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National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act (7-16-04)

The National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 established the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGNP). The program is designed to increase coordination between the United States Geological Survey and the State Geologic Surveys to develop geologic maps through three component programs: FEDMAP (USGS); STATEMAP (State Geological Surveys); and EDMAP (student program). The federal government provides matching-funds grants to State Geological Surveys and universities who successfully complete a competetive application process. The Act was reauthorized in 1997 and 1999 with consistent increases as well as some amendments. The program is currently seeking reauthorization through 2010.

The Geologic Mapping Act has generally received widespread, bipartisan support since its inception, although some Members of Congress in the past have pushed for the increased privitization of the mapping process. Geologic maps are recognized as important components of federal, state, local, and tribal efforts to manage mineral and water resources, mitigate hazards such as earthquakes and volcanoes, plan urban development, and ensure security. NCGNP has demonstrated successes in all three major programs it is currently running by producing 7,500 geologic maps and developing a database of high quality digital geologic maps. The mapping process is never complete, however, as maps may be continually updated and refined through the use of advancing technologies such as digitization.

Most Recent Action

On the morning of July 14th, the House version of the geologic mapping act, H.R. 4010, was discharged from the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. That afternoon, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests met to discuss S. 2353, a bill to reauthorize the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program and amend the national Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. Witnesses in the Senate subcommittee hearing all testified in support of reauthorization. However, Patrick Leahy, Associate Director for Geology at the United States Geological Survey, said that the proposed funding level is not consistent with the President's budget request. Leahy provided similar testimony to the Senate subcommittee as he did in June during the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources hearing on H.R. 4010. He focused on the successes of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program and the benefits of geologic maps to states and local communities.

Robert Marvinney, President of the Association of American State Geologists, testified in support of the bill. He discussed the STATEMAP program, which provides grants for cooperative USGS and State Survey mapping projects. He noted the importance of geologic maps to the Nation and emphasized the importance of digitization technologies.

James Cobb, State Geologist of Kentucky and Director of the Kentucky Geological Survey at the University of Kentucky, shared with the subcommittee the benefits of geologic mapping programs. Kentucky is the only state that has been geologically mapped in detail, and the only state with completely digitized maps. Cobb said that geologic maps are used by a variety of professionals for purposes such as groundwater resource evaluation, mineral exploration, environmental cleanup, urban planning, hazard prevention, waste disposal, and building and infrastructure construction. He said that geologic maps have saved Kentucky taxpayers at least $2.16 billion by cutting project costs of map users such as scientists, businesses, and local planning agencies. At the conclusion of Cobb's testmiony, Subcommittee Chairman Larry Craig (R-ID) said that he had been "sold" before the hearing and was even moreso after listening to the testmony. (7/16/04)

On June 24th, the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources met to discuss H.R. 4010, a bill to reauthorize the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) through 2010. The bill was introduced by Subcommittee Chair Barbara Cubin (R-WY) and committee member and former geologist Jim Gibbons (R-NV). The subcommittee heard testimony from Patrick Leahy, Associate Director for Geology at the USGS, and John Steinmentz, President of the Association of American State Geologists. Both witnesses testified in support of the bill, and all members of the subcommittee who attended the hearing expressed their support as well. Leahy outlined some of the successes of the NCGNP including the ways in which USGS has worked in cooperation with agencies and states. He noted the high economic return of dollars invested in mapping programs as seen in the state of Kentucky, which is the only state that is completely mapped. Leahy also said that mapping aids security efforts by providing information on energy, mineral, and water availability as well as geologic hazards.

Steinmetz focused his testimony on the benefits that NCGNP brings to states through the STATEMAP program. He discussed the rigerous application process of prospective grant recipients and also the financial contribution of states to the program. He inserted into the Congressional Record a copy of the American Geological Institute publicatoin Meeting Challenges with Geologic Maps, which provides examples of how geologic maps help solve problems faced by humans and the environment. Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) told the panel members that he believes mapping programs in the USGS are providing valuable information to homeland security projects. (6/25/04)

Background

National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorizaiton 1997
The National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1997 was signed by President Clinton on August 5, 1997. Two weeks earlier, the Senate had unanimously accepted the House-passed version (H.R. 709), which authorized appropriations of $26 million in FY 1998, $28 million in FY 1999, and $30 million in FY 2000. It further stipulated that not less than 20 percent of the funds are to be allocated for State mapping activities and not less than 2 percent for educational mapping activities. For further information on the 1997 reauthorization effort, please see an earlier AGI update at: http://www.agiweb.org/legis105/ngmaup97.html.

National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization 1999
In its final hours before adjourning for the year, the Senate passed S. 607, the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1999, by unanimous consent. The bill, which was passed by the House on October 26th, was signed by President Clinton on December 9th. During discussion of the bill before the House vote, Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) recognized the contributions of 1998-1999 AGI Congressional Science Fellow David Wunsch, who worked for her on the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources in the development of H.R. 1528. Her remarks are included in the Congressional Record.

Cubin had introduced H.R. 1528 on Earth Day, remarking that "geologists like to say that for them `every day is Earth Day.' What better day than today to introduce the bill to keep the benefits of this important cooperative program flowing?" Both S. 607 and H.R. 1528 authorized a doubling of funding for the program over seven years.

The reauthorization bill contained a number of changes from the 1992 law while retaining the program's basic structure of federal (USGS), state, and education components. It called for the Secretary of the Interior to develop a 5-year plan for the USGS cooperative geologic mapping program with the advice and review of the program's advisory committee. The Secretary of the Interior must also submit a report to the House Committee on Resources and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources regarding the program's process every two years. Federal mapping priorities are to be described in the plan and based on:

--national requirements for geologic map information in areas of multiple-issue need or areas of compelling single-issue need, and
--national requirements for geologic map information in areas where mapping is required to solve critical earth science problems.

S. 607 also provides for interdisciplinary studies including the development of a national geologic map database; studies leading to implementation of cost-effective digital methods for geologic map development and distribution; and various supplemental investigations in areas such as paleontology, geochronology, geochemistry, and geophysics.

As an authorizing bill, this legislation provides maximum funding levels through FY 2005. The actual funding levels, however, will vary depending on amounts appropriated annually. The bill authorizes:

$28 million for FY 1999
$30 million for FY 2000
$37 million for FY 2001
$43 million for FY 2002
$50 million for FY 2003
$57 million for FY 2004
$64 million for FY 2005

Moreover, the bill provides that half of "any amounts appropriated for any fiscal year in excess of the amount appropriated for fiscal year 2000" are to be given to the state component (48 percent) and education component (2 percent).

Sources: Congressional Record; Hearing Testimony.

Contributed by Bridget Martin, 2004 AGI/AIPG Summer Intern; and Ashlee Dere, 2004 AGI/AIPG Summer intern.
Background section includes material from AGI's Update on Geologic Mapping for the 106th Congress.

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

Last updated on July 15, 2004.


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