Government Affairs Program

AGI Government Affairs Advisory Committee Meeting

Meeting at the GSA Annual Meeting
October 22, 2006
Philadelphia, PA
1:30 pm - 3:30 pm

Jamie Robertson (Chair), State Geologist of Wisconsin
Skip Hobbs, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Cathy O'Riordan, American Geophysical Union
Laurie Scheuing, Association for Women Geoscientists
David Diodato, Geological Society of America
Hazel Medville, National Speleological Society
Wayne Pennington, Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Leigh House, Society of Exploration Geophysicists
Hal Gluskoter, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc.
Peter Warwick, The Society for Organic Petrology
Marie Dvorzak, Geoscience Information Society
Susan Newman, Seismological Society of America
Becky Roland, Association of Environmental and Engineering Geologists
Klaus Schulz, Society of Economic Geologists
Russ Slayback, American Geological Institute Foundation
Bob Hatcher, International Basement Tectonics Association
Tim West, U.S. Geological Survey
Allyson Anderson, AGI Congressional Science Fellow

Linda Rowan, AGI GAP Director

GAPAC Meeting

I. Introductions and Preliminary Business
Jamie Robertson called the GAPAC meeting to order at 1:30 pm and asked the member societies to continue to provide feedback to GAP or Jamie about the government affairs program.

A. Approval of agenda
Robertson asked that the committee approve the agenda, and the motion was agreed to.

B. Review of action items and approval of minutes from March meeting
Linda Rowan reviewed the action items from the March 27, 2006 meeting.

1. GAP should determine definitions of science and the scientific method to clarify AGI's position in the debate on teaching evolution and teaching ID. No action has been taken on this item yet, partly because AGI has been awaiting the results of some recent surveys and intersociety task forces.

2. Member societies should be encouraged to participate in the National Conference of State Legislators and to provide informational publications to interested legislators. AIPG and AGI have encouraged other societies to attend the NCSL and AIPG has been able to garner support and participation from some other societies including the Geological Society of America. AGI supported and provided materials for the NCSL and AGI also provided useful publications to lawmakers in Congress.

3. AGI should look into promoting internships for Earth science students at think tanks and NGOs. AGI continues to promote its internship program broadly, though, we have not made significant efforts to publicize the internships with think tanks yet.

4. AGI should coordinate distinguished lecturer series and other scientific events and make them better known to the public and to influential think tanks and NGOs. AGI is collecting, collating and will soon post a web page with lists of resources and active links to member society activities including lecture series. This was also an action item of the May 1, 2006 Leadership Forum.

C. Review of program finances
Rowan briefly reviewed the state of GAP finances and noted that about 40% of the GAP budget comes directly from member society contributions. Also more member societies are now contributing and participating in GAP.

II. Member Society Priorities
Instead of asking each committee member to describe their member society priorities, Rowan handed out a sheet describing AGI's consensus priorities and ask the committee to consider whether these priorities are comprehensive and appropriate.

Medville suggested that teaching teachers about Earth science was not on the list and should be added. Rowan agreed that this was an important priority that would be added.

Warwick noted that the AGI list was comprehensive and noted that TSOP was an international society that did not necessarily consider U.S. policy as a priority. TSOP is very interested in finding effective ways to get young people interested in the geosciences. Schulz agreed that getting young people interested in the geosciences was also a priority of SEG and they have a mentoring program to try to do this, which TSOP might like to emulate.

Hobbs indicated that there was some controversy right now at AAPG about their government affairs program and how to set priorities. Issues such as climate change have divided the AAPG membership and AAPG is trying to determine who should speak for AAPG and how AAPG should determine the position of the AAPG spokesperson. On the climate change issue, AAPG has set-up a members only web site for comments on revisions to the AAPG position statement on climate change. All position statements are approved by the AAPG Executive Committee. The Division of Public Affairs (DPA) works on policy issues and other tasks, however, it is unclear whether the DPA speaks for all of AAPG or just the about 3000 members of that committee.

O'Riordan noted that AGU has an official spokesperson, their press officer, and that the Executive Director and the President can also speak for AGU when appropriate. O'Riordan speaks for AGU when they communicate with Congress. AGU builds consensus on priority issues through their position statements.

Diodato indicated that GSA also builds consensus on priority issues through their position statements. He noted that a revised position statement on evolution has just been posted and they are considering new statements such as Energy and Mineral Resources. He also noted that GSA is having AAAS review their National Leadership Initiative and that AAAS has asked GSA to set some more defined priorities for their initiative. Diodato said that GSA recently held a drought conference that brought together geoscientists and other stakeholders to develop a roadmap of policy priorities with respect to mitigating the impacts of drought. Holding such conferences might be another way to develop policy priorities.

Anderson and Robertson added that articles in Geotimes can help to educate congressional members on the priorities in the Earth sciences, like the GSA conferences that develop roadmaps on geo-policies.

Pennington said that SEG's view is one of educating Congress rather than advocating for a specific program or general funding. SEG would like to ensure that lawmakers have enough information and understand that information to make sound policy decisions.

Newman summarized SSA's priorities, which include support for NSF and USGS, with some particular emphasis on seismic networks and the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. SSA does not do too much work on science education because IRIS fulfills that role for the seismological community. SSA has a position statement on nuclear testing and also is concerned about this issue.

Dvorzak indicated that the Executive Board speaks for GIS. GIS is concerned about the closing of geoscience departments and outreach and education in college as well as K-12. Dvorzak suggested AGI include college education on its list of priorities. GIS is also very interested in Open Access and Dvorzak suggested that some hybrid between libraries pay and free access will likely develop in the near future because the current system cannot survive as is. Dvorzak also indicated that the public's support for open access was enormous, particularly for health reasons. Several committee members wanted to comment on Dvorzak's assessment of open access, however, because of time constraints and the focus of the meeting, Rowan asked the committee to proceed on other member society priorities. Dvorzak indicated that the USGS and some state surveys have stop printing maps and other materials and this has caused a public outcry. In California for example, the stop printing order was rescinded because of pressure from outside groups. The publication and printing of maps and other materials is of concern for GIS.

III. Leadership Forum Action Items Discussion
The committee turned its attention to the action items from the May 1, 2006 AGI Leadership Forum and how member societies could help with these action items. The four items were:
1. Get member societies more involved in Earth Science Week (ESW)
2. Develop "biographies' of geoscientists to improve public outreach
3. Develop a handbook on how to communicate geosciences to the public
4. Develop a list of public policy, public outreach and education resource tools

Scheuing and others asked why ESW was in the fall instead of the spring. Scheuing indicated that teachers are more likely to teach geoscience materials in the spring and it would be easier to get more teachers involved if ESW was held in the spring. Newman also indicated that the timing of ESW was difficult for SSA because their meeting is in the spring and it would be easier to distribute ESW kits to members during the meeting. Rowan indicated she would ask AGI's education department about the timing of ESW. Robertson requested that AGI survey the member societies about the best date for ESW.

O'Riordan asked if there was a list of ESW activities on the web and Rowan indicated that a list is usually posted after ESW but this list does not capture all of the events that occurred. Scheuing noted that AWG sponsored several activities including "Rocks and Roles" in Denver, where over 1200 girl scouts could earn their geology badges and meet female geoscientists. The boy scouts are considering having a similar event. Anderson noted that NESTA had many events at their annual meeting in Houston and that AGI should make sure to get a list of these events to post on the web also.

Robertson suggested that Ann Benbow, AGI's Education Director, should attend the next GAPAC to talk about ESW and educational activities. Robertson continued his brainstorming as he spoke and suggested that perhaps GAPAC should hold a joint meeting with AGI's education advisory committee.

The committee then discussed action item #2, developing "biographies" of geoscientists. Robertson noted that AGI had started a web page full of biographies of important geoscientists, however, that web page has gotten old and needs some updating to make it more current and more exciting. Robertson suggested that the earth science community should find some way to celebrate diversity and avoid being old-fashioned.

Dvorzak suggested using blogs, RSS feeds and other web tools to promote biographies. Anderson cautioned against using blogs because you might get into trouble for some content that is seen as offensive to some audiences. Anderson suggested writing a monthly newsletter instead.

Medville mentioned that a Karst information portal where they are putting oral histories on the portal by video taping interviews. Each interview costs about $3500 to produce. The Karst Information Portal is a joint effort of NCKRI (Nat'l Cave & Karst Research Institution, University of South Florida, and University of New Mexico.

Scheuing mentioned that AWG has career profiles, but those are out-of-date and need updating. AWG also has a Why a geologist CD and a my heroes project. Roland noted that AEG will be putting biographies and memorials on their web site.

Rowan mentioned AGI's plans to develop a handbook and a list of resources to cover action items #3 and 4. Member societies are welcome to submit comments, ideas and resource links to Rowan.

IV Other Business
Rowan asked the committee about scheduling the next meeting on Friday, March 23, 2007. There were no significant objections to the date, however, there was some discussion about the time. Rowan indicated she would send out an email and survey the committee about the best time. The next meeting will be held at AGI.

Robertson adjourned the meeting at 3:35 pm.

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

Posted December 1, 2006