Monthly Review: July 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.
NEHRP Moves, Sort of
National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act Advances in
House and Senate
House Hearing Focuses on Everglades Restoration
Pipeline Safety Gets Hearing
Capitol Abuzz About Refineries
Energy Technology and Domestic Production Hearing
House Holds Hearing on Natural Gas Price Modeling
Study: Natural Gas Prices to Keep Rising
Coalbed Methane Hydraulic Fracturing Poses Little Threat
Integrated Ocean Observing System Evaluated by House
Oceans Legislation Introduced in House and Senate
NOAA Organic Acts Introduced in the House and Senate
Court Upholds Constitutionality of Yucca but Rejects
NRC Panel Decision Could Delay Yucca Mountain
Congressional Science and Math Education Caucus Formed
Homeland Security Education Act
Department of Energy Announces New Science Education
National Academies Addresses Role of Politics in Scientific
SECURE Earth Initiative to Unite Geoscientists
White House Releases Science Report
Status of Engineering and Science in the Workforce
CCSP Proposes First Research Project
Job Opportunities in Washington, D.C.
Key Federal Register Notices
New Updates to Website
On July 22, the House Committee on Appropriations approved the FY05
Veterans Affairs/Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill.
Although it has now been cleared to be debated on the House floor,
the accompanying report has not yet been made available to the public.
As a result, the figures reported below for the National Science Foundation,
Environmental Protection Agency, and NASA in FY05 have been obtained
from sources that have seen parts of the report.
National Science Foundation (NSF)
A total of $5.47 billion was recommended by the appropriations committee
for NSF, a cut of $90 million from FY04 levels and $278 million short
of the President's request. The reasons for these cuts were not explained.
Earthscope and the Office of Polar Programs both received increased
funding over FY04 enacted levels, and the new Integrated Ocean Drilling
Program also received funding. The Math and Science Partnerships program
funding was cut compared to FY04 levels, but had an increase over
the amount requested by the administration. Additionally, the committee
requested that NSF submit a proposed spending plan for individual
directorates, being careful to fund a balance of interdisciplinary
and core subject research. The American Institute of Physics Bulletin
of Science Policy News and the American Mathematical Society provided
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The committee recommended a total of $15.15 billion for NASA, a 1.1%
cut from the $15.4 billion enacted in FY04 and $1.1 billion below
the president's request. The committee explained the cuts by saying
that, although they are supportive of the exploration aspect of NASA's
vision and President Bush's proposal, they do not believe it should
take priority over NASA's science and aeronautics programs. The elimination
of funding for many new initiatives accounts for most of the cuts
to the agency. Space Shuttle operations and Mars programs were fully
funded by the bill, and the committee asked NASA to take the advice
of the National Academy of Sciences and look into ways to extend the
life of the Hubble Space Telescope. Funding was cut for the International
Space Station due to delays in the shuttle's operations. The American
Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News also publicized
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The amount appropriated for the EPA in FY05 was reduced by 7.3% to
$7.8 billion. The Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and the
Clean Water State Revolving Fund were both funded at the president's
requested amount, and funding for State and Tribal Assistance Grants
was increased from FY04 levels. Hazardous Substances Superfund funding
remained the same as in FY04. The committee also decided to restore
full funding for EPA's Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate
fellowship and research grants programs that were targeted for cuts
in the administration's FY05 budget request. The Geological Society
of America's Government Public Policy Committee and National Council
for Science and the Environment's Science Policy director circulated
this information about EPA funding.
In other budget news, the House appropriations committee marked up
the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education bill on July 22,
but again has not yet made the report public. The Department of Education
as a whole received a $2 billion increase in funding for a total of
$57.7 billion in FY05. This amount is $400 million more than the president
requested. This bill allocates $269 million for Math and Science Partnerships,
which is a $120 million increase over FY04 and identical to the president's
request. These additional funds will go toward increasing the number
of teachers trained in the fields of math and science. The Math and
Science Partnership Working Group sent us information concerning this
The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee held a
markup on July 22. Included on the docket was the National Earthquake
Hazards Reductions Program (NEHRP) Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2608).
NEHRP was unanimously approved at the beginning of the markup, although
the committee reserved the right to make changes later that same morning.
The changes proposed for this bill were bundled together as a manager's
amendment and included: tacking the National Impact Windstorm Reduction
Program, H.R. 3980, onto the bill; extending NEHRP authorization to
2009; changing the $3 million authorization obligation for performance-based
standards to 10% of the "actually appropriated" funds; and
slightly lowering authorization levels for the U.S. Geological Survey
and the National Science Foundation.
These amendments, however, were not adopted because Sen. Wyden (D-OR)
invoked a little-used rule that prohibits committees from meeting
after the Senate has been in session for two hours. Wyden used the
rule to block an unrelated appointment to the Federal Trade Commission.
After a heated exchange, Chairman McCain (R-AZ) had no choice but
to adjourn the hearing without completing the morning's business.
H.R. 2608 will go to the Senate floor for a vote in September without
the manager's amendment. McCain said that the Windstorm bill would
be brought up with the other amendments either as an amendment on
the Senate floor in September or introduced as a stand alone bill.
To see a full hearing summary, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/nehrp.html.
Geologic Mapping Act Advances in House and Senate
On the morning of July 14, the House version of the Geologic Mapping
Act, H.R. 4010, was discharged from the House Resources Subcommittee
on Energy and Mineral Resources. It can now be debated on the floor
of the House after Congress returns from its traditional August recess.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Public Lands
and Forests held a hearing on July 14 to discuss the companion bill,
S. 2353. All witnesses testified in support of the reauthorization
under the Geologic Mapping Act. Patrick Leahy, associate director
for geology at the U.S. Geological Survey, did point out the proposed
funding level is not consistent with the president's budget request.
His testimony focused on the successes of the National Cooperative
Geologic Mapping Program and the benefits of geologic maps to states
and local communities. Robert Marvinney, president of the Association
of American State Geologists, testified in support of the bill, emphasizing
the cooperative STATEMAP program and digitization technology. James
Cobb, state geologist of Kentucky and Director of the Kentucky Geological
Survey at the University of Kentucky, said that geologic maps have
saved Kentucky taxpayers at least $2.16 billion by cutting project
costs of map users such as scientists, businesses, and local planning
agencies. Kentucky is the only state that has been geologically mapped
in detail and the only state with completely digitized maps.
Subcommittee Chairman Larry Craig (R-ID) said that he had been "sold"
on the reauthorization of the act before the hearing and became increasingly
convinced after listening to the testimony.
For more information on the Geologic Mapping Act, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/geologicmapping.html.
House Hearing Focuses
on Everglades Restoration
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Water
Resources and Environment met on July 22 to assess the progress of
Everglades restoration and discuss the authorization of two large-scale
projects. The $8 billion Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan,
under the Water Resources Development Act of 2000, provides a framework
for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to restore the South Florida
ecosystem. Nine smaller Everglades restoration projects are already
in process or completed, although larger projects such as Indian River
Lagoon and Southern Golden Gates must be authorized individually.
Witnesses at the hearing urged the subcommittee swift authorization
of project funds, even though actual appropriations may not be available
The Indian River Lagoon project, which costs $1.2 billion, aims to
redirect and store water directed into wetlands by a previous U.S.
Army Corps of Engineers flood control program. The Golden Gates project,
which costs $360 million, will restore wetlands and improve salinity
conditions. Hearing witnesses testified that the two projects were
carefully chosen and will provide a significant boost to restoration
efforts and to local communities. John Burns, chairman of the independent
scientific review panel that reviewed the Indian River Lagoon project,
said that the panel saw nothing from a scientific perspective that
should prevent authorization of the project. The panel has made several
recommendations for the for the Indian River site, including modeling
and evaluation of climate, sea level, hydrologic cycle, ecology, and
muck and sediment transport.
To see a full hearing summary, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/everglades_hearings.html.
Pipeline Safety Gets
On July 20, the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Air
Quality discussed the issue of pipeline safety with Department of
Transportation and the Government Accountability Office (GAO) officials,
energy industry representatives, and pipeline safety advocacy groups.
In 2002, Congress passed the Pipeline Safety Improvement Act (PSIA),
H.R.3609, which calls for a risk-based approach to pipeline safety
management, called the Integrity Management Program. In this program,
pipeline operators identify "high consequence" areas and
prioritize these in their safety inspections. PSIA also calls for
increased public education and access to information about pipeline
safety and strengthens federal and state pipeline safety programs.
The GAO released a preliminary report on the Department of Transportation
Office of Pipeline Safety's (OPS) actions toward implementation of
the PSIA. The GAO found that the number of severe accidents has not
decreased and that OPS should clarify program goals and strategies,
to enforce pipeline operator compliance with regulations. Officials
from the Department of Transportation (DOT) defended OPS, saying that
it is "aggressively responding" to PSIA mandates. Kenneth
Mead, Inspector General of the DOT, said that too many interests at
varying levels have the ability to block progress on pipeline relocation
and repair, causing the failure of OPS compliance with mandates in
some cases. Several officials suggested that the roles of the DOT,
Department of Energy, and Department of Homeland Security should be
specifically outlined. Industry representatives outlined the actions
their companies are taking to comply with PSIA and testified in support
of streamlined permitting and increased coordination among stakeholders
and federal agencies.
For a full summary of the hearing, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy_hearings.html.
Capitol Abuzz About
The House Energy and Air Quality Subcommittee met on July 15 to address
the state of the oil refining industry in the United States, which
has been a popular topic due to elevated gas prices and speculation
that those prices will continue to rise. Some committee members expressed
their disapproval of the United States Refinery Revitalization Act
of 2004 (H.R. 4517), saying it would compromise the health of the
environment and provide an inadequate solution to increasing gas prices
and dependence on fossil fuels. The bill will promote the refining
industry in areas of high unemployment. Eric Schaeffer, director of
the Environmental Integrity Project, argued against H.R. 4517 because
it would give the Department of Energy too much regulatory authority
over the states. He also said that at least 14 petroleum refineries
have outstanding notices of regulation violations and current enforcement
strategies are inadequate. H.R. 4517 proponents said that it does
not make sense to refine oil overseas, which is the inevitable consequence
of rising demand and diminishing refinery capacity in the United States.Witnesses
from the Energy Information Administration, Government Accountability
Office, the Consumer Federation of America and the Environmental Protection
Agency cited several causes of elevated gas prices in their hearing
For a full hearing summary, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy_hearings.html.
and Domestic Production Hearing
The House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held an oversight
hearing on July 15 to discuss technological advances that will help
domestic energy production. Vello Kuuskraa, president of Advanced
Resources International, Inc., reported that traditional oil recovery
methods only extract one-third of the oil in a field; recent technology
has helped to increase this figure. William Whitsitt, president of
the Domestic Petroleum Council, said that well-pad size has been significantly
reduced from an average of 6 acres to 1.5 acres in some areas as a
result of new technology. Bernard Padovani of the Compagnie Generale
de Geophysique explained to the committee that advances in deep seismic
imaging has greatly reduced the number of wells drilled unnecessarily.
Technology will also enable renewable energy sources to contribute
to energy production in the United States. Several witnesses detailed
the progress wind, geothermal, and gas hydrate research has made toward
developing these sources into a major component of the U.S. energy
A full hearing summary is available online at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy_hearings.html.
House Holds Hearing
on Natural Gas Price Modeling
The House Energy Subcommittee met on July 8 to discuss economic models
and their accountability when applied to predicting natural gas prices.
The discussion was spurred by concern over natural gas prices, which
have nearly tripled since 2000 from $2 to $6 per million BTU. Economic
models have been increasingly used as tools for policy-making, but
the fact that none of the models were able to accurately predict the
current spike in natural gas prices raised questions about their effectiveness.
The discussion revealed that natural gas prices have been difficult
to predict due to the complex nature of models and the variations
in the underlying assumptions of the various models, which are often
biased and unclear. Weather is the most unpredictable of these assumptions,
but factors, such as liquefied natural gas (LNG) production and imports,
crude oil prices, and production capacity, can all drastically change
the output of the models.
Natural gas supplies are facing increasing pressure as power plants
are turning to this resource for energy because of rising oil costs.
The models were also unable to factor in the developing LNG industry
as well as safety issues accompanying this global industry. The models
do, however, include calculations for greenhouse gas emissions and
other pollutants. Mary Hutzler of the Department of Energy reported
at the hearing that the models have been recently used to asses the
economic effects of the Clear Skies Initiative and the McCain-Lieberman
climate change proposal.
For a full summary, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy_hearings.html.
Study: Natural Gas
Prices to Keep Rising
A study released July 9 by the Cambridge Energy Research Associates
concluded that natural gas prices will continue to rise in North America
unless the oil and gas industry can resolve its shortage. The study
predicted natural gas prices would rise to $6.62 per million BTU by
2007. New liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals could help alleviate
this problem by 2008 or 2009, but would require streamlining permits
for LNG expansion and relaxing some regulations. Many LNG terminals
are currently being planned and built, but the report emphasized that
it would be necessary for Congress to take quick action to balance
natural gas supply and demand.
More information about the Cambridge Energy Research Associates and
this study are available at http://www.eco-web.com/cgi-local/sfc?a=/index/index.html&b=/register/04418.html.
Coalbed Methane Hydraulic
Fracturing Poses Little Threat to Groundwater
In late June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released
a report stating that there is little threat of pollution to underground
drinking water sources from the injection of hydraulic fracturing
fluids in coalbed methane (CBM) wells. The report was issued partly
in response to a court decision that declared the EPA was responsible
for CBM issues under the Safe Drinking Water Act. CBM producers inject
a mixture of water and other fluids at high pressure into a well to
crack the rocks, which increases the flow of oil and gas and makes
it possible to extract hydrocarbons that were previously inaccessible.
Often diesel fuel is used as a fracturing fluid, which introduces
benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylenes into the ground and potentially
into underground drinking water supplies. The largest CBM producers
have agreed to voluntarily stop using diesel as a fracturing fluid,
but say that most of the fluids they inject either biodegrade or remain
The report is available online at http://www.epa.gov/safewater/uic/cbmstudy/docs.html.
Observing System Evaluated by House Committee
The House Resources Subcommittee on Fisheries Conservation, Wildlife,
and Oceans held a hearing on July 13 to examine the status of ocean
observing systems including the Integrated Ocean Observing System
(IOOS). This program, which was designed with a similar purpose as
the World Weather Watch and the National Weather System, will seek
to network ocean research and monitoring to obtain a better understanding
of the oceans. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, in their April
2004 report, stated that 95% of the ocean floor is unexplored and
improved knowledge of ocean processes is critical to better management
of ocean resources. The report also stated that IOOS will cost a total
of $1.7 billion over five years with an additional $138 million in
startup costs in FY06. Hearing witnesses agreed that the funds for
the program will need to come from the Commerce, Justice, and State
appropriations bill, and will not likely be easily acquired.
A full hearing summary is available on the Government Affairs website
Introduced in House and Senate
On July 22, the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation unanimously
adopted on a voice vote a block of bills, including the National Ocean
Exploration Program Act (S. 2280) and the Marine Debris Research and
Reduction Act (S. 2488). Introduced by Senator Stevens (R-AK), S.
2488 seeks to establish an ocean exploration program within the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The bill would authorize
$45 million annually FY05 through FY10 and $55 million annually FY11
through FY16. Sen. Inouye (D-HI) introduced S. 2488, which would help
reduce and prevent marine debris through a program jointly operated
by NOAA and the Coast Guard. The bill would authorize $10 million
for the Department of Commerce (where NOAA is located) in FY05 and
$5 million for the Coast Guard in FY05.
Rep. Greenwood (R-PA) introduced H.R. 4897, a deep-sea coral protection
bill that is a companion to S. 1953, which is by Sen. Lautenberg (D-NJ).
This bill would establish Coral Management Areas to protect deep-sea
coral concentrations, prohibit destructive fishing gear use, and increase
funding for the research and mapping of coral. Rep. Rahall (D-WV)
authored H.R. 4706, which would seek to reform the regional fishery
management councils that set fishing quotas. The bill would increase
representation of conservation and scientific advisory groups on these
councils, and is currently pending before the Resources Committee.
We will be tracking these bills as they make their way through the
legislative process. Keep up to date at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/ocean.html.
NOAA Organic Acts
Introduced in the House and Senate
Both the House and Senate have recently been working on oceans legislation
in response to April's U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy report that
called for the creation of an organic act for the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which has been operating under
200 separate Congressional authorities since it was created in 1970.
On the House side, Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) held a hearing on July
15 to discuss two bills creating organic acts for NOAA, H.R. 4546
and H.R. 4507. Ehlers authored H.R. 4546 and, along with Rep. Gilchrest
(R-MD), introduced H.R. 4507 on behalf of the Bush Administration.
The proposed bills offer a new structural organization for NOAA: An
ecosystem-based management approach would manage activities affecting
an ecosystem instead of the ecosystem itself. Although both are organic
acts, H.R. 4546 includes specific functions for NOAA, while H.R. 4507
only defines four broad missions for NOAA.
Sen. Hollings (D-SC) introduced S. 2647 and S. 2648 on July 13. S.
2647 specifically addresses structural reforms to NOAA's management,
which would include an assistant administrator for ocean management
operations and one for climate and atmosphere. It establishes a NOAA
office of intergovernmental affairs to promote interagency coordination.
The organic act proposed in this bill would also establish a five-member
"council on ocean stewardship" within the Executive Office
of the President to coordinate federal ocean and atmospheric budgets
and create a panel of outside experts to advise the president on ocean
and climate issues. This idea deviates from the creation of a national
ocean council recommended by the ocean commission. This council would
consist of Cabinet secretaries that would set national goals for governing
the oceans. S. 2647 also proposes moving NOAA out of the Department
of Commerce after a two-year transition period, when it would become
an independent agency or department. The U.S. Commission on Ocean
Policy did not include such a move in its recommendation because of
the difficulty involved. S. 2647 was scheduled for a vote at the Senate
Commerce Committee markup on July 22, but it was pulled from the agenda
two days before the markup to allow more time for comment.
The House Oceans Caucus also introduced their comprehensive oceans
legislation, H.R. 4900, titled "Oceans-21." It was originally
sponsored by Rep. Farr (D-CA), but is now sponsored by the co-chair
of the Oceans Caucus, Rep. Greenwood (R-PA). The Oceans-21 bill, similar
to Holling's bill S.2647, contains an organic act for NOAA with an
ecosystem-based management approach. Oceans-21 would keep NOAA in
the Department of Commerce, but would request an executive-branch
report that would investigate creating a new department of natural
For more information on Ocean Policy, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/ocean.html.
Court Upholds Constitutionality
of Yucca but Rejects 10,000-Year Standard
On July 9, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of
Columbia released a ruling that upheld the constitutionality of the
Yucca Mountain site selection process but rejected the 10,000-year
compliance period for limiting the release of radiation set by the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The court found that the EPA
did not properly follow the guidance of the National Academy of Sciences
(NAS). NAS advised the EPA that because radioactivity of the waste
will peak in 300,000 years, Yucca Mountain should be designed to contain
waste for at least that amount of time. The court ordered the EPA
to revise the standards to be consistent with NAS recommendations
or obtain approval from Congress that would allow them to implement
the current standards.
The court case stemmed from the consolidation of several lawsuits
filed by the state of Nevada and several environmental and public
interest groups claiming that the Department of Energy (DOE), the
Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), and Congress unlawfully chose
the site for Yucca Mountain. Opponents of the Yucca Mountain project
viewed the decision as a near-fatal blow to the project, claiming
the process to change the standards would substantially delay the
opening of the site. Proponents touted the ruling as a victory and
believed changing the standards posed only a minor hurdle to opening
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held an oversight
hearing focused on the recent court decision upholding the constitutionality
of Yucca Mountain, funding for the project, and other nuclear research
and development endeavors. Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow
reported that the recent court decision will not prevent DOE from
preparing a license application by the end of this year, and he says
that he is confident the standards questioned by the court can be
worked out without rewriting any laws. Chairman Domenici stressed
the need for the committee to find funds for not only the Yucca Mountain
project, but also nuclear research and development. Proposed nuclear
research and development funding was cut to $96 million in FY05 from
FY04, although there was no funding for the projects in FY98.
For more information on Yucca Mountain and nuclear waste, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/yucca.html.
NRC Panel Decision
Could Delay Yucca Mountain
A three-judge panel from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)
questioned the Department of Energy (DOE) July 27th as to why it has
received fewer than half of the 1.2 million documents that DOE is
required to submit before the end of the year. Nevada officials filed
a legal challenge against DOE two weeks ago when the NRC announced
that the Internet database is missing some of the scientific documents
pertaining to Yucca Mountain; DOE is legally obligated to make the
papers available to the public. DOE said they submitted the documents
June 30 to the Licensing Support Network, but members of the panel
said they were struggling to understand why DOE waited so long to
release the documents, considering they have been aware of this obligation
for 15 years. DOE officials said they wanted to avoid wasting time
collecting and validating the documents until Congress ratified the
Yucca site, which happened in 2002. They also added that many of the
missing documents are insignificant e-mails. The panel's decision,
which is expected within the next few weeks, could delay DOE's licensing
application of the site, which is due in December.
and Math Education Caucus Formed
Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Mark Udall (D-CO) have launched the
Congressional Science and Math Education Caucus. The caucus will focus
on K-12 education, undergraduate and graduate education, and industry-related
science and math education. The caucus has been formed in the context
of the declining number of U.S. students choosing to pursue advanced
study in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. Reps.
Ehlers and Udall note the important contribution of these fields to
the economy and national security. Urge your representative to contact
Ehlers or Udall for more information about the Congressional Science
and Math Education Caucus. The following representatives are members
of the caucus:
Reps. Baker (R-LA), Baldwin (D-WI), Biggert (R-IL), Boucher (D-VA),
Castle (R-DE), Crowley (D-NY), Doggett (D-TX), Ehlers (R-MI), Frelinghuysen
(R-NJ), Gilchrest (R-MD), Hayworth (R-AZ), Holt (D-NJ), Honda (D-CA),
Johnson (Nancy, R-CT), Lee (D-CA), Lewis (D-GA), Lofgren (D-CA), McIntyre
(D-NC), McCarthy (Karen, D-MO), McGovern (D-MA), Miller (Brad, D-NC),
Schiff (D-CA), Simmons (R-CT), Smith (Adam, D-WA), Smith (Nick, R-MI),
Udall (Mark, D-CO), Upton (R-MI), and Waxman (D-CA).
Sen. Durbin (D-IL) and Sen. Akaka (D-HI) introduced the Homeland
Security Education Act (S.2299) in July. The bill authorizes $75 million
to establish a grant program to partner K-12 school districts and
private entities, and $15 million in grants to higher-education institutions
to develop programs for dual language and science proficiency. It
also creates a $100 million program to forgive loan interests of students
who earn a degree in math, science, engineering, or in certain languages
such as Arabic.
The bill can be found at http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=108_cong_bills&docid=f:s2299is.txt.pdf
Department of Energy
Announces New Science Education Initiative
The Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham announced the Department of
Energy's STARS (Scientists Teaching and Reaching Students) initiative
on July 8. STARS consists of seven programs, such as Science Appreciation
Day, a new Office of Science Education at the DOE, an "Ask a
Scientist" website at the Argonne National Lab (http://www.newton.dep.anl.gov/),
and other programs to expose children to research and science professionals.
The secretary's speech can be found at http://www.energy.gov/engine/content.do?PUBLIC_ID=16144&BT_CODE=PR_SPEECHES&TT_CODE=PRESSSPEECH/,
and for a summary of the initiative, see http://www.energy.gov/engine/content.do?PUBLIC_ID=16145&BT_CODE=PR_PRESSRELEASES&TT_CODE=PRESSRELEASE/.
Addresses Role of Politics in Scientific Appointments
The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP),
part of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), met on July 21 to
address barriers and criteria to appointing presidential and federal
advisory committee scientists. Chaired by former Rep. John Porter
(R-IL), COSEPUP consisted of 10 members who have previously worked
in federal agencies. Testimony at the hearing came from by John Marburger,
director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), Kathie
Olsen OSTP, Reps. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) and Henry Waxman (D-CA), as
well as 10 special interest groups.
The committee, which has published reports on this issue in 1992
and 2000, sought insight from witnesses on how to ensure the most
qualified scientists are appointed to the almost 1,000 federal and
50 presidential advisory committees, at a time when finding scientists
to serve on these committees has been increasingly difficult. The
witnesses cited several reasons for the difficulty: the application
and disclosure process are time consuming and excessive, often taking
six months to process; salary cuts and extra costs; career limitations;
and conflicts of interest. COSEPUP also inquired about the role politics
should play in the appointment process. Many scientists, along with
Waxman, object to the consideration of political affiliation during
the appointment process, citing several incidents in which scientific
data was suppressed or ignored for political reasons. Ehlers said,
however, that scientists are not above politics and should be in tune
with the political philosophies of the administration to be effective.
The two previous COSEPUP reports and other meeting information are
available at: http://www7.nationalacademies.org/presidentialappointments/.
SECURE Earth Initiative
to Unite Geoscientists
The National Research Council's (NRC) Board on Earth Sciences and
Research and the Board on Radioactive Waste Management met with a
coalition of scientists, government agencies, and industry on July
14 to discuss SECURE Earth, Scientific Environmental/Energy Cross-Cutting
Underground Research. The purpose of the initiative is to accelerate
research and unite the subsurface geosciences community, to help Congress
gain a clear picture of important energy and environmental problems.
A panel of representatives from 13 different organizations, both federal
and private, presented key geoscience problems affecting their programs
in an effort to identify common research goals and what benefits a
national research program would bring to groups involved in SECURE
Earth. The presentations revealed that research needs to include better
modeling with increased predictive capabilities at a range of scales
and improved understanding and imaging of subsurface fluid flow, especially
in highly heterogeneous areas. The NRC plans to use the information
from this workshop to define possible studies and progress toward
implementation sometime next year.
White House Releases
On July 20, the National Science and Technology Council released
a report entitled "Science for the 21st Century", which
addressed the challenges and responsibilities for the federal government
in science and research development. The report outlines the importance
of science to the current administration and the need to promote,
respond, invest, and achieve in all areas of science for the security,
economic growth, welfare, and health of the nation. John Marburger,
director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP), emphasized
federal responsibility to fund fundamental research. He also commented
that science funding was a priority but must be flexible to allow
the government to respond to changing needs and opportunities. Marburger
said that the physical sciences, as opposed to the life sciences,
have traditionally been harder to fund because they are spread across
many agencies. Additionally, the report highlights how science will
differ in the 21st century with the convergence between different
fields and disciplines that traditionally have been separated. The
report mentions projects, such as the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission,
to illustrate how agencies are working together to provide data that
will benefit the nation. It also cites the Math and Science Partnership
program as an important component in achieving OSTP's vision for science
in the next century.
To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.ostp.gov/nstc/21stcentury/index.html.
Status of Engineering
and Science in the Workforce
On July 15, the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) sponsored
a luncheon briefing on the status of engineering and science in the
workforce. Reps. Judy Biggert (R-IL) and Rush Holt (D-NJ), both members
of the House Research and Development Caucus, expressed their concerns
over the future of science in the United States, explaining that an
aging science workforce and a decrease in foreign talent are threatening
the country's economy, security, and health. Three panelists presented
their views on the issue. Dr. Michael Crosby from the National Science
Board presented facts that showed that while there is no immediate
crisis, the long-term trends are disturbing. An increasing number
of jobs pay well and do not require higher education, making research
and doctorate degrees less appealing to young students, who are opting
for other careers. This trend, Crosby said, needs federal attention
to make the science workforce more appealing. Additionally, he explained
that heightened security and delayed visa processing are hurting the
flow of foreigners into the science workforce. Conversely, Dr. Michael
Teitelbaum, a demographer, said that there was no shortage of scientists
and natural variability in technology and funding was the cause of
fluctuating demand. If a crisis was pending, he said, the workforce
would show signs of adjustment, such as rising wages or shortened
time-to-degree. While the topic needs attention to improve the quality
of the science workforce, Teitelbaum argued that claims of "shortages"
are not valid.
Presentations from the briefing are available at http://www.researchcaucus.org/schedule/04July15/default.asp
And a June 2004 report on "The U.S. Scientific and Technical
Workforce: Improving Data for Decisionmaking" is available at
CCSP Proposes First
On July 7, the Bush Administration's Climate Change Science Program
(CCSP) issued a draft prospectus of its first of 21 major climate
science assessments, titled "Temperature trends in the lower
atmosphere -- steps for understanding and reconciling differences."
This research, which is expected to be completed within the next two
years, will be open for public review and comment through Aug. 12.
NOAA will act as the lead agency, while NASA, the Department of Energy,
and the National Science Foundation will be supporting agencies. This
first assessment will focus on discrepancies between warming rates
at Earth's surface and the middle troposphere. Climate computer models
have predicted warming in the middle troposphere, but observations
have contradicted this by showing the surface has warmed twice as
fast as the atmosphere since 1980. Many studies have been done on
this topic, including a 2000 National Academy of Sciences study, a
2001 report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and a
more recent study profiled in the July issue of Geotimes (available
online at http://www.geotimes.org/july04/NN_atmosmeasrmt.html).
As a result, many people are questioning the benefits of the new CCSP
study, especially its ability to generate policy-relevant information.
Others argue that the research is necessary to incorporate peer-reviewed
studies done in the past few years. Flat funding between FY04 and
FY05 of $2 billion annually will likely cause problems for the implementation
of the 21 synthesis and assessment projects. It is not clear how the
CCSP chose these topics, and many people have questioned the program's
priorities. According to the most recent CCSP strategic plan, the
21 projects are part of a zero- to two-year or two- to four-year timeframe,
with nine defined as state-of-the-science reports, five intended to
inform policy decisions, and seven focused on informing operational
For a list of the 21 syntheses and assessment projects, visit http://www.climatescience.gov/Library/sap/sap-summary.htm.
To comment on and review the draft prospectus through August 12, visit
in Washington, D.C.
American Geological Institute
The American Geological Institute, a nonprofit federation of 43 geoscience
societies, is seeking a director of Government Affairs. This position
is responsible for all phases of AGI's Government Affairs Program,
working actively with member societies, Congress, and federal agencies
to bring accurate science into the decision-making process of public
policy; serve as a focused voice for the shared policy interests of
the geoscience profession; monitor and analyze legislation and policy
developments affecting the geosciences; and develop AGI congressional
testimony and policy positions on national geoscience issues.
Candidates should have an advanced degree in the geosciences, with
a Ph.D. preferred, as well as a demonstrated experience in science
and public policy. Demonstrated outstanding written, verbal, and management
skills are required. A strong familiarity with the geoscience community
through active society participation is desired.
Candidates should submit a resume, including salary requirements
and the names of three references, with cover letter to Government
Affairs Director Search, AGI, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502
or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the program, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap.
Applications will be considered on a continuous basis until the position
is filled. EOE.
American Geophysical Union
AGU, an international scientific association with over 41,000 members,
that stands as a leader in educating the public in regards to the
Earth and Space sciences is seeking a Public Affairs coordinator to
help foster careers in the geosciences and keep AGU's community informed
of new developments in public policy. The Public Affairs coordinator
will plan and assist in the Committee on Education and Human Resources
(CEHR) meetings, coordinate career planning workshops and student
affairs in an effort to promote and develop interest in the geosciences.
The incumbent will also coordinate briefings, attend congressional
hearings, markups, and other functions on the Hill in order to bridge
AGU members and policy makers, as well as gather information for the
Outreach website. We are looking for a candidate with an interest
in public policy and the sciences; excellent written, verbal, and
interpersonal skills; strong college level education, some course
work in science highly desirable; and a demonstrated ability to communicate
effective at all levels. Experience working on the Hill is preferred.
AGU, located near Dupont Circle, offers a competitive salary and benefits
package. All interested candidates should mail, fax or email a cover
letter, resume and a one page writing sample to: American Geophysical
Union, 04-009, 2000 Florida Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20009. Fax:
202-777-7390. E-mail: email@example.com.
U.S. Representative Vernon J. Ehlers
Congressman Ehlers is seeking candidates for a Legislative Assistant
to handle Science Committee issues in his personal office. The candidate
would be responsible for advising the congressman and developing policy
on all scientific issues that are before Congress. In addition, the
candidate would be responsible for staying abreast of developments
in the different fields of science and briefing the congressman on
new issues or discoveries relevant to federal policy, working with
the various scientific organizations on policy and scientific issues,
and representing the congressman's views to the scientific community.
Qualifications for this position include: A Ph.D. is required; background
in science policy; strong writing, communication, and networking skills;
ability to keep abreast of research in different fields of science;
knowledge of PowerPoint; and experience in the federal legislative
Please e-mail resume and CV (as appropriate) to Cameron.firstname.lastname@example.org,
with the subject "Ehlers Science Position." No phone calls
or faxes please.
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.
EPA: Proposing to grant a petition submitted by the United States
Department of Energy, Richland Operations Office (DOE-RL) to exclude
(or `delist') from regulation as listed hazardous waste certain mixed
waste that are treated at the 200 Area Effluent Treatment Site (200
Area ETF) on the Hanford Facility, Richland, WA. We will accept public
comments on this proposed decision until August 30, 2004. Send two
copies of your comments to Dave Bartus, EPA Region 10, 1200 6th Avenue,
MS WCM-127, Seattle, WA 98101. Electronic comments can be e-mailed
to email@example.com. Volume 69, Number 135 (15 July, 2004): pp.
DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Federal Energy
Management Advisory Committee will meet and seek written input on
working group recommendations to meet mandated Federal energy management
goals. Oral statements only by early request. Meeting Monday, August
9, 2004, 6:00 p.m. at Rochester Riverside Convention Center, 123 East
Main Street, Room Highland A, Rochester, NY. Volume 69, Number 138
(20 July, 2004): p 43410.
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 monthly update:
- Climate Change Science Program (7-29-04)
- High-Level Nuclear Waste Legislation (7-28-04)
- Ocean Policy (7-23-04)
- National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (7-23-04)
- Everglades Restoration Hearings (7-23-04)
- Energy Hearings (7-23-04)
- Ocean Policy Hearings (7-20-04)
- National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Act (7-16-04)
- Energy Policy Overview (7-19-04)
- Wind Hazards (7-09-04)
Monthly review prepared by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs
Program, Bridget Martin, AGI/AIPG 2004 Summer Intern and Ashlee Dere,
AGI/AIPG 2004 Summer Intern.
Sources: American Institute of Biological Sciences, American
Institute of Physicists, Environment and Energy Daily, Greenwire,
House of Representatives hearing testimony, House of Representatives
Science Committee press releases, NASULGC Washington Update, National
Academy of Sciences, National Council for Science and the Environment,
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, THOMAS legislative
database, United States Senate hearing testimony, and Washington Post.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted August 11, 2004