Monthly Review: August 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.
Congress Returns From Recess: Outlook to the Weeks/Months
Administration Releases R&D Budget Priorities for
Election Update: Kerry and Bush Vocal about Yucca, National
Yucca Mountain: Looking for Two Steps Forward, Three
Steps Back Also Likely
Mountaintop Mining Made Easier
Abandoned Mine Money Used Inappropriately
USGS Creates New National Geospatial Programs Office
Mercury Pollution Reaches All-Time High
States Say Mercury Contamination Harming Sportsfishing
MTBE Vapors Threaten Environment
EPA Finalizing Cap-and-Trade Plan
Earth Observation System Will Monitor Climate Change
Kansas School Board Election Produces Anti-evolution
Mississippi Defeats Attempt to Question Teachings of
EPA Announces Graduate and Undergraduate Fellowship
Government Affairs Program Seeks Director
Goodbye Wonderful Summer Interns
AGI/AAPG Spring Semester Intern Applications Welcome
Key Federal Register Updates
New Updates to Website
Congress Returns From
Recess: Outlook to the Weeks/Months Ahead
When Congress returns to Washington, D.C., from their month-long
August recess, they will be returning to mountains of unfinished work
and a long, hard road to the end of the 108th Congress. The target
adjournment date for the legislative body is Oct. 1, the first day
of the new fiscal year. By law, all spending bills for the fiscal
year (FY) 2005 are required to be approved by Sept. 30. Due to Labor
Day falling later on the calendar this year, Congress has only 18
legislative days left to the approval deadline. The observance the
Jewish holidays, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, will likely mean even
fewer days than that.
Thus far, the president has only signed one appropriations bill into
law, the defense spending bill. Congress still has to pass 12 appropriations
bills in the next month. The House has approved nine appropriations
bills and has three more waiting to be debated on the floor in September.
The Senate, on the other hand, only has three bills that are ready
for floor action; the other nine bills have yet to be approved in
Given the large volume of work that is yet to be completed and Congress'
short timetable, it's nearly a given that Congress will approve a
continuing resolution prior to Sept. 30, which will keep the government
running at last year's funding levels until the rest of the appropriations
bills are approved.
But when they will be approved is the "million-dollar question."
Rumors suggest that Congress will likely not approve next year's spending
bills until after the election; however, it is certainly in their
best interest to pass the bills (or one large omnibus bill) before
adjourning in November or December. When Congress returns in January,
it will be convening 109th Congress and will have several new committee
chairmen who may, or may not, have been involved in the nitty-gritty
details of piecing together the FY05 budget.
Other behemoth pieces of legislation still pending in Congress, such
as the Energy Bill and Transportation Authorization Bill, will likely
receive lots of lip service and little action prior to the election.
Smaller pieces of legislation still in the pipeline include the following:
the National Earthquake Hazards Reductions Program Reauthorization
Act, H.R. 2608; the National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization,
H.R. 4010 and S. 2353; the National Windstorm Impact Reduction Program,
H.R. 3980; and House Resolution 556, which congratulates the U.S.
Geological Survey on its 125 years of service to the nation.
Keep up to date as events unfold by checking our website at http://www.agiweb.org/gap/index.html.
R&D Budget Priorities for FY06
In an Aug.12 memorandum to federal department and agency heads, Office
of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) Director John Marburger and
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Director Joshua Bolten set out
the Bush Administration's R&D budget priorities for Fiscal Year
(FY) 2006. Even though it will be weeks, or perhaps months, before
Congress finalizes the budget for the fiscal year starting on Oct.
1, the administration is hard at work on the FY06 budget submission.
While the OSTP/OMB document contains few surprises, it helps to illuminate
what is traditionally the "black box" process involved in
drafting the budget request.
The FY06 R&D budget priorities closely parallel the guidance
released last summer. Both the FY05 and FY06 documents identify homeland
security as the first priority; the new memorandum explains, "winning
the war on terror and securing the homeland continue to be the highest
of national priorities." In addition to a list of specific threats
for which desired technologies are listed, Marburger and Bolten stated
"fundamental R&D should be considered to address and counter
new or novel threats."
"Networking and Information Technology R&D" and nanotechnology
are the second and third listed priorities in the new memorandum,
which switched positions from last year's document. Nanotechnology
is described as a "top" administration priority, and both
documents cite the importance of the National Nanotechnology Initiative's
support of fundamental and applied R&D. This year's memorandum
explains that "because research at the nanoscale offers natural
bridges to interdisciplinary collaboration, especially at the intersection
of the life and physical sciences, the Administration encourages novel
approaches to accelerating interdisciplinary and interagency collaborations."
This year's memorandum next lists "biology of complex systems"
as a priority area. The document explains that: "Agencies should
target investments toward the development of a deeper understanding
of complex biological systems through collaborations among physical,
computational, behavioral, social, and biological researchers and
Concluding the priority list is "climate, water, and hydrogen
R&D," including calling for calls for agencies to implement
the 2003 "Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science
Program". Also identified as a high-priority concern "is
the ability to measure, monitor, and forecast the U.S. and global
supplies of fresh water." Regarding hydrogen, the memorandum
states: "Finally, agencies should continue research efforts in
support of the President's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative; this includes
research outside of the subset of activities currently counted as
part of the Initiative. Agency efforts should address the critical
technology barriers of on-board hydrogen storage density, hydrogen
production cost, and fuel cell cost, as well as distributed production
and delivery systems. R&D should focus on novel materials for
fuel cells and hydrogen storage (including nanostructured materials),
durable and inexpensive catalysts, and hydrogen production from renewable
energy, nuclear energy, biological and electrochemical processes,
and fossil fuels with carbon sequestration."
The Aug.12 OSTP/OMB memorandum can be viewed at http://www.ostp.gov/html/m04-23.pdf.
Election Update: Kerry
and Bush Vocal about Yucca, National Parks, Energy
Spending August on the campaign trail, the presidential candidates
have recently highlighted several key science issues, with Sen. John
Kerry (D-Mass.) being particularly vocal about his opposition to Yucca
Mountain. Recent campaign visits to Nevada by both sides have focused
on the fate of the repository. Kerry remains steadfast in his disapproval
of the project, assuring Nevadans during his visit on Aug. 10 that
should he become president, "Yucca Mountain will not be a repository."
He plans to accomplish this by rejecting the site's license, initiating
a new National Academies of Sciences study to reexamine the suitability
of geologic disposal, and creating a "Blue Ribbon Panel"
to recommend the best methods for nuclear waste storage and disposal.
In the meantime, Kerry says he will work to ensure the safety of the
nuclear plants where the waste is currently stored.
President George W. Bush, on the other hand, has proclaimed that
he has already made a decision to support Yucca Mountain based on
20 years of sound science, not politics. Now, he says he is handing
over the decision to the courts and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
and that he will stand by their decision. Bush continues to view the
project as necessary to the country's energy security. Without the
repository, he says, nuclear power is unable to play its important
role as a clean source of energy for the future.
Issues surrounding National Parks have also sparked debate recently.
Kerry has promised to restore $600 million annually to the National
Park Service, blaming the shortfall on President Bush's inability
to promote policies that would boost funding for maintenance of the
parks. To generate this additional revenue, Kerry proposes modernizing
mineral rights and leases, although he did not say how. He also criticized
several of Bush's environmental policies, such as rolling back various
Clean Air Act requirements and allowing logging in national forests.
Bush, however, says that he has fulfilled his promise to address
the issue of maintenance backlogs in National Parks. Bush promised
to secure $4.9 billion over five years through 2006. He has received
$2.8 billion and proposed an additional $1.1 billion in FY05 for a
total of $3.9 billion, indicating progress toward his goal. Funding
levels have risen to record levels, he says, from $2.52 billion in
FY01 to $2.67 billion for FY05, the most ever requested. Bush explains
that this budget has given more funds per employee, per acre, and
per visitor than ever before.
Another dividing topic is energy. Bush is an advocate of a national
energy policy, criticizing Kerry and other Democrats for failing to
pass his proposed energy bill that would give the nation just that.
In his campaign, he has continued to highlight many of the provisions
of the energy bill, emphasizing their importance to national security
and economic growth.
On some issues this past month, Kerry and Bush have become stark
opposites. Bush is against using oil from the Strategic Petroleum
Reserve, while Kerry wants to use it wisely to protect supplies without
hurting the economy. Bush supports opening the Alaska National Wildlife
Refuge for oil development, but Kerry does not. Bush prefers a voluntary
reduction approach of how much greenhouse gas may be released into
the atmosphere, and Kerry is a proponent of capping emissions. Both
candidates are in favor of developing renewable energy, but Bush proposes
using more coal and nuclear energy to help meet future energy demands,
while Kerry wants to rely more on natural gas supplies and oil from
The candidates also share some of the same ideas. Bush and Kerry
want to improve clean coal technology, but Kerry has proposed spending
$10 billion over the next decade on research and development and Bush
has proposed $2 billion in the next 10 years. Bush's Hydrogen Research
Initiative, which he proposed should be funded at $1.7 billion over
the next five years, is strikingly similar to Kerry's "Hydrogen
Institute," which would also work to develop a hydrogen economy.
Both candidates also support tax incentives for hybrid vehicles and
a pipeline to transport natural gas from Alaska's North Slope.
Yucca Mountain: Looking
for Two Steps Forward, Three Steps Back Also Likely
As previously planned, the Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed this
month that they expect to submit a license application by December
to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) seeking approval for Yucca
Mountain. This announcement came despite a court ruling in July challenging
the validity of the 10,000-year safety limit for the release of radiation
set by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The court decision
requires DOE to adjust the application to meet safety standards recommended
by the National Academy of Sciences. According to the Nevada Agency
for Nuclear Projects, the state plans to use the courts to block NRC
from accepting the application.
Controversy over NRC's testing standards of nuclear waste shipping
casks flared up in August. NRC insists that its method of crashing
the 150-ton containers at 75 miles per hour into a train and engulfing
them in flames is adequate to determine the durability of the casks.
Nevada officials are dissatisfied with the method, arguing that it
is more of a demonstration than a scientific test. The safety of nuclear
waste transportation is an important issue to Nevada, as the Bush
Administration still plans to ship radioactive material to Yucca Mountain.
For more information about Yucca Mountain, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/yucca.html.
An article published in the Aug. 17 Washington Post highlighted how
Bush administration policy changes have made it easier for coal companies
to practice mountaintop mining. The process involves cutting off the
top of a mountain and depositing the debris in adjacent valleys, permanently
burying streams and disrupting watersheds. In May 2002, the administration
changed the word defining mining debris from "waste" to
"fill," legally entitling companies to dump the debris into
streams. Under the new rule, "fill" is defined as rock,
sand, clay, plastics, construction debris, wood chips, and overburden
from mining, with garbage the only material specifically forbidden.
The Bush administration claims the revision is an attempt to clarify
existing rules and ease regulatory burdens for the coal industry,
which they see as a necessary component of national energy security.
They maintain that the rule changes are not an effort to weaken environmental
accountability, but instead are an effort to acknowledge the reality
that these rules are not commonly followed, and to bring regulatory
stability and predictability. Opponents claim that the modifications
to environmental regulations make it easier for coal companies to
dump in streams and harder for those actions to be challenged. Government
studies have shown that waste rock and debris has buried more than
700 miles of headwater streams in central Appalachia, where those
who oppose mountaintop mining outnumber supporters two to one. The
article emphasized how slight changes to environmental policies have
been quite common during the Bush administration, often inflicting
huge environmental impacts.
The article is available online at http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A6462-2004Aug16.html.
Abandoned Mine Money
Another article, written for the Charleston Gazette on Aug. 16, summarized
an investigation that revealed Abandoned Mine Land (AML) money, intended
for the cleanup of abandoned coal mines, has been used to fund low-priority
and unrelated projects in Wyoming. The money, which is collected from
a coal surface mining tax of $0.35 per ton, is slated to be used to
cleanup coal mines abandoned before 1977, with priority given to the
most hazardous sites. Established in the 1977 Surface Mining Conservation
Reclamation Act, the tax is distributed as a 50-50 split: Half of
the ALM money goes back to the original state, and the other half
is distributed by the Office of Surface Mining (OSM).
Problems have arisen because Wyoming has significantly fewer abandoned
mines predating 1977, yet produces more than half of the coal mined
in the United States annually. This gives more ALM funds to Wyoming
than to states in the East, where coal production has steadily decreased
and a large proportion of abandoned mines remain. Congress included
a loophole in the act to enable states who cleanup their high priority
sites to use the money for specific public facilities in coal communities.
According to the Charleston Gazette, in 1984, Congress questionably
"certified" that Wyoming had cleaned all of its high-priority
sites; a subsequent Government Accountability Office report concluded
the state should not be certified because it cleaned up only its most
severe sites rather than all of its abandoned coal mines. Instead
of cleaning up the lower priority sites, the state has since spent
more than $90 million of ALM money on roads, sewer systems, hospitals,
schools, and a new geology building for the University of Wyoming.
Additionally, Wyoming has legally used ALM funds to reclaim noncoal
mines that were run by industries that pay no tax to supplement cleanup
efforts. OSM, however, has poorly monitored how these funds have been
spent. The state also claims that it has discovered more than 1,700
abandoned mines since they received certification, prompting a request
of more ALM money from Congress.
The article is available online at http://www.wvgazettemail.com/section/Series/200408163.
USGS Creates New National
Geospatial Programs Office
Researchers and other interested scientists that regularly utilize
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) geospatial data and tools will be interested
to know that USGS Director Charles Groat has announced a plan to reorganize
USGS geospatial data programs. According to Groat, the new agency
structure will strengthen geographic research at USGS by consolidating
existing geospatial data programs in a new National Geospatial Programs
Office. As part of the reorganization, the National Map program will
now be located in the Geospatial Information Office. Agency officials
contend that the new structure will allow the survey's existing expertise
in geography to focus attention on geographic research and will enhance
USGS leadership in both geospatial data programs and geographic research.
The reorganization will consolidate USGS geospatial programs under
the new National Geospatial Programs Office located within the Geospatial
Information Office (GIO). The National Geospatial Programs Office
will oversee the portfolio of national geospatial programs for which
USGS has responsibility, including the Federal Geographic Data Committee,
the Geospatial One Stop project, the Department of the Interior Enterprise
Geospatial Information Management activity, and the National Map.
To read the USGS press release about these upcoming changes, visit
Reaches All-Time High
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials announced on
Aug. 24 that mercury contamination in the nation's waters have reached
an all-time high. This conclusion was based on the fact that the number
of fish advisories issued between 2002 and 2003 has increased by roughly
6 percent in lakes and 35 percent in rivers. EPA Administrator Mike
Leavitt attributed these statistics to the rise in assessment of the
nation's waters through monitoring and fish sampling. He also stated
that human-made mercury emissions are decreasing, with power plant
emissions dropping 45 percent between 1990 and 1999. Rising levels,
he explained, are partly due to pollution from other countries, specifically
in Asia, which accounted for 53 percent of global mercury emissions
in 1995. Leavitt also acknowledged the wide variety of testing and
warning programs administered throughout the states. Washington and
Montana, for example, are the first states to issue statewide advisories
of mercury contamination, rather than posting warnings for specific
The upward flux of advisory warnings has spurred significant economic
consequences. The seafood industry is concerned that mercury warnings
will deter consumers from taking advantage of the health benefits
offered by consuming fish. Several states, including Minnesota, Wisconsin,
Ohio, and Michigan, have significant stakes in the recreational fishing
industry and have been worried that increased mercury pollution will
continue to threaten jobs and cost the state millions of dollars in
lost revenue. In response to the increase in mercury contamination,
the Bush administration has focused on two options. The first, an
across-the-board cap on mercury emissions favored by environmentalists,
would set limits for each pollution source, as dictated by the "maximum
achievable control technology" standards. The administration
prefers the second choice, which is a cap-and-trade program that would
enable industries to trade pollution credits under a national emissions
For more information about mercury, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/mercury.html.
States Say Mercury
Contamination Harming Sportsfishing Industry
On August 18, Greenwire reported that a coalition of more than 50
Midwest environmental groups released a series of reports on the impact
of mercury contamination in the region on the sportsfishing industry.
The coalition said that the total cost to the industry in four states
--Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio -- exceeds $1.8 billion
annually, threatening thousands of jobs. The greatest cost will be
incurred by Minnesota, with a projected $706 million annual loss due
to a 25 percent decrease in the sport. The American Sportsfishing
Association estimates that 34 million people spend $41.5 billion annually
The environmental groups that released the reports suggest reducing
mercury pollution from coal-fired power plants by 90 percent. Fish
accumulate the toxic form of mercury, methylmercury, through a conversion
process that takes place in sediments, after deposition of the contaminant
from the air into waterways from polluted air. Environmentalists have
expressed disagreement with the Bush administration's preferred cap-and-trade
approach to limiting mercury emissions, which will be specified next
March. Coal industry representatives maintain that the proposals in
the environmental groups' reports are unrealistic and that they single
out the coal industry, when there may be other sources of mercury
contamination. They also note that global mercury emissions not under
U.S. control contribute significantly to contamination.
MTBE Vapors Threaten
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials announced last
week that vapor from the gasoline additive MTBE also poses a threat
to groundwater supplies. Recent efforts have focused on monitoring
and preventing liquid leaks in underground tanks, but have largely
neglected the threat of vapor leaks, possibly underscoring recent
efforts to improve liquid leak detection and prevention.
The warning came during a groundwater contamination conference in
Maryland, which has experienced significant MTBE contamination in
the last month. Maryland Gov. Bob Ehrlich (R) has proposed new rules
to prevent leaks in roughly 13,000 underground fuel storage tanks
across the state, where more than 200 wells have been found containing
MTBE. Eight of these wells had MTBE concentrations 1,300 times higher
than acceptable levels, causing widespread concern of water contamination
throughout the state.
For more information about MTBE and its role in the controversy over
passing a national energy policy, visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis108/energy.html.
EPA Finalizing Cap-and-Trade
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will publish new rules
on power plant mercury emissions by March 15, 2005. EPA administrator
Mike Leavitt said in a presentation (Greenwire subscription req.)
in upstate New York that the agency will finalize its plan for a cap-and-trade
system to limit annual emissions to 34 tons by 2010 and 15 tons by
2018. He also said that the agency will finalize new rules on sulfur
dioxide and nitrogen dioxide emissions by the end of the year. Environmentalists
have criticized the mercury plan, claiming that it was largely written
by industry, and noting a current EPA inspector general investigation
of the rule. Mercury rules will have the largest affect on coal-fired
power plants, which account for 41 percent of mercury emissions.
Administrator Leavitt's presentation is available online at http://www.eenews.net/Greenwire/Backissues/images/081104gwr2.pdf
(Greenwire subscription required)
System Will Monitor Climate Change
In August, Bush administration officials Mike Leavitt of the Environmental
Protection Agency and Vice Admiral Conrad Lautenbacher of Department
of Commerce met with members of the media to discuss the Global Earth
Observation System, a network of satellites and land- and ocean-based
sensors that will be developed in coordination with 40 other countries.
Leavitt and Lautenbacher pointed out the many benefits of the system,
including monitoring climatic changes in polar regions, reducing damage
from hazards such as hurricanes and forest fires, and monitoring private-sector
environmental problems such as agricultural runoff. The officials
said that the greatest challenges to the development of the system
and coordination of the data of different agencies will be bureaucratic,
not technological. The National Ocean and Atmospheric
Administration currently spends about $800 million a year to manage
its satellite data, and the officials could not give an estimate of
how much cost the additional equipment and data processing required
for the project will incur. A plan for network construction will be
released in February 2005.
For more information about the Global Earth Observation System, visit
Kansas School Board
Election Produces Anti-evolution Majority
Evolution opponents are set to gain a majority on the Kansas State
Board of Education, after a closely watched Republican primary Aug.
3. Republican Kathy Martin defeated moderate incumbent Republican
Bruce Wyatt in the 6th District, and Republican Steve Abrams won the
primary in the 10th District. According to the National Center for
Science Education, this tips the board to at least a 6-4 anti-evolution
majority. Martin and several other Republicans are running unopposed
in the November election.
Attempt to Question Teachings of Evolution
In a routine check of evolution flare-ups across the country, GAP
discovered that on March 9 a bill addressing evolution in textbooks
died in the Mississippi House of Representative's Education Committee.
It failed to receive a vote before the deadline to report House bills
out of committee. House Bill 1288 would have required the State Board
of Education to display a disclaimer on the inside front cover of
science textbooks that states that evolution is a theory. The bill
modeled its language after the disclaimers pasted into Alabama textbooks
in 1996, which are no longer required. Republican State Rep. Wells-Smith
introduced the bill along with 19 co-sponsors.
The following is the disclaimer language proposed in the bill:
"The word 'theory' has many meanings: systematically organized
knowledge, abstract reasoning, a speculative idea or plan, or a systematic
statement of principles. Scientific theories are based on both observations
of the natural world and assumptions about the natural world. They
are always subject to change in view of new and confirmed observations.
This textbook discusses evolution, a controversial theory some scientists
present as a scientific explanation for the origin of living things.
No one was present when life first appeared on earth. Therefore, any
statement about life's origins should be considered a theory.
Evolution refers to the unproven belief that random, undirected forces
produced living things. There are many unanswered questions about
the origin of life that are not mentioned in your textbook, including:
the major groups of animals suddenly appear in the fossil record (known
as the Cambrian Explosion), no new major groups of other living things
appeared in the fossil record, major groups of plants and animals
have no transitional forms in the fossil record, and all living things
possess a complete and complex set of instructions for building a
living body. Study hard and keep an open mind."
EPA Announces Graduate
and Undergraduate Fellowship Opportunities
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Science to Achieve
Results (STAR) program offers graduate fellowships for master's and
doctoral level students in environmentally related fields of study.
EPA has announced that the next deadline for receipt of pre-applications
is Nov. 23, 2004. Subject to the availability of funding, the agency
plans to award approximately 100 new fellowships by July 21, 2005.
The fellowship program provides up to $37,000 per year of support.
For more information, visit http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004/2005_star_grad_fellow.html.
Additionally, EPA plans to award 20 fellowships to master's or doctoral
students in environmentally related fields through its Greater Research
Opportunities (GRO) program. The pre-application deadline for the
fellowships is also Nov. 23, 2004. For additional
information visit http://es.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/2004/2005_gro_grad_fellow.html.
Finally, EPA's GRO program also plans to award 15 new undergraduate
research fellowships for bachelor level students in environmentally
related fields of study. Undergraduate fellowships provide students
support for their junior and senior years as well as for a summer
internship at an EPA facility. The undergraduate fellowships provide
up to $17,000 per year in support and up to $7,500 to support the
summer intern experience. For additional information, please visit
Program Seeks Director
The American Geological Institute (AGI), 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 experience in science and public policy.
Demonstrated outstanding written, verbal, and management skills are
also 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 email@example.com. 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.
Bridget Martin and Ashlee Dere, 2004 American Geological Institute/American
Institute of Professional Geologists (AIPG) summer interns concluded
their time in Washington on Aug. 20 and Sept. 1, respectively. Bridget
will be returning to Vassar College to finish her final semester and
continue work on research she performed earlier this summer on vineyard
soils. Ashlee will return to California Polytechnic State University
to complete her senior year and begin the search for a graduate school.
This summer, Bridget became the resident expert on the timely issue
of high oil and gas prices as well as mercury contamination. Ashlee
spent time working on budget issues, Yucca Mountain, and natural hazards
legislation. Both interns also had the opportunity to meet with many
people involved in different aspects of science policy and learn about
various career options in Washington.
The Government Affairs Program would like to thank AIPG for their
generous contribution that makes this program possible as well as
Bridget and Ashlee for their hard work and dedication.
AGI/AAPG Spring Semester
Intern Applications Welcome
The American Geological Institute (AGI) is seeking outstanding geoscience
students and recent graduates with a strong interest in federal science
policy for a 12-week geoscience and public policy internship in spring
2005. 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. AGI gratefully
acknowledges support from American Association of Petroleum Geologists
for the semester internships. Applications must be postmarked by Oct.
For more information, please visit http://www.agiweb.org/gap/interns/index.html.
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 Commerce: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
(NOAA) is requesting comments on its Five-Year Research Plan Draft
and Twenty-Year Research Vision Draft. The Five-Year Plan can be viewed
at ftp://www.oarhq.noaa.gov/review/5, and comments should be submitted
to Review.5Year@noaa.gov. The Twenty-Year plan is available at ftp://www.oarhq.noaa.gov/review/20,
and comments should be sent to Review.20Year@noaa.gov. For both documents,
comments may also be sent to: NOAA Research, c/o Dr. Terry Schaefer,
Silver Spring Metro Center Bldg. 3, Room 11863, 1315 East-West Highway,
Silver Spring, Maryland 20910. Comments must be submitted by Sept.
30, 2004. Volume 69, Number 161 (20 August, 2004): pp. 51637-51638.
As of Aug. 25, 2004, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) withdrew
a direct final rule published on June 2 (69 FR 31008), concerning
three additional analytical methods for compliance determinations
of uranium in drinking water. As dictated in their previous publication,
EPA said they would withdraw the rule should they receive adverse
comments before the June 2 deadline. Volume 69, Number 164 (25 August,
2004): pp. 52181-52182.
The U.S. Geological Survey will hold their eighth Scientific Earthquake
Studies Advisory Committee (SESAC) meeting from 8 a.m. Sept. 13 to
5 p.m. Sept. 14 at the Teton Mountain Lodge, 3385 West Village Drive,
Teton Village, Wyoming 83025. The meeting will focus on USGS involvement
in the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program. Volume 69, Number
160 (19 August, 2004): pp. 51470-51471.
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:
- Energy Policy Overview (8-25-04)
- Mercury Policy (8-24-04)
- Political Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution (8-24-04)
- High-Level Nuclear Waste Legislation (8-24-04)
- Climate Change Policy Overview (8-20-04)
- Mining Policy (8-19-04)
Monthly review prepared by Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs
Program and Ashlee Dere, AGI/AIPG 2004 Summer Intern.
Sources: American Institute of Biological Sciences, American
Institute of Physicists, Greenwire, National Science Teachers Association,
National Council for Science and the Environment, THOMAS legislative
database, Charleston Gazette, Washington Post, John Kerry for President,
and Bush-Cheney '04, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Geological
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Posted September 3, 2004