American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


April 1998


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 betw een GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

This monthly update includes:

Legislation to Double Civilian Research Needs Co-Sponsors
NSF Releases Study Critical of NIE
AGI Selects Congressional Science Fellow
OCS Policy Committee Resolution on Data Preservation
House Budget Resolution Elusive, Appropriators Eager to Move On
Education Legislation Update
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
New Material on Web Site

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Legislation to Double Civilian Research Needs Co-Sponsors
In January, AGI put out an alert on efforts to gain additional co-sponsors for legislation to authorize a doubling of federal funding for civilian research. The bill, S. 1305, was introduced last fall by Senators Ph il Gramm (R-TX), Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). The bill's introduction coincided with the release of the "Unified Statement on Research," in which a coalition of 109 organizations - AGI and a number of its member s ocieties included - called on Congress and the President to double federal funding for research in the next decade.

At a meeting last week, Senate staffers told the coalition that S. 1305 was at a crossroads -additional co-sponsors are needed if the bill is to make progress. Currently, 16 senators are listed on the bill, and that number needs to double in coming weeks if the bill is to have enough momentum to carry it through committee and to a floor vote. The coalition is asking scientists to write to their senators asking for them to sign on to S.1305 and has created a targeted list of those senators likely to be rec eptive:

Wayne Allard (R-CO)Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO)
Christopher Dodd (D-CT) Bob Graham (D-FL)
Pat Roberts (R-KS) John Kerry (D-MA)
Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) Barbara Mikulski (D-MD)
Max Baucus (D-MT) Robert Kerrey (D-NE)
Robert Torricelli (D-NJ) Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ)
Harry Reid (D-NV) Rick Santorum (R-PA)
Tim Johnson (D-SD) John Warner (R-VA)
James Jeffords (R-VT)

For additional information on contacting your senators along with an entertaining analogy to Newton's laws, see AGU Science Legislative Alert 98-06. AGI has not endorsed S. 1305 because it does not i nclude the Department of the Interior among the agencies slated for doubling, an omission due to lingering opposition to the former National Biological Service, now the Biological Resources Division of the U.S. Geological Survey. If you do write, please p ush for the inclusion of Interior. Several of the bill's current co-sponsors favor this change, but more voices are needed.

NSF Releases Study Critical of NIE
Last month, we reported on a National Science Board (NSB) resolution on the feasibility of creating a National Institute for the Environment (NIE) within the National Science Foundation (NSF). Since then, the NSF has released its report, which -- to no on e's surprise -- echoed the views of its governing body, the NSB. At a House Science Subcommittee on Basic Research hearing, NSF Director Neal Lane summarized the report by stating that an NIE "exceeds the boundaries of NSF" and may take away scientific ex pertise and resources from NSF. Lane told the subcommittee that better scientific information on environmental issues is necessary and a coordinated response to this inquiry should be a priority, but these goals could best be achieved through existing st ructures such as the National Science and Technology Council. The study is available at www.nsf.gov/cgi-bin/getpub?nieresp. Additional information on this issue can be found on AGI's web site.

AGI Selects Congressional Science Fellow
AGI is pleased to announced the selection of Dr. David Wunsch as the 1998-1999 AGI Congressional Science Fellow. Dr. Wunsch is currently on the staff of the Kentucky Geological Survey and is also an adjunct professor at the University of Kentucky. His ex pertise is in hydrogeology and geochemistry, and he will bring with him to Washington considerable experience in evaluating the effects of coal mining and petroleum recovery on ground-water and surface-water systems. Dr. Wunsch 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. The AGI fellowship is sup ported by a generous grant from the AGI Foundation.

OCS Policy Committee Resolution on Data Preservation
At a meeting on April 29th, the Department of the Interior's (DOI) Outer Continental Shelf Policy Committee unanimously passed a resolution urging Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to endorse the importance of preserving geoscience data preservation and sp ecifically the National Geoscience Data Repository System being developed by AGI. The resolution also called on the Secretary to develop a "comprehensive, integrated, long-term management plan" for data in the care of DOI agencies (including the U.S. Geol ogical Survey, Minerals Management Service, and Bureau of Land Management) and to coordinate DOI data preservation efforts with those of AGI and the Department of Energy. In response to a 1996 resolution by the policy committee, DOI recently issued a rep ort on the use and preservation of geological and geophysical information at Interior bureaus.

House Budget Resolution Elusive, Appropriators Eager to Move On
Speculation continues as to whether the House will pass a fiscal year 1999 budget resolution in time to conference with the Senate, which passed its version in early April. The budget resolution sets spending levels that the appropriations committees then use to determine allocations for individual spending bills. White House Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin Raines told scientists at an American Association for the Advancement of Science colloquium earlier today that the current draft by the House Budget Committee would cut discretionary spending over five years by $150 billion below levels in the President's budget request. He stated that such an additional cut could not be absorbed without reductions to NSF and other science agencies th at are currently slated for substantial increases in the President's request. If the two houses are unable to reach agreement by May 15, the House Appropriations Committee plans to move ahead anyway using last year's allocations.

Education Legislation Update
The often-threatened Eisenhower Professional Development program would only be slightly affected by the education reform bill (S. 1133) recently passed by the Senate. The bill, which lets parents earn tax-free interest on savings for K-12 (private or pub lic) education expenses, contains an amendment by Senator Slade Gorton (R-WA) to allow states to receive $10.3 billion in Department of Education funds as a block grant, rather than designated for specific programs. The amendment excludes the Eisenhower state grants program from the block grant but another amendment would make changes to the distribution of the Eisenhower state grant funds beginning in FY 2000. The bill, however, is not expected to become law: the President has vowed to veto the bill be cause he believes it would be detrimental to the public school system.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
The GAP Advisory Committee will meet for an informational session at the AAPG annual meeting in Salt Lake City in May on Saturday, May 16th from 2-6 pm in Salon B of the Marriott.

May 3-6 AIPG Washington Fly-In Washington DC
May 7 Natl. Geologic Map Database Forum Reston VA
May 16 GAP Advisory Committee Meeting Salt Lake City UT
May 19 AAPG DPA Policy Forum Salt Lake City UT
May 20 CNSF Congressional Exhibition Washington DC
June 14-16 AASG Annual Meeting Portland ME
June 30 PPP 2000 Forum (tentative date) Washington DC

New Material on Web Site
The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site since the last monthly update:


Contributed by David Applegate, John Dragonetti, and Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs

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

Uploaded May 2, 1998


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