AGI Urges Legislators to Fund USGS, DOE Programs
Authorize Minerals Management Service
ALEXANDRIA, VA.--In appearances before two House subcommittees on
March 7, Dr. Marcus E. Milling, executive director of the American
Geological Institute (AGI), and Dr. Robert R. Jordan, state
geologist of Delaware and a member of AGI, urged legislators to
support earth-science programs of the U.S. Geological Survey, U.S.
Department of Energy, and Minerals Management Service.
Speaking on behalf of AGI's 29 member societies and the 80,000
earth scientists they represent, Milling told the House
Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies that the national
need for a federal role in the geosciences is increasing and will
continue to require an integrated national effort. The hearing was
an opportunity for outside witnesses to testify in support of
fiscal year 1997 funding for agencies within the subcommittee's
"The central mission of the U.S. Geological Survey is to
provide reliable, objective earth-science data and analysis of
hazards, resources, and the environment from a national
perspective," Milling told chairman Ralph Regula (R-Ohio) and
subcommittee members. "Virtually every American citizen and every
federal, state, and local agency benefits either directly or
indirectly from USGS products and services."
Milling urged the subcommittee to fund the National
Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act, particularly the external
StateMap and EdMap components that are matched by state and
university dollars. At a time when the U.S. Geological Survey is
adapting to changing national priorities and assuming programs once
managed by the National Biological Service and U.S. Bureau of
Mines, fiscal support from Capitol Hill is essential to enable the
agency to meet these new challenges, he said.
Milling also expressed the Institute's support for the
Department of Energy's Fossil Energy R&D program, which is making
significant contributions to finding new technologies required for
cost-effective, efficient development of U.S. oil and gas
resources. "We particularly urge that funding be maintained for the
Computational Technology Forum, National Geoscience Data Repository
System, technology transfer programs, and functions moved to DOE
from the U.S. Bureau of Mines," said Milling.
At a separate hearing before the Energy and Mineral Resources
subcommittee of the House Committee on Resources, Robert Jordan
expressed support for H.R. 1813, legislation that would provide
permanent authorization for the Minerals Management Service (MMS).
The MMS was created by the Secretary of the Interior in 1982, but
it was never formally authorized by Congress, which has nonetheless
provided annual appropriations for the agency. By finally providing
statutory authority, H.R. 1813 would provide stronger guarantees
that the agency could continue to function effectively.
Speaking on behalf of the American Geological Institute, the
Association of American State Geologists (an AGI member society),
and the Outer Continental Shelf Policy Committee of the Department
of the Interior (where he represents the state of Delaware), Jordan
praised the 13-year record of the Minerals Management Service.
"Exploration and development of resources from the Outer
Continental Shelf requires many years for each project," Jordan
told the legislators. "Environmental Impact Statements, Five-Year
Plans, and leasing procedures involve years of effort and
commitment. Vast sums of money and major resources and risks are
involved. Stability of structure and procedure are essential."
The complete statements of Milling and Jordan are available
from Dr. David Applegate, director of AGI's Government Affairs
Program, or by accessing the Institute's World Wide Web site:
The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of
29 geoscientific and professional associations. In addition, 115
colleges and universities are AGI Academic Associates, and 30
private companies are AGI Corporate Members. Founded in 1948, AGI
provides information services to geoscientists, serves as a voice
of shared interests in the earth-science profession, plays a major
role in strengthening geoscience education, and strives to increase
public awareness of the vital role the geosciences play in
mankind's use of resources and interaction with the environment.