American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


April 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.

Faced With Major Cuts, USGS Library Gets Reprieve
The USGS has backed away from a proposal to cut the acquisitions budget for its libraries by half following a howl of protest both from within the Survey and from the broader geoscience community. At the request of the Member Society Council, AGI President Ed Roy wrote a letter to USGS Director Gordon Eaton opposing the cuts and emphasizing the library's value both as a research resource and an outreach tool. The USGS library has been experiencing cutbacks for many years, forcing the cancellation of 1,667 journal subscriptions since 1986. The proposed cuts would have resulted in the cancellation of an addition 1,100 of the remaining 2,238 current subscriptions. AGI hopes to work with the USGS to find a long-term solution that will maintain the vitality of this de facto "national library" for the geosciences. A more detailed update is available on GAP's web site.

Geoscience Advocacy I: Congressional Science & Technology Visits Day
If the geosciences are to be a recognizable (and valued) element in the congressional view of "science," then geoscientists must be represented in science community-wide events such as the second annual Science and Technology Congressional Visits Day. Over 225 scientists from 29 states participated in over 200 visits with key senators, representatives, and their staff as part of the event. AGI arranged for three geoscientists to participate: Margo Kingston from Maryland, Gene Whitney from Colorado, and Perry Wigley from Nebraska. Before their visits, participants were briefed by Administration and Congressional leaders, including Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Presidential science advisor Jack Gibbons, NASA Administrator Dan Goldin, and NSF Director Neil Lane. The event was organized by the Science-Engineering-Technology Working Group (of which AGI is a member) and the Coalition for Technology Partnerships to educate science and technology decisionmakers within Congress. Participants in the S&T Visits Day carried forward two core messages: 1) federal investment in science and technology is important for the Nation, and 2) partnerships between government, universities, and industries mean progress, economic growth, and jobs. In addition, participants were free to advance their own messages about specific programs.

Geoscience Advocacy II: Congressional Exhibition for NSF Research
For the second year in a row, AGI and the American Geophysical Union have jointly sponsored a booth at the Coalition for National Science Funding's exhibition and reception showcasing research and education projects supported by the National Science Foundation. The event was held in the Rayburn House Office Building and was attended by a dozen representatives and a much larger number of House and Senate staffers. AGI featured NSF-supported research by Dr. David Verardo of the University of Virginia on charcoal burial in Atlantic deep-sea sediments, and AGU featured solar research by Dr. Mukul Kundu of the University of Maryland.

Geoscience Advocacy III: Lobbying Memo and Geotimes Distribution
A memo went out this month from GAP to the member societies outlining restrictions placed on lobbying by 501(c)(3) and 501(c)(6) organizations, congressional registration requirements, and gift rules. We hope that the memo will clarify these legal guidelines and consequently encourage increased member society involvement in advocacy activities. The memo is available on the GAPAC web site, and hard copies are available on request.

The last update reported on the April issue of Geotimes, which focuses on the role of government in the geosciences. The issue features a Comment on President Clinton's environment and natural resources science policy by NOAA Administrator James Baker, articles on the funding squeeze for basic research, the future of the USGS mapping program, and a justification of energy research at DOE. The issue also contains an interview with Rep. Jim Gibbons (R-NV), who is the first geoscientist to serve in Congress in fourteen years. Copies of the issue are being distributed to key congressional members and committees in an effort to better inform them of issues facing the geosciences.

Summer Interns Selected
Three geoscience students have been selected as interns this summer to work on geoscience and public policy. Two are being supported jointly by GAP and the AIPG Foundation, and the third is funded jointly by GAP and AGI's education department, focusing on science education policy. The three interns are Stephanie Barrett (Indiana University), Jenna Minicucci (Wesleyan University), and Catherine Runden (University of Iowa). They will each be joining us for twelve weeks beginning in late May.

AGI Presentations
In April, Dave Applegate participated in a forum organized by the AAPG Division of Professional Affairs, and John Dragonetti spoke to the AIPG Kentucky section's annual meeting. We appreciate these offers to speak and welcome additional opportunities to get outside the Beltway and discuss policy issues with the geoscience community.

New Material on Web Site
GAP has accelerated its efforts to keep the community informed of events in Washington with a number of new reports available on our web site . In addition, special e-mail updates were sent on the USGS library issue, lobbying memo, and upcoming field hearings. On the web site, reports have been added or updated on science authorization bills, high-level nuclear waste legislation, electric utility deregulation, and new regulations under the Clean Air Act. Two columns by Dragonetti in The Professional Geologist have been reprinted with permission on the Government Performance and Results Act and a review of the former U.S. Bureau of Mines. New reports on hearings include federal R&D spending, proposed hard-rock mining regulations, and agriculture research. Kasey Shewey also reports on a recent workshop on wetlands. Please contact us if you would like additional material on any of these events or issues.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities

	May 1		AGI Testimony on NSF Appropriations	Washington DC
	May 19-21	AIPG Washington Fly-In			Washington DC
	May 27-30	AGU Spring Meeting				Baltimore MD
	June 22-25	AASG Annual Meeting			Breckinridge CO

Advisory Committee Meets, Next Meeting Scheduled
The GAP Advisory Committee met on April 9th at the AAPG Annual Convention in Dallas. Discussions focused on current GAP activities and the nascent GAP Strategic Plan. Minutes from the meeting will be available on the GAPAC web site in the next week. After polling the committee members, the next GAP Advisory Committee meeting will be at the GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday, October 18th.


(Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs)

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

Uploaded May 5, 1997

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