Government Affairs Program

Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting DRAFT Report

April 21, 2002
AGI Headquarters
Alexandria, Virginia


An agenda with links to background materials and summary of action items accompanies this report.

Attendees
Phil Astwood, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Columbia, SC
Joseph Briskey, Society of Economic Geologists, Reston, VA
Geoffrey Feiss, Geological Society of America, Williamsburg, VA
Peter Folger, American Geophysical Union, Washington, DC
Blair Jones, The Clay Minerals Society, Reston, VA
Thomas Moore, SEPM (Society for Sedimentary Geology), Bartlesville, OK
John Padan, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Montgomery Village, MD
Jeff Wynn, Environmental & Engineering Geophysical Society, Reston, VA
Victor Yannacone, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Pachogue, NY

David Applegate, AGI GAP Director
Margaret A. Baker, AGI GAP Staff Associate
David Curtiss, 2001-2002 AGI Congressional Fellow
John Dragonetti, AGI GAP Senior Advisor
Marcus Milling, AGI Executive Director

1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business
After brief introductions, the meeting began with the approval of the report from the November 2001 GAPAC meeting. Applegate extended apologies from committee chair Murray Hitzman who could not attend due to illness. He then went over activities and events since the last meeting that directly related to previous action items, including the February 2002 issue of Geotimes that dealt with the role of the geosciences in national security. Applegate reviewed the GAP finances and noted that 2002 marks the 10-year anniversary of the program. Milling spoke briefly on the history of the financial setup of the program and challenges of increasing member society voluntary contributions. He continued by explaining that the original setup was for each Member Society to contribute based upon a 75¢ per individual member guideline. Over time, that has changed almost entirely to flat contributions provided at the discretion of member societies. Briskey brought up the issue of Member Societies with increasingly international memberships and how this situation works into the current setup. While noting that member society dues are limited to their US members, Applegate described AGI's efforts to address policy issues from an international perspective, noting his chairmanship of the newly formed International Union of Geological Sciences Working Group on Public Affairs. A discussion also took place regarding the need to get not only society leadership but also individuals more involved in geoscience policy.

Staff Action Item: Bring up the issue of international members and policy at the AGI Member Society Leadership Forum in May.

Committee Action Item: Encourage more Member Societies to support GAP.

Staff Action Item: Review Member Society mission statement to see which ones include a policy aspect to help better coordinate activities.

2.0 Current AGI Government Affairs Program Activities

2.1 Staff Presentations
Applegate gave a brief overview of recent talks that GAP staff have given to Member Societies and groups interested in geoscience policy. Just the previous week, Applegate gave a talk to a group of recently hired geoscientists from the Forest Service receiving a Washington orientation. He also noted the continuation of the successful AGI Congressional Science Fellowship lecture series that allows former fellows to give talks to geoscience departments and society meetings. Also mentioned was a presentation given by Applegate for the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs Forum in Houston.

2.2 Coalition Activities
Baker talked about current coalition activities in which AGI has been involved. One of the most active coalitions is the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF; http://www.cnsfweb.org), made up of a range of professional organizations, universities, and private sector representatives, that support the National Science Foundation. Baker also noted the work of the coalition for Science, Mathematics, Engineering and Technology Education, which has been renamed the Mathematics and Science Partnership (MSP) Coalition, that works to inform congressional offices about science education and advocate for improved funding for science education. There was also a brief discussion on the coalition that coordinated the annual Science-Engineers-Technology Congressional Visits Day (CVD; http://www.agiweb.org/cvd/). Baker added a quick note that AGI is planning on joining the coalition to support the Office of Science within the Department of Energy.

Staff Action Item: Invite Member Society presidents to come to Washington and meet with congressional offices at the beginning of their terms.

Folger talked briefly about the Climate Focus group that is a collaborative effort between AGI, AGU, ASA/CCSP/SSSA/, American Chemical Society, American Meteorological Society, American Physical Institute, and the American Physical Society. On a monthly basis, the group publishes a summary of current scientific papers related to climate change that is then distributed via email to scientists. These scientists then email a contact person in their congressional delegate's office as constituent-scientists.

Feiss asked if these emails are sent to target offices. Applegate and Folger responded that the original idea was to target offices that have not made a decision on climate change. Applegate also noted that the Climate Focus group is trying to tie these email summaries to recent legislation.

2.3 Member Society Support Activities
Applegate spoke on recent support activities for Member Societies ranging from workshops to logistical support. AGI staff provided logistical support or other services for visits by members of the GSA Geology and Public Policy Committee, the AASG biannual Washington fly-in, the AIPG annual Washington fly-in, and AAPG congressional testimony. Applegate talked about joint AGI/AGU workshops on communicating with Congress. He also noted AGI support for AIPG and other Member Societies in response to a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation on hazardous waste.

2.4 Selection of AGI's 2002-2003 Congressional Science Fellow
Applegate informed the group that the Selection Committee had chosen Lawrence Kennedy as the 5th AGI Congressional Science Fellow. Kennedy is currently pursuing a master's degree in hydrology at the University of Nevada, Reno following a 15-year career in mineral exploration. Prior to entering the mining industry, he received a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Western Ontario and a B.A. in earth science from Wesleyan University. Kennedy will join fellows from GSA, AGU, SSSA and more than twenty other science and engineering societies for an orientation session in September followed by placement in the office of a representative, senator, or congressional committee for the following year. Applegate noted the GSA fellow would be Ralphael Sagarin, who holds a Ph.D. from University of California, Santa Barbara, in ecology and climate change. The AGU 2002-2003 fellow is Illa Lyn Amerson, who will receive her Ph.D. in environmental sciences in June from the Oregon Health and Science University. Applegate did not know if SSSA had completed its selection process.

2.5 Summer and Semester Internships
Applegate told the group that AGI/AAPG Spring Semester Intern Heather Golding had just completed her stay with AGI. He announced that Annette Vielleux, a Ph.D. candidate from the University of Texas at El Paso, will join GAP staff as the AGI/AAPG 2002 Fall Semester Intern. The selection process for the AGI/AIPG Summer interns is still underway.

2.6 Virtual Geoscience Agency Project
Baker told the group about the Virtual Geoscience Agency project. The project was initiated by Nick Woodword and others at the Department of Energy's Office of Basic Energy Science. Over the past year, GAP staff and interns have worked to collect information on offices and programs within the federal government related to the Earth Sciences. The majority of the data-entry process is complete and AGI will begin to develop a website that will make the information accessible for a range of users.

A discussion proceeded about the benefits of this type of service and usefulness of this type of information. Applegate noted that the project also served as an exercise for GAP to locate and better understand federal offices and programs related to the Earth Sciences. He also asked for GAPAC members to think up a new name for the project.

Committee Action Item: Suggest new names for the Virtual Geoscience Agency project.

3.0 Planning AGI Appropriations Advocacy Strategy

3.1 Review of President's Fiscal Year 2003 Budget Request
Applegate gave a quick overview of the budget request for the geosciences and provided general figures for geoscience-related agencies. He and Folger talked about the proposed transfers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the National Science Foundation (NSF). Folger noted that there is an issue of education appropriators about the difference between mission agencies, like EPA, NOAA, and USGS, and NSF.

3.2 AGI Testimony
Applegate told the group that similar to years past, AGI provided both oral and written testimony to the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. AGI testimony for the House and Senate VA/HUD and Independent Agencies subcommittees urged the committee's support for geoscience funding from the National Science Foundation. It also noted the import role that NSF-funded programs play in strengthening science education at the elementary, secondary, and post-secondary levels. Applegate also noted the AGI provided written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies in support of the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy. The text of the testimonies are available off the Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap).

3.3 CNSF Exhibit
Applegate briefly noted that as part of AGI's advocacy for the National Science Foundation (NSF) it participates in the annual Coalition for National Science Funding congressional exhibition and reception, where societies and universities showcase NSF-sponsored research. This year, AGI is teaming up with AGU and the IRIS Consortium to host a display on the EarthScope initiative. Applegate also noted that as part of AGI's association with several of the coalitions, it has signed letters of support for funding at NSF and for science education programs at both the Department of Education and NSF.

3.5 Engaging the Geoscience Community
Applegate asked for input from the committee on how to engage the geoscience community in public policy and advocacy. He noted that targeting individual members for grassroots activities was difficult for AGI because of its position as a federation of Member Societies. He explained that more and more Member Societies are developing a method, normally via email and the Internet, to activate individual members for specific issues. The discussion went into how these grassroots systems are currently being used. Moore noted that the current redistricting in many states is an opportunity to encourage geoscientists to interact with their elected officials.

Staff Action Item: Encourage members to schedule meetings with their congressional delegation during the August recess.

Briskey brought up the question of how to involve international members. A growing number of Member Societies are increasingly made up of individual members outside of North America. Briskey explained that the European Union (EU) is currently looking at a five-year funding plan for science. He suggested that AGI staff should investigate events happenings within the EU.

Staff Action Item: Look into recent events related to the geosciences in the European Union.

Staff Action Item: Look into providing an international event section to the Monthly Review.

4.0 Reports from Member Societies
Yannacone (AAPG) -- AAPG is interested in increasing awareness of the links between the earth sciences and national security. The connection between the work of earth scientists and national security provides an opportunity to do broad-reaching education of the value of the geosciences, a task that greatly needs to be undertaken. He discussed AAPG's interest in fostering greater energy security and communicating the need for additional resources. Yannacone described the media workshops that he and Lee Gerhard are doing as an example of how to train geoscientists so that they can become more engaged. He decried the present level of activity by the geoscience community and cautioned scientists not to be complacent.

Folger (AGU) -- AGU is working hard to make the transition to electronic publishing of its journals. Similar to other societies, it is looking at how best to provide services to its international members and on how to keep members active, especially as committee members. AGU continues to be active in appropriations advocacy. It recently released a statement on Earth and Space Science Education. It has been working with the Climate Focus group on climate change. Creationism continues to come up at the state level, and AGU has been working with a coalition of science groups, including AGI, to get individuals at the state level to advocate for maintaining evolution in the curriculum. AGU and AGI are co-chairs of the Congressional Hazards Caucus Workgroup, and they have collaborated in several workshops on communicating with Congress.

Briskey (SEG) -- Top priority for SEG is the question of how to better deliver services to international members. SEG is interested in getting help from AGI and other societies on addressing this issue.

Wynn (EEGS) -- EEGS, which has a wide range of professionals as members, recently held its annual meeting. It is interested in educating the general public about how geophysics can be used to address specific problems. The key issue for EEGS is the recent Federal Communications Commission's new ultra-wide band regulations that would nearly eliminate the use of ground-penetrating radar.

Staff Action Item: Coordinate information on the FCC regulations and work with interested Member Societies to change regulations.

Moore (SEPM) -- SEPM has kept relatively quite in the political arena and is happy to team up with AAPG on issues. It is interested in the recent controversy about coalbed methane in the Powder River Basin in Wyoming. A key issue is the loss of federal royalties due to the current Bureau of Land Management regulations.

Astwood (NAGT) -- NAGT is engaged in improving earth science education at the K-12 levels, with particular attention at the 4th grade science level. It is concerned about the financial support for science education at both the state level and the federal level. There are several questions that remain about how the new Math and Science Partnership (MSP) programs, one at the National Science Foundation and one at the Department of Education, will translate for teachers in the classrooms. NAGT is particularly concerned about adequate funding for the new MSP. The society has been involved in the Revolution in Earth Science Education movement.

Staff/Cmte Action Item: Advocate for the full $450 million authorized for the Mathematics and Sciences Partnerships administered through the Department of Education.

Padan (SME) -- Through its Government Education and Mining (GEM) program, SME has been providing mineral kits to teachers at the National Science Teachers Association regional meetings. An AGI-wide cooperative effort could be more effective than each society funding its own program. Key issues for the society include abandoned mines, acid-mine drainage, and mining law reform.

Feiss (GSA) -- GSA has just completed its selection of the next GSA/USGS Congressional Science Fellowship. The interviews were held at the Geology and Public Policy (G&PP) Committee's last meeting that was scheduled in connection to the Congressional Visits Day in April. In a move to help increase the role of public policy within the society, the GSA president-elect serves on the G&PP Committee, and public policy sessions are scheduled as part of the annual meeting. GSA has released several statements and is thinking of putting together a source book, similar to what AGU has done for its climate change statement. In the past few months GSA has put together an email list serve that goes out to interested individuals. Currently is has about 700 names and the list can be sorted by zip code and districts to help target advocacy. G&PP is looking to develop a lecture series that would go to universities and regional meetings to talk about geoscience policy. The Committee is also thinking about sponsoring a grassroots advocacy workshop in the near future.

Jones (CMS) -- A key issue for CMS, which is gaining more media attention, is reactive and nonreactive silica. It would be interested in a system that would alert and mobilize CMS members regarding changes in federal regulations.

Staff Action Item: Include a summary of recent Federal Register announcements in the Monthly Review.

5.0 Education Policy Initiatives

5.1 Federal/State Challenges to Teaching Evolution
Applegate briefly talked about the recently increasing frequency of anti-evolution provisions at the state level. Folger and Applegate talked about the work that a coalition of science societies has been doing lately to confront the Intelligent Design (ID) theorists. Because this is primarily a state-level issue, AGI and AGU have been working to target state Earth Science departments to activate individuals in response to attempts to insert ID into science curricula. Applegate gave an overview of an attempt at the federal level to implement ID as a part of science education. An amendment introduced by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) in last year's elementary and secondary education reauthorization bill was taken out of the final bill language but it did remain in the accompanying report language. The issue now is how ID supporters are using the report language to confuse state boards of education about what is actually law and what is non-binding language.

5.2 Earth Science Graduation Requirements & Curriculum Standards
Milling talked about the range of education activities that AGI has been involved with, including the middle- and high-school curricula and the new Minerals: Foundation for Society publication. In response to attempts in Texas and California to remove Earth Science from the science standards for elementary and secondary education, AGI and other Member Societies have been working to reverse these decisions. Milling explained that after a series of meetings with the Texas Board of Education, including a hearing where 26 earth scientists and educators testified on the importance of including earth science, a committee is being formed to look more closely at how earth science plays into the state science requirements. In California, AGI and the leadership from other Member Societies sent letters to the state board of education to urge them to not weaken the implementation of the state's science standards by removing Earth Science at the high school level. Milling also briefly discussed AGI's work on geoscience data preservation as well as the recent National Research Council's report on the subject.

Staff Action Item: Distribute Minerals: Foundation for Society publications to state science education supervisors.

6.0 AGI Member Society Leadership Forum
Applegate explained briefly that on May 10-11th, representatives from the Member Societies would meet to work on ways for AGI to better serve the societies. The goal is to identify priority areas for societies and coordinate a plan of action. In preparation of this meeting, AGI staff is preparing a list of Member Society activities related to public policy.

Staff Action Item: Distribute the list of Member Society public policy activities to GAPAC representatives.

Staff Acton Item: Distribute Leadership forum report to GAPAC representatives.

7.0 Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus
The first Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus event is scheduled for April 25th, when a group of students from Princeton will present a poster that they have put together on natural hazards. Applegate pointed out that a draft version of the poster was at the front of the room for GAPAC members to review. The Caucus Workgroup has issued a new one-page fact sheet on updating the nation's flood maps. Applegate also noted that the Workgroup is in the process of writing a white paper on the links between national security and hazards.

Staff Action Item: Try to get a wide circulation of the Princeton hazards poster.

8.0 Geoscience Role in National Security
Applegate briefly described the February issue of Geotimes, including distribution to policymakers.

9.0 Geoscience Role in Energy Policy
Applegate mentioned the AAPG Energy Summit held in 2001 and the plans to hold another in the coming year. AAPG has prepared a CD from the 2001 Energy Summit that provides highlights and information on the event. AGI is overseeing distribution of the CD on Capitol Hill.

10.0 Presentation by 2001-2002 Fellow David Curtiss
Curtiss talked about how congressional attention was focused on homeland security in the fall, with more than 90 hearings, but that only 15 such hearings have been held since January as Congress slowly returns to other issues. He told the group that there are 6 fellows this year who are earth scientists. Curtiss has a position working for Rep. J.C. Watts (R-OK), both in his personal office and the House Republican Conference office. Watts chairs the conference, an information-providing entity for Republicans, which places him in the number four leadership position in the House. Curtiss noted that geologists are used to dealing with complex systems, and this training has served him well on Capitol Hill. He has been working on a variety of issues including cybersecurity and critical infrastructure. Watts is also interested in issues related to West Africa, such as petroleum production and human rights. Curtiss has been working on climate change legislation that Watts is expected to introduce shortly (H.R. 4900). He mentioned Watt's editorial about the bill in AGU's Eos. Also a priority for Watts has been the Historically Black Colleges and Universities, which Curtiss noted that few have geoscience departments.

11.0 IUGS Working Group on Public Affairs
In closing, Applegate noted that as the Chairman of the IUGS Working Group on Public Affairs he has submitted an article to Episodes about the current status of international public policy activities.

Staff Action Item: Investigate opportunities to donate Geotimes to libraries around the work, particularly in developing nations.

The meeting adjourned.


Summary of Action Items

Staff Action Items

Committee Action Items

Joint Action Items


Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Uploaded July 30, 2002; Last updated August 5, 2002


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