American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE

January 1997

This monthly update goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs Program (GAP) Advisory Committee as well as the leadership of AGI's member societies and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

New Congress, New Legislation The 105th Congress began with a flurry of new legislation -- 381 bills introduced in the House and 178 bills in the Senate on their respective first days of business. The range of issues covered include Superfund reform, research funding, high-level nuclear waste disposal, and natural hazard mitigation. Two bills have been introduced in the Senate to reauthorize CERCLA/Superfund -- S. 8 is a comprehensive reform package, whereas S. 18 deals only with the brownfields issue. Sen. Phil Gramm (R-TX) introduced S. 124, a bill that calls for a doubling of non-defense R&D spending in the next decade. Even if passed, however, the bill only authorizes such spending increases -- any actual new dollars will have to come out of the annual appropriations bills, a prospect that is increasingly unlikely as efforts to balance the budget continue.

Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation, S. 104, that would expedite the Yucca Mountain siting process and to build an adjacent interim storage facility for spent fuel rods from commercial nuclear reactors. The legislation is similar to a bill that passed the Senate last year but was not taken up by the House in anticipation of a presidential veto. A Senate hearing is scheduled for early February. Two bills have been introduced in the House relating to natural hazards -- H.R. 219 and H.R. 230. H.R. 230 is the more comprehensive of the two, addressing both natural disaster insurance and multi-hazard mitigation. AGI is planning to hold a Washington workshop later this spring on natural hazards issues in an effort to inform legislators of the geoscience contribution to hazard mitigation.

Updated Web Site The legislation described above can be accessed through AGI's Government Affairs web site. AGI has revised the format for its legislative summaries, which are grouped topically and accompanied by updates. The Government Affairs site also contains new congressional committee rosters. As offices become more settled and subcommittees organized, these rosters will include contact information for key legislative aides handling geoscience issues.

Summer Internships Flyers are being sent out to departments around the country announcing AGI's summer internships in geoscience and public policy for 1997. Stipends for last year's interns were funded in part by a matching grant from the AIPG Foundation, and indications are good for continued support this year. Information on the internships can be found in the February issue of Geotimes and on this web site. The intenships are open to current geoscience majors and recent graduates. The application deadline is April 1st.

Scientific Societies Seek Consensus on Research Funding Recent budget increases of the National Institutes of Health -- over 8% in fiscal year 1997 -- have been credited to the lobbying efforts of the biomedical research community led by the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). Thus it was with considerable interest that scientific societies greeted a proposal by FASEB to push for a 7.1% increase in the budget of the National Science Foundation (NSF) for fiscal year 1998. The Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), a diverse group of scientific organizations and universities that support NSF, was asked to call for such an increase in its annual budget report. Although the CNSF steering committee tentatively voted to support the increase, individual organizations will have a choice whether or not to be included in the report's list of supporters. As a member of the CNSF steering committee, AGI has sought feedback from its member societies on the position. The final decision, however, will not be made until the report language has been developed sometime in February. The waters have been muddied by the separate efforts of several major society presidents, led by Dr. Alan Bromley of the American Physical Society, to support 5-7% increases for a much larger number of agencies that fund scientific research. It is not at all clear what the outcome of any of these efforts will be, and AGI is continuing to solicit comments from its Member Societies on this issue.

NAPA Study Underway on Surveying and Mapping The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) is conducting a broad study of federal surveying and mapping activities across the federal government in order to determine the appropriate federal role and establish which functions can be carried out by the private sector. The study was prompted in part by efforts in the last Congress to privatize mapping functions in the Department of the Interior and other agencies. Several agencies, including the U.S. Geological Survey, are funding the study, which is chaired by Edward David, a former presidential science advisor. Recently, GAP staff met with representatives from NAPA to discuss the geoscience implications of the study and to provide background on congressional activity in this area. A one-page description of the study along with a participant list are available from GAP.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities

	Feb. 2-3		AAPG Day			Tulsa OK
	Feb. 13-17	AAAS Annual Mtg.		Seattle WA
	Feb. 19-20	AGU Cmte. on Public Affairs	Washington DC
	Feb. 23-24	Advisory Cmte. meeting		Alexandria VA

Committee Meeting Schedule The next GAP Advisory Committee meeting will be at AGI headquarters on February 23-24. A preliminary agenda is being mailed this week. The date for the advisory committee's meeting at the AAPG Annual Convention in Dallas has also been set: Wednesday, April 9th from 7:30 to 9:30 a.m.

(Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs)

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Uploaded February 5, 1997

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