FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact David Applegate: (703) 379-2480
June 12, 1996 E-mail:

Geoscientists Testify on USGS Minerals Program, (6/12/96)

ALEXANDRIA, VA. -- Testifying on the U.S. Geological Survey's Mineral Resource Surveys Program (MRSP) on May 30, a panel of geoscience experts told the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources that mineral surveys must continue to provide essential information on domestic resources to policy makers and the general public. The oversight hearing was called to review the MRSP strategic plan, prepared at the request of Congress. Several of the witnesses are leaders of the American Geological Institute (AGI), a non-profit federation of 29 earth-science societies which actively encourages geoscientists to work with lawmakers and government policy-makers to increase public awareness of the vital role that earth sciences play in the nation's use of natural resources.

"The MRSP plan is a logical and necessary continuation of objectives and programs related to mineral resource studies that began with the establishment of the USGS in 1879," minerals consultant Samuel S. Adams, immediate past-president of the American Geological Institute (AGI) and chair of the National Research Council (NRC) committee that reviewed the plan, told the legislators. Since its founding more than 100 years ago, said Dr. Adams, the USGS has provided the nation with detailed analyses of natural resources, used by scientists, industry, and government leaders for countless land-use decisions. The MRSP strategic plan, completed last year and reviewed by the NRC committee over the past six months, updates earlier studies and describes new research objectives -- such as studying the geochemical behavior of mineral deposits and environmental implications of mineral development.

It was the NRC review of the Survey's plan that prompted subcommittee chair Ken Calvert (R-Calif.) to call the oversight hearing. "Mineral resource investigations and research, in general, appear to be losing out to other activities in the USGS's budget over the past several years," Calvert stated. "How [does] the Survey plan to meet its stated mission ... of examining the mineral resources of the national domain? Is the job done already?"

Dr. Jonathan G. Price, director and state geologist of the Nevada Bureau of Mines and Geology and a member of the NRC review committee, testified on behalf of the American Association of State Geologists, a member society of AGI. Price assured the subcommittee that the nation continues to need a federal program in mineral resources. "I would like to stress that the USGS should focus on these national needs ... and the federal government can accomplish much through partnerships and cooperation with state geological surveys and others with expertise in mineral resources," he stated.

The NRC review and recommendations have the support of the Survey, said Dr. P. Patrick Leahy, chief geologist of the USGS and a representative of AGI's Member Society Council. "In the March 1996 issue of the scientific magazine, GEOTIMES [published by AGI], Sen. Larry Craig and Rep. Ralph Regula both focused on the critical need for geologic information to manage public lands and to establish policies that strike a balance between the necessity for continued economic development of our nonfuel mineral resources and the necessity to protect our natural resources," Leahy told the subcommittee. "The MRSP provides the objective scientific information required by decision-makers to formulate effective land-management and development policies. The NRC reaffirms these goals and recommends several changes to the program that reinforce our role as the leading source of minerals information in the United States, and focus our effort to better serve our customers and cooperators."

In addition to Adams, Price, and Leahy, the subcommittee's witness list included Dr. Odin D. Christensen, chief geologist, Newmont Gold Company; and W. Hord Tipton, assistant director, Resource Use & Protection, Bureau of Land Management.

Copies of the National Research Council report are available from NRC's Committee on Earth Sciences, Board on Earth Sciences and Resources: (202) 334-2744. The complete statements of the witnesses can be obtained from Dr. David Applegate, AGI director of government affairs at (703) 379-2480 or by e-mail,

More news | AGI Home | Govt. Affairs | Geotimes | Georef | Education | Publications