American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Minutes for the
Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

Friday, February 27, 1998
American Geological Institute Headquarters

A cover memo with action items accompanied these minutes.

Murray Hitzman, chair, Golden CO Douglas James, American Institute of Hydrology, Arlington VA
Charles Gardner, Association of American State Geologists, Raleigh NC
Ted Vlamis, Society of Vertebrate Paleontology, Wichita KS
Virgil Frizzell, Geological Society of America, Falls Church VA
Tom Dutro, Association of Earth Science Editors, Paleontological Society, and Paleontological Research Institution, Washington DC
Malcolm Ross, Mineralogical Society of America, Reston VA
Joe Briskey, Society of Economic Geologists, Reston VA
Mike McDermott, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston VA
Blair Jones, Clay Minerals Society, Reston VA
Margo Kingston, American Geophysical Union, Reston VA
Al Perry, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Herndon VA
Stacey Verardo, Association of Engineering Geologists, Vienna, VA
Tom Fails, American Institute of Professional Geologists, Denver CO
Tom Moore, SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology) , Bartlesville OK
Phil Astwood, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Columbia SC
Clint Moore, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Houston TX
Dave Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program
Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs Program
John Dragonetti, AGI Government Affairs Program

1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business

Murray Hitzman opened the meeting by welcoming all attendees. Self-introductions followed.

1.1 Approval of minutes from October 1997 meeting at GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City

The minutes were approved.

1.2 Review program finances

Reviewed handout (attached) of member society voluntary contributions to GAP for 1997. Applegate noted that program received a record amount of support, up over 25% from last year, which in turn was up nearly 50% from the previous year. Moreover, nine add itional societies contributed to the program, bringing the total to 27 of 31 societies. The GAP budget for the program in 1998 will be $200,000 with roughly half from member society contributions, a quarter from the AGI Foundation for a congressional scie nce fellow, and the remainder from AGI general funds. Applegate thanked the Member Societies for their strong support of the program.

2.0 Update on Recent GAP Activities

2.1 Report on Congressional Visits Day

On the two days prior to this meeting, a number of committee members and other geoscientists participated in the third annual Science and Technology Congressional Visits Day event, which included congressional and White House briefings followed by visits with individual senators and representatives and their staff. Tom Moore reported on his visits with the Oklahoma delegation, noting a particularly positive visit with the legislative aide -- formerly a geophysicist before the oil bust -- to Rep. J.C. Watt s (R-OK). Tom Fails reported on his meetings with staff from Colorado's senators and representatives from the first and sixth districts. He felt that real progress was made with respect to funding for geologic mapping. Mac Ross reported on visits with sta ff for the Virginia senators and Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA). Dragonetti reported on visits by leaders of the Society of Economic Geologists with staff of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources and House Resources Committees. Applegate reported on visits with the Tennessee delegation, including a very positive visit with Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who expressed interest in sponsoring a House counterpart to S. 1305. Margo Kingston noted that House Science Committee Vice Chair Vern Ehlers' (R-MI) son is a graduate student in geophysics. Ross noted that he spoke with Ehlers at the reception about Michigan and asbestos. Applegate added that Ehlers was writing a Comment on science education policy for the April issue of Geotimes. Hitzman reported on his visit with Sen . Lieberman's (D-CT) staff, who indicated that the S. 1305 effort was in part seeking to embarrass the Administration into increasing its budget request for science programs. This session, Congress will only meet 70 days, a record low. Lieberman's office is aware of the exclusion of the Department of the Interior from S. 1305 and support its inclusion.

Hitzman suggested that in future years an effort be made to target states; it would have been great to have someone from California in light of the current flooding and El Nino effects there. Ross suggested targeting offices where there are fellows, inter ns, or staff with a geoscience background.

2.2 Congressional Fellowship Selection Process

Shewey and Applegate reported on the fellowship selection process. The selection committee is meeting tomorrow (February 28) to develop a short list of candidates, who will be interviewed on April 4th at AGI headquarters. Twenty-eight applications were re ceived, including candidates from across the geosciences, indicating that the AGI fellowship is reaching sectors not tapped by either the GSA, SSSA, or AGU fellowships. Kingston indicated that AGU is making an effort to expand their support of the fellow ship program to include a second fellow. Frizzell pointed out to the group that these fellows are independent operators and do not work for AGI. Gardner added that the fellows can, however, be quite helpful in orienting other geoscientists in Washington. Applegate noted his hope that the fellows would write articles in Geotimes on their experiences. Briskey suggested that fellows should take annual leave and spend a week on the campaign bus, a unique experience.

2.3 Public Lands Issues: Field Trips and the Forest Service

Dragonetti reported on AGI's efforts to look into concerns by geologic field trip leaders over their need for permits on U.S. Forest Service-managed lands. He noted that use of national forests had dramatically increased in response to strict restrictions on activities in national parks. National forests, however, require virtually all group activities to have special use permits. AGI's findings will be reported in the April issue of GSA Today. Ross noted that this problem was only going to get worse. Al Perry asked about the situation on lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management to which Dragonetti replied that no problems had been reported. Hitzman noted that there are lots of potential allies within the scientific community who do field-oriented work in the national forests, suggesting that GAP work with ecologists, foresters, and others to whom scientific access to public lands is an important issue. Briskey stated that efforts should be directed toward improvements within the present system rat her than legislation. Fails emphasized the regional decentralization of the land management agencies and the need to work at the individual forest level.

2.4 Legislation to Watch

Applegate reported on legislative matters and in particular the recent release of the President's budget. A discussion ensued over geoscience activities in the federal agencies, particularly the decision to rename NASA's Mission to Planet Earth as the Off ice of Earth Science and its implications for policymakers concept of what constitutes earth science. Doug James noted the challenge in the hydrology area of convincing NASA that just looking at the surface from space is not enough and that you can also l earn from what goes on below the surface. Perry noted that the President was interested in NSF and NIH but research at other agencies was suffering. Fails noted that the problem was not with Congress but within the executive agencies. Hitzman and Kingsto n noted the importance of placing fellows in the White House and of visiting with OSTP, OMB, and Interior. A number of committee members commented on the cut to the geologic mapping program at USGS. Briskey informed the group of new legislation in the S enate that would re-establish the science division in the National Park Service, as part of an overhaul of the national park system. Such a move would pull people out of the USGS Biological Resources Division. Hitzman wondered whether it would be possible to amend the legislation to augment the geosciences in the NPS.

3.0 Update on AGI Geoscience Data Preservation Efforts

Applegate reported on AGI's continued efforts to establish a National Geoscience Data Repository System, a project that arose from this committee. AGI had submitted a proposal to DOE to continue funding of Phase III implementation of the project. The web- based metadata catalog will be on-line in the near future. Discussions are underway to establish a regional repository to house data that existing repositories cannot accommodate. One possibility is the donation of a hanger and office facility from the fo rmer Stapleton Airport in Denver. Tom Fails stated that the Stapleton Development Corporation has been ineffective, and that a local developer has offered the city $30 million for Stapleton.

4.0 Reports from Member Societies

Doug James, AIH -- He described the Interagency Committee on Hydrology, to which he is the NSF representative. The committee was established by President Franklin Roosevelt with an executive order and allows for informal collaboration and information-shar ing among agencies involved in hydrology. He suggested that a similar body for the solid earth sciences might be useful. Nancy Lopez of the USGS has information on the committee's history.

Charles Gardner, AASG -- He described AASG's efforts to get funding restored for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program. The organization's spring meeting in mid-March is being coupled with USGS cluster meetings and a reception on Capitol Hill to celebrate passage of the geologic mapping reauthorization bill last year. AASG is also seeking support for the Minerals Management Service's continental margins program. AASG had a positive meeting with the USGS National Mapping Division, who agreed to address many AASG concerns. Finally, AASG has nominated individuals for several positions, including USGS Director.

Ted Vlamis, SVP -- Ensuring protection of vertebrate fossils on federal public lands remains the top priority for SVP. The recent sale of Sue represents tremendous visibility for fossils in the commercial arena, increasing the need for protection. A major problem is that there is no single part of the federal code dealing with protection of fossils. For many children, vertebrate fossils are their first exposure to earth science, and it is imperative that fossils remain available for all to see. SVP was ve ry opposed to the 1996 legislation in Congress on this issue and fear the bill may be re-introduced in this Congress.

Tom Dutro, AESE, PS, and PRI -- His society has a continuing interest in interactive archival control of the geoscience data repository system. He expressed his concern over the copyright problems for digital information, and the USGS decision that after January 1999 all products will be released in digital format and only some in paper form if money available. He questioned how to archive these products and how to make them widely available. Ross noted the challenge of indexing and peer review of digita l material. Applegate agreed to disseminate the AAAS statement on database protection. With his PS and PRI hats on, Dutro noted their interest and concern on issues of fossil collecting.

Mac Ross, MSA -- Described concern over exclusion of USGS from S. 1305 as well as concern that funding was increasingly going to gaseous and aqueous Earth, not solid Earth.

Joe Briskey, SEG -- His society is interested in learning more about government affairs and exploring ways to mobilize the membership. In the future, the majority of the society's members will be international, inviting a discussion of how to deal with th at with respect to government affairs. In response, the AIPG connections to the Geological Society of London and the European Federation of Geoscientists were noted as well as AASG's invitation of foreign survey heads to the recent GSA Annual Meeting in S alt Lake City. Hitzman reported that he is the international representative to the SEG council and was seeking to initiate contacts and graft US experience onto international groups. The EFG does direct lobbying in Brussels, so we are not the only country where geoscientists are getting politically involved.

Blair Jones, CMS -- Noted the extractive and environmental sides of his society as well as connections to European equivalent society AIPEA. He reported considerable interest among Europeans in how well geoscience is faring in the US. Superfund reform is an issue of interest, specifically the treatment of clay liners. He noted that clay mineral colloids can serve as carriers of environmental contaminants as an example of the relevance of clay mineralogy to environmental issues.

Clint Moore, AAPG -- The AAPG executive committee is under tremendous pressure to develop a climate change position. For the first time in a decade, they have set up an ad hoc committee, which is chaired by two former presidents of the AAPG Division of En vironmental Geoscience (DEG) -- Bruno Hansen and Lee Gerhard. The statement is expected to be offered at the annual convention in May. The statement will reflect concern over junk science and will address scientific issues related to global warming. Moore described the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs (DPA) activities, including the Government Affairs Committee (GAC) and its Instant Response Committee and newly formed government liaison subcommittee. He described an AAPG policy statement being develo ped on the National Petroleum Reserve - Alaska (NPR-A) in response to a BLM request for comments by March 12th on opening the northeast corner for exploration. DPA is also concerned about the way tax laws affect AAPG's membership. In the last 10 years, th e number of AAPG members working for the major oil and gas companies has decreased from 9,000 to 5,000 whereas the number of consultants and independent producers has risen from 8,000 to 13,000. The major companies will benefit from opening NPR-A, and the independents are interested in tax issues, such as repeal of the alternative minimum tax. Outer continental shelf issues are also important, and he noted the success of the Hibernia platform off Canada's Atlantic coast putting pressure on the ongoing mor atorium of development off the US Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Later, Moore also reported on the upcoming DPA forum at AAPG's annual meeting in Salt Lake City this May with speakers to include Independent Producers Association of America Chairman George Yates, Oklahoma State Geologist Charlie Mankin, Kansas State Geo logist Lee Gerhard, and Applegate.

Al Perry, SME -- He spoke with Gary Howell, SME Executive Director, on February 26. SME has a Government, Education and Mining (GEM) committee active in working with the National Science Teachers Association on rock and mineral sets. SME also has an accre ditation board for academic curricula headed by Lee Saperstein, who is working with the American Association of Engineering Societies. 30 percent of SME's membership is now international.

Stacey Verardo, AEG -- The principal item of concern for AEG right now is finding a new executive director following the recent tragic death of Norm Tilford.

Tom Fails, AIPG -- Bill Knight will be retiring in the Fall of 1999, and interviews are planned for the AIPG annual meeting this fall. AIPG is placing greater emphasis on advocacy while continuing its efforts in certification. There is a new member catego ry for those who want to join an advocacy organization but do not need certification. Efforts are directed at the state level. Two-thirds of the membership are now in environmental, hydrological, and engineering geology, placing them in direct competition with engineers on environmental projects. Concern over Superfund draft reform legislation, none of the drafts of which provide for inclusion of geologists as environmental professionals. This must be vigorously opposed along with plans to reclassify oilf ield wastes as hazardous. An ad hoc committee is being formed to address climate change policy, urging a cautious approach by the US government to the Kyoto agreement. AIPG also concerned by proposed ASTM standards on site characterization. Additional AIP G issues can be found in attached handout.

Phil Astwood, NAGT -- The society's membership is two-thirds from universities and one-third from high schools. Biggest concern is that geology departments are shrinking and vanishing despite the push of earth science appearing in high schools and the pul l of new hires in petroleum and elsewhere. Priorities are NSF education funding and the Eisenhower professional development program. Two commercials: NAGT summer scholarships for geology field course students, contributions needed. Also, longtime editor J im Shea is retiring and they are looking for a replacement.

Margo Kingston, AGU -- Thanked GAP for providing action alerts. Noted that Pete Folger will be joining AGU as public affairs manager as part of a reorganized outreach program. The public affairs sessions at the AGU Fall Meeting focused on impact of geosci ences at the local and national level. NASA Director Dan Goldin and OSTP Associate Director for Environment Rosina Bierbaum will be at spring AGU meeting. AGU's international membership has been interested in what goes on in the United States. Kingston no ted the importance of the Eisenhower program and announced Marcia McNutt is the new president-elect of AGU.

Tom Moore, SEPM -- Thanked Kasey for her efforts on Congressional Visits Day and in general. Urged committee to synthesize and pass along GAP updates to society membership. Public lands issues are important to SEPM -- he expressed concern over the field t rip issue discussed earlier. Although SEPM is a very international organization, there have been no complaints yet over its involvement in US government affairs.

Charles Gardner -- followed up his earlier remarks, noting that AASG would be testifying next week before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Don Hull has been working on natural hazards legislation to make sure that geology is mentioned with respect to mitigation. Eight states have signed proclamations related to Earth Science Week.


5.0 Report on Recent Ad Hoc Workshop on Geoscience and Public Policy

Applegate reported on the recent informal workshop held at AGI and the USGS with representatives from AASG, the USGS Geologic Division, the National Research Council, and other science-policy organizations. The goal was to look at how the geosciences, par ticularly solid-earth, are faring in the policy arena, and what we as federal, state, academic, industry, and association geoscientists need to do in order to get the message across that geoscience is central to solving national environmental, resource, a nd hazards problems. Recommendations included developing demonstration projects for the utility of geoscience information, participating in the PPP2000 forums on natural disaster reduction and developing similar series on a range of geoscience-related iss ues such as groundwater protection, energy supply, land-use planning, coastal processes, and geology and human health. These forums might serve as a mechanism for developing position papers. An electronic discussion forum was also recommended as was an in crease in the use of interpersonnel agreements to get geoscientists into the White House, other federal agencies, and Congress. Participants repeatedly stressed the need for marketing of the geosciences to a variety of different audiences.

Gardner added that AGI needs to put more energy and resources into coordinating and promoting the geosciences. Frizzell supports the concept of marketing the geosciences and suggested that AGI should go outside for the best marketing advice. The key is to make people recognize the price to society versus the benefits -- what is being sold is answers to people's problems. Look into who in the business world markets these kind of ideas, perhaps get together with the American Petroleum Institute or similar o rganizations for marketing. Mike McDermott noted that non-profit marketing has come of age in the last 20 years and mentioned CMA and AAES's Tom Price as possible sources of information. Dutro cautioned that once before AGI became involved in marketing th rough an outside contractor and was almost done in by it.

6.0 Discussion of AGI GAP Priorities

Hitzman began the discussion by taking stock of some action items resulting from the morning's discussions as well as his own suggestions. First, GAP staff are to make inquiries with other societies about public lands access and report back to the committ ee. Second, follow-up on the issue of privatization and mapping. Third, identify sources of earth science spending in the federal government. Fourth, an action item for the member societies is to identify how each can contact their membership on policy is sues, for example AAPG's Instant Response Committee. Fifth, link to state issues through AIPG and AASG as well as through making connections with non-geoscience organizations such as the National Conference of State Legislators. Clint Moore asked that AGI consider participating with AIPG in a booth at the NCSL, which represents a farm team for Congress. Applegate agreed to bring the matter up with AGI Executive Director Marcus Milling. Sixth, Hitzman noted that the youth message is very effective in Cong ress where children get a great deal of attention. He encouraged each society to choose one student for an Earth Science Youth Day event that would involve bringing geoscience students to Washington to present a poster at a reception. Frizzell suggested a web link-in such as a virtual telecast. McDermott suggested the opportunity to ride the publicity wave of the TIMSS testing results. Kingston noted the high profile of the Westinghouse scholars program. Hitzman suggested that the emphasis be on projects with societal relevance. It was agreed that societies could decide what age student to send -- elementary through graduate school. Ross suggested working through NESTA.

Applegate outlined the current set of five priorities identified by this committee in 1996:

The group discussed alternative proposals for priorities, finally agreeing that three priorities with subheadings was the best approach:

Al Perry suggested that GAP should look into the role of the Department of Defense in geoscience activities, for example critical minerals and materials, pointing out that the geoscience community should have a hand in decisions in this area. He noted pro grams such as the Army Corps of Engineers and Office of Naval Research marine minerals technology center in Mississippi. The question was also asked who in the federal government uses geologic information with responses including EPA, the Department of En ergy, the Department of Transportation, and NASA. It was suggested that GAP should carry out an analysis of all federal agencies that have such a need. Hitzman suggested that this had already been done for natural hazards in an OSTP report that he was inv olved in compiling. The suggestion was also made to compile a list of chief geoscientists in the various federal agencies. Perry suggested that GAP make an effort to tell these people what AGI has to offer and hold out the possibility of collaboration. Hi tzman noted that geoscience activities are found in surprising places such as the earthquake budget in the General Services Administration.

7.0 Presentations on Position-Taking Strategies From Other Scientific Societies

In order to familiarize the committee with position-taking mechanisms at other societies, GAP invited representatives from the American Physical Society and the American Chemical Society to speak to the committee about their activities.

Francis Slakey from the American Physical Society spoke to the group on APS activities in government affairs, specifically their current effort to obtain ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Slakey noted that there are currently 90,000 regis tered lobbyists and that in a recent survey, the qualities of the top 25 lobbyists were membership over one million and a budget of $30 million. For CTBT, the APS council voted unanimously in support of a position, giving the staff license to proceed. Be cause all the Democrats in the Senate support ratification, the efforts are directed at the 22 Republican votes needed to reach the necessary two-thirds supermajority. The APS strategy includes an advisory team of experts, an aggressive leader in APS past president (and President BushŐs science advisor) Allan Bromley, a centrist coalition with groups such as Business Executives for National Security, and mobilizing the APS grassroots network of 1000 members whom they tap no more than three times per year when their senator or member of Congress is someone that APS wishes to influence. This network took several years to develop and represents 2-3 percent of their membership. APS has also lined up 50 members and seismologists in 18 key states, whom they wil l ask to write a letter to their senator, make a visit, and write an editorial or letter to the editor in the local paper. A Physics Today article by a well-known physicist has been put together to circulate on Hill. APS is working with media sources such as Nightline for a story, and an Inside Science TV spot has been prepared on CTBT as well as a radio version targeted to key states. A editorial by Bromley is ready to be submitted to conservative publications such as the Washington Times and Weekly Stan dard. A letter from 22 Nobel laureates is also ready to go, when APS feels it would have the greatest impact. APS has worked with the Creative Coalition -- pop stars who are politically active -- to encourage them to tell the Clinton Administration to inc lude CTBT in the State of the Union. A sample briefing packet has been prepared but kept until the issue starts to move. It includes talking points on CTBT, lists of related votes on similar issues, the APS Council statement, background scientific paper s so that participants feel comfortable. APS also attends meetings with the many other groups involved in this issue, but cautious with whom they ally themselves.

David Schutt from the American Chemical Society spoke next to the group. His list of overheads is attached. He noted that the ACS has a close relationship to the Chemical Manufacturing Association (CMA), which is both a privilege and a challenge because t he industry employs one million people and has an $18 billion positive balance of trade but at the same time has a history of pollution. The ACS program is there to help its membership -- half of which is in industry -- with information for them to act as constituents. Although ACS does not make political campaign contributions, they do not discourage individual members from doing so. He discussed the split between their educational and advocacy efforts with four registered lobbyists out of a staff of 24 (and $1.8 million budget). The ACS government affairs director, Flint Lewis, was Elizabeth DoleŐs chief of staff at the American Red Cross and also worked for the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees NSF spending. There is also a 60-person educ ation division at ACS. He noted that the organizationŐs strength is being an honest broker -- they are the only ones who can bring CMA and Greenpeace to the table and have a discussion take place, rarely taking ACS positions on environmental issues. ACS a lso works on employment and standards issues that are important to their engineering members. Research is a key issue. ACS policy is established by its board of directors with the president acting as the principal spokesperson. He emphasized the importanc e of not splitting ranks within the scientific community, which will result in a loss of the communityŐs new-found power and argued that priorities are established by peer review. He encouraged AGI to partner with their Science & the Congress luncheon bri efing series, which has been very successful at receiving corporate support. The briefings do not pitch a position and are targeted at staff. ACS also runs ads in Roll Call to emphasize that everybody wins with investments in science. At the local level, ACS seeks to develop a grassroots infrastructure that can be put in place and made self-sufficient, focused on issues consistent with ACS national goals. An Action Network of members received information updates and requests for 2-3 actions a year.

After the speakers left, Hitzman suggested an action item for the member society representatives to find out how their societies feel about forming lists of members who could be called upon to act -- what would be acceptable to the societies in terms of a ctivating such a list either directly by GAP or by the society upon being contacted by GAP.

Clint Moore made a motion that the fall GAPAC meeting be held in DC since the GSA annual meeting will be outside the country this year. This was agreed to -- the group felt that DC meetings were more effective than those at annual society meetings. Those meetings will continue but be more informational.

Hitzman urged the representatives to encourage their societies to form public policy committees and link up with AGI. He further suggested work on strategies to increase participation of membership in policy-related activities.

Briskey suggested an issue for the next meeting be the recent Supreme Court ruling on the use of scientific advisors in court cases and possible geoscience input to the AAAS trial program of providing experts.

Memo accompanying minutes
To: Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Members
GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Attendees

From: Dave Applegate and Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs Program

Re: Minutes from February GAP Advisory Committee Meeting

I am enclosing the minutes from the February 1998 meeting of the Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee (GAPAC) at AGI Headquarters. The minutes will be reviewed at the next committee meeting to be held at the AAPG Convention in Salt Lake City on S aturday, May 16th from 2pm - 6pm in Salon B of the Marriott Hotel. In keeping with the committee's discussions in February, the Salt Lake meeting will be primarily informational. Please let me know if you have any changes or additions to the minutes or to the action items which are included in this memo.

Action Items from February meeting:

GAP Staff

Member Society Representatives

Member Society Report for AIPG

Executive Director Bill Knight will be retiring at the end of his contract in the Spring, 1999. A search for a new ED is underway. AIPG has broadened a new member category to accommodate geologists wishing to join an advocacy organization for all geolog ists, who lack necessary experience for Certification or are not interested in Certification.

Priority Issues, Concerns and Ideas

Mobilizing AIPG's Membership
AIPG's State and National Affairs Committees have been reorganized with larger memberships, to be better equipped to influence political affairs at the State and Federal levels as necessary. A new International Affairs Committee has been formed. An AIPG Washington Fly-In is scheduled during the first week of May.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Uploaded April 3, 1998

  Information Services |Geoscience Education |Public Policy |Environmental
Publications |Workforce |AGI Events

agi logo

© 2016. All rights reserved.
American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502.
Please send any comments or problems with this site to:
Privacy Policy