American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program UPDATE


October 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 between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves.

A special update in mid-October reported the broad outlines of the omnibus budget package along with Senate confirmation of Chip Groat to be the 13th Director of the U.S. Geological Survey, Senate passage of the Federal Research Investment Act to double federal investment in civilian research over the next dozen years, and House endorsement of its Science Committee's national science policy study prepared by Rep. Vern Ehlers (R-MI). This monthly update includes a final rundown on the fiscal year 1999 appropriations for geoscience-related agencies. Even more gory detail on that subject can be obtained from AGI at http://www.agiweb.org/legis105/apprfy99.html. This update also covers the following:

Administration Lowers Expectations for Climate Talks
Database Provisions Dropped From Treaty Implementation Bill
Valles Caldera Land Purchase in New Mexico
Geoscience Congressional Fellows Get Down To Work
Former Congressional Science Fellow Elected to Congress
Fiscal Year 1999 Appropriations Finalized

Dragonetti Receives Award at AIPG Annual Meeting
Advisory Committee Meets, Strategic Plan Approved
Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities
New Material on Web Site

********************

Administration Lowers Expectations for Climate Talks
On October 6th -- just weeks before the current round of climate change talks were to begin in Buenos Aires, Argentina -- Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Melinda Kimble told the House Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power that "breakthrough accomplishments and headline-making events are not likely. We view [Buenos Aires] as a stepping stone to future efforts on climate change." The Clinton Administration had previously been optimistic about achieving key points during the talks, including the establishment of binding emissions targets for developing countries and definition of a tradable permit system and method of accounting for carbon sinks. The Kyoto Protocol, signed last December, developed targets and timetables for limiting greenhouse gas emissions for developed countries, but left many of the details for the Buenos Aires meeting.

Database Provisions Dropped From Treaty Implementation Bill
On October 28, President Clinton signed the Digital Millennium Copyright Act into law, implementing the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) Copyright Treaty and Performances and Phonograms Treaty. The new law does not include a controversial provision that would have established new intellectual property protections for data and databases. The provision, which first passed the House of Representatives as a stand-alone bill -- H.R. 2652, the Collections of Information Antipiracy Act -- was deleted from the final conference version when Senate negotiators, led by Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) objected. In blocking the database provision, however, Hatch promised to hold hearings early in the next Congress. The new database protections, designed to thwart electronic data piracy, have caused concern in the scientific and library communities as having a potentially chilling effect on data cost and accessibility.

Valles Caldera Land Purchase in New Mexico
In the cover story for the April 1998 issue of Geotimes, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) made the case that the federal government should purchase the 95,000 acre Baca Ranch in northern New Mexico's Jemez Mountains. Doing so would preserve the bulk of the Valles Caldera volcanic complex, one of the world's largest and best-exposed examples of a young resurgent caldera. The purchase was a top priority for the Administration as well, but the money was not forthcoming until New Mexico's senior senator, Pete Domenici (R-NM), added his vocal support. The omnibus budget bill includes $40 million for the U.S. Forest Service to use as a downpayment for the property, which is valued at over $100 million. Under the terms of an agreement worked out between the Administration and the New Mexico congressional delegation, the property would be run by a nine-member board of trustees as a "working ranch." The area surrounding the ranch is already federal land.

Geoscience Congressional Fellows Get Down To Work
AGI's congressional science fellow, Dr. David Wunsch, has chosen to spend his year on Capitol Hill working for the House Resoures Committee's Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. He will work directly for subcommittee chair Rep. Barbara Cubin (R-WY) on a range of issues including abandoned mine lands reclamation. The Geological Society of America's fellow, Dr. Kai Anderson, is working for Senator Joe Lieberman (D-CT) with whom he is traveling to Buenos Aires for the United Nations climate change conference. The Soil Science Society of America sponsors a fellow in conjunction with other agricultural science societies, and their fellow -- Dr. Keith Menchey -- has placed with the House Agriculture Committee's majority staff. The American Geophysical Union's fellow, Dr. David Hunter, begins his term in January. Science fellows spend 12-16 months on Capitol Hill working as a staffer in a committee or member's office. For more information on the fellowship program, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gapac/fellow.html. The application deadline for the 1999-2000 AGI Congressional Science Fellowship is February 1, 1999.

Former Congressional Science Fellow Elected to Congress
Although ostensibly about October events, the post-election date of this update allows us to report that another scientist has won election to Congress -- the first former congressional science fellow to do so. Rush Holt (D) beat incumbent Rep. Mike Pappas (R) in New Jersey's 12th District. Holt is a physicist and former Deputy Director of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. He was the American Physical Society congressional fellow in 1982-83.

Fiscal Year 1999 Appropriations Finalized

Dragonetti Receives Award at AIPG Annual Meeting
At the American Institute of Professional Geologists' Annual Meeting in Baton Rouge, AGI Government Affairs Program Senior Advisor John Dragonetti was presented with a presidential certificate of appreciation for his bi-monthly column in The Professional Geologist and for his service as a Washington liaison and representative for AIPG.

Advisory Committee Meets, Strategic Plan Approved
At the GSA Annual Meeting in Toronto last week, the AGI Government Affairs Program Advisory Committee met for an informational session on Canadian geoscience and public policy. They heard presentations from former Geological Survey of Canada chief scientist Jim Franklin on the status of the GSC after its significant reduction several years ago as well as his current involvement in "Bacon and Eggheads" science breakfasts for Members of Parliament. Canadian Council of Professional Geoscientists President Gordon Williams spoke on registration and other issues facing professional geoscientists in Canada, and Mary Clair Ward spoke on issues facing the Canadian mining industry from her perspective as a director of the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada. A report of the session will be available shortly on the AGI web site. Also at the GSA meeting, both the AGI Executive Committee and Member Society Council approved the GAP Strategic Plan.

Tentative Schedule of Upcoming GAP Activities

Nov. 14AGI 50th Anniversary Symposium Washington DC
Nov. 16NASULGC Annual Meeting Atlanta GA
Nov. 16-18NRC Board on Earth Sciences Mtg. Washington DC
Nov. 17-18PPP 2000 Natural Hazard Forum Reston VA
Dec. 6-10AGU Fall Meeting San Francisco CA

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 White and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

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

Posted November 5, 1998


  Information Services |Geoscience Education |Public Policy |Environmental
Geoscience
 |
Publications |Workforce |AGI Events


agi logo

© 2014. All rights reserved.
American Geosciences Institute, 4220 King Street, Alexandria, VA 22302-1502.
Please send any comments or problems with this site to: webmaster@agiweb.org.
Privacy Policy