Monthly Review: March 2004
This monthly review goes out to the leadership of AGI's member
societies, members of the AGI Government Affairs Advisory Committee,
and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort
to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community
that it serves.
Dueling Budget Resolutions
Oversight Hearings - The Other Side of Appropriating
Appropriations Information on the Web
Energy Bill Update
Recognizing and Celebrating USGS 125th Anniversary
Climate Change Sparks House Interest
National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act Introduced
Law of the Sea Update
Yucca Mountain FY05 Funding Hearing
Wind Hazard Bill Advances in House
State Geologists Pick and Gavel Awards
Successful Congressional Visits Day
Fall Interns Needed
Key List of Federal Register Notices
New Material on Website
Dueling Budget Resolutions
The House and Senate are in the process of finalizing the non-binding
budget resolution that provides an outline for total federal spending
in FY 2005. The final resolution is not passed on to the White House
for enactment; rather it is the congressional response to the president's
budget proposal, a financial plan that Congress agrees to follow both
in the appropriations process and in legislation affecting entitlement
programs, taxes and other matters affecting revenue. The budget resolution
not only determines how much the 13 individual appropriations bills
can spend but also serves as a vehicle to debate other issues.
The Senate passed its version of the 2005 budget resolution (S. Con.
Res. 95) on March 12th allotting $821 billion in discretionary spending.
On March 25th, the House accepted its version of the budget resolution
(H. Con. Res. 393), providing a total of $820 billion for discretionary
spending. The House budget resolution calls for science and research
funding at the EPA, Energy Department and NASA to be flat from the
FY 2004 budget at $23.39 billion, whereas the Senate approved as slight
increase of $23.65 billion. In addition, the House budget includes
$28.75 billion in its environment and natural resources function 300
account, the primary source of funding for key programs at the EPA,
Department of the Interior, Army Corps of Engineers, and NOAA. Once
again, the Senate increased the funding from last year to $33.34 billion.
Currently the two bills are in conference committee but will not be
resolved by the April 15th deadline. The House of Representatives
has a two-week recess starting on April 2nd, and both chambers will
not be in session together again until April 20th, when the matter
will be resumed.
You can read each budget statement by logging onto http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d108:s.con.res.00095:
If you would like to compare the Senate and House budget resolutions,
- The Other Side of Appropriating
Although it may seem like Congress spends money on arbitrary programs,
appropriators do not make random decisions about how funds are spent.
Most take their jobs very seriously and devote the months of February,
March, and April to oversight hearings. In these hearings various
departments and agencies are called before subcommittees to discuss
priority projects, requested funding levels, new partnerships, and
to give justification for the entire spending package of that agency
or department. These hearings are an opportunity for cabinet members
as well as administrators to have meaningful discussion with the members
of Congress who most directly oversee their programs.
Summaries and major points for agencies that have testified and are
most relevant to the geosciences are available on our Web site at
Make sure to check back, as it is updated often.
on the Web
After the Bush Administration released the FY 2005 budget request,
each of the six appropriations bills web pages was updated on the
AGI web site. Each page has the final FY 2004 information as well
as the percent change between the 2004 and 2005 budget requests.
Main Appropriations Page
Commerce Appropriations Page (NOAA)
Energy and Water Appropriations Page (DOE, Office of Science, Basic
Energy Science, Yucca Mountain)
Interior Appropriations Page (USGS, DOE - Fossil Energy, NPS)
Labor/HHS Appropriations Page (Department of Education)
Agriculture Appropriations Page (USDA, NRCS)
VA/HUD Appropriations Page (NSF, NASA, EPA)
The saga of the energy bill continues as Senate Energy and Natural
Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) tries to rally
support for the slimmed-down energy bill, S. 2095. Proponents of the
bill are trying to get the support of both industry representatives
and lawmakers in hopes of passing the bill before Easter recess on
The fate of the bill is unclear even if the Senate takes action since
Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) and Energy and Commerce Committee
Chairman Joe Barton (R-TX) both insist that there will be no energy
bill this year without MTBE liability protections. An alternative
was suggested by Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX), chairman of the
House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee. He said that if the energy
bill is not passed this year, next year he would try to pass "single-shot"
bills covering issues such as ultra-deep drilling and other oil and
gas exploration provisions. Another factor complicating the passage
of this bill is that DeLay is facing potential indictment in Texas
on charges of alleged campaign finance abuses. E&E Daily reported
that he is thinking about the possibility of stepping down from his
leadership post until he is either found not guilty or if the charges
are reduced or dismissed.
This week, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman
Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) took the tax portion of the energy bill and
attached it to the corporate tax bill, S. 1637 a must-pass bill that
replaces a series of corporate tax breaks -declared illegal by the
World Trade Organization - with a new series of tax benefits. E&E
Daily reported that this "new two-track strategy is meant to
light a fire under the energy tax package." That may be but others
are speculating that it could also be a quiet means of letting the
energy bill die.
This is a big gamble to take because S. 1637 is bill that isn't guaranteed
to pass. While attaching an estimated $13 billion in energy tax breaks
could help Republican Senate leaders looking for additional votes
for the corporate tax bill, Democrats still oppose S. 1637 because
they want to first vote on amendments to increase the minimum wage,
address unemployment insurance and repeal the Bush administration's
plan to reduce overtime benefits for some workers.
The vote to cut off debate, known as a cloture vote, is set for this
afternoon, April 7th. If it passes, Domenici vowed he will concentrate
on passing the policy provisions of the energy bill.
For more information on the energy bill, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy.html.
Recognizing and Celebrating
USGS 125th Anniversary
In early March, Rep. Jim Moran (D-VA) introduced a resolution to
congratulate the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on its 125th anniversary.
The resolution (H. Res. 556) states: "The House of Representatives
expresses strong support for the United States Geological Survey as
it serves the Nation by providing timely, relevant, and objective
scientific information which helps to describe and understand the
Earth, minimize the loss of life and property from natural disasters,
manage water, biological, energy, and mineral resources, and enhance
and protect the quality of life of all Americans."
The commemorative resolution has 11 original co-sponsors, including
House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) and House
Appropriations Committee Chairman C.W. Bill Young (R-FL). The resolution
was introduced with the support of the USGS Coalition. To help support
the USGS on its 125th anniversary, please ask your Representative
to co-sponsor H. Res. 556. The House of Representatives switchboard
number is 202-224-3121, and you can find the e-mail address for your
Representative at http://www.house.gov.
To read the resolution, log onto http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.RES.556:.
Climate Change Sparks
The House showed renewed interest in climate change legislation as
a new bill was introduced by Reps. John W. Olver (D-MA) and Wayne
Gilchrest (R-MD) on March 30th. The Climate Stewardship Act, H.R.
4067, would set a cap for heat-trapping pollution responsible for
global warming, while creating a market-based system encouraging maximum
technological innovation and profitable opportunities for companies
to cut emissions. According to a press release issued by the bill's
sponsors, the new measure saves money and encourages innovation through
a flexible trading mechanism, allowing companies achieving or exceeding
their caps to bank or sell emission credits. Companies would also
be able to acquire credits from other companies in order to comply
with the law. The bill has 20 cosponsors in all and they have agreed
that their biggest task will be to educate other members about climate
change and the need for legislation.
This legislation is very similar to the McCain-Lieberman bill that
was defeated in the Senate last fall by a vote of 43-55. Sen. McCain
has vowed to continue pushing his climate change bill and said that
he is open to changing the bill's language to attract more votes.
For more information about that bill, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/climate.html.
Mapping Reauthorization Act Introduced in House
On March 23rd, House Energy and Minerals Subcommittee Chairwoman
Barbara Cuban (R-WY) and Representative Nick Gibbons (R-NV) introduced
the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act, H.R. 4010. A hearing
on this bill is expected to be held in September. The bill states
that "although significant progress has been made in the production
of geologic maps since the establishment of the National Cooperative
Geologic Mapping Program in 1992, no modern, digital, geologic map
exists for approximately 75 percent of the Nation." This is a
great reason to call your Representative and ask that he/she cosponsor
this important legislation. The House of Representatives switchboard
number is 202-224-3121, and you can find the e-mail address for your
Representative at http://www.house.gov.
For the text of the bill, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.R.+4010:.
Despite unanimous approval from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
last month, the Law of the Sea Treaty is facing problems in the Environment
and Public Works Committee spurred by Chairman James Inhofe (R-OK).
Inhofe voiced concerns at the March 23rd hearing that the treaty could
cede too much power to the United Nations and undermine the Bush Administration's
antiterrorism initiative involving shipboard inspections. Both the
Bush Administration and environmental groups are in favor of ratification
of the treaty.
Ratification needs to be done quickly, as debates over amendments
to the treaty will begin in November of this year. If the U.S. has
not ratified the treaty by then, they will be left out of any decisions
made, which may affect U.S. shipping and mining interests. In addition,
the Pentagon would like to strengthen the Proliferation Security Initiative
by codifying navigation rights on the high seas, which would also
require ratification. The Armed Services and Intelligence panels will
also hold hearings before Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN)
will consider calling the treaty for a vote. A spokesperson for Frist
told E&E Daily that the controversial pieces of legislation are
likely to be put off until next year.
Law of the Sea updates can be found on AGI's website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/lawofthesea.html
Yucca Mountain FY05
The Bush Administration FY 2005 budget request calls for a reclassification
of the Nuclear Waste Trust Fund contributions to try to separate $749
million from the rest of the Department of Energy (DOE) budget. At
a House Energy and Water Appropriations Subcommittee hearing on March
24th, the reclassification scheme was ignored. Neither the House nor
Senate FY 2005 budget allocates provisions allowing for the reclassification.
Rep. David Hobson (R-OH), chair of that subcommittee, said he will
not include the reclassification in his upcoming appropriations plan.
Hobson, however, does plan to fully fund the Yucca Mountain program.
The Yucca Mountain program now has a sense of urgency about its funding
because the DOE needs to open Yucca Mountain by 2010. The DOE is already
facing 66 lawsuits from the nuclear utility industry for not meeting
the initial goal of accepting waste by 1998. The director of DOE's
Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management, Margaret Chu, testified
that the program will not meet the 2010 requirements without full
funding. Chu said that every year of delay past 2010 increases the
storage and handling costs of nuclear waste by roughly $1 billion.
AGI is closely monitoring this issue. Updates can be found at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/yucca.html.
Wind Hazard Bill
Advances in House
On March 31st the House Science Committee marked-up the National
Windstorm Impact Reduction Act, H.R. 3980, and, after adding one amendment,
sent the bill to the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
Given the nature of Congress' schedule this spring, it is unlikely
that the bill will be decided on by the House before the May recess.
In fact, there is some speculation that when the bill gets to the
Senate it will be merged with the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction
Program (NEHRP), which has not yet had a hearing in the Senate Commerce,
Science and Transportation Committee, to form a natural hazards package.
For more information on NEHRP visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/nehrp.html.
To read the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Act, see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c108:H.R.3980:.
Pick and Gavel Awards
On March 18th, the Association of American State Geologists (AASG)
presented its sixth annual Pick and Gavel Award to Senators Pete Domenici
(D-NM) and Harry Reid (D-NV). Hill staff and federal agency leaders
joined over half of the state geologists for the banquet ceremony
at the Cosmos Club in Washington. The award recognizes "individuals
who have made significant contributions to advancing or facilitating
the role of geoscience in the public policy arena." Both were
specifically recognized for their long-standing support of geologic
mapping and other geoscience programs in citations delivered by their
home state geologists. Past recipients of the award include Representatives
Barbara Cubin (R-WY), Nick Rahall II (D-WV), Jim Gibbons (R-NV), and
Ralph Regula (R-OH); Senators Larry Craig (R-ID), Joseph Lieberman
(D-CT), Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Ted Stevens (R-AK); General Richard
Lawson (ret.); National Science Foundation Director Rita Colwell;
and Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton. More at www.kgs.ukans.edu/AASG/pick.html.
On March 3rd and 4th, Earth scientists were in Washington to advocate
for the federal investment in geoscience research as part of the ninth
annual Science-Engineering-Technology Congressional Visits Day. This
event drew more than 200 scientists and engineers to visit their members
of Congress as constituents. The visits are preceded by a day of briefings
by White House and congressional staff and a Capitol Hill reception
at which Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) received the
George E. Brown Jr. Science-Engineering-Technology Leadership Award
in recognition of their work on behalf of research and development,
especially in regard to their co-founding a new R&D Caucus. Rep.
Nick Smith (R-MI) delivered the keynote address at breakfast on March
4th and was recognized by the group for his dedication to science
issues in his twelve years on Capitol Hill, especially after assuming
his chairmanship of the House Science Research Subcommittee in 1999.
AGI is seeking outstanding geoscience students with a strong interest
in federal science policy for a fourteen-week geoscience and public
policy internship in Fall 2004. Interns will gain a first-hand understanding
of the legislative process and the operation of executive branch agencies.
They will also hone both their writing and Web publishing skills. Stipends
for the semester internships are funded by a generous contribution from
the American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Applications must
be postmarked by April 15, 2004. For more information, please visit
List of Key Federal
Below is a summary of Federal Register announcements regarding federal
regulations, agency meetings, and other notices of interest to the
geoscience community. Entries are listed in chronological order and
show the federal agency involved, the title, and the citation. The
Federal Register is available online at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs/fedreg/frcont04.html.
Information on submitting comments and reading announcements are also
available online at http://www.regulation.gov.
Department of Interior, Notice of Revised Implementation Procedures
for the National Environmental Policy Act. For more information contact:
Terence N. Martin, Team Leader, Natural Resources Management; Office
of Environmental Policy and Compliance; email@example.com.
Volume 69, Number 45, (8 March 2004): pp 10865-10887.
NASA, Meeting of the NASA Advisory Council, Biological and Physical
Research Advisory Committee, Research Partnership Subcommittee (RPS),
April 6, 2004, NASA Headquarters, 300 E Street, SW, Washington DC
20546. Volume 69, Number 47, (10 March 2004): pp 11458.
EPA, Request for comment on proposed rule: Approaches to an Integrated
Framework for Management and Disposal of Low-Activity Radioactive
Waste. Send comments through May 17, 2004 to: Air and Radiation Docket,
Environmental Protection Agency, EPA West Room B108, Mailcode: 6102T,
1200 Pennsylvania Ave. NW., Washington, DC 20460, Attention Docket
ID No. OAR-2003-0095. Volume 69, Number 49, (12 March 2004): pp 11826-11828.
NSF, Meeting of the advisory committee for environmental research
and education, April 14-15, 2004 at the National Science Foundation,
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, Virginia. Volume 69, Number 49,
(12 March 2004): pp 11897.
OSTP, Public workshop on laboratory biosecurity, April 12, 2004,
National Institutes of Health, 9000 Rockville Pike, Bethesda, MD.
Volume 69, Number 56, (23 March 2004): pp 13527-13528.
NSF, Meeting of the Advisory Committee for Mathematical and Physical
Sciences, April 22-23, 2004 at the National Science Foundation, 4201
Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA. Volume 69, Number 59, (26 March 2004):
The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs
portion of AGI's web site http://www.agiweb.org/gap since the last
- Superfund and Brownfield Legislation (3-16-04)
- Special Update: The President's FY 2005 Budget Request: NASA,
NOAA, EPA, etc. (3-15-04)
- Special Update: The President's FY 2005 Budget Request: NSF (3-15-04)
- Special Update: The President's FY 2005 Budget Request: DOE (3-15-04)
- Special Update: The President's FY 2005 Budget Request: USGS (3-15-04)
- Mining Policy (3-15-04)
- Climate Change Policy Overview (3-15-04)
- Political Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution (3-11-04)
Monthly review prepared by Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs
Program and Gayle Levy, 2004 AGI/AAPG Government Affairs Intern
Sources: Environment and Energy Daily, Federal Register, Greenwire,
House Science Committee Testimony, Thomas - US Congress on the Internet,
U.S. Senate Web site, the Washington Post and Representative Olver's
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted April 7, 2004