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.
President's Fiscal Year 1998 Budget Request Released
Science programs overall are slated to receive a small, inflationary increase in the President's budget request for fiscal year 1998, which was released early this month. Geoscience programs in the National Science Foundation are up only 1.5%, and the U.S. Geological Survey's budget offsets increases for biology and water resources with cuts to geology and mapping. More information on the budget request is available from AGI's Government Affairs web site. The April "Political Scene" column in Geotimes will also address the President's request, and AGI is contributing the earth sciences chapter to the AAAS Report XXII: Research and Development FY1998, due out in April.
New Legislation in Congress, Science Caucus Meets
With the arrival of the President's budget, Congress has begun its work on appropriations and agency authorizations. Among the many new bills introduced, no fewer than six deal with reforming the Mining Law of 1872, all introduced by Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) and Rep. George Miller (D-CA). At the same time, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt announced new bonding requirements for environmental cleanup and other measures that would not require legislative approval. Legislation was introduced by Sen. Rod Grams (R-MN) to abolish the Department of Energy and by Bumpers to deregulate the electricity industry, a topic that is expected to be the major energy issue of the 105th Congress with wide-reaching impacts on the coal and natural gas industries. The Senate Science and Technology Caucus held its first meeting, which was a roundtable to discuss the proper role in R&D projects. A summary of that discussion and information on legislation of interest to geoscientists can be accessed through AGI's Government Affairs web site.
AGI Testimony On Geologic Mapping Bill
On February 26th, the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held its first hearing of the new Congress on H.R. 709, the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1997. Written testimony from AGI Past President Bob Hatcher was submitted into the record by subcommittee chairwoman Barbara Cubin (R-WY). The subcommittee subsequently voted to send the bill to the full Resources Committee, which in turn is expected to send the bill to the House floor in the next week. Similar legislation passed the House last Congress but was held hostage in the Senate due to unrelated conflicts over nuclear waste storage and federal judgeships. The subcommittee accepted Democratic amendments to specifically include U.S. territories as eligible for federal matching grants to state mapping projects.
AGI, Geoscience Societies Sign On To Letter Urging Research Funding Increases
A press conference will be held on March 4th to announce the release of a letter from scientific society presidents to Congress and the Administration calling on them to "renew the nation's historical commitment to scientific research and education." The letter urges a 7 percent increase in research budgets for federal science agencies. Over one million scientists belong to the societies whose presidents have signed on to this letter, which was spearheaded by American Physical Society President D. Allan Bromley. AGI President Ed Roy is among the co-signers as are AGU President Sean Solomon, GSA President George Thompson, and AIPG President Jonathan Price, lending a strong geoscience presence. AGI is participating in several science community-wide efforts to raise congressional awareness of the value of science research and education. These activities include a science and technology congressional visits day and an exhibit of NSF-sponsored research in the geosciences, both in April.
GAP Advisory Committee Meets, Visits Capitol Hill Offices
The GAP Advisory Committee met at AGI headquarters with representation from fifteen member societies. In addition to hearing reports on recent GAP activities and plans for future activities, committee members shared society concerns and discussed AGI positions on federal support for science, the Gramm R&D legislation, the National Geologic Mapping Act, and an AIPG draft position opposing possible changes to the USGS name. The following day several committee members visited with staff from the House Resources and Science Committees and the offices of Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV). Lieberman is involved in the nascent Science and Technology Caucus, and Gibbons is the only geoscientist in Congress.
GAP Strategic Planning Effort Gets Underway
The GAPAC meeting also saw the launching of a strategic planning exercise for the Government Affairs Program. The committee heard a presentation from Bill Sax, who teaches strategic planning at Duke's Fuqua School of Business. Sax is a former executive at UNOCAL and has a background in geophysics. He has agreed to help GAP develop a strategic plan with significant input from AGI's member societies, other government affairs programs, and the target audience in federal agencies and Congress. A memo going out next week will ask member society leadership for their input, and the results will be discussed at the Member Society Council meeting in April.
Just a reminder that the application deadline for the AGI/AIPG Summer Internships in Geoscience and Public Policy is April 1st 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.
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
March 5 House Interior Appropriations Testimony Washington DC March 13 USGS Topographic Mapping Workshop Reston VA March 27-28 GSA Southeastern Section Meeting Auburn AL April 3-4 GSA Geology & Public Policy Cmte. Mtg. Washington DC April 6-9 AAPG Annual Convention Dallas TX April 16-17 Congressional Science & Tech. Visits Washington DC April 23-24 AAAS Science & Technology Colloquium Washington DC
Committee Meeting Schedule
The next GAP Advisory Committee meeting will be at the AAPG Annual Convention in Dallas at 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 9th. Exact location and duration to be determined.
(Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs)
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uploaded February 28, 1997