National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act (11-22-05)
The National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 established
the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). 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
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. NCGMP 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
On November 16, 2005, the full Senate passed the National
Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 2005 (S.485).
The act re-authorizes the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program
at $64 million for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2015. Within
this total authorization, percentages allocated for the state (STATEMAP)
and education (EDMAP) components of the program would be increased.
The bill extends deadlines somewhat for the development
of a strategic plan and for the appointment of the program's advisory
committee. It also modifies the requirements of the advisory committee,
changing the chair from Chief Geologist to Associate Director of Geology
at the U.S. Geological Survey, and it adds a second seat for a private
sector representative, increasing the number of committee members
from 10 to 11. The bill removes from the original 1992 law requirements
to create geophysical- and geochemical- map databases, instead directing
the committee to determine such mapping priorities based on the needs
of Department of the Interior's land management agencies.
Similar to the House bill, which was passed on June
27, 2005, the legislation is likely to be signed into law before the
end of the year. (11/22/05)
On September 28, 2005, the Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee passed the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization
Act of 2005 by unanimous consent. The bill, which reauthorizes the
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program, was reported to the
full Senate along with many other bills concerning public lands. The
bill was passed by the House in June (see below), and will likely
be approved by the Senate. (10/3/05)
On June 27, 2005, the House approved the National Geologic
Mapping Reathorization Act of 2005 by voice vote, passing on the baton
to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources for further
action. After being introduced on May 16th by Representative Jim Gibbons
(R-NV), the House bill (H.R.
2362) moved quickly through the Committee on Resources, where
on May 18th it was favorably reported to the full House without amendment
by a unanimous vote.
Like its counterpart introduced in the Senate (S.
485), the House bill authorizes the National Cooperative Geologic
Mapping Program at $64 million annually through 2010. Amending the
National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992, the legislation extends current
deadlines for plans, reports, and other programmatic requirements
in order "to expedite the production of a geologic-map data base
for the Nation."
The bill reads that "although significant progress
has been made in the production of geologic maps since the establishment
of the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program in 1992, no modern,
digital, geologic map exists for approximately 75 percent of the Nation."
One of the minor, technical amendments to the 1992 and 1999 authorizations
was a word change that emphasizes the value of geologic mapping in
"homeland and environmental protection" in addition to the
value of providing a primary database to help the nation evaluate
land use, siting, and natural hazards.
According to the report that accompanies H.R. 2362,
the Congressional Budget Office estimates that carrying out the 1992
act, as amended by H.R. 2362, would cost $21 million in fiscal year
2006 and $255 million over the 2006-2010 period. The bill report also
states that enacting the legislation would have no effect on revenues
or direct spending, and contains no unfunded mandates for state or
local governments. (6/28/05)
On March 1st, the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of
2005 was introduced in the Senate. The bill is a reintroduction of
S. 2353, a version that was never voted on in the 108th congress.
Proposed changes to the original 1992 act are minor, with authorized
funding set at $64 million per year for FY 2006-2010 and slightly
higher percentages of funding going to the STATEMAP and EDMAP programs.
The bill was referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources,
where the Subcommittee on Public Lands and Forests addressed it as
part of a hearing on March 8th. Both administration representatives
and the sponsoring senators affirmed their support for the reauthorization.
Chris Kearney, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy Management and
International Affairs of the Department of the Interior, expressed
concern in his prepared statement that the appropriated funding levels
are well below what has been authorized in the past due to the competitive
appropriations process. For FY 2005 authorized funding levels were
$64 million, while only $25 million was actually appropriated. A committee
consideration and mark-up date has not yet been determined. (6/10/05)
National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization 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
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.
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).
National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization 2004
On July 14th, 2004, the House version of the geologic mapping act,
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
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
On June 24th, the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral
Resources met to discuss H.R. 4010. 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 USGS Chief
Geologist Pat Leahy and John Steinmentz, President of the Association
of American State Geologists. Both testified in support of the bill
and all members of the subcommittee who attended the hearing also
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, 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.
The bill was placed on the House calendar but was not revisited before
the adjournment of the 108th Congress.
Sources: Thomas, Congressional Record, Hearing Testimony, Senate
Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.
Contributed by Katie Ackerly, Government Affairs Staff, David Millar
2004 AGI/AAPG Fall Semester Intern, John Vermylen, 2005 AGI/AIPG Summer
Intern, and Peter Douglas, 2005 AGI/AAPG Fall 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 November 22, 2005.