American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


August 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.

August is a slow month in the nation's capital with both Congress and the President on vacation. The month was not without news, however, as the U.S. Geological Survey announced a directive from Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt to begin relocating its western headquarters from the San Francisco Bay area to less expensive lodgings within the year. At AGI, our web site received a major redesign that we hope will make it more attractive and easier to navigate. Please visit at .

USGS Announces Plans to Relocate Menlo Park Office
Citing the high cost of rent in the San Francisco Bay area, Interior Secretary Babbitt has ordered the USGS to leave its western headquarters in Menlo Park, California. In a memo to USGS Western Region Director Tom Casadevall dated August 21st, USGS Director Eaton instructed him to complete a preliminary relocation plan by late September. The Survey must vacate two privately owned buildings that house much of the Survey's seismological facilities by September, 1998 when its current lease runs out. The other buildings on the 16-acre campus are federally owned, including a $40 million building dedicated just last year. No deadline was set for vacating them, but the implication was that they would clear out soon after the first two. Just over 800 employees are currently located at Menlo Park, down from 1,200 four years ago. Although relocation sites are speculative, many of the offices could move to Sacramento where the USGS Water Resources Division and a number of other Interior bureaus are already located. The volcano group may move to the Vancouver WA volcano observatory, and the minerals group could go either to Reno NV, Spokane WA, or Tucson AZ. Babbitt stated that the earthquake group would not leave California. Supporters of the move cite a growing difficulty in attracting scientists to Menlo Park due to the high cost of housing but detractors fear that the move will severely damage the symbiotic relationship the USGS has had with Stanford University and UC Berkeley. Eaton's memo indicates that this move is just the beginning of a re-evaluation of all Survey facilities, including the national headquarters in Reston, Virginia.

Summer Interns Finishing Up
Two of our three geoscience and public policy summer interns have completed their work and headed back to school. Stephanie Barrett greatly improved the program's coverage of science education policy. She returns for her second and final year in the environmental policy master's program at Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Jenna Minicucci completed several in-depth reports on the geoscientific value of the Global Seismographic Network, the International Space Station, and NASA's Mission to Planet Earth program. Jenna has returned to Wesleyan University for her senior year as a geology and government double major. Both Stephanie and Jenna also produced hearing summaries and updates on a variety of environmental and resource-related issues. Please visit the government affairs section of AGI's web site to see their handiwork. The internships received matching support from the AIPG Foundation and AGI's education program. Many thanks to Stephanie and Jenna for their excellent work and best of luck with the fall semester!

What's Ahead: Congress Returns to Finish Appropriations Process
After Labor Day, Congress will be back in session with completion of the appropriations process being their top priority. The political oddsmakers are cautiously optimistic that all 13 appropriations bills can be signed into law before the October 1 deadline. If any bills are not finished by that date, short-term continuing resolutions may be required, but a government shutdown is not being discussed as even a remote possibility. Significant differences exist between the House and Senate on several of the geoscience-related bills, especially the Interior bill (which funds the USGS). Differences over funding for the National Endowment for the Arts and for land acquisitions must be ironed out before a final Interior bill can be sent to the President. Outside the appropriations process, September may see movement on nuclear waste, Superfund, and electricity deregulation legislation.

Friends of the USGS Library To Meet In October
In response to the crisis earlier this year over funding cuts to the USGS library, a group of library users and other concerned geoscientists have formed "Friends of the USGS Library." The group will have a booth at the GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City this October and has also scheduled a meeting there to discuss ways to ensure the future of the library system. The meeting will be held at the Cottonwood Room in the Marriott Hotel (across the street from the Convention Center) from 5 to 7 pm on Tuesday, October 21. Both the Director and the Chief Geologist of the USGS have indicated that they will be there. All are invited to come. The internal USGS committee charged with making recommendations on the future of the library is expected to release a preliminary report in the next several weeks.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
The next meeting of the GAP Advisory Committee will be at the GSA Annual Meeting in Salt Lake City on Saturday, October 18th from 2-6 p.m. in the Arizona Room at the Little America hotel.

September 14-18		AASG Liaison Committee		Washington DC
September 17		US Forest Service Geofest		Denver CO
October 7-10		AIPG Annual Meeting		Houston TX
October 18-23		GSA Annual Meeting		Salt Lake City UT

New Look and New Material on Web Site
As mentioned above, the site as a whole received a major redesign thanks to the efforts of our Internet intern David Hays, a recent geology graduate of Franklin and Marshall College now working for Apple Computer. David lent his considerable graphics skills to make the site more visually interesting without slowing down the upload time. Please visit! The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site in August. All of this material is on the web site and can also be obtained by contacting the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org or (703) 379-2480.


(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 September 3, 1997

American Geological Institute Home Page

Government Affairs Program Home Page