American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


June 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:

AGI Co-Sponsors Forum on Natural Hazards
Appropriations In Full Swing
New Bill to Double Research Spending
AGI Joins Statement Supporting Eisenhower Education Program
Action on Earth Science Week Proclamations
AGI/AIPG Summer Interns on Board
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
New Material on Web Site

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AGI Co-Sponsors Forum on Natural Hazards
On June 30th, AGI joined with the American Geophysical Union, and the Integrated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) to co-sponsor a policy forum on "Real-Time Monitoring and Warning for Natural Hazards." This forum was the seventh in the ongoing Public Private Partnership (PPP) 2000 forum series on public policy issues in natural disaster reduction, a joint effort of the National Science and Technology Council's Subcommittee on Natural Disaster Reduction and the insurance industry's Institute for Business and Home Safety. The goal of PPP 2000 is to seek new and innovative opportunities for government and nonprofit, private sector organizations to work together to reduce vulnerability to and losses from natural hazards in communities throughout the Nation.

Keynote speaker Bob Ryan, chief meteorologist for Channel 4 News in Washington and a past president of the American Meteorological Society, spoke on the challenge of effectively presenting scientific information on natural hazards to the public so that they can take appropriate action. Two panels addressed the use of real-time data for atmospheric, hydrologic, and geologic hazards. Talks by scientists producing the data were coupled with talks by data users from the Denver Urban Drainage Board, Walt Disney Company, Air Line Pilots Association, and Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. A third panel addressed some of the obstacles facing implementation of real-time warning systems, including data transmission, limits on the openness of data exchange, politics, and legal liability. Held at the AGU building in Washington DC, the forum was attended by over 100 participants from federal and state agencies, universities, and the private sector. For more information on the forum series, visit the PPP 2000 web site at www.usgs.gov/ppp2000.

Appropriations Process in Full Swing
The following update is a brief synopsis of funding for agencies of interest to geoscientists. A more detailed description is available on the AGI website at www.agiweb.org/legis105/apprfy99.html and will be sent out as a special update in mid-July. Both the Senate and House have passed the Energy and Water appropriations bill, which provides funding for the Department of Energy (DOE). The Senate recommended $16.7 billion for DOE and the House recommended $16.2 billion. Both are substantially above last year's allocation of $15.84 billion but below the President's request of $17 billion. The Senate provided increases for nuclear power, but not for solar and renewable energy. The House bill, on the other hand, provided increases for solar and renewable energy, but cut nuclear funding. The two houses will meet in conference later this summer to hammer out a compromise.

The Senate and House Appropriations Committees have passed the VA, HUD, and Independent Agencies appropriations bill, which provides funding for NSF, EPA, and NASA. In both houses, funding for NSF is up over last year but does not reach the 10 percent increase proposed by the President. For the second year in a row, both the House and Senate denied funds for the Polar Cap Observatory, a geophysical research facility that has come under fire from Alaskan senators over plans to locate it in the Canadian Arctic. Both houses provided approximately $7.4 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency, approximately $50 million more than provided last year but much lower than the Administration request. Neither the House nor the Senate provided the Administration's increases for climate change initiatives or Superfund. The Senate committee recommended $13.615 billion for NASA, more than both the House recommendation of $13.328 and the President's request. The Senate recommended $1.397 billion for Earth science activities, with report language supporting initiatives such as commercial remote sensing, space-borne radar, oil and mineral exploration, glaciers, and environmental research aircraft and sensor technology.

The Interior and Related Agencies appropriations bill passed the House and Senate Appropriations Committee on June 25. For the US Geological Survey, the House recommended $775 million, less than the President's $807 million proposal but higher than the Senate recommendation of $772 million. Both houses restored funding for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program and coastal erosion studies that were cut in the Administration's budget request. In the Senate, MMS would receive $123.4 million, approximately $1 million more than the House recommendation. Although most DOE programs are funded in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill, several fall under the jurisdiction of the Interior subcommittee. The House provided far less for energy efficiency and conservation program than the Administration request.

The House and Senate have passed their Agriculture Appropriations bills. Both the House and Senate bill cut allocations for the Dept. of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service and zeroed out funding for the Fund for Rural America, which includes research and education funding.

New Bill to Double Research Spending
Efforts to increase federal spending for research and development got a boost this month with the introduction of S. 2217, the Federal Research Investment Act, by Senators Bill Frist (R-TN) and Jay Rockefeller (D-WV). The bill builds upon an earlier bill (S. 1305) by Senators Phil Gramm (R-TX), Joseph Lieberman (D-CT), Pete Domenici (R-NM), and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) -- who also support S. 2217 -- to double federal, nondefense R&D spending. The new bill would double spending over 12 years, and adds the Department of the Interior to the list of agencies covered. It has been referred to the Subcommittee on Science, Technology, and Space, of which Frist is the chair.

AGI Joins Statement Supporting Eisenhower Education Program
AGI and nine of its Member Societies signed on to an intersociety statement in support of the Eisenhower Professional Development Program. The statement -- which was endorsed by 32 scientific societies -- was delivered to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, House Education and the Workforce Committee, and Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee. The show of support for Eisenhower comes at a critical time. The House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee recently passed its appropriations bill, which would kill many of the education initiatives proposed by President Clinton. The bill would allow states to combine funding for Eisenhower and Goals 2000 into an Education Block Grant to use as they see fit. The subcommittee also reduced funding for Eisenhower from the Fiscal Year 1998 level of $335 million to $285 million. The Senate bill -- which has not yet been released -- is predicted to be more moderate.

Action on Earth Science Week Proclamations
Earlier this month, AGI President Susan Landon wrote a letter to President Clinton, formally requesting a presidential proclamation for Earth Science Week, scheduled for October 11-17, 1998. In addition, Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon is preparing a Senate proclamation. Both are expected to be announced later this summer. In the meantime, over a dozen state governors have issued proclamations with more being added each week. A list of proclamations, sample resolutions, and other information on Earth Science Week is available at www.earthsciweek.org. If your state is not on the list, we are encouraging geoscientists to work with your state geological survey to pass a proclamation. Earth Science Week is part of AGI's 50th anniversary celebration and is an opportunity for our community to reach out to the public and show how Earth science contributes to their everyday lives.

AGI/AIPG Summer Interns On Board
GAP has been bustling with activity this month, thanks to the support of the AIPG Foundation. Three geoscience and public policy interns have arrived and will be with us for twelve weeks each. Shannon Clark graduated from Southern Methodist University in May and will attend graduate school there in the fall to study urban sources of carbon dioxide. She has attended hearings on climate change and researched policies relating to sustainable development. Margaret Baker, a rising senior at Mount Holyoke College studying geology and Asian studies, has been researching geoscience research in the Department of Defense and attending lively hearings on oil royalty valuation. Joy Roth is completing work on her Masters degree from Rice University in Geology and will begin working for Texaco this fall. She has been researching and writing on wetlands policy and methane hydrates. GAP is grateful to the AIPG Foundation, now in its third year of supporting the summer internship program. Some of the fruits of the interns' labors will appear in an upcoming issue of The Professional Geologist.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
The GAP Advisory Committee last met at the AAPG annual meeting in Salt Lake City on Saturday, May 16th. Minutes are forthcoming.

July 29-31 CESSE Meeting Chicago IL

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 Kasey Shewey and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs

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

Posted July 3, 1998


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