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.
Support for National Science Foundation
On May 1st, AGI testified before the House Appropriations VA, HUD & Independent Agencies subcommittee on behalf of geoscience research at the National Science Foundation. The testimony, available from AGI's web site, calls on the appropriators to fund the seven percent increase included in the House-passed NSF authorization bill. On May 23rd, AGI sent out an alert encouraging geoscientists to write their representative and encourage him or her to sign on to a bipartisan letter from House members to the Appropriations Committee in support of an increase for NSF. Over 60 members have signed this so-called "Dear Colleague" letter, and its originators -- Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA) and Rep. Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) -- hope to get over 100 signing on.
The budget resolution is expected to achieve final passage this week, setting the stage for allocations to each of the Appropriations subcommittees, which will then draft bills, first in the House and later in the Senate. June should see a great deal of action on spending for fiscal year 1998.
AGI, Member Societies Advocate for Education
In early May, AGI sent an alert to its member societies urging them to sign on to an intersociety statement in support of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program in the Department of Education that provides funding for science and math educators. This program was eliminated by the House last year but reinstated by the Senate, and a similar fight is expected again this time. AGI and ten of its member societies are among the more than 40 scientific and engineering organizations that have signed the statement being circulated by the American Chemical Society, Triangle Coalition, Joint Policy Board for Mathematics, and the National Alliance of State Science and Mathematics Coalitions.
Government Printing Office Bill Raises Red Flags for Science
In mid-May, AGI sent out an alert encouraging geoscientists to write to members of the Joint Committee on Printing to oppose draft legislation that would restrict government scientists from publishing in scientific journals. The principal purpose of the bill is to move the Government Printing Office from its current status as an arm of Congress to the executive branch. The first section of the bill has the lofty goal of improving public access to government documents by creating penalties for the publication of government results only in private-sector publications. As written, however, such penalties of up to $5,000 would apply to government scientists who published their research in a non-governmental journal or provided an abstract for a talk and received personal recognition as a result.
To protest this draft legislation, AGI sent letters to committee chairman Sen. John Warner (R-VA) as did the presidents of the Geological Society of America and Society of Economic Geologists. The committee's staff director, Eric Peterson, met with representatives from a number of scientific and engineering societies, including AGI and the American Geophysical Union (AGU). Substitute language drafted by AGU leadership was submitted on behalf of the group, but no word yet on whether it will be accepted. Additional information on this issue is available from AGI's web site, which will be updated as the issue develops.
AIPG Stages Washington Fly-In to Advocate for Geology
Twenty members of the American Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) came to Washington this month for three days of meetings with Congress and federal agencies, as well as Washington-based issue groups. Led by AIPG President Jon Price, the group advocated on behalf of geoscience funding, geoscience data preservation, geologic mapping legislation, the USGS name, and other AIPG positions. AGI was pleased to provide logistical support for the fly-in, and we applaud AIPG for its efforts to mobilize its members as active constituents on Capitol Hill. We encourage other member societies to consider this event as a template for their own future efforts.
Update on USGS Library Situation
The April update reported that the USGS had 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. As part of that effort, AGI President Ed Roy wrote to USGS Director Gordon Eaton opposing the cuts and emphasizing the library's value both for research and for outreach. In May, USGS Chief Geologist Pat Leahy responded to Roy's letter, reporting that the USGS Policy Council had reaffirmed the importance of the USGS Library "both to internal users in the accomplishment of our scientific mission and as a major outreach activity." With regard to concerns over subscription cancellations, he wrote that they would be kept to a minimum this year, limited to duplicate subscriptions. Long-term decisions will be made in the context of a strategic plan being developed by the Library Board. AGI will work to ensure that the geoscience community has an opportunity for input on that plan. A more detailed update on this issue is available on GAP's web site.
AGI Responds to Member Society Concerns Over USGS Name
Responding to comments by USGS Director Gordon Eaton predicting that "geological" may not be part of the survey's name in five years, the Member Society Council in April asked AGI President Ed Roy to write a letter in support of the current name. Such a letter was sent to Eaton this month, arguing that a name change would risk the agency's positive name recognition in Congress and could raise it as a political target again. The letter was sent out as a special update and can be viewed on the AGI home page. The USGS has no official policy on changing its name and this month unveiled a comprehensive new "visual identity system" including a new logo and new motto ("science for a changing world") that keeps the current name. The new logo can be viewed on the USGS web site.
Summer Education Policy Intern Arrives
The first of three geoscience and public policy summer interns arrived this month. Stephanie Barrett will be focusing her efforts on science education policy in an internship jointly funded by GAP and AGI's education department. In addition to her focus area, Stephanie will assist the program on other issues that arise during the course of the summer. She has a B.S. in geology from Furman University and is currently pursuing a master's degree of public affairs in environmental policy at Indiana University in Bloomington. Each intern will be joining us for twelve weeks.
New Material on Web Site
A number of new or updated reports are available on our web site, including special e-mail alerts that were sent out this month on upcoming congressional and agency field hearings of interest to geoscientists, legislation affecting scientific publication, the USGS name, and support for NSF. On the web site, reports have been updated on high-level nuclear waste legislation and electric utility deregulation. New reports on hearings include congressional scrutiny of proposed regulations under the Clean Air Act and of the newly created Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah. Kasey will be reporting on a global oceans conference held in mid-May on Capitol Hill that focused on research needs as well as security and environmental issues. Please contact us if you would like additional material on any of these events or issues.
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
June 22-25 AASG Annual Meeting Breckinridge CO July 16-21 GSA/AAPG Ethics Conference (Dragonetti) Welches OR
Advisory Committee Minutes Available on Web
Minutes for the April meeting of the GAP Advisory Committee are available on the advisory committee's web site. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Uploaded June 2, 1997