American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program Update

August 1996

This update is being sent out to members of the AGI Government Affairs Program (GAP) Advisory Committee as well as the leadership of AGI's member societies as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the member societies.

Congress has been out of session for much of August, making it a relatively slow month for GAP. We have taken the opportunity to more fully update the legislative information on our Web page, which can now be accessed at as well as at the more familiar address . The recess also provided the director with an opportunity to undertake some field work in the Raft River Mountains of northwestern Utah, where he reacquainted himself with the discipline he is representing before Congress!

At the end of July, GAP brought together geoscientists from industry, academia, and state government to develop AGI position statements on geoscience data preservation and to rally support for the National Geoscience Data Repository System (NGDRS). Workshop participants met as constituents with their senators and representatives and also met with key committee staff and federal agency officials. As a result of those meetings, several legislators have developed "Dear Colleague" letters urging appropriators to support DOE funding for the NGDRS effort. The position statements developed at the workshop focused on seismic data, drill core and well cuttings, fossil collections, and environmental data. Because of the spatial nature of much of the data, participants also discussed community concerns about the future quality and content of USGS topographic maps. Position statements developed at the workshop are available from AGI's web site.

The two summer interns have both finished their terms, having provided GAP with an infusion of enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn about geoscience policymaking. The interns each spent nine weeks attending congressional hearings, updating GAP information on the Web, researching issues of interest to member societies, and generally extending the reach of the program. They also wrote legislative updates that will appear in the October issue of The Professional Geologist. Heidi Mohlman, who graduated with a B.A. from Amherst College this spring, is now working for Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) here in Washington. Rene Cortez has returned to the University of Wisconsin at Madison to continue his studies in geological engineering. Our thanks again to the AIPG Foundation for its generous matching grant to help underwrite the interns' stipends.

As noted in the last update, a "Congressional Alert" was posted on AGI's home page in order to rally support for DOE funding of the National Geoscience Data Repository System (NGDRS). Many thanks to those of you who have written letters and made contacts -- the Senate Appropriations Committee passed a version of the Interior appropriations bill restoring data preservation funds. The full Senate did not act on the bill before its August recess, however, and a vote is expected in early September. A major challenge remains in the House- Senate conference, where both sides must work out differences between their respective versions. The Web alert has been updated as of August 23rd, and I would be happy to pass the alert along to anyone who does not have access to the Web. A second alert was posted encouraging geoscientists to contact Congress and express support for the Eisenhower programs that support science and math education. House action eliminated funding for these programs, but the Senate has yet to act.

Increased support from the member societies has made it possible for AGI to hirer a second full-time professional staff position in government affairs. The position was advertised in August issues of Geotimes, AAPG Explorer, GSA Today, and EOS. It was also posted on numerous internet bulletin boards and listservers. We are seeking a geoscientist with experience working with Congress or federal agencies and hope to have the new person on board by October. A primary responsibility of the new staffer will be improving communication with and service to the member societies.

(Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs)

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program at

Uploaded November 6, 1996 (Created 8-25-96)

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