National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act
(12-8-08)

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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 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. 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 as digitization.

Recent Action

Geologic Mapping and Fossil Preservation Put on Hold Until 2009
An omnibus package with more than 150 bills related to public lands, water and resources was not considered during the lame duck session in November. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) vowed to bring the measure up as the first or second action of the new 111th Congress. The omnibus could be placed on the Senate calendar for a vote immediately and does not need to go through the committee process again.

The omnibus includes the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Reauthorization, which would fund geologic mapping at the U.S. Geological Survey and the state geological surveys and the Fossil Preservation Act, which would protect fossils on public lands from poachers.

If the Senate is able to pass the omnibus, by collecting at least 60 votes to overcome a potential hold by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) than the House is expected to be able to pass the measure quickly. (11/08)

Previous Action

OneGeology Project Launched
The OneGeology project, offering a digital global geologic map, was officially launched this month, at the 33rd International Geological Conference. The purpose of the project is to make web accessible the best available geological map data worldwide at a scale of about 1:1,000,000 million and to serve as a geological survey contribution to the International Year of Planet Earth.  The project involved 79 countries and was based on the principles that geological surveys and geoscientists around the world have a responsibility to make accessible the best geological map data they currently have; to work towards consistent standards for data access; and to enhance and increase the use and usability of their data.

Check out OneGeology at http://www.onegeology.org/portal/home.html. (08/08)

Omnibus Public Lands Bill Introduced
Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, introduced legislation (S. 3213) that bundles 96 public lands bills into one larger bill in order to facilitate the passage of these measures by the full Senate.  While all the bills included in the package are important their passage as stand alone measures is less certain, and Senator Bingaman hopes the inclusive strategy will follow the same successful path of a comprehensive natural resources bill enacted last month (S.2739).  S. 3213 includes two bills of interest to the geoscience community, the Paleontological Resource Preservation Act (S. 320) and reauthorization of the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 (S. 240).

The full text of the bill will be available soon at: http://thomas.loc.gov/ (06/08)

National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 2008
Congressmen Jim Costa (D-CA) and Nick Rahall (D-WV) of the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee introduced a bill to reauthorize the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. The text of the bill (H.R. 5171) is similar to a Senate measure (S.240) introduced early last year by Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and reported out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on February 15, 2007. Both bills extend the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP) and retain the three components of NCGMP, FedMap, StateMap, and EDMap. Senator Craig describes the maps produced by NCCGMP as "vital to understanding groundwater regimes, mineral resources, geologic hazards such as landslides and earthquakes, and geology essential for all types of land use planning; as well as providing basic scientific data."

Congressman Costa in his introduction of the House bill stated "Geologic maps help us build highways, safeguard drinking water, prepare for disasters, protect wildlife, discover precious minerals, locate fuels that power our society and much more." He also noted the importance of the program in training the next generation of geologists. EDMap has helped to train more than 600 students at 131 universities. He concluded his remarks by calling for quick action on this critical program.

The House and Senate bills would increase the percentage of funds allocated to the state and education components, from 48 to 50 percent and from 2 to 4 percent respectively. It would also, add another member from the private sector to the advisory committee and remove the development of a geophysical and geochemical map database from the program objectives. The legislation would authorize the allocation of $64 million annually for ten years. This would represent an increase in annual appropriations and would also extend the authorization over a longer time period than previous measures.

Stakeholders are encouraged to submit letters of endorsement for the program to the Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. (01/29/08)

One World, One Geology Mapping Project
With the launch of the One World, One Geology mapping project, geological mapping has taken on a new dimension. One Geology is an international, multilateral attempt to create dynamic digital geological map data for the world led by the Commission for the Geological Map of the World (CGMW), the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS), and the International Steering Committee for Global Mapping (ISCGM).

The geological map data, with a target scale of 1:1 million, will be made available as a distributed web service though Google Earth and other dynamic map browsers. England hosted the project kickoff in mid-March, with scientists from over 55 countries present to mark the beginning of "perhaps the largest, most extensive and ambitious mapping project ever contemplated," according to the British Geological Survey. The first test datasets are anticipated to become available during 2007. Data will be added continuously, with the goal of presenting the first results at the International Geological Congress in Oslo in 2008.

For more information about the project, visit the project website. (04/09/07)

National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 2007
In January 2007, Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) and eight cosponsors introduced S.240, the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 2007. The bill amends the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 to extend deadlines for the development of a five-year strategic plan for the geologic mapping program. Most significantly, the bill removes language requiring the development of a geophysical and geochemical map database and directs that mapping priorities be based in part on the needs of the Department of the Interior land management agencies. At present, this bill does not have a companion House bill. Cosponsors for S.240 are Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Pat Roberts (R-KS), and Ted Stevens (R-AK). (03/12/07)

Background

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 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.

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, 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.

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, and Erin Gleeson, 2007 AGI/AAPG Spring 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 9, 2008.