AGI Government Affairs Advisory
November 8, 2004
Denver Mariott III, Denver Mariott Hotel
An agenda with links to background materials accompanies
Jamie Robertson, Chair
John Halvin, Soil Science Society of America
Tammy Dickinson, Geological Society of America
Judy Ehlen, American Rock Mechanics Association
Patrick J.F. Gratton, American Association of Petroleum Geologists
Hal Glukskoter, Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration, McLean, VA
Blair Jones, The Clay Minerals Society, Reston, VA
Robert Fakundiny, American Institute of Professional Geologists
Marie Dvorzak, Geoscience Information Society
Pete Folger, American Geophysical Union
Eloise Kendy, Association for Women Geoscientists
Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI GAP Staff Associate
Christopher Keane, AGI Director of Technology Development
1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business
Emily Lehr Wallace called the meeting to order at 2:04pm. She introduced Jamie Robertson, the new Chairman for the Advisory Committee. She stated he currently has laryngitis so she will be doing most of the talking at today's meeting. She then asked those present to introduce themselves.
1.1 Program staff changes
Keane reported the search for Applegate's replacement produced an initial large pool, but they did not find anyone appropriate. With the elections over, they have asked others to apply and they now have 3-5 good candidates being considered. Wallace added the staff shakeouts resulting from the elections may produce one or two additional candidates. Gratton asked for a timeframe for the Government Affairs director replacement, and Keane responded he expects it will happen early next year.
Wallace stated her appreciation of the AAPG intern funding because the interns have been incredible helpful with the department staffing shortage.
1.2 Approval of Agenda
Gratton moved for approval of the agenda. The motion was seconded and approved.
Approval of report from 10/03 meeting and review of action items. A few minutes were taken to review the minutes from the last meeting. It was moved and seconded to approve the minutes. The motion passed unanimously.
1.3 Review of Program Finances
Wallace distributed a spreadsheet showing the Member Society contributions made to the Government Affairs Program. She noted the AAPG contribution has not yet arrived but believes that is simply due to a timing issue. Gratton responded that AAPG's budget had just been approved two weeks ago and they will be making their contribution.
2.0 Government Affairs Program Federal Activities
2.1 USGS Coalition Update
The USGS Coalition is growing. The Coalition had been formed as a result of a 2003 AGI Leadership Forum action item. The Coalition currently has 67 organizations and may increase to 70 by the end of this week. They drafted their first budget statement last spring. They have a goal of trying to get USGS budgeted at $1 billion instead of its current $950 million. The Survey has had flat funding for the past several years. The Coalition has invited a guest speaker to its past meetings. Each speaker's unique perspective has helped the Coalition target its focus. The Coalition sponsored a reception in celebration of the Survey's 125th anniversary. They had a good turnout with over 100 people attending which allowed good networking. This is the most visible thing they have done so far.
The Coalition is planning and lining up speakers for a roundtable luncheon for members of the subcommittee that funds the USGS. It will take place in mid-January. The Coalition is solidly in the black and one of its newest members, ESRI, has lent significant financial resources to help fund these events.
Gratton asked if it was deliberate that there are not many commercial organizations listed as part of the Coalition. Wallace responded that the science organizations that started the coalition felt it was best that way. Now they are selectively trying to branch out. Gratton suggested there be a push to inform the Survey's employees about the Coalition's existence.
2.2 Fiscal Year 2005 Appropriations Advocacy/ Review FY 2005 budget request/status
Wallace showed a graphic representative of the budget process. This complicated graphic is true of all 13 appropriation bills and only three have been approved so far - Defense, Homeland Security and Military Construction. Congress has much work when they get back next week with only four days to get the other ten bills approved. She has been hearing that there may be one big omnibus. She also heard they may pass another continuing resolution until 2005. This would mean that the ten agencies have to perform all of the President's initiatives under last year's funding. For agencies whose missions were to change, it may not be possible. The wording for several bills is really far apart so an omnibus may result. If it drags to next the Congress, some committee chairs may no longer be committee chairs and priorities may be different.
2.3 AGI Testimony
Wallace added that everything she does goes up on the web so part of what she is saying is a rehash of what is already on the web. Her department tracks six appropriation bills on its web site. It also shows some history behind some of the issues. They have submitted testimony for several bills. They have urged that earth science is as important as space science. They responded to a proposal to cut the minerals program by working to educate Congress by having a speaker that showed that numbers produced by the minerals program are used in the Treasury's economic forecasts.
2.4 Work with Coalitions
AGI has worked with Science-Engineering-Technology Cngressional Visits Days. This spring will be the 10th anniversary of CVD. Each event begins with a very specific geoscience briefing with AGU. AGI can help Member Societies develop talking points for Societies' special issues. AGI encourages Member Societies to maintain relationships with Congress by visiting more than once a year. This helps improve awareness of their message.
Last August, AGI participated in a grassroots science effort wherein they selected
ten congressional offices that would receive geoscience visitors in their home
offices. They have not seen viable fruits yet but the Senate did suggest more
money for science. They will try this again this coming August. They have been
asked to put on a town hall meeting in Texas and they are looking for a site.
AGI is also involved with the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), which has many university lobbyists. Each year CNSF has one grand event to try to highlight the best Earth science that has come out. AGI/AGU/GSA chose to highlight Earthscope at the exhibition this past June. It was a great event because the EarthScope people went way beyond the usual "just bring a poster" and made it more of an interactive science fair.
They have a virtual coalition for the national math and science partnership. The NSF tries to find the best math and science partnerships and they get funded under formula grants. There was a threat to the science portion of this. They organized a letter-writing campaign against this.
2.5 Other Legislative Issues
Comprehensive energy legislation
Other, non-funding issues include the energy legislation. It has been a bumpy road in the current Congress but this bill may show promise in the next Congress. AGI is truly committed to the data repository portion of this bill. The data repository text has been in every portion of the bill but they still have to get the votes. Most pieces of 'major' legislation take at least seven years to pass.
National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program reauthorization/Wind Hazard
The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) has been passed but now it needs to get funding. They have been working to get this included in the President's request for funding. Piggybacking on NEHRP was the Wind Hazards Reduction Bill and they are pushing on this in the same way. This bill was introduced just 1.5 years ago and includes some funding for forest fires.
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization
They have also been working on the national mapping act. It does not have to be reauthorized until next year. There have been some minor wording changes and this may mean it will have to be reintroduced in the next Congress and the whole cycle of work must start again. Wallace hopes they get the wording difference between environmental monitoring and environmental protection ironed out so it can pass.
Open access to federally-funded scientific literature
Wallace reported she has spent much time on open access. It is a proposal that affects NIH in that articles from federally funded research must be in PubMed Central, the U.S. National Library of Medicine's free digital archive of biomedical and life sciences journal literature, six months after publication. It was only in the House bill but not in Senate bill.
NIH requested this. Publishers are concerned about not being able to recoup their costs for peer review with articles to be available for free on the Internet after only six months. If the NIH ruling passes, it sets a bad precedent, and other federal funding agencies rules like NSF are waiting in the wings. The mechanism for this is not typical for Congress in that there were no open hearings. They have gone to Capitol Hill to try to get this issue pushed into the public forum and put out action alerts. They want to get this moved to an open forum.
Dvorzak reported she is dismayed by negative stance taken by AGI. She is not sure open access in its current form is good but at least it is an attempt at needed change. Commercial publishers charge too much and university libraries are having to cut journals. She hopes a model from non-profit publishers is developed for dealing with this. They may have to raise dues in order to put their journal on the web and lose members because of this.
Wallace said AGI worked to be a facilitator so Member Societies are aware of the issue. They have also tried to inform Congress that ramifications for this ruling may be a degradation of science quality.
Ehlen asked about what happens to the copyright when the article is published.
Keane said this is another reason why there need to be public hearings. There
is a bill by Rep. Sabo (D-MN) out there that government-funded research would
not have any copyright and this bill has been idling at the subcommittee level
for many years now. On a global scale, open access is already taking place so
it is just a matter of time until the United
States is affected. What AGI is hoping to facilitate are the development of good models so this can be done without the bad ramifications of the current ruling.
*** The meeting broke at 3:30 pm for a break and reconvened at 3:45pm. ***
Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus Update
There are plans to reinvigorate caucus in the 109th Congress. The Natural Hazards Caucus is a loose agreement to support each other on certain issues with Senators Stevens (AK) and Senator Edwards (NC) as co-chairs. The working group assists the Caucus but the Caucus has been dormant because of Senator Edwards run for Vice President. In the next Congress they are approaching others to take over. AGU's Peter Folger has a half-time staff person that has begun working on this. One question to be answered is how much money is spent on hazards remediation versus preparation.
3.0 Non-Federal Policy Activities
3.1 Challenges to Teaching Evolution
Wallace displayed a United States map showing the increasing number of states that are pushing to teach creationism. A rural Wisconsin high school with 1,000 students is already doing this. Keane asked if there is any early warning system in place. Wallace responded this has be something done at the local level, it cannot be an AGI effort.
Wallace heard about the Wisconsin situation from the biological community. When she hears something like this, she verifies the facts, and includes it in her news alert if true. There is an opening for creationism because of the science standards needing to be revised by 2008 to incorporate the "No Child Left Behind" legislation. It can also be an opportunity for the geoscience community because each state school board will have to reevaluate its curriculum so they will have testable science standards.
Keane said AAPG members sit in many of the states pushing for creationism. Gratton said AAPG does not have a watchdog committee but it might be a good idea. They could set up an ad hoc committee very easily and he will bring it up at the next committee meeting.
Wallace stated some states are taking earth science out of high schools. Last week Connecticut ruled to take erth science from high school and move it to elementary school level. AGI is developing a playbook that would be helpful for people in the states that are dropping earth science from high schools. Gratton stated he was a part of the Texas Earth Science Education Task Force that recently made a presentation to the Texas State Board of Education. He was surprised by the fact they encountered dissension from teachers because it would mean they would need to be certified in earth science. He did not realize the need for certified teachers could be a problem.
4.0 AGI Congressional Science Fellowship
William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship Endowment Fundraising status Wallace stated the AGI Foundation is still working to obtain funding. They have $1.52 million collected so far but need $2 million to be fully endowed. If this happens, they will be the only one among the 33 organizations participating in the AAAS fellowship program to have this status.
4.1 Dr. Katie Donnelly, AGI's 2004 - 2005 Congressional Fellow
The current congressional fellow is Katie Donnelly, who is working for Rep. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts. She work will focus on nuclear waste. AGI has started the coordination process for next year's fellow.
5.0 Member Society Collaboration
5.1 Reports from Member Societies
Soil Science Society of America - John Havelin reported there was a $500,000 congressional allocation for a task force to set up a national institute of food and agriculture. The report was finished in July and delivered to the Secretary of Agriculture. They think this will be submitted as a piece of legislation. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is supportive because this would not reduce formula funds to land grant universities. Congress may pass the bill without any funding authorization. SSSA receives 40% of its income from journals and authors do pay to publish in their journals. They have found that library subscribers for their journals are stable but they are losing individual subscribers. They are really concerned about open access because it will have a major impact on their organization. More members are dealing with environmental issues instead of farming.
Society for Mining, Metallurgy and Exploration - Gluskoter reported they do not have much in the way of government affairs in their organization. There has been an Executive Director change so they are still bringing him up to speed.
American Association of Petroleum Geologists - Gratton reported they have two committees dealing with government affairs issues as well as a public outreach committee. They have looked to AGI as their source for K-12 material. They have a certification program that appears to be falling by the wayside. They are also concerned about the differing way of determining reserves. AAPG is planning to open its own government affairs office in Washington, D.C. It will be a restrictive lobbyist office. They will approach tax issues when those issues affect resource issues. These will all be closely reviewed by the AAPG government affairs committee. Gratton added that as of January 1st, the AAPG government affairs representative will be Dan Smith.
Association for Women Geoscientists - Kendy reported they have 1,000 members and some could act as grassroots help. Their printed newsletter is always looking for material. They have concerns about the loss of earth science in high schools as well as universities dropping earth science departments. They are always pushing women having an equal role in the earth sciences.
Geoscience Information Society - Dvorzak reported that open access is their main concern. They also do not think there has been enough thought as to who will be maintaining the permanent electronic version.
Clay Minerals Society - Blair Jones said CMS should send its payment this year; last year's fell through the crack. They are concerned where the meetings are being held because they cannot always get there. CMS would like to see them at AGI headquarters. He would also like to see some take place in conjunction with AGU and AAPG.
6.0 Wrap Up
Wallace thanked all for attending and the meeting was adjourned at 4:58 p.m.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.
Posted December 10, 2004