American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program


Action needed to obtain Senate passage of geologic mapping bill

Posted March 13, 1997; Action completed August 5, 1997

Most Recent Action:
President Clinton signed the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1997 into law (Public Law 105-36) on August 5, 1997, less than two weeks after the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent (on July 23rd). The legislation had been stuck in the Senate for several months after passing the House by a voice vote under suspension of the rules in early March. More information on the bill is available on the AGI website.

Alert Text
On March 11th, the House passed H.R. 709, a bill to reauthorize the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. Similar legislation passed the House last year but was bottled up in the Senate by blanket threats to filibuster all bills related to energy and natural resources. If the new bill is not to meet a similar fate, it is important that it move swiftly through the Senate. The bill has strong bipartisan support in Congress and the support of the Administration. H.R. 709's counterpart legislation in the Senate is S. 317, introduced by Sen. Larry Craig (R-ID). AGI is asking the membership of its member societies to write to their senators and urge them to co-sponsor S. 317 and to push for its swift passage through the Senate. An e-mail message has been sent to member society leadership encouraging them to write letters as well.

This site contains extensive information on this issue, including:

The bill extends authorization for the U.S. Geological Survey's National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, which funds geologic mapping projects carried out by the USGS and provides matching funds for mapping projects at state geological surveys and universities. Although the bill does not involve a great deal of money, it has considerable symbolic value in focusing the attention of Congress and the Administration on the value of this cornerstone of our profession. Efforts to pass both the 1992 Act and the current bill have been spearheaded by the Association of American State Geologists (AASG), a member society of AGI. Passage of the original Act was an early priority of AGI's Government Affairs Program, and reauthorization remains a priority for the program.

The reauthorization effort takes on added significance this year because the cooperative mapping program is slated for a $1.6 million cut in the President's fiscal year (FY) 1998 budget request in order to make way for higher priority programs. AGI testimony before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee expressed concern at these cuts and encouraged continued support of external partnerships.

The value of geologic maps is summed up by the following quote from Bob Hatcher's testimony in support of H.R. 709: "Geologic maps have always provided the fundamental data to help earth scientists understand the basic framework of the Earth's surface and its underlying architecture. These maps are also immensely practical tools for geologists and non-geologists alike who are trying to mitigate natural hazards (such as earthquakes, volcanoes, and landslides), undertake energy and mineral resource assessments, characterize potential nuclear and other hazardous waste disposal sites, understand complex ground-water systems, and plan growing urban areas. The development of geographic information systems (GIS) has greatly enhanced the use of geologic maps in digital form as a primary data source for ecosystem management, land-use planning, hazard mitigation, and engineering projects."

Letters are most effective when they come from a constituent -- write to your own senators encouraging them to co-sponsor S. 317 and to urge its swift consideration. In order to become a co-sponsor, the senator's staff should contact the office of bill sponsor Sen. Larry Craig.

In addition to your own senators, write to Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Chairman Frank Murkowski (R-AK) to encourage swift passage of the bill through his committee. A similar letter can be sent to the committee's ranking Democrat, Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) as well as individual committee members. The AGI web site contains a roster with contact information for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. It is also helpful to write to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) and Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) asking them to bring the bill up for a vote as soon as possible.

Letters to senators should be addressed:

The Honorable _____________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510

Dear Senator ____________:

Contact information for individual senators is available through the Senate home page.

If you do write a letter, please send a copy to AGI's Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302; fax (703) 379-7563. And please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at < or (703) 379-2480.

Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs

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

Last updated March 13, 1997

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