Minutes for the
Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

Thursday, September 17, 1998
American Geological Institute Headquarters
Alexandria, Virginia

A cover memo accompanies these minutes.


Murray Hitzman, chair, Golden CO
Virgil Frizzell, Geological Society of America, Falls Church VA
Cathleen May, Geological Society of America, Boulder CO
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
Peter Folger, American Geophysical Union, Washington DC
Blair Jones, USGS, Reston VA
Steve McClelland, Association of American State Geologists, Morgantown WV
Marie Dvorzak, Geoscience Information Society, Madison WI
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
Clint Moore, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Houston TX
Susan Landon, AGI President, Denver CO
Marcus Milling, AGI Executive Director
Dave Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program
Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs Program
John Dragonetti, AGI Government Affairs Program
Joy Roth, AGI Government Affairs Intern

1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business

Committee Chair Murray Hitzman opened the meeting by welcoming all attendees. Self-introductions followed. Hitzman noted the attendance of many committee members at Chip Groat's confirmation hearing before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee earlier in the day and a brief discussion ensued.

1.1 Approval of minutes from February 1998 meeting at AGI Headquarters and May 1998 informational session at AAPG Annual Convention in Salt Lake City

Both sets of minutes were approved. They are available on the AGI web site via the GAP Advisory Committee home page at: http://www.agiweb.org/gapac/gapac.html.

1.2 Review program finances

Reviewed handout of member society voluntary contributions to GAP for 1998 and previous years. Applegate noted that program received a record amount of support in 1997, and that the program hoped to see a similar level in 1998. With 27 of 31 societies contributing in 1997, the challenge will be to retain that high level of participation. The GAP budget for the program in 1999 will be $200,000 with roughly half from member society contributions, a quarter from the AGI Foundation for a congressional science fellow, and the remainder from AGI general funds. Applegate thanked the Member Societies for their strong support of the program.

Frizzell asked Milling about AGI's level of support for the program. Milling replied that AGI internal funds were limited, and that member society support was very important. He noted his hope that such support would increase. Briskey asked Milling about new societies affiliating with AGI. Milling indicated that two additional societies -- the Paleobotanical Section of the Botanical Society of America and the Geo-Institute of the American Society of Civil Engineers -- were petitioning to join, and that AGI is in discussions with several others. Briskey relayed his suggestion to the National State Geographic Information Council that they consider affiliation with AGI as a means of achieving their goal of getting more involved in government affairs. Milling expressed willingness to work with him to build a bridge there. Briskey added that GAP can serve as a recruiting tool for AGI with other societies.

2.0 Update on Recent GAP Activities

2.1 Interns

Applegate briefly described the activities of AGI's summer interns, thanking the AIPG Foundation for its matching support of the program. Perry inquired about distribution of application information. Shewey replied that flyers were sent with a cover letter to all geoscience department chairs, AAPG student chapters, a number of career centers, Washington-based university programs, the Washington Intern Foundation, and AGI's web site. Folger expressed his thanks to Shewey and Applegate for their help in obtaining AGU's summer intern. Joy Roth described her activities as an AGI summer intern, including the projects that she worked on. Hitzman suggested that AGI should create opportunities for the interns to speak about the program at member society national meetings. May indicated that the GSA Geology and Public Policy Committee could do that in conjunction with their activities.

Moore noted that the program's first attempt at a semester internship this past year had not attracted any appropriate applicants and wondered whether other options should be pursued to obtain interns during the fall and spring. He suggested organizational interns who could do a tour of duty while still employed by their home organization, either a university or company. The stipend could be used to cover their expenses in Washington while still paid by their company or university. Frizzell commented that it was an exciting concept. Perry suggested that another option would be to convince universities to give credit to students for the internship. As a mechanism, Frizzell suggested that Applegate could become an adjunct professor at a local university to facilitate the granting of credit. Briskey suggested that students from outstanding local high-school science programs might be able to arrange to get a day a week off. May noted that such an arrangement could be beneficial to a high-school student, perhaps teaming them with a college-age intern. Folger noted that there are opportunities to get interns from Washington-based university programs who are not geoscientists but whose expenses would be covered. May noted that it is important to consider personnel costs to administer the intern program. As an action item, Murray indicated that he would get together with Clint to develop a series of new proposals for organizational internships. Kingston added that there might be possibilities for government detailees. May raised the issue of whether individuals from companies would be "free agents".

2.2 AGI Congressional Science Fellowship

Applegate discussed the current AGI fellow -- Dr. David Wunsch from the Kentucky Geological Survey -- who had just completed his AAAS orientation and was beginning the process of identifying a congressional office in which to work. Applegate noted that the goal of the AGI fellowship, funded by the AGI Foundation, was to reach out to new parts of the geoscience community, and the 28 applicants for the current fellowship reflected the breadth of the geosciences. Perry asked about the receptivity of Hill offices to these fellows. Folger, Hitzman, Briskey, and Applegate responded that there are many offices that regularly take fellows and have come to depend on them. Briskey suggested that AGI could host a network for geoscience fellows so that they know who else is up there on the Hill.

2.3 PPP 2000 Forum on Reducing Losses from Natural Hazards

Applegate described the forum held at the end of June at AGU's headquarters in Washington. The forum was co-sponsored by AGI, AGU, and the IRIS consortium. It focused on real-time warning and monitoring of natural hazards, bringing together a diverse array of scientists, engineers, emergency managers, and other individuals from the private and public sectors. One of the action items from the forum was to look into creating a natural hazards caucus in Congress. Folger described what a caucus is and reported on his efforts to identify key members of Congress who might champion such an entity. Briskey noted that there were other caucuses on Capitol Hill that the geoscience community should seek closer ties with.

Hitzman expressed his support for the forum, noting that natural hazards is one of the few policy areas that is non-partisan, making it a great issue for the geosciences to demonstrate its societal relevance. He encouraged the member societies to get involved in the hazards area even if it is not the society's focus. Jones asked why hazards have not generated more interest on Capitol Hill. Hitzman responded that the insurance industry has been effective, but they are not interested in the geoscience aspects. May emphasized that these issues were an opportunity not only to raise awareness of the geosciences but also our credibility and relevance. Frizzell emphasized the importance of establishing credibility outside of a time of crisis.

As an action item, the committee urged Applegate to pursue the establishment of a natural hazards caucus and to identify other existing caucuses with which the geoscience community should become more actively engaged.

3.0 Update on AGI Geoscience Data Preservation Efforts

Milling described AGI's efforts to develop a national repository for geoscience data as well as the broader National Geoscience Data Repository System project. Landon discussed plans to establish a national repository at the former Stapleton airport in Denver, noting support from the City of Denver and the Denver geoscience community, USGS plans to transfer their core holdings to the Stapleton facility, and the need for a state repository in Colorado and Wyoming. The committee discussed the facility's potential role as an educational center. Milling also noted discussions with Warren Allmon on providing space for paleontological collections. Under an agreement just signed with Stapleton Development Corporation, AGI has 120 days for due diligence, then another 60 days to close on purchase of the property. In that timeframe, AGI must raise $3.5-4 million to build out the facility. AGI is working with several government agencies on that aspect as well as going out to companies to get them to commit to 2 million or more boxes of core that could provide for an endowment. AGI will meet on October 1st in Houston with the major petroleum companies and key federal agencies.

Hitzman volunteered to help develop support from mining companies. He asked whether there would be enough space for future expansion. Landon replied that additional buildout was possible -- the facility sits on four acres of land and itself has 62'-56' ceilings, hence it is a matter of engineering as to how high the core can be stacked. Milling estimated a maximum of 35'. Landon also noted that there may be cold storage available. Frizzell asked about legacy hazard issues, such as jet fuels and solvents. Milling responded that the due diligence process would address those issues. Perry recalled that he called every state geologist when the U.S. Bureau of Mines closed, but that space was not available and as a result 90 percent of the bureau's logged cores were thrown on the waste dump. He described it as the elimination of a national treasure and suggested that other agencies may go through downsizing, which could lead to a similar tragedy. Milling indicated a need for letters to the Secretaries of Energy and the Interior coming from societies like SME and AAPG in support of the project. AGI will e-mail draft letters to the member societies.

McClelland asked whether the facility was intended only as a core repository or whether it would include a broad spectrum of geoscience data. He noted that most mining industry data are not in the form or core but in paper logs. Milling indicated that the focus on core was because it would provide the endowment that will cover future operating costs but that the repository is intended for all types of geoscience data. He asked that the committee include the data repository project as an agenda item for its meetings the following day with agency officials. Briskey emphasized that this is a national issue, encouraging AGI to push for support on Capitol Hill. Dvorzak expressed her concerns that data preservation is an urgent issue -- some companies are about to dump their data in the near term.

4.0 Update on Earth Science Week and AGI Outreach Plans

Julie Jackson gave a presentation to the group on AGI's outreach efforts, especially Earth Science Week. She indicated that AGI did not know what to expect from this event, but that the response from the individual states, local societies, teachers, and many others has been tremendous. In turn, Earth Science Week has served as a launching mechanism for a number of AGI education and career-related material. AGI is also initiating its participation in the "Inside Science" program, which was started by the American Chemical Society and later picked up by the American Institute of Physics. The focus is on science and scientists behind the news, running from 90 seconds to two minutes and sent out over satellite and tape to local television stations for their news programs. The first earth science piece, focused on potential oil shortages, will run on October 7th. Timeliness is the principal criteria -- news you can use. The project is being underwritten by the US Geological Survey at a cost of approximately $20,000 per segment. May noted that there is a for-profit company in Hollywood that wants to produce similar scientific television segments. The contact person is Elaine Ugenbrans.

Jackson reported on AGI's Earth Science Week participation in the "Taste of DC" festival. She acknowledged the help of the state geological surveys in obtaining governor proclamations. Hitzman suggested getting the National Park Service involved in future years. Perry noted that Al Varna, head of public relations at the NPS, is an AIPG member and would be supportive. May added that the interpretative divisions at NPS are the ones that need to be aware, perhaps through the national association of public land managers. Kingston indicated that AWIS would be supportive of the Earth Science Week effort and asked that Jackson provide her with some materials.

5.0 Reports from Member Societies

Briskey (Society of Economic Geologists) reported that SEG is using its newsletter to get people in the society to agree to participate in a rapid-response team much as AAPG has done in order to follow up on GAP action alerts.

May (GSA) noted that she has recently arrived at GSA as Director of Policy and Environmental Issues, a position that includes responsibility for the Institute for Environmental Education and interaction with government agencies and collaborative effort with AGI and other sibling societies. GSA is in the process of adopting a strategic plan, part of which includes increased emphasis on public policy. She will interact with GSA's Geology and Public Policy Committee to ensure that her efforts serve the membership. She is pleased to be involved in this group. Frizzell added that May is replacing Dan Sarewitz at GSA and expressed pleasure that the position has been expanded to include a broader portfolio.

Dutro (AESE) reported that he had just completed a conference of science editors and publishing co-sponsored by AESE, the biology and European science editors, and GIS. Copyright issues were discussed at length, including plans to a group of publishers led by Elsevier to control World Wide Web gateways, establishing indexing and archiving control. Issue of concern for libraries and for scientists. Hitzman asked how AGI could deal with this issue. Dutro responded that AGI should just stay alert. GIS and AESE will develop an explanatory piece on this issue, perhaps for Geotimes or as a GAP special update. Briskey asked if there was a congressional angle. Discussion turned to the legislation in Congress on intellectual property protection for databases. Folger noted that this bill had been attached by the House to other legislation that would implement several World Intellectual Property Organization treaties. The Senate had already passed the WIPO bill but is balking at the inclusion of the database bill. Because it passed under suspension of the rules in the House, it could come up in the middle of the night, and vigilance is needed. Dvorzak stated that a lawyer at the AESE/GIS conference had stated that certain provisions in the database bill would likely be struck down by the courts. She added that AAAS is very concerned about this issue and is leading opposition to the bill. She asked that GAP keep the member societies informed on this matter, perhaps putting out an update that explains the issues. Landon added that the National Research Council has a strong interest in this issue. The Committee on Earth Resources has been asked to come up with solid-Earth resource examples of databases that would be affected. If anybody has examples, please feed them to the Committee. Kingston noted that when the EOS satellites are launched, a tremendous amount of resulting data could be jeopardized by database restrictions. Briskey opined that this bill could produce no end of litigation.

Ross (MSA) reported his society's concerns that fundamental research is not being respected in the scramble to demonstrate societal relevance. He related the story of colemanite research in the 1950's that led to a Nobel Prize in physics that underlies mathematical modeling of crystal structure of proteins and the entire molecular biology revolution. He also noted problems communicating with the epidemiology community over minerals and health issues. Mineralogy is booming in Europe these days but not in North America, and he questioned its future in this country.

Jones (CMS) reported that at the Clay Minerals Society's last meeting in June, they discussed the grassroots issue and approved continued support of GAP. They are also concerned about the relation of the earth sciences and health, seeing lots of applications beyond the toxic elements themselves such as carriers for pathogens and pesticides. He urged AGI to continue to track environment and health applications of the geosciences, noting the underutilization of mineralogy in general and clay mineralogy in particular.

Folger (AGU, GSA) noted that he wore two hats, one as the incoming chair of the GSA Geology & Public Policy Committee and the other as the AGU Public Affairs Manager. He looks forward to forging strong links with AGI.

As AGI President, Landon expressed her personal thanks to every member society for their voluntary contributions to GAP. In her view, this program has grown into one of AGI's most valuable and most successful programs. She encouraged innovative approaches to effectively spending those dollars. She thanked the society representatives for coming to these meetings and providing input, expressing the appreciation of the AGI Executive Committee. She recognized the challenge of developing a sense of volunteerism and loyalty to AGI since it is not a membership organization.

Roth added her thanks to the group for her opportunity this past summer to learn about AGI in general and the government affairs program in particular.

McClelland (AASG) reported that he is pinch-hitting for West Virginia State Geologist and AASG President Larry Woodfork, feeling like he was just brought up from the Class A farm team. He emphasized that the national perspective is frequently not the state perspective, a fact that was brought home by Senator Murkowski's remarks earlier in the day at the confirmation hearing on Chip Groat. He noted that the natural hazards caucus is a good thing but what drives him is unnatural hazards, whether people's houses are going to fall into a coal mine. He urged consideration of these hazards as well. Landon responded that here was an opportunity to tie in to the local level, noting that AIPG and AASG in particular are well suited to address issues at the grassroots level.

Perry (SME) reported that he had discussed agenda items with SME's executive director and wanted to emphasize SME's outreach activities, particularly the GEM program. He passed around the brochure of position statements developed by AAES and encouraged AGI to do likewise. Applegate noted that the AAES brochure was a collection of the positions taken by its member societies, and that it was a worthy goal to work toward.

Verardo (AEG) reported that the AEG was meeting that evening and she would have more to report after that.

Moore (AAPG) described the four policy position produced by AAPG in the past six months, noting that additional positions were in the works. To address its global change statement, AAPG established an ad hoc committee, which did not expect to complete its report until next year. The draft tax reform statement is going to the membership as a poll in the Explorer. For active policy involvement, AAPG has both an Instant Response Committee and now a Government Liaison Committee headed by Charlie Mankin. Moore noted the shifting demographics of AAPG's membership away from the major oil companies toward independents and consultants, emphasizing that DPA must focus on domestic issues that affect these members ability to make a living. He added that the Explorer has done a good job of covering the position statements.

Hitzman asked how long it took the society from draft to position statement. Moore responded that the process began two years ago. Issues were catalogued 18 months ago, based on feedback provided at government affairs forums. The issues were then sent to the DPA Government Affairs Committee for their feedback. Last December, issue chairs were identified. Two issues came up in January, and the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska statement was done in three weeks, all by e-mail, which he described as the key to success. It was approved at the March 1st meeting of the AAPG Executive Committee and sent to BLM ahead of the March 12th comment deadline. Moore liked the idea of a position statement brochure put together by AAPG, which could also be included in an AGI brochure. He believes that the statements are very helpful for communicating issues of greatest importance to the society membership and demonstrating to them that their society is delivering a valuable service to them and their careers. Briskey asked about the reaction from international AAPG members. Moore responded that the tax policy statement was originally limited to the US but was revised to reflect an international focus, which has caused problems because other countries may not wish meddling in their policies. Briskey then asked if AAPG might in the future develop position statements for issues in other countries. Moore noted that issues do not move forward without 75 percent consensus in his committee. The key is to get experienced members who know what the issues are, have political sensitivity, and a sense of membership value. Although DPA is mostly comprised of US members, they welcome land access issues anywhere in the globe.

Perry stated that AGI should consider establishing position statements on more long-term issues such as research and education policy that the entire geoscience community could support.

Kingston (AGU) presented a written report on AGU issues and activities. She expressed her pleasure at having Folger working for AGU in Washington. The AGU Public Affairs Committee is reconstituted every two years, and a new committee will have its first meeting on Oct. 1-2. The new committee is chaired by Lou Lanzerotti, whose motto is "All politics is local." AGU is expanding its public outreach activities. The committee had a kiosk at the AGU Spring Meeting with information on the committee, AGU position statements, and AGU Science Legislative Alerts (ASLA), several of which were developed with the aid of GAP staff. AGU recently reaffirmed its position statements on creationism and the space station and also passed a new statement on the role of the federal government in geophysical research. Statements on global climate change and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are underway.

Dvorzak (GIS) noted that there had already been a discussion of copyright issues, which are very important to the Geoscience Information Society. The society is also very involved in the digitization of information, specifically how to maintain usability over time and archiving issues. They are also concerned about federal government information and the changes underway at the Government Printing Office, although they are pleased that the current Superintendent of Documents is a librarian. They are concerned about the changes taking place at the USGS library and how that might affect GeoRef. She announced that the Friends of the USGS Library are meeting on Sunday, October 25th at the GSA meeting in Toronto. She hopes that Chip Groat will have a more forward-looking approach to the library than his predecessor. It is her understanding that the next budget request for the USGS will include a line item for the library unlike past years.

6.0 Discussion and Decision on GAP Strategic Plan

Applegate told the committee that he was seeking their approval of the GAP strategic plan. The current draft had been revised based on the committee's suggestions made at an earlier meeting. An executive summary had been added and several sections moved to appendices. Since the draft was sent to the committee, a shorter executive summary was written by Hitzman. The committee voted unanimously in favor of adoption of the plan. The plan now goes to the AGI Executive Committee and Member Society Council for their approval.

7.0 Introduction of AGI Congressional Science Fellow

David Wunsch joined the meeting and briefly informed the group of his activities since arriving in Washington on September 1st. He noted that he had just completed two and a half weeks of AAAS orientation and was now starting to pound the pavement in search of placement with a congressional office. Landon stated she was particularly delighted that Wunsch is not coming to the fellowship right out of school and asked what his colleagues at the Kentucky Survey thought of this career jog, specifically whether they thought he was mad. Wunsch indicated that the reaction was mixed but most were supportive and a number stated that they wished they could have done the fellowship or had that opportunity at that phase of their career. Following up on Landon's remarks, Hitzman asked how many of the fellows were "mature," i.e. not right out of graduate school. Wunsch replied that the age range of the current crop of fellows was from 26-65 with a median age of 40. One-third were fresh out of school, another third were waffling in life, looking for a new career direction, and another third were in a career track but had seized a great opportunity to do something different for a year. Landon closed the discussion by remarking that she looked forward to reading articles by Wunsch in Geotimes.

8.0 Discussion of Future Approach to Grassroots Activities

This discussion focused on a memo sent by Applegate and Shewey to the committee on software packages that facilitate grassroots lobbying. AIPG Executive Director Bill Knight requested that GAP look into the software. Shewey provided an additional memo that described several additional software vendors in addition to the Capitol Hill Software system described in the original memo. The outcome of her research was that there are no cheap alternatives among the various software vendors.

Applegate explained that the purpose of the memo was primarily to get a discussion going on the issue of grassroots lobbying. His personal inclination -- and the reaction from all societies that responded -- is not to spend the tens of thousands of dollars on a software system until an effective network of interested and active geoscientists can be developed.

Kingston and Folger stated that AGU was also looking into software packages and that one of the challenges encountered was that many members only provide their work address and may vote in a different congressional district. Hitzman stated that there appeared to be consensus not to take the software issue further at this time but asked the committee to discuss what we can do that is better than we are doing now from a grassroots perspective.

Dutro stated that he is impressed with the information he has been receiving from GAP and suggested that more people be identified to receive the updates and alerts, thus generating more of a response. The GSA Council was suggested as an example. Applegate indicated that he was happy to send the updates and alerts to anyone and encouraged further dissemination within the societies. Jones added that he would like to expand the list of whom the alerts go to at the Clay Minerals Society to include the council and committee heads. Beyond that CMS would distribute via their listserver.

Landon suggested a highlighted box in member society newsletters notifying the membership of the GAP updates in order to get individual subscribers. Such an effort would have to be coupled with more targeted updates and an explanation of how it would benefit them, how it has benefited other societies, and what methods have worked.

May noted that the weak link in the e-mail distribution system is the gatekeeper at the member societies, which want to have their own well-defined role with respect to their members. Other grassroots-oriented organizations rely heavily on the accountability of a chain reaction, having found that the more they try to provide information directly, the fewer people downstream have a sense of accountability. By using a chain reaction mechanism, momentum builds for grassroots efforts. So for example, each section representative would have the responsibility to pass along information so that they feel they are a critical link in the dissemination.

Perry noted that it would be wise to send the updates to more than one individual in a society in case that person is out of the office. Applegate responded that the updates and alerts currently go to the Member Society president, executive director, Member Society Council representative, and GAPAC representative, as well as public affairs committees if they exist.

McClelland asked whether the updates/alerts were targeted to individual societies so that the message was more relevant. Applegate responded that at this time they were not, although he does contact subsets of societies on issues (for example fossils on public lands) that are of particular interest. Briskey argued that as a small discipline, geoscientists of all stripes need to support one another. In order to do so, all need to be aware of what is happening that affects any segment of the community. In the vein of "a rising tide lifts all boats," he stated that geoscientists need to think beyond their disciplinary boxes.

Hitzman suggested that others outside the community might be interested in the GAP updates/alerts, such as media and political types. A goal should be to get other media to recognize that AGI is another place for them to get information on science and public policy issues.

Perry noted that many of AGI's member societies operate on a state or section basis, and he encouraged GAP to get information out so that it could be distributed to member society publications and sections. He asked whether it would be too much of a load on mailing if societies were surveyed and some of the sections wanted to receive the updates. Applegate noted that the updates were already sent to the presidents of local societies and SIPES sections at the request of AAPG Past President Bob Cowdery.

Folger commented on the idea of outreach to science writers and reporters. They care about news and want the news today. According to AGU's Public Information Manager, the trick is to do a better job of turning what the societies are doing into stories and to develop relationships with reporters. Dvorzak noted that local press go to local scientists, particularly the local university.

Folger added that AGU holds workshops for scientists on how to interact with the media. He and Applegate have discussed developing a similar government affairs workshop following the example of the American Chemical Society, which has a government official speak to the group and talk about the importance of being active constituents, followed by a how-to session.

Hitzman asked about a role for AGI. Folger suggested that the workshop could be developed at AGU with Applegate's assistance, then could be exported to other societies. AGI could put it on for smaller societies.

Briskey suggested that as part of AGI's outreach effort, they should work with media to develop feature articles in science sections of newspapers. McClelland suggested that AGI's value lay in its role as a clearinghouse so that the individual societies were aware of what other societies are doing in outreach as well as for teachers to know what is available.

Landon suggested developing an outreach directory of who within each society -- staff and committee chairs -- have titles such as government affairs and public information, as well as state survey outreach directors, then put it on the web. The committee was asked to send this information about their society to GAP.

9.0 Discussion of Future Approach to Climate Change Issue

Hitzman began the discussion by noting that a number of AGI member societies were focusing on climate change. He asked the committee to address how AGI should tackle the issue given that member societies were on various ends of the spectrum on the issue. One option is to simply not try, arguing that the community is too diverse to do anything as a federation. Another is to wait for something to bubble up. Finally, the last option is to get this committee to think about where the common ground is, what the differences are, and what would be AGI's strategy for using a statement were one developed.

Ross described long-time involvement with acid rain and asbestos issues, having seen horrendous misuse of science, but arguing that global change is the granddaddy of them all in this respect. Ross belongs to Fred Singer's Science and Environment Project. That entity along with the Cooler Heads Coalition, 25 nonprofit organizations, and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, none funded by industry, are all appalled at how the science is being used. He passed out several articles to the group.

Hitzman stated that one issue that could be raised in an AGI position statement was that there is a misuse of science on this issue.

Perry stated that SME is developing a policy statement on climate change.

Landon remarked that in the discussions taking place at the NRC Board on Earth Science and Resources, one thing that might be valuable to bring out is the simple fact that climate changes all the time with or without human impacts. Even such basic understanding is often lost in the rhetoric. Jones endorsed the concept of a statement that addresses natural climate change, noting that the Department of Energy's Yucca Mountain project seemed to operate under the assumption that climate does not change. He favored an education -oriented strategy.

Hitzman suggested that a consensus conference could be held in order to talk about what we can and cannot come to consensus on within the geoscience community.

May emphasized that objective science is required and more of it. The process of science is to be contentious, which in and of itself is a piece of information that can be carried forward to the public. Every earth scientist in GSA would likely agree that the earth sciences should be part of the process.

Briskey stated that a position from AGI would help deal with the many "most scientists believe..." statements that are being made by policymakers, making it harder to generalize.

Folger noted that there is strength in numbers and a statement pulling together a large number of scientists will make a bigger difference than several smaller groups.

Hitzman moved that the committee develop a consensus document within a month and a half and volunteered to develop a preliminary draft.

Jones stated that a climate change statement should be followed with a similar statement on the role of the geosciences in health issues, because our disciplines are all too often left out. Hitzman encouraged Jones to draft a geoscience and health statement in cooperation with Applegate. May added that it is important to get people at the source to deal with these issues.

Moore suggested that if the geoscience community is serious about injecting itself into the climate change debate that a national magazine, perhaps quarterly, should be established to publish articles on the debate, collecting the most pertinent articles -- both pro and con -- on the subject.

Wunsch noted that geoscientists must re-create themselves and let those outside the community know how you are relevant. He cited the example of his work with the medical community on the "coronary valley" issue, where there was an unusually high incidence of coronary heart disease in the Ohio River valley.

Perry and Hitzman suggested that the AGI statement could be the preface to a special issue of Geotimes on geosciences and health. Wunsch suggested strategically releasing the document as a precursor to a major international meeting.

Ross stated that geoscientists know where the bad stuff is, but the medical community comes in to do a surveillance and sees no effect, then makes some reasonable estimate of a threshold.

10.0 Upcoming GAPAC Meetings

The committee will hold an information session at the GSA Meeting in Toronto on Saturday, October 24th, from 2-6 p.m. The focus will be on Canadian efforts in geoscience and public policy with speakers from various geoscience sectors in Canada. The committee's next business meeting will take place at AGI Headquarters in the spring of 1999.

The meeting adjourned for dinner at the Peking Gourmet Inn.

Friday, September 18th

11.0 Plans for Friday Visits -- Key Topics and Logistics

(Attendance: Kingston, Perry, Hitzman, Briskey, Moore, Applegate, Shewey, Dragonetti)

Committee members who were making agency and congressional visits reconvened Friday morning at AGI to discuss logistics and issues to be covered at the meetings. Among the issues to be brought up were the AGI national repository effort, a provision on fossils in the Interior Appropriations report, funding for geoscience programs, geoscience field-trip access to public lands, Earth Science Week awareness, and member society issues. Brief descriptions of the meetings follow:

U.S. Forest Service

Moore, Kingston, Applegate, and Dragonetti met with Ken Johnson, Assistant Director for Minerals and Geology Management; Mike Greely, Mineral Materials Specialist; Jim Gauthier-Warriner, Geology Program Specialist; and Lucy Quinones, Paleontology Program Specialist. The USFS personnel described their programs and budgetary situation. The group discussed the Interior appropriations language on fossils and related issues as well as the matter of field-camp access to public lands.

National Science Foundation

Hitzman, Perry, Briskey, and Shewey met with Alan Gaines from the Earth Sciences Division. The discussion focused mainly on AGI's proposed National Geoscience Data Repository System and ways AGI and NSF could collaborate on the project. Gaines spoke about the Digital Earth program and the importance of data management and archiving.

Gaines also provided information on two planning efforts underway in the Geoscience Directorate. GeoVision 2000, a long-range planning effort for the Directorate, is underway and will be completed by the FY2001 budget cycle. The National Academy of Science's Board on Earth Sciences and Resources is studying the Earth Sciences Division and will recommend a direction for the solid Earth sciences. Public meetings will be held for both of these studies during the AGU and GSA meetings.

Department of Energy

Kingston, Briskey, Moore, Hitzman, Perry, Dragonetti, Shewey, and Applegate met with Acting Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Bob Kripowicz, Acting Deputy Asst. Secretary for Natural Gas and Petroleum Technology Sandra Waisley, and Program Coordinator Edie Allison. Topics included the national geoscience data repository, methane hydrate research, departmental budget priorities, transferred functions of the former US Bureau of Mines, and the Administration's climate change initiative.

Department of the Interior

Hitzman, Perry, Briskey, Shewey, and Applegate met with Bill Brown, Science Advisor to Secretary Babbitt, and USGS Associate Chief Geologist for Science Steve Bohlen. Topics included the national repository project, fossil issues, and departmental priorities.

Bureau of Land Management

Dragonetti, Shewey, Roth, and Applegate met with Bob Anderson, Deputy Asst. Director for Minerals, Realty & Resource Protection and discussed ecosystem management strategies within the bureau.

Office of Science and Technology Policy

Hitzman, Kingston, Perry, Briskey, Shewey, Roth, and Applegate met with Associate Director for Environment Rosina Bierbaum, Elaine Padovani, Sam Baldwin, and other OSTP staffers. Bierbaum gave a presentation on the Environment Division's activities, Padovani discussed the natural hazards initiative, Baldwin discussed the recent PCAST energy report. The group discussed the geoscience role in ecosystem management, data repository, and other issues.

Memo accompanying minutes

October 8, 1998

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 September GAP Advisory Committee Meeting

We are enclosing the minutes from the September 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 GSA convention in Toronto on October 24, from 2-6 p.m. the Scott A Room of the Delta-Chelsea Hotel. The meeting will feature a discussion with several leading Canadian geoscientists involved in public policy, including Dr. James Franklin, former director of the Geological Survey of Canada who is currently involved in organizing briefings for Members of Parliament on science and technology issues, and Dr. Gordon Williams, Chair of the Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists. 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 September meeting:

GAP Staff

Member Society Representatives

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

Uploaded October 8, 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: webmaster@agiweb.org.
Privacy Policy