American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

Minutes for the
Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

May 22, 1996
San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina, Columbia 3 Room

A cover memo with action items accompanied these minutes.

Jim Gibbs, Committee Chair, Dallas TX
Bill Knight, AIPG Executive Director, Lakewood CO
Bob Merrill, AIPG President, Houston TX
Don Davidson, GSA Executive Director, Boulder CO
Lyle Baie, AAPG Executive Director, Tulsa OK
Lowell Lischer, AAPG Div. of Professional Affairs, Casper WY
Clint Moore, AAPG DPA, Houston TX
Mike Dempsey, visitor
Logan MacMillan, AIPG, Littleton CO
Lisa Berta, SVP, San Diego CA
Carolyn Green, NABGG, Houston TX
Bob Christman, NAGT, Bellingham WA
Bob Cowdery, SIPES, Wichita KS
Nan Lindsley-Griffin, AWG, Lincoln NE
Don Haney, AASG, Lexington KY
Ed Roy, SEPM and AGI President-elect, San Antonio TX
Bob Hatcher, AGI President, Knoxville TN

AGI Staff
Marcus Milling, Executive Director
Dave Applegate, Director of Government Affairs
John Dragonetti, Government Affairs Senior Advisor
Jan van Sant, AGI Foundation Executive Director, Houston TX

1.0 Introductions

Jim Gibbs called the meeting to order at 7:45 a.m., thanking the many members and visitors for attending. He discussed the two-day meeting of the committee in March (see excerpts), where the committee took the concerns and interests of every society and tried to prioritize them for the community as a whole. These priority areas are:

The committee also developed a list of possible responses and actions to these priority areas (excerpt of March meeting minutes attached). He emphasized the importance of the committee members as the interface between the member societies and GAP, urging everyone to familiarize themselves with these minutes.

1.1 Approval of minutes from March 1996 meeting

Gibbs called for the approval of the minutes and unanimously received it.

1.2 Review program finances

Gibbs noted that at the March meeting, it was decided that the committee should make every effort to broaden input from all of the member societies but particularly from those societies that have provided demonstrable support to the program. When GAP was initiated in 1992, the proposed budget was $100,000. Last year, contributions totaled $50,000, and we are looking for all member societies to make a contribution.

Applegate noted his and AGIÕs gratitude for sizable increased contributions from AAPG, GSA, AASG, and AIPG Foundation. He expressed hope that the $10,000 challenge grant from GSA would produce an incentive for increased support from other societies. Mil ling echoed AGI's gratitude and expressed his desire to see this program fully funded. The additional funds will make it possible to hire a second full-time staff member expressly to handle member society concerns.

2.0 Update on GAP Activities

Applegate reviewed GAP activities this spring and current legislation before Congress.

2.1 AGI testified before Congress four times in support of appropriations for the USGS, DOE Fossil Energy program, and National Science Foundation; off-shore functions of the Minerals Management Service; and reauthorization of the National Geologic Mappi ng Act.

2.2 The final report from February's AGI intersociety workshop on the integration of the NBS into the USGS will be released in the first week of June. It has attracted extensive attention in Congress and in the Department of the Interior.

2.3 GAP will have two interns for two months this coming summer: Heidi Mohlman from Amherst College and Rene Cortez from the University of Wisconsin -- Madison. Both are geoscience majors and will provide much-needed help in covering Hill activities, doi ng background research, and putting together a congressional action workshop. Their stipends were doubled by a matching grant from the AIPG Foundation, which is gratefully acknowledged.

2.4 AAAS R&D budget chapter on earth science R&D in the President's budget was written by Applegate, continuing a GAP tradition; this chapter provides a useful source of information on where funding of geoscience research is headed.

2.5 Dragonetti discussed the recent meeting on HR 2943, the Fossil Preservation Act of 1996, held in Washington by Rep. Tim JohnsonÕs staff to work out differences among the billÕs stakeholders, including AGI member societies SVP and PS, amateur and comm ercial collectors, and federal land management agencies. He reported that the major push for passage was coming from commercial sources in South Dakota and that some action was likely.

Berta responded that SVP feels very strongly about this bill and has been working with the Dinosaur Society and the Paleontological Society to work on sticking points. Contentious issues remain, particularly because of the difference between invertebrate and vertebrate fossils in terms of their occurrence.

Hatcher inquired about the potential for getting to the point that you need sample permits for any collecting on Forest Service or BLM lands as is currently the case in lands controlled by the National Park Service.

Berta and Dragonetti both noted that the ability of the land management agencies to provide adequate policing would be a serious problem for enforcing any penalties that are developed.

2.6 Applegate discussed pending legislation before Congress (see attached list), noting in particular the recent movement on royalty simplification, geologic mapping, MMS organic act, and nuclear waste disposal bills.

3.0 Plans for congressional action workshop on data preservation

Milling provided an update on data repository funding and the recent meeting of Milling, Bill Fisher, and Applegate with Gary Bennethum of the Office of Management and Budget and John Northington of DOE Fossil Energy at which plans were made to seek a pre sidential initiative for data preservation. With Reggie Spiller leaving DOE, the data repository effort has lost an advocate, and it is critically important to cultivate new supporters. Milling emphasized the importance of getting participants for the w orkshop with some access, for example Don O'Nesky's connections with the Oklahoma delegation. The workshop is the direct result of the priority issues developed at the March advisory committee meeting.

Gibbs ran through the types of action proposed at the March meeting for implementing the priority issues:

Haney pointed out that there are lots of other types of data in jeopardy besides that covered by the AGI data repository effort. The USGS is looking to eliminate its Denver repository of maps Preservation of maps is an important issue. As the Survey mov es from conventional publication of topographic maps to an electronically generated maps, it should not outpace the technology, and it is important to keep the data until the new technology has fully arrived.

Gibbs encouraged those present and their societies to solicit names of potential participants or other data preservation issues that could be addressed at the workshop.

4.0 Reports from Member Societies

Jan van Sant discussed the AGI Foundation, which has been in existence for approximately twelve years but has been relatively inactive, raising only $2 million over that time. With Tom Hamilton's leadership, they are seeking to revitalize the foundation both through the older members and by getting additional senior executives from the oil, mining, and environmental industries. The Foundation has targeted four areas for support: the Earthcomm education program, the AGI environmental series, the Sloan ca reers project, and congressional science fellowships. Van Sant also pointed out that most oil companies have very good government relations people in the Washington area, and the executives on the Foundation are willing to put GAP in touch with these fol ks. He also related that the executives feel very strongly that the scientific and professional societies will increasingly become the home base for professional earth scientists since companies are no longer spending the time or money to send them to sc hool or provide other training, and they see the societies taking up the slack.

Gibbs made the point that a principal reason for AGI's existence is to bring the strength of one society into a larger group. Because even the total membership in the geoscience societies is a blip on a congressional scale, we need to address how can the geoscience community establish strategic alliances with larger communities such as the insurance industry. We need to have a dialogue about who are our natural allies. The first step is to define our interests and society positions.

Hatcher cited a specific example where research was funded by the Illinois State Underwriters for Mine Safety and by doing so provided much more political clout for its results.

Merrill suggested that contacts should be made on land use issues with the with the Cattleman's Association. Natural hazards legislation is perfect for insurance alliances.

Hatcher noted that we also must increase alliances with chemists and physicists. Applegate responded that we are involved in several intersociety/interdiscipline coalitions, allowing us to tap into the larger size of the other communities. John Dragonet ti discussed AGI's participation in monthly meetings of the IPAA, where the Washington representatives of both the independents and majors come together to discuss mutual issues and concerns.

Haney pointed out that the physicists have been successful even without large numbers of individuals because they maintain a common focus.

Cowdery noted that the membership of SIPES includes engineers, including Arlen Edgar of Midland who is Past President of the National Society of Professional Engineers and who would be a good man to invite to workshops and other events.

Van Sant emphasized that there is nothing worse than having a variety of views put forward from any given community in Washington to which Dragonetti added that if the political sector is looking for a way not to do something, the easiest way is if those involved are expressing multiple views.

Gibbs stated that the advisory committee should act as a sounding board to understand the sensibilities of the member societies.

Merrill responded that the diversity within the community is precisely why it is important to have position papers already established if we are to develop strength and mobilize efforts.

Hatcher noted that AGI has been successful in using workshops to develop papers. Gibbs also suggested that NRC reports represent an excellent source of information that can be mined and that GAP can develop bibliographies on what is already out there -- no sense in reinventing the wheel. Merrill noted that when a hot issue comes up, you cannot go back and develop the position from scratch. You need it beforehand in order to act.

Davidson pointed to the societies' need for guidelines to delineate what we can and cannot do when it comes to lobbying. Many societies are fearful that they could overstep the bounds. Gibbs suggested that this would be an area for the summer interns to do some background research. He also emphasized that even on non-consensus issues, AGI can be a funnel to help individual societies. He also emphasized the need for the advisory committee to develop ways to get information back to the societies. We ne ed the individual committee members to go back to their societies and identify members who can be helpful to us.

Before breaking up for the morning, Bob Christman brought up a NAGT concern that the Eisenhower fund was rumored to be drying up, reducing funds for science teachers to make curriculum changes. Applegate and Dragonetti agreed that they would look into it .

5.0 Setting date for next meeting

The next meeting will be at the GSA Annual Meeting in Denver this October. Although the meeting has typically been held on the Saturday before the meeting, there was general support for holding it on a mid-week morning as with the current meeting, becaus e it did not require coming in early. Tentative date set for Wednesday, October 30th at 8:00 a.m.

Cover Memo Accompanying Minutes

June 23, 1996

To: Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Members and Liaisons GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Attendees

From: Dave Applegate, Director of Government Affairs

Re: Minutes from May meeting

I am enclosing the minutes and several related documents from the May meeting of the Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee at the AAPG Annual Convention in San Diego. The minutes will be reviewed at the next committee meeting to be held at the GSA Annual Meeting in Denver on Wednesday morning, October 30th (exact time and location to be announced). Please let me know if you have any changes or additions to the minutes.

The meeting was very helpful to John Dragonetti and I as we seek to make this program as effective and responsive as possible. Over the course of the summer, we will be exploring avenues for improving communication with the committee and member societies . Both summer interns are here now and have hit the ground running, bringing enthusiasm and some much needed help to the program. Also, the increased contributions to the program are making it possible for us to advertise this summer for a second full-t ime staff position to start in September. More staff will mean more service to the member societies and a more effective voice for the geoscience community's concerns here in Washington.

Action Items from May meeting:

Excerpts from
Minutes for GAP Advisory Committee meeting
March 3, 1996
AGI Headquarters, Alexandria VA

Gibbs focused the discussion on determining the importance of issues brought up the day before to the member societies. The key issues that were arrived at included:

Other issues that were discussed but not retained in the final list because they were either divisive or did not properly fall into GAP's area included geoscience employment, student enrollment, K-12 education, excess or inappropriate government regulatio n, lack of interdisciplinary education at the college level, and registration/certification.

List of Possible Responses/Actions by GAP

(Prepared by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs)

Please send any comments or questions to AGI Government Affairs Program at

Uploaded November 27, 1996

  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