Program, establish a National Climate Service
within NOAA and require the Secretary of Commerce to start programs
on abrupt climate change and develop standards and technologies for
measuring greenhouse gas emissions. Finally the bill would create
a Science and Technology Assessment Service within the legislative
branch. The measure is aimed at fixing the Climate Change Science
Program, which is considered by many to be disorganized and dysfunctional
and to provide Congress with better information about science and
technology through the new service.
There are no comparable bills in the House and the Senate measures
may be incorporated into a larger bill should Congress find a way
to move climate change legislation forward in 2008.
Details of the adaptation
bill are available from Thomas.
8. Climate Change
Cap and Trade Darts Through Senate Committee
The America's Climate Security Act (S.2191)
passed through the contentious Senate Environment and Public Works
Committee by a vote of 11 to 8. The measure would set-up a cap and
trade system for greenhouse gas emissions with an objective of reducing
emissions by 70 percent by 2050 from about 80 percent of U.S. emissions
(i.e. most industrial sectors). A Climate Change Credit Corporation
would be established to auction permits and distribute proceeds. The
measure would also create a Carbon Market Efficiency Board to regulate
the market for carbon allowances.
After months of hearings and multiple related cap and trade bills
competing for approval, S.2191, which was sponsored by Senators Joseph
Lieberman (I-CT) and John Warner (R-VA), was able to dart through
a one-day mark-up, where only 40 amendments were considered. Chair
Barbara Boxer (D-CA) moved the bill deftly through bill-killing amendments
such as opening Yucca Mountain for nuclear waste management and opening
the outer continental shelf to natural gas drilling.
Now the measure faces an unknown future on the floor of the Senate
and then would need to move over to the House, where there is currently
no similar legislation being considered.
text of the legislation is available from Thomas.
9. Bali Road Map:
Where Does International Climate Change Cooperation Go?
The United Nations International Conference on Climate Change finished
its work on a five page document which recognizes that global warming
is "unequivocal", is a global threat that must be addressed
immediately and requires drastic cuts in greenhouse gas emissions
throughout the world. The final document, called the "Bali Road
Map" was approved by more than 180 countries meeting in Bali
Indonesia for two weeks from December 3-14, 2007. The road map calls
for countries to develop a treaty by 2009 that sets forth emission
reductions and other mitigation efforts, adaptation strategies, technology
development, technology transfer to developing countries, financial
support and incentives for poor nations that will be most affected
by global warming and to consider deforestation in emission calculations.
The short and very general document, with no specific targets for
emissions or other issues, was considered a success, even though it
took an extra day and significant closed door negotiations to gain
consensus. The United States almost kept the conference from approving
the road map, when it objected to last minute revisions on incentives
for developing countries suggested by India. However, after several
nations spoke out against the U.S., the delegation relented and agreed
to approve the document.
Now the most difficult discussions lie ahead, as countries must meet
throughout the next two years to develop a treaty based on the road
map by 2009. The road map is significant because it requires developing
countries to develop mitigation strategies that are measurable, something
that was not included in the Kyoto Treaty and which the Bush Administration
has noted as a primary reason for not ratifying Kyoto. The road map
also mentions the work of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPCC), which is a hopeful sign to some that the scientific work and
recommendations of the IPCC will be considered in the development
of the new treaty.
More details about the Bali meeting and the full text of the road
map is available at the conference
10. Elementary Science
A new coalition has been formed to bring a national focus on science
education in elementary school. The coalition will be composed of
educators, educational publishing companies and corporations that
are interested in a strong scientific workforce. The coalition will
lobby at the federal level and engage in public outreach to educators,
parents and concerned citizens. The mission is to increase the quality
and quantity of science education in elementary school. Scientific
societies are also welcome to become members of the coalition. If
you would like to become involved as a sponsor or a member of the
Elementary Science Coalition, please contact Rita Ferrandino at firstname.lastname@example.org
or (941) 921-1663.
11. National Academies
Publish Revised Creationism Booklet
The National Academies has release a third edition of "Science,
Evolution and Creationism". The booklet explains the fundamental
methods of science, documents the overwhelming evidence in support
of evolution and evaluates alternative perspectives, such as intelligent
design. The book presents the scientific and legal reasons for not
teaching creationist ideas in public school science classes. Finally
the book tries to show that science and religion should be viewed
as different ways of understanding the world rather than conflicting
frameworks. The publication is meant to be a resource for educators,
students, teachers, community leaders, legislators, policy makers
The National Academies is also seeking the help of scientific societies
in disseminating the publication to scientists and the public. If
your society would like to help, please contact Jay Labov at email@example.com.
The 88-page booklet is accompanied by an 8-page summary brochure.
Printed copies of both can be made available for free or at costs
depending on the number needed.
The PDF of the publication and a
summary are available online.
In addition a web
cast of a press briefing on January 4, 2008 as well as the press
release are available online.
12. AGI Announces
Edward Roy Teaching Award
Longtime supporter and Past President of AGI, Dr. Edward C. Roy,
Jr., passed away November 9, 2007 and will be greatly missed by the
geosciences and education community. Dr. Roy was Assistant Professor,
Professor, Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Trinity
University before returning to the Department of Geology as the Gertrude
and Walter Pyron Distinguished Professor of Geology and finally Professor
Emeritus. Dr. Roy spent a large part of his career championing Earth
science education. He was appointed Chair of the Texas Earth Science
Task Force by the Commissioner of the Texas Education Agency. Because
of his tireless dedication, Earth science is now available to high
school students in Texas.
In honor of Dr. Roy's many contributions to the geosciences and education,
AGI is establishing the Edward Roy Teaching Award for an outstanding
teacher of Earth science in elementary school (K-8). Nominations are
due by March 1, 2008 and more details about this award will be available
on the AGI web site soon.
13. Apply for Congressional
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 online.
14. Key Federal
DOE- The December 3 Federal Register provides the Performance Review
Board Standing Register for the Department of Energy (DOE). This listing
supersedes all previously published lists of PRB members. These appointments
are effective as of September 30, 2007.
[Federal Register: December 3, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 231)]
DOC- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announces
a 45-day comment period for the draft report titled, U.S. Climate
Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2: ''Climate
projections for research and assessment based on emissions scenarios
developed through the CCTP''. The report is posted on the CCSP Web
site at: www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap3-2/public-review-draft/default.htm.
Comments must be received by January 22, 2008. For further information
contact: Dr. Fabien Laurier: (202) 419-3481.
[Federal Register: December 5, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 233)]
Semiannual regulatory agendas are now available for most departments.
Departments publish the semiannual regulatory agenda online at www.reginfo.gov
(and also at www.regulations.gov) to update the public about regulations
and major policies currently under development, reviews of existing
regulations and major policies, and rules and major policymakings
completed or canceled since the last agenda.
[Federal Register: December 10, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 236)]
DOC- NOAA announces a meeting of the Climate Change Science Program
(CCSP) Product Development Committee (CPDC) for Synthesis and Assessment
Product 5.3. The meeting will convene at 9 a.m. on Thursday, January
10, 2008 and adjourn the afternoon of January 11, 2008. The meeting
will (1) formulate responses to the comments received from the special
committee of the National Academies of Science (NAS) Committee on
the Human Dimensions of Global Change tasked to review the First Draft
of Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.3 and revise the First Draft
accordingly; (2) finalize plans for completion and submission of the
Second Draft of the Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.3 for public
review. For more information or to attend, go to: http://www.fxsp0;climate.noaa.gov/fxsp0;index.jsp?pg=./ccsp/53.fxsp0;jsp
or contact Dr. Nancy Beller-Simms at: Nancy.Beller-Simms@noaa.gov.
[Federal Register: December 10, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 236)]
DOA- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), requests applications
for Conservation Innovation Grants (CIG) to stimulate the development
and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies.
Applications must be received in the NRCS National Headquarters by
5 p.m., Eastern Standard Time (EST), on Wednesday, February 20, 2008.
To submit your application electronically, visit www.grants.gov/apply
and follow the instructions. Additional information about CIG, including
fact sheets and frequently asked questions (FAQs), is available on
the CIG Web page: http://www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/cig. For more
information, contact Tessa Chadwick at: (202) 720-2335, Fax: (202)
720- 4265, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Karen Minor at:
(202) 720-2604 or (202) 720- 4102, Fax: (202) 720-2262, e-mail: email@example.com.
[Federal Register: December 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 241)]
NWTRB- Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board announces a meeting to
be held at 8 am January 16, 2008 in Las Vegas, NV. The NWTRB will
meet to discuss U.S. Department of Energy activities related to the
possible development of a repository for spent nuclear fuel and high-level
radioactive waste at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The meeting is open
for public attendance. For more information contact Karyn Severson,
NWTRB External Affairs; 2300 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite 1300; Arlington,
VA 22201-3367; (tel) 703-235-4473; (fax) 703-235-4495.
[Federal Register: December 17, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 241)]
EPA- The EPA gives notice of three meetings of the Board of Scientific
Counselors (BOSC) Global Mid-Cycle Subcommittee. Teleconference #1
will be January 4, 2008, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Teleconference
#2 will be January 10, 2008, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The third meeting
(face-to-face meeting) will be January 23, 2008 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
(all EST). Proposed agenda items: Teleconference #1: The objectives
of the review; an overview of ORD's Global Change research program;
a summary of major changes in the Global Change research program since
2005; Teleconference #2: A synopsis of the revised Global Multi-Year
Plan; subcommittee discussions; and preparation for the face-to-face
meeting; Face-to-face meeting: Subcommittee discussions of the Global
Change research program's progress in response to recommendations
from its 2005 BOSC review and other activities. The meetings are open
to the public. The subcommittee roster and charge can be accessed
at: http://www.epa.gov/osp/bosc/subcomm-gc_mid.htm. To attend meetings
via teleconference or to submit comments contact Monica Rodia, at:
(202) 564-8322 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Federal Register: December 18, 2007 (Volume 72, Number 242)]
15. 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 Water
Monthly Review prepared by Elizabeth Landau 2007 AGI/AAPG fall intern
and Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs.
Sources: E&E Daily, National Academies, The Economist, Washington
Post, New York Times, U. S. Senate, Treasury Department, Commerce
Department, House Committee on Science and Technology and Associated
This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs
Program (GAP) Advisory Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies,
and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort
to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community
that it serves. Prior updates can be found on the AGI web site under
"Public Policy" <http://www.agiweb.org>.
For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit
the web site or contact us at <email@example.com>
or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government
Posted January 7, 2008.