Report of the
Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

Friday, April 23, 1999
American Geological Institute Headquarters
Alexandria, Virginia

An appendix of background materials and cover memo accompany this report, which was approved at the committee's September 1999 meeting.


Murray Hitzman, chair, Golden CO
Phil Bethke, Society of Economic Geologists, Reston VA
Al Perry, Society for Mining, Metallurgy, and Exploration, Inc., Reston VA
Phil Astwood, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, Columbia SC
Margo Kingston, American Geophysical Union, Reston VA
Tom Moore, SEPM (The Society for Sedimentary Geology), Bartlesville OK
Gordon Matheson, ASCE Geo-Institute, Bethesda MD
Pete Folger, American Geophysical Union, Washington DC
Carol Bowers, ASCE Geo-Institute, Reston VA
Maggie Toscano, Association for Women Geoscientists, Silver Spring MD
Blair Jones, Clay Minerals Society, Reston VA
Bill Siok, American Institute of Professional Geologists, Arvada CO
Tom Dutro, PS, AESE, and PRI, Washington DC
Ted Vlamis, Society for Vertebrate Paleontology, Wichita KS
Clint Moore, American Association of Petroleum Geologists, Houston TX
Virgil Frizzell, Geological Society of America, Falls Church VA

David Wunsch, 1998-1999 AGI Congressional Science Fellow
Eileen McLellan, 1999-2000 AGI Congressional Science Fellow (as of 9/1/99)

David Applegate, AGI GAP Director
Kasey Shewey White, AGI GAP Staff
Christi Snedegar, AGI/AAPG Intern
Marcus Milling, AGI Executive Director

1.0 Introductions and Preliminary Business

Following self-introductions around the table, the meeting began with approval of reports from the last two committee meetings, the first in September 1998 at AGI headquarters, and the second an informational session on October 1998 in Toronto. Both reports were approved by voice vote. They are available on the AGI web site via the GAP Advisory Committee home page at:

Applegate discussed the state of Government Affairs Program (GAP) finances, noting the decline in support in 1998 from the record high of nearly $100,000 in 1997. He attributed the decline to several specific problems, including lack of awareness of GAP activities in member society executive committees, declining member society US membership, and late payments. He felt confident that support would increase again in 1999 and encouraged member society representatives to contact their society in this regard. Two handouts were distributed: a table showing member society contributions and a graph from AGI Controller Pat Burks showing overall program budget and contributions. The program budget increased dramatically in 1998 due to the inauguration of the AGI Congressional Science Fellowship fully supported by the AGI Foundation.

As an aside, Applegate noted the absence of GAP Senior Advisor John Dragonetti, who was in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois at the GSA North -Central Section Meeting giving a talk as part of a public policy session.

2.0 Recent GAP Activities

2.1 Congressional Visits Day

Applegate and White reported that the just-completed Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day had been a success with over 200 scientists and engineers making more than 250 visits with congressional offices. A number of member society representatives who attended the Visits Day event also commented on their experiences.

Hitzman, Frizzell, and GSA President Gail Ashley met with Rep. Mark Udall (D-CO), in whose district GSA is based. They had a very positive reception and encourage other societies to do the same.

Dutro was pleasantly surprised by his visit with Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), who had just introduced an Earth Day bill on grade school education and was delighted to talk with a geoscientist about it. She also expressed concern over the lack of qualified minority applicants for the military service academies, primarily a function of lack of interest in science and math courses.

Tom Moore noted that his meetings went well but that they were mostly with folks who are already friends of the geosciences. In the future, we should make an effort to focus on folks who are not already our friends -- we should run up against a brick wall more often.

Jones reported similar experience with the Maryland delegation.

Perry stated that there is a misperception that certain states have no interest in earth science, noting that over 400 districts have mines in them. He referred people to a newly published USGS map of mines and mill operations.

Dutro noted that the value of the natural hazards initiative is that there is not a district without some natural hazard, not just earthquakes in California

Folger reported on the comments made by House staffer Dave Goldston at one of the CVD briefings, emphasizing the importance of getting folks to visit back in the district. Remember that representatives perceive themselves as local officials working at the federal level. He emphasized that CVD is just a starting point -- people need to follow up.

Astwood did see folks who were not so friendly to science and did feel that his visits were effective. He was paired with an engineering professor from the Univ. of South Carolina, who had arranged to be accompanied by the university's Washington rep -- a very useful tactic that should be employed more widely at next CVD.

Jones noted that being paired with engineering groups was a bit of a challenge, that they had a tendency to take over and were overly aggressive. Both he and Kingston found, however, that the staffers were much more receptive to the earth science message.

Hitzman reported that the message received in a visit with the Science Committee, which just passed the NEHRP reauthorization bill, was that there was no money to pay for the new programs being authorized. Indeed, between the budget caps and the impact of the war in Kosovo, broad cuts across the board are more likely. The committee staff urged scientists to talk to the appropriators early and often. Hitzman then suggested that -- along the lines of the broad impact of the geosciences and not just talking to friendly offices -- we should target every single member on the Hill during Earth Science Week. The visits could either be in DC or back in the district. The key is organization. Siok clarified that such visits would be accomplished by constituents.

Frizzell reported on a meeting he and Gail Ashley had with freshman Rep. Rush Holt (D-NJ), who represents Ashley's district which includes Rutgers. Holt was quite gracious and enthusiastic -- he is a physicist and the first former congressional science fellow to be elected. He was very sincere about wanting more communication with Ashley and asked her to come back and see him again, asking also if he could visit her facility at Rutgers. Holt sits on the Budget and Education & the Workforce Committees. They made a plea for earth science inclusion in curriculum development and teacher training -- he was very familiar with the AAAS Benchmarks, which makes earth science an integral part of the curriculum. He emphasized that contacting appropriators is paramount.

Folger described a meeting he, Dutro, Pojeta, and Applegate had with Joel Kaplan of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Kaplan stated that their subcommittee gets more request letters from other members of Congress than any other subcommittee except defense. Even a popular USGS program such as streamgaging never appears in those letters. That has to change. Applegate added that the reason for visiting Kaplan is that he has repeatedly stressed how few visits or contacts he gets from geoscientists and others supporting the USGS. Again, that must change.

Frizzell reported that he buttonholed Presidential Science Advisor Neal Lane after the Administration briefing and asked why no discussion of earth science or even much about the environment. Lane could only mention the climate change issue as one mentioned that had to do with the earth sciences and went on to say that they could go to the agencies when they needed earth science information.

Siok noted that the word "environment" is hackneyed and stressed the importance of emphasizing the direct impact of water supply and mineral resources on people's lives -- the day to day impact rather than broad environmental issues.

Jones added that the environment can be an effective way to emphasize the earth sciences when focused on a specific region such as the Chesapeake Bay.

Nice words said about success of event and efforts of GAP staff.

2.2 AGI/AIPG/AAPG Summer and Semester Internships

Applegate briefly described GAP's internship program and the opportunities provided to geoscience students interested in public policy. He thanked both the AIPG Foundation and AAPG for their support of the internship program. He then introduced current intern Christi Snedegar.

Snedegar began by thanking AAPG and AGI for this opportunity, noting that the semester timeframe is helpful to get up to speed with how Washington works. She applied for the internship in order to see what Washington is all about and see how decisions are made that affect her own life. She has had the opportunity to meet with her own representative -- John Hostetler (R-IN) -- and also dropped off CVD packets with the other Indiana representatives and senators.

Hitzman suggested that opportunities be provided for the interns to share their experiences as is done with the congressional fellows. He particularly suggested opportunities at AAPG and AIPG meetings. Clint Moore suggested that speaking opportunities could be arranged with AAPG's more than 25 student chapters. Siok also supported the idea from the AIPG perspective, adding that it would be a chance to get feedback on the program. Snedegar added that when she is back at Indiana University, she plans to speak with people both at the university and at the Indiana Geological Survey, where she has done some work.

Perry suggested that this might be a way to help enhance student chapters. He also suggested getting them on the program for meetings of local societies. Bethke suggested that the interns should be introduced to the Geological Society of Washington and perhaps give a presentation there as well.

2.3 Congressional Fellowship Selection

Applegate reported that the selection committee recently interviewed candidates for the next AGI Congressional Science Fellowship. The committee selected Dr. Eileen McLellan, currently a professor at the University of Maryland. She accepted and will start in September. McLellan joined the meeting later in the day.

Applegate noted that the number of applications were down by half this year compared with last year, a decrease experienced by almost all of the science and engineering societies sponsoring fellows. Although some in other disciplines (notably the physicists) attributed the decrease to a strong job market, that explanation does not work for the geosciences. The more likely reason is disillusionment with Washington in the wake of the impeachment process, and Applegate predicted that numbers would rebound. AGI advertises in Geotimes and several member society magazines and (in conjunction with AGU, SSSA, and GSA) sends flyers to geoscience department chairs.

2.4 Geotimes Special Issue on Geoscience and Public Policy

Applegate described the current (April 1999) special issue of Geotimes, which focuses on the interactions between geoscience and public policy both in the US and around the world. Guest edited by GAP staff for the fourth year, the issue starts off with a Comment by Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) on the domestic petroleum industry. An article by former Geological Survey of Canada chief scientist Jim Franklin describes the rebuilding process that took place after the survey experienced major budget reductions. Former British Geological Survey director Peter Cook challenges geoscientists to play more active and cooperative roles in addressing critical societal issues such as nuclear-waste disposal, greenhouse-gas emissions, and water shortages. USGS Chief Hydrologist Bob Hirsch reports on the state of the USGS streamgaging network, laying out the case for investing in an improved infrastructure. Dan Sarewitz and others review the results of a symposium on the use and misuse of scientific predictions by policymakers.

Hitzman suggested that the committee should take advantage of the opportunity to focus future special issues.

Perry suggested that Geotimes periodically publish status of geoscience-related legislation pending on Capitol Hill with a link to the AGI website. Such a Legislation to Watch section could accompany the Political Scene column. Perry noted that he was having a hard time convincing his executive director that public policy issues are relevant to SME.

2.5 Appropriations and Other Legislation to Watch

Applegate and White reported on the progress of budget legislation along with NEHRP reauthorization, National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act reauthorization, the impact of the Ed-Flex legislation on the Eisenhower program, and the Chafee-Mack-Lieberman climate change bill. Additional information on all these issues is available on the GAP web site.

Folger added that the Chafee bill was being attacked by Greenpeace and Ozone Action as well as by oil industry. He spoke with Senator Murkowski's chief of staff Dave Garman about the senator's soon-to-introduced bill on climate change. He noted the need to talk about carbon risks in a non-confrontational way.

Perry asked whether there was any further movement to establish a National Institute for the Environment. Applegate responded about AGI's recent testimony to the National Science Board Task Force on the Environment, which was set up after NSF rejected the NIE concept.

3.0 Earth Science Week and AGI Outreach Plans

After a brief description by Applegate of AGI's plans for the next Earth Science Week (October 10-16, 1999), Earth Science World web site, and other outreach plans by Applegate. Jones passed around a report he prepared for the CMS Council on the March outreach meeting organized by AGI and held at the USGS headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

Hitzman asked how should this committee get involved in Earth Science Week from a government affairs perspective. Frizzell emphasized the importance of getting people involved ahead of time and suggested the GAP web site as a resource. Hitzman added that we need to have materials available -- a packet that people can use for their legislative visits. He asked how we move to contact our members in every district. Folger noted the effectiveness of getting elementary schools to contact members of Congress in conjunction with their Earth Science Week activities. Kingston added that AGU has the capability to reach members in individual districts. Perry added that AGI should work with the National Science Teachers Association and other organizations. Hitzman stated that we need to make members of Congress and their staff aware ahead of time that this event is going on and that opportunities (such as at schools) will be available for them. Perhaps the same packet could serve that purpose. Bethke suggested the in-press AGI Directory of Geoscientists as a possible resource. Folger described AGU's newly acquired software that can link members to congressional districts.

Hitzman stated that a task group is needed to determine whether the plan to make contacts in every district during ESW is technically feasible. In addition to Hitzman, other volunteers were Clint Moore, Virgil Frizzell, Pete Folger, Carol Bowers, Margo Kingston, and Phil Astwood.

Bowers noted that the Geo-Institute has a key contacts list that could be useful. Applegate added that he will check with ESW coordinator Julie Jackson about the lists she has of ESW participants. Clint suggested using museums to pull in representatives or senators.

4.0 Reports from Member Societies

AAPG - Clint Moore passed around handouts of AAPG position statements, five of which have been approved and five more in the works. The fifth position statement on tax issues went through a complicated process of proposal due to opposition from one executive committee member to economic statements. DPA forums provide AAPG members with opportunity to bring forward issues of concern. Clint participated in the CVD visits and had a positive experience. Next year, AAPG President Ray Thomasson will accompany him to Washington for CVD. He expressed appreciation for efforts of GAP staff and Marcus and expressed his pleasure at having Christi Snedegar as the first AAPG/AGI intern.

SVP - Ted Vlamis reported that SVP is reformulating its public affairs committee on a geographic basis. SVP has concerns over the proposed changes to OMB Circular A-110, which could allow commercial fossil collectors to use the Freedom of Information Act to obtain locality data from federally funded research. SVP's major issue is the protection of vertebrate fossils on federal public lands, and they are interested in working with other member societies that share their concern. He asked them to please get in touch with him either during or after the meeting.

AESE, PRI, PS -- Tom Dutro stated that he represented the invertebrate paleontologists at PRI and PS, and he emphasized the need for paleontologists to stick together, adding that vertebrate fossils are not as distinctive as vertebrate paleontologists like to believe. He argued that the current situation was critical for all geologists interested in collecting fossils. Professors running summer field camps have faced problems with collecting fossils on public lands due to ad hoc decisions by BLM district directors and the lack of a national policy. Putting on his AESE hat, he said that society was extremely interested in the FOIA issue as well as the issue of copyright as it pertains to electronic publication and the Internet.

Vlamis added that SVP's principal concern is that collection of vertebrate fossils on public lands should be done in a professional manner with contextual information, otherwise worthless. The fossils should be held in trust by public institutions, because they are a public resource.

GSA - Virgil Frizzell discussed the recent GSA strategic plan and the role of the GSA Geology and Public Policy Committee, which is moving ahead under the leadership of Pete Folger and GSA Environmental and Public Policy Director Cathleen May. GSA President Gail Ashley wants to see GSA more involved in outreach activities and plans to contact affiliated societies to develop more meaningful partnerships. The goal is to spread the knowledge of earth science to society.

AIPG - Bill Siok introduced himself as the new AIPG executive director, replacing the retiring Bill Knight. He stated that AIPG is not a technical association and that its primary emphasis is on professional and ethical issues. They are currently working to strengthen and re-evaluate the certification process for professional geologists. AIPG in the past has been indifferent to state registration, but now is attempting to support statutory registration efforts to establish licensure. Because they are finding that geologists have less desire to be certified in states where there is registration, AIPG has a goal of re-establishing certification as a credential analogous to board certification in medicine so that people have an extra credential to present. A major AIPG concern is the employment situation for young geoscientists. It is becoming apparent that the organization needs to attract kids when they are young -- hence emphasis and energy put into creating student chapters.

CMS - Blair Jones gave the CMS report. He raised the USGS overhead issue stemming from the new budget structure and described its effect on partnership programs within the Survey, specifically the increased impact on the federal component of those matching programs such that the one-time four percent tax becomes eight percent for coop programs. As a result, they are facing a net reduction of nearly 10 percent, which will make it more difficult to partner with state and local authorities. This issue needs to be brought to the attention of folks outside the USGS -- it is understood on the Hill by the Appropriations Committees. The budget restructuring decisions were internal between the department and the Survey.

AWG -- Maggie Toscano, currently AWG vice-president, reported that the society is undergoing a restructuring. They do not have a public policy presence and need to formalize their public affairs committee. Following up on the earlier intern discussion, they have a student delegate to address concerns of the next generation of geoscientists. AWG is active in outreach to K-12 students and Girl Scouts, and they are trying to raise the profile of the geosciences.

Kingston noted that the commission on women, minorities, and disabled persons in science has been appointed. The commission was called for in legislation, sponsored by Rep. Connie Morella (R-MD), which was enacted last year. The commission includes one geoscientist. It was agreed that we should offer our help to this geoscientist and consider inviting her to the next GAPAC meeting. GAP staff will work with Kingston and Toscano.

ASCE Geo-Institute -- Carol Bowers reported that the autonomous Geo-Institute is allowed to look at issues formerly handled exclusively by ASCE as a whole. They are working on an issues agenda and recently testified on dam safety issues and before the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee on streamgaging and natural hazards issues. Hazards are a very large issue for GI. They are strongly supporting Earth Science Week and will go forward with local sections and branches as well as including a piece in the newsletter which goes out to the 8,500 GI members. Also interested in transportation research funding and very involved with federal highway funding, which currently faces a major cut. The GI board has endorsed the AGI climate change statement. GI is also concerned about federal agency competition with the private sector. They support the national geologic mapping program. They do not yet have a specific government affairs committee but are working on that. Matheson added that he was transitioning into the role as representative from GI to GAPAC.

Pete Folger noted that he is an unofficial representative on several fronts, both as chair of the GSA Geology and Public Policy Committee and as AGU public affairs manager. The GSA committee has sent to council a position statement calling for recognition in academia of the work that faculty do outside the traditional research mold, particularly in public outreach and advocacy. They are also entertaining a position statement being developed by AGU on teaching evolution as a central part of science.

SEPM -- Tom Moore noted that the SEPM council did not provide anything specific for him to report, but he did want to express thanks to GAP staff for the job they are doing. SEPM is currently looking for an executive director. Although Theresa Scott is doing a great interim job, there is a leadership gap. They will probably take a long time to settle on someone -- they are looking for long-term stability and, hopefully, someone with an interest in governmental involvement. In general, SEPM tends to tag along with AAPG on issues. He cited shoreline protection and wetlands as issues that SEPM members have knowledge on that can be brought to bear. In general, membership is very apolitical and government averse, tending to be more academic. He is at something of a loss as to how to get them more involved. The SEPM newsletter is quarterly, making it hard to get material out in a timely manner to the membership. No word back from council on the AGI climate statement; they may not sign on just because doing nothing is safer than doing something.

AGU -- Margo Kingston reported that the Committee on Public Affairs had a good year thanks to the guidance of Pete Folger as manager and Lou Lanzerotti (mantra: all politics is local) as chair. AGU supports the concept of delivering public affairs information on the Hill through a natural hazards caucus, working closely with AGI. They are sponsoring (along with ACS and APS) focus groups in Congress to better understand how to bring the geosciences to the attention of folks on Capitol Hill. NSF is very important to AGU, and they are particularly interested in the agency's two new budget initiatives on biocomplexity and information technology. They want to bring to NSF Director Rita Colwell's attention that all directorates can contribute to those initiatives, particularly the Geosciences Directorate. AGU is particularly interested in major NSF projects such as the large plate boundary observatory, a new national seismic array (US Array), the deep drilling initiative, and a relocatable atmospheric anniversary. Kingston noted that NSF is celebrating its 50th anniversary next year, which represents a good opportunity for geoscience societies to be part of the celebration. In 2000, the AGU Spring Meeting will be held in DC in conjunction with GSA and a number of other societies. They hope to do some sessions on the Hill and see an opportunity to get staff to come to sessions. AGU also recognizes the need to participate at the local level on school boards and county commissions. They are developing policy-oriented fact sheets geared toward members of Congress, talking about what is good about earth science and how earth science research has impacted society. AGU's recently purchased GRPro software gives it new database capabilities, and AGU is also developing a new outreach web page focused on the general public. The Cmte. on Public Affairs is sponsoring sessions at the AGU fall and spring meetings, most recently ones on El Nino impacts and natural hazards and public policy at the fall meeting. The spring sessions will include evolution and creationism and on the Woburn case. AGU will have booths at the CNSF congressional exhibition co-hosted with both AGI and AAS. The AGU climate change position statement was released at a packed press conference in January. It was well received by both the popular press and the science press. AGU is currently working on statements on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and evolution.

NAGT -- Phil Astwood stated up front that NAGT does not have a public policy committee and that it is sometimes difficult to get them to express themselves. The basic message for the CVD visits was that teachers cannot teach things they do not know -- many states do not have certification for earth science teachers, meaning you can teach earth science without having taken a single earth science course. It is critical that we focus on professional development for existing teachers, providing an immediate solution to the problem. NAGT is concerned about schools taking money from the Eisenhower program (for math and science professional development) to use for what they perceive as more pressing needs. The Ehlers (House Science Committee Vice Chair, R-MI) amendment to the Ed-Flex bill makes it harder to do that, but it is a minor victory. NAGT is always interested in funding for the Eisenhower program, because it is a major source of support for professional development.

Frizzell noted that Dottie Stout (geoscience education leader now working at NSF) is working on Rita Colwell's mentorship initiative and was appalled by how few earth science applications there were for the program. We need to find out and publicize these programs so that more will apply.

SME -- Al Perry reported that SME does not have a formal public policy committee but does address policy-type issues. SME has tremendous concerns about membership and particularly how to bring new members into the fold. SME's membership is now 40 percent foreign. The GEM (government, education, and minerals) program works closely with the National Science Teachers Association to provide rock and mineral sets to teachers. He noted that the DC section recently celebrated its 80th anniversary. The section was founded by Herbert Hoover. He thanked AGI for being one of the sponsors of the event. AGI was represented by John Dragonetti. Perry's term of office is up, and he has requested that the executive committee not reappoint him as he is moving out of state. John Paden is the likely replacement. He passed around the new USGS map of mines and mineral processing plants in the US (I-2654). It was suggested that the map be reviewed in Geotimes by Murray Hitzman.

Society of Economic Geologists -- Phil Bethke reported that SEG is just becoming aware that we should be playing in the policy game. Many of its members are conservative and do not that SEG should get involved. There are members with economic interests in the private sector but also academics with science issues that they want to address. Jim Franklin (former chief scientist of the Geological Survey of Canada) is the next president, presenting an opportunity to make great strides in the policy arena. Bethke recounted that as a result of SEG's participation in last year's CVD, House Resources Committee staffer contacted SEG President Steve Kessler about testifying at a hearing on mineral exploration on public lands. Rishel was looking for somebody from a scientific society, not industry, who could speak to the issue. Although Kessler was not able to make the hearing, Dr. Donald Brobst testified on behalf of SEG.

Frizzell noted that GSA's Geology and Public Policy Committee is trying to extend the length of service of its members due to the steep learning curve. The same holds true for society elected leaders. It is important for organizations to involve chairs- and presidents-elect so that when they take over leadership, it seems to be a natural part of the job.

5.0 Discussion of Geoscience Advocacy -- What We Can Do

Applegate provided the group with a brief overview of the extent to which their societies, both 501(c)(3) scientific societies and 501(c)(6) trade associations, can lobby, noting that many of the societies remained unsure of what they could do. A recent Political Scene column was included in the background materials for the meeting posted on the web (see appendix for link). It was suggested that GAP send a letter each year to society presidents including the Geotimes article. It was also suggested than an annual version of the article be presented, which would be helpful for new society officers.

The group also discussed challenges raised to US advocacy for societies that have significant international membership. Applegate distributed copies of an e-mail sent to Society of Exploration Geophysicists President Brian Russell in response to their concerns about supporting a US-based advocacy program such as GAP.

Clint Moore noted that a number of concerns had been raised along both of these lines in AAPG, but he also noted that 85 percent of the postcards returned (over 1,000) from AAPG members on the tax position issue had been in favor of it. He also stated that the AGI memo on lobbying was used by the AAPG legal counsel as well as their executive committee. Concern over tax status has been raised as a reason not to take action. In order to get around international concerns on the tax statement, it was re-written to have both an international and US-specific component.

After breaking for lunch, Hitzman began the afternoon by tasking each representative with sending Applegate a short list of people who would be interested in getting involved in the Earth Science Week effort to get 535 contacts with Congress. Names on the sign-up list are Clint Moore, Virgil Frizzell, Pete Folger, Carol Bowers, Margo Kingston, Phil Astwood, and Murray Hitzman.

6.0 Presentation by AGI Congressional Science Fellow David Wunsch

AGI Congressional Science Fellow David Wunsch gave a brief presentation to the group on his current activities working for the House Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources, where he works for full committee chair Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and subcommittee chair Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY). He was attracted to the committee by the issues that they were working on. Moreover, much of the constituent work done in personal offices was similar to his experience in Kentucky state government, responding to information requests, and he felt he would rather apply his expertise to specific issues. His staff director is Bill Condit, who is a geologist and from whom he has learned a great deal. His subcommittee has oversight for agencies including the US Geological Survey, Office of Surface Mining, Minerals Management Service, Bureau of Land Management, US Forest Service. He has been involved in writing views and estimates on the President's budget request for these agencies. He has also worked on Rep. Young's Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA), H.R. 701, which deals with redistributing the Land and Water Conservation Fund. He expects the bipartisan legislation to pass eventually.

Wunsch related the experience of shepherding Denver Broncos running back Terrell Davis, who was testifying on CARA and participating in a Capitol Hill rally, where he was talking about how urban parks had kept him from a life of gang crime. Wunsch took a picture of Davis sitting in Vice President Gore's office just off the Senate floor, looking very presidential -- a lasting memory.

Wunsch brought the issue of surface mine restoration to the committee, having worked on the issue for many years with the Kentucky Geological Survey. Based on his research, he had recognized that the practice of reclaiming Appalachian mines as grasslands instead of the original humid deciduous forest did not make sense. Moreover, the coal companies could use the forests as a source of future revenue from the land with the special added bonus of creating carbon sequestration sinks.

Wunsch informed the group that the reauthorization of the National Geologic Mapping Act had been introduced the day before. He wrote the introductory remarks for Rep. Cubin to which Condit (taking advantage of the day it was introduced) added the line that "to a geologist, every day is Earth Day." Wunsch has also worked on the issue of oil and gas royalty collection and valuation, attending a number of MMS briefings and talking to lots of oil lobbyists on the royalty-in-kind (RIK) issue. The subcommittee held a hearing last week on the Administration's proposal to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve with RIK oil. He has submitted an article to Geotimes on the hearing.

Other issues on which he has been working are coalbed methane versus coal mining, which is a big concern out west, because it crosses jurisdiction over who has rights to the gas. Legislation may be needed to decide that. Currently, there is a case before the Supreme Court. They have introduced a bill on gas hydrates to get more research through USGS and NSF; the bill emphasizes research in permafrost regions such as Alaska. Finally, he has been working on hardrock mining issues, particularly the National Research Council study on the 3809 regulations. Although not directly related to 1872 mining law reform, the two are politically linked.

In questions following Wunsch's presentation, Perry asked about the role of OSM in reforestation projects and discussed regulatory obligations and the role of Congress. In response to another question, Wunsch suggested having a fund to support having former fellows get out into the geoscience community and give talks at universities and local society meetings about their experience.

7.0 AGI Climate Change Statement -- What Next?

Hitzman began the discussion by stating now that we have an AGI climate change statement, what do we do with it? He asked Pete Folger to describe what happened when AGU released theirs.

Folger noted that part of the learning experience in releasing their climate change statement was what to do with it once it was approved. The media strategy was to hold a press conference at the National Press Club, inviting Hill staff to attend then following up with letters and copies of the statement as well as offers to get members of Congress and their staffs in touch with scientists who could explain the issues. AGU feels that the statement was a success with considerable press coverage, much of it positive. Pieces of the statement were cited in statements made during introduction of Sen. Chafee's (R-RI) voluntary carbon credits legislation. A key lesson learned was to be careful about lines being taken out of context to support one side or the other in the debate; the language complexity also caused problems. The Capitol Hill response so far has been that they would like to have access to AGU scientists. A staffer for Sen. Bob Kerrey (D-NE) wanted to know how to get scientists at the University of Nebraska to talk to agriculture groups, a reminder that all politics is local.

Siok suggested that the AGI statement should be published in society journals and newsletters, then observe the reaction from the membership. Folger added that AGU's Council passed their statement last December but delayed the press conference so that the panel could write a full-blown article to go with it, which did not happen. The result was that opponents had already leaked the statement, resulting in a charged atmosphere at the press conference.

Applegate outlined the rationale behind the AGI statement, which does not take a policy position but rather emphasizes the role of the earth sciences in understanding climate change, the nature of uncertainty in complex earth systems, and the value of further earth science research on climate-related problems. The goal was to develop a statement that could be embraced by all of AGI's member societies. Ten member society (11 with Geo-Institute, just announced at this meeting) presidents have signed on, only AGU has indicated that it is definitely not signing on. The others may still be waiting for executive committee meetings to make a decision. Applegate suggested several different approaches to carrying forward the statement, including the possibility of holding a consensus conference on this subject for member society leaders similar to the one held on the merger of the National Biological Service into the USGS in 1996.

He left to Hitzman discussion of a special issue of Geotimes focused on geoscience research relevant to the climate change issue. He also noted that there was a potential tie-in with an upcoming AGI Environmental Awareness series booklet on global change, which was to be written this summer by AGI Executive Committee member at large and Wesleyan University professor Suzanne O'Connell. Committee representatives were pleased that an environmental awareness series booklet will be developed along the lines of the successful soils booklet.

Bethke stated that the statement would be perceived as weak if only a third of the member societies endorsed it. Frizzell suggested that GAP staff pulse the remaining member society presidents by phone. Moore suggested that further action on the statement await the next GAP Advisory Committee meeting. Siok suggested sending a letter to each society that they are notice to the implications of this issue, asking them to resolve it and get back to AGI. Hitzman suggested a revised deadline of September 1, 1999, and the group agreed. That date would allow further discussion at the next GAP Advisory Committee later that month. Tom Moore suggested that whenever AGI decides to release the statement, it should be accompanied by a press release that explains some of the recommendations. Hitzman added that the press release would have to be vetted through the GAP Advisory Committee. Applegate and Hitzman will draft the press release.

Folger stated that AGU President John Knauss wanted to make clear that there is not a rift here, but AGU does not want to formally endorse the AGI statement simply because it does not go as far as AGU's statement. It does not mean that we do not agree -- we need to be ready to address that question from press or Capitol Hill.

Hitzman asked the group how and what and where do we take the statement once it is formalized.

Folger reported that AGU, the American Chemical Society, and the American Physical Society have embarked on a project over the next two months to conduct focus groups on Capitol Hill with staffers to ascertain baselines of knowledge, who they listen to on the climate change issues, what sources they trust, and whether science is perceived to be relevant to the climate issue -- information that can be useful to AGI in making its decision how to disseminate its statement.

McLellan asked who the targeted audience for the statement is. Applegate noted that the statement -- without a policy recommendation -- is not likely to have a press reaction; it would not satisfy them as news. Instead, the targets need to be policymakers, the rest of the scientific community, as well as our own geoscience community. The committee agreed that the AGI statement, because it avoids taking a position on the political debate, would not attract the press attention as did the AGU statement. Instead, its distribution should be targeted to Congress, federal agencies, and other scientific groups. It will also provide geoscientists themselves with a tool to make the case of their relevance to this issue's resolution.

Hitzman suggested the possibility of doing a special issue of Geotimes that would be fronted by the statement then have articles that span the spectrum of geoscience contributions to the climate change issue. Societies could be asked to contribute articles or authors. Folger suggested a series of articles over time. It was agreed that the societies should be asked to recommend writers or topics with the purpose clearly explained.

Clint Moore stated that articles would need to discuss methodologies and approaches that geoscience disciplines could contribute to the debate -- e.g. hydrology can contribute in this way -- so that it is not just reactive. Here is the information we know and how our disciplines con contribute to the debate.

Frizzell emphasized that we do not want to sound like we are whining because we were left out. The goal is to show the greater science establishment that the earth sciences have an important role, need to sound positive and make clear that climate change is just one issue related to the earth sciences. He feels that GSA and its president would be interested in such an approach.

McLellan noted that the purpose of a consensus conference was consciousness-raising within the geoscience community whereas the environmental awareness series booklet and Geotimes special issue seemed to more outreach-oriented tools.

Several individuals suggested that a conference should address the broader topic of how the geosciences contribute to society, the goal being to get presidents and executive committees to realize that we need to agree on a strategy and focus our efforts, agreeing where to push forward.

The group consensus was that a consensus conference should wait until after the climate statement is released and reactions to it assessed. Moreover, many felt that such a conference should instead focus on the broader topic of how the geosciences contribute to society in general. It was agreed that the topic of earth science impact on society would be discussed at the next GAP meeting.

8.0 AGI Geoscience Data Preservation Efforts

AGI Executive Director Marcus Milling joined the meeting to discuss AGI's National Geoscience Data Repository System (NGDRS) project. He began by noting more generally that in 1998, AGI's revenues topped $6 million for the first time. He cited GAP as a small program budget that accomplishes a lot. He discussed three AGI firsts: the 50th anniversary in 1998, Earth Science Week in October 1998, and the Academic/Corporate Associates Conference in February 1999.

Milling reminded the group that the NGDRS project grew out of this committee, starting as a result of concern for petroleum and mining industry data being destroyed because there was no longer interest in it. Preserving these data requires considerable space and cost, yet existing state repositories are mostly full so need new facility. AGI explored the possibility of Denver's former Stapleton airport, but environmental problems were considerable. Moreover, industry is no longer interested in transporting material but did agree to make their core collections available to the general geoscience community -- millions of boxes of core. AGI plans to do a workshop with the National Research Council. Milling argued that there should be some requirement that companies not destroy geoscience data and instead should transfer to a public entity.

Frizzell asked if AGI had considered pursuing tax relief legislation that would encourage companies to transfer data, allowing them to recognize the contribution. Milling responded that the major companies do not want us involved in that area. The companies are getting IRS to help determine what valuation they can give to data, a process made easier for seismic data since they are readily sold and traded. Shell took an undisclosed tax deduction for the value assessed on its cores and Midland facility donated to the University of Texas in 1995.

Clint Moore stated that relying on some sort of public-private partnership would be the way to go rather than a federal agency. He asked whether there are any other industries that have a preservation policy in place, setting a precedent or model to follow/avoid. He agreed with Milling's assessment that these geoscience data represent a unique national treasure. Hitzman added that a public-private partnership would also resonate with the mining industry, which could pull in some additional senators. Frizzell emphasized that we need to make sure the companies are on board before moving ahead on a tax credit.

9.0 Developments With Congressional Natural Hazards Caucus

Applegate gave a brief overview of AGI's efforts in partnership with other groups -- including AGU, ASCE, and the insurance sector -- to establish a congressional caucus on natural hazards issues. Folger followed up with a description of how the caucus would work. Because hazards affect every state, the caucus could take advantage of the awareness that occurs in the wake of disasters -- teachable moments. Staff could also operate a clearinghouse for information and contacts for anybody interested in learning more about natural hazards.

Frizzell suggested Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA) as a possible champion and said that the caucus sounded like a great initiative. Perry noted that another hazard to consider is subsidence and noted the interest of the insurance industry.

10.0 Discussion of Upcoming GAP Activities

Applegate handed out copies of a list prepared by AGI/AAPG intern Christi Snedegar on public outreach/information, government/public affairs, and education programs of AGI's member societies. Committee representatives were asked to review the document and suggest additions and corrections. The goal is to provide a snapshot of community efforts and contacts in these areas.

Applegate described the upcoming Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF) Exhibition and Reception on Capitol Hill slated for Wednesday, May19. AGI and AGU will be co-sponsoring a booth on the IRIS Consortium's seismic networks and research. This focus is intended to dovetail with the current NEHRP reauthorization process as well as the hazards caucus concept.

Blair Jones brought up the tie-in of health issues for the geosciences, emphasizing the importance of raising awareness among geoscientists about health effects. He has worked with the new National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences to see if other federal agencies could get involved in the NIH grants program. He noted the recent Mineralogical Society of America conference on minerals and health and stated that water quality is another environmental health area where the geosciences have a major input. He argued that this message can be used to get at NIH, which is the one agency that gets big increases every year.

Hitzman adjourned the meeting.

Appendix: Background Material for the Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Meeting

Memo accompanying minutes

May 18, 1999

To: Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee Members

GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Attendees

From: Dave Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

Re: Report from April 1999 GAP Advisory Committee Meeting

The draft report from the April 1999 Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee (GAPAC) meeting, held at AGI Headquarters, is available on the committee's web site at:

Action items follow in this memo. Please let us know if you have any changes or additions to the report or to the action items.

The report will be reviewed at the next committee meeting to be held this September at AGI headquarters in Alexandria, Virginia.

Action Items from April 1999 meeting:

GAP Staff

Member Society Representatives

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

Uploaded May 18, 1999

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