AGI Government Affairs Advisory
Committee Meeting Report
April 30, 2009
An agenda with links to background materials
accompanies this report.
Download a PDF version of this report.
Mary Lou Zoback, Chair of GAPAC
Pat Leahy, Executive Director of AGI
Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
Corina Cerovski-Darriau, Policy Associate for Government Affairs
Clint Carney, Intern for Government Affairs
Kaitlin Chell, American Geophysical Union
Larry Becker, Association of American State Geologists
Mark Molinari, Association of Environmental & Engineering Geologists
Elizabeth Duffy, Seismological Society of America
John Keith, Association of Earth Science Editors
Brandon Smith, National Ground Water Association
Blair Jones, Clay Minerals Society
Peter Warwick, The Society for Organic Petrology
David Curtiss, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Tim West, U.S. Geological Survey
Peter Smeallie, American Rock Mechanics Association
Craig Schiffries, Geological Society of America
Marianne Guffanti, American Geophysical Union
David Steer, National Association of Geoscience Teachers
Susan Newman, Seismological Society of America
Hal Gluskoter, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Jessica Ali-Adeeb, Association for Women Geoscientists
Hazel Medville, National Speleological Society
Action Items for GAPAC Representatives:
- Send any additional comments about the Monthly Review to Linda.
- Review the other GAP web pages for the next GAPAC meeting
- Suggest links and resources for “live” version of the Transition Document (document will be posted on the web in html and we can add new information and resources and revise any typographical errors)
- Consider ways to build upon the effectiveness of the Transition Document through white papers, enhancements to the live version and other tools.
- Inform your member societies of GAP activities and opportunities. Seek input from societies on GAP activities and documents.
Action Items for GAP Staff:
- Complete minutes of the meeting and send to GAPAC for review. Then post.
- Consider using Google groups for GAPAC
- Complete an additional survey of Monthly Review and summarize the results along with the comments from GAPAC
- Determine a date for the next GAPAC (associated with GSA Mtg Oct 18-21)
Minutes of the April 30, 2009 GAPAC Meeting
- In addition to introductions, anyone who had attended the Congressional Visits Day on April 28-29, 2009 gave a brief overview of the event.
- GAPAC members hosted by AGI, AGU, and GSA visited representatives from CA, CO, FL, TX, VA, VT, and WA.
- Participants were well-received, and made a case for continued support of geoscience R&D
- Geoscientists are starting to gain recognition on Capitol Hill
- Overview of use of the geoscience transition document with the new Administration and Congress
- The AGI document is being given to congressional staffers on any visit AGI makes, as well as to member societies, federal agency people, and some state governors through face-to-face meetings, email, or web links.
- See attached January 2009 write-up on the transition document effectiveness in the addendum at the end of the minutes.
- It has also been prevalent in universities:
- Professors have given it to students to show the broad scope of geosciences
- Faculty have given it to college dean’s to show utility of geoscience departments (and in one case, may have saved the department)
- Can work on distributing the document on international and local levels
- Should link with other efforts (e.g. UNESCO projects) and maybe collaborate with other countries (e.g. Britain and Canada are also making “transition” documents for distribution).
- If change “federal investment” to “public investment”, document is more versatile.
- International distribution will be focus of next GAPAC meeting
- Plan to review the document every 2 years during GAPAC to make edits and/or additions
- Suggestion of writing a white paper as an update on the progress and challenges of the policy recommendations in the document
- AGI will also create an HTML version of the document on the GAP website.
- GAPAC should suggest links to add to each section as supplemental information.
- Overview of geoscience-related priorities in the new Administration and Congress
- Science is a priority as seen in President Obama’s National Academy speech (on his 100th day in office) where he stated that he wants more than 3% of GDP in federal funding devoted to science research and development.
- Signed Into Law
- Public Lands Omnibus (S.22)-Includes geologic mapping reauthorization, fossils preservation, and various oceans research and monitoring projects.
- Stimulus Package (American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009)
- Passed House:
- National Water Research Initiative Act (H.R. 1145)-Intended to improve coordination in areas of water research and management among the numerous federal agencies, and to implement a national water census among other tasks.
- Introduced in House, Senate or both
- Climate Change Bill (Waxman-Markey Bill)-The American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 is a comprehensive bill covering renewable energy, CCS, energy efficiency, greenhouse gas emissions, protecting consumers, and promoting green jobs.
- Nelson Energy Bill (S. 807)-Gives the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission authority for the superhighway transmission lines, incorporating “smart grid” technologies” and rebates for renewable/nuclear energy, and sets up a trust fund from oil and gas revenues to be used for renewables/biofuels/energy efficiency.
- Bingaman Energy Bill (S. 949)-It would implement reforms to the Department of Energy (DOE) loan guarantee program, including creating a new “Clean Energy Investment Fund” to allow collected costs and payments be used to support more technology deployment.
- Mining Reform (S. 796/H.R. 699)-Senate bill would eliminate patents, increase fees, collect royalties, require permits, ensure water reclamation, limit forest system land degradation, review future mining claims on certain public lands and establish an abandoned mine reclamation program. House bill is similar, but key differences include a stronger environmental component and more limits on hardrock mining and looser restrictions for coal.
- No Child Left Inside (S. 866/H.R. 2054)-Brings students out of the classroom for hands-on lessons in nature, with the hope new programs in environmental literacy will prepare students to analyze and confront some of the biggest ecological threats facing the world today.
- Fair Copyright Law (H.R. 801)-Eliminates PubMed Central, a digital archive of peer-reviewed journal articles that were funded in whole or in part by the National Institutes of Health and would prevent other federal agencies from establishing similar archives.
- Women In Science and Engineering (H.R. 1144)-The legislation aims to overcome the gender bias in science and engineering by requiring workshops to educate federally funded researchers on ways to better conduct impartial evaluations of grants and to extend grant support for researchers with care giving responsibilities.
- Volcano Early Warning (S. 782)-Would establish the proposed system within the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) by upgrading existing networks, installing new networks on unmonitored volcanoes, and creating a 24/7 watch office and national volcano data center
- FY10 Budget
- What are some of the critical needs of member societies from the new federal leadership?
- AASG-data preservation (see AASG website for handout)
- CMS-making sure clays are not forgotten in nanomaterials discussions
- AEG/AASG/and others-promoting the practical use and gathering support for LiDAR
- USGS-volcano early warning system (in line with bill introduced in the Senate)
- USGS-promoting the USGS as the lead water science agency over NOAA
- SME-1872 Mining Act reform
- Rapid review of the Monthly Review
GAPAC members ended the meeting with a rapid review of the Monthly Review. Each society representative was asked to briefly answer the following series of questions:
Rapid review of Monthly Review – everyone gets 2 minutes to address the following questions (11:00 to 11:30)
- Do you read the monthly review?
- What do you think about the length?
- What do you think about the breadth? Diversity of topics?
- Top three things you like about the review
- Top three thing you would change about the review
- How else can GAP inform the geoscience community?
The answers to the questions are summarized below:
Do you read the monthly review?
A few read the entire monthly review, but most scan for articles of interest and read those. One saves the review and refers back to it for reference when an issue or topic arises for the society. Most scan or read the email. Few go to the website version, even though the website is a bit easier to read and jump from article to article. A few also print out the review and read it when it is convenient. Many forward to others and a few distribute to their society membership or a subset of their society membership. A few distribute specific articles within the review to some members.
What do you think about the length?
Most thought the length was about right and noted that readers are not required to read the whole review, but can browse for topics of interest. A few thought the review was too long and should be shortened. A few wanted to see additions to the review.
What do you think about the breadth? Diversity of topics?
Most thought the breadth was about right. Although a few noted that many topics might not be of interest to their members, no one made any specific suggestions on topics that should be eliminated. A few suggested increasing the breadth to cover engineering aspects, intersections between science and engineering and adding international coverage.
Most thought the diversity of topics was fine and made the review comprehensive. At least five people called the review "comprehensive" in their comments and this was the most often repeated single-word descriptor.
Top three things you like about the Monthly Review included: diversity; comprehensiveness; clarity/understandable; well-written; "universe-defined"; concise/succinct; like the hyperlinks; laid out well; written like a newspaper article, so you can read the first paragraph and decide if you want to read the rest; timely release and posting on the AGI web site; and provides information on the federal government.
Top three things you would change:
Change the order or better define the order of headlines
Divide into categories such as water, energy and others
Provide a short summary of each item
Make the headings stand out using bold face or other style tools
Provide a rating per item using stars or another mechanism
Expand audience for review
Leave out fluff
Provide brief synopses for society newsletters
Develop a headline sort function
Fix typos and missing links
Provide more quality control
Convert to html style
Layout is bland and needs some spiffing up
Add more information about what action geoscientists might take on different issues
Note where action is needed for given issues
What else can GAP do to inform the geosciences community?
Post items on Internet Service Provider (ISP) such as AOL, written in a suitable style for the public.
Provide reviews in a more timely fashion rather than monthly.
Provide brief synopses for society newsletters.
Provide links for society web pages.
Expand audience for monthly review, especially to young geoscientists.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted October 8, 2009