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Monthly Review: December 2006

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.

1. Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Stalled Indefinitely by Continuing Resolution
2. Water Resources Development Act Dies
3. Low Pressure Pipeline Legislation Becomes Law
4. Much-Debated, but Limited Offshore Drilling Legislation Approved
5. Drought and Tsunami Legislation Signed By President
6. US-India Nuclear Trade Agreement Approved as Arab Nations Consider Nuclear Energy
7. The 110th Congress: Let's Get It Started
8. Calendar for the First Session of the 110th Congress
9. DOE Releases Short-Term Energy Outlook Report
10. DOE Inspector General Report Recommends Relocating Strategic Petroleum Reserve's Alternate Site
11. NASA's Exploration Plans
12. USGS Publishes Land Use Report
13. Wiley and Blackwell Merger Could Result in Changes for Academic Community
14. Science Editor in Chief Responds to Fraudulent Papers
15. Cobb County School Board Abandons Evolution Disclaimer Stickers
16. Flock of Dodos Documentary: Do Likeable Scientists Exist?
17. Join Us for Congressional Visits Day on May 1-2
18. William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship: Deadline February 1st
Key Federal Register Notices
New Updates to the Web

1. Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Stalled Indefinitely by Continuing Resolution

The 109th Congress returned from the mid-term election recess and was unable to complete any of the unfinished appropriation bills. Only the appropriations for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security were finished in September and only these large departments started fiscal year 2007 on October 1, 2006 with new budgets. Before turning out the lights, Congress did pass another continuing resolution (CR) through February 15, 2007. The CR means that all of the other federal agencies will be funded at the lowest funding level of three options, the fiscal year 2006 budget, the House approved FY 2007 budget or the Senate committee approved FY 2007 budget.

The 110th Congress, which started their first session on January 4, 2007, has indicated that they plan to extend the CR for the full year, rather than trying to work out a new budget for the 9 unfinished bills. This means that the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have started FY 2007 without the potential budget increases proposed by the President and the previous Congress. The 109th Congress had supported the President's American Competitiveness Initiative by increasing funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science by 15 percent, the National Science Foundation by almost 8 percent and the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories by 21 percent in appropriations work.

These proposed increases will be lost if the CR is extended for a full year. The 110th Congress has indicated that it might consider "limited adjustments" to some appropriations when they bring forward a new CR that will be extended until September 30, 2007. Adjustments might include bringing all programs to at least their FY 2006 funding levels to avoid some of the steep cuts proposed by the House or Senate or providing specific funding increases for some specific programs.

If the CR is extended for a full year without any adjustments, here is how federal agencies that support Earth science research and development would be affected. The National Science Foundation would see a reduction in funding of about $439 million and this reduction would translate into a loss of about 800 new research grants for FY 2007. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be funded at the House-proposed level of $3.4 billion, which is $288 million below the President's request, almost $1 billion below the Senate-proposed level and more than $500 million below the FY 2006 budget. Such a significant reduction for NOAA would impede progress for core programs, such as the National Weather Service functions and stifle the development of new programs, such as the National Water Quality Monitoring Network, a national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and the implementation of the recently updated Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would receive almost the same funding as they received in FY 2006 with no significant increases or decreases to research and development funding.

One quirk of the current CR is that congressionally-designated FY 2007 funding for specific projects (earmarks) are not specified, allowing the funds designated for these earmarks to be used for other projects. This gives federal agencies with earmarks some flexibility in transferring funds to alleviate shortfalls in core programs.

The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a useful summary of the affect of the CR on the FY 2007 budget for research and development (R&D) that is available online. The AAAS analysis concludes that the federal investment in basic and applied research funding will decrease for the third straight year, that the federal investment for development is increasing, and that the increases for research and development will go primarily to the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense research and development budget for FY 2007 is a record-breaking $76.8 billion, thanks to a 4.8 percent increase (about $3.5 billion). The Department of Homeland Security research and development funding will be slashed by 22 percent, giving them a FY 2007 budget of about $1.0 billion.

Please see the American Association for the Advancement of Science, R&D Budget and Policy Program for more details on the federal budget for R&D.

More information about the elections and the new Congress is available from the AGI Government Affairs Special Updates on Midterm Elections and New Leadership.

2. Water Resources Development Act Dies

On December 6, 2006, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairman James Inhofe (R-) stated, "WRDA is dead." Senate and House aides met during the first weekend of December to negotiate discrepancies between the two versions of the bill, but made little progress. Infrastructure proposals for water protection and other environmental purposes in the House bill, H.R.2864, were met with opposition from the Senate which stated that some projects would need to be omitted in order to cut costs.

The Congressional Budget Office put a price tag of $10 billion on the 700 plus projects the House bill would have authorized. The Senate bill, S.728 would have authorized over $13 billion for more than 200 projects. Concern over the quantity of earmarks in the bill led members to opt out of passing such a "porky bill" at a time when Congress already faces criticism for not completing FY 2007 appropriations. Traditionally, WRDA has been reauthorized annually, however, a re-authorization bill has not been passed since 2000.

Lawmakers that sought funding for projects important to their states were disappointed by the outcome of negotiations. Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) made a final attempt to pass one provision from WRDA in a standalone bill, S.4105. The bill would authorize funding the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane and storm protection project which would build a series of locks, levees, and other systems that would protect 1700 square miles of land and 120,000 people in southern Louisiana. The federal government would fund 65 percent of this $841.1 million project which was authorized in 2000, but was never started due to a late Army Corps feasibility report. The outcome of S.4105 was similarly doomed and the bill died in the closing hours of the session. "I intend to carry on our fight when the 110th Congress convenes in January," declared Landrieu.

3. Low Pressure Pipeline Legislation Becomes Law

Late on December 7th, the House and Senate sent a bipartisan bill (H.R. 5782) to improve existing pipeline regulations to President Bush. The legislation which has been moving through Congress for many months, received some additional amendments in response to the partial shutdown of BP's low pressure pipelines in Prudhoe Bay Alaska in August. The bill extends the Department of Transportation oversight to all low-pressure oil and gas pipelines. The legislation will cover 5,400 miles of low-stress lines compared to a proposed rule by the Bush Administration to cover "unusually sensitive" low-stress lines which would have covered only 1,200 miles. It also contains provisions to hire 45 safety inspectors over several years and strengthen state programs preventing construction-related pipeline accidents. The President signed the bill, the Pipeline Inspection, Protection, Enforcement, and Safety Act of 2006 into law on December 29th.

4. Much-Debated, but Limited Offshore Drilling Legislation Approved

Congress approved a tax bill, S.3711, which opens 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to offshore drilling. The newly opened area is estimated to contain 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The bill does not, however, expand oil and gas drilling to the east and west coasts as had been proposed in the House version of the bill. The House approved the measure on Friday, December 8th in a 367-48 vote and the Senate approved the bill the next day in a rare weekend vote, by a comfortable margin of 79-9.

About 37.5 percent of the royalties will go to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas initially. In ten years, royalties from revenues from previously existing leases in the Gulf will also be shared with these states. This will provide $13 billion over the next 30 years to the state of Louisiana, a triumph for Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA) who calls this bill "essential for the recovery and long-term economic vitality of South Louisiana." The bill also steers 12.5 percent of the royalties to the Land and Water Conservation Fund initially from newly opened reserves and later from other Gulf areas.

The bill also extends numerous tax incentives for alternative energy resources through 2008, including the wind energy tax credit, biomass and geothermal facility credits, tax incentives for new cellulosic ethanol plants and a 30 percent tax credit to consumers and businesses that purchase solar equipment and fuel cell power. In addition, the bill extends the 54-cents-per-gallon tariff on imported ethanol until 2009. The tax provisions have been met with some concern because they will reduce federal revenues collected by the Treasury by over $45 billion over the next 10 years.

An amendment by Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) and other Democrats to bar companies from obtaining new oil leases until flawed leases from 1998 and 1999, which mistakenly omitted "price thresholds" were renegotiated, was defeated in a close 205-207 vote.

Lawmakers also included a no drill-buffer provision for Florida in order for representatives from that state to agree to the bill. The provision bans drilling within 125 miles south of the Florida Panhandle and over 235 miles from Tampa until mid-2022.

The bill also reauthorizes the Abandoned Mine Land Act which requires the cleanup of old mine sites and extends onshore restrictions along the Rocky Mountain Front in Montana. Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) predicts that the Abandoned Mine Land Act will generate $1.6 billion for the state of Wyoming. Ranchers and hunters in Montana are celebrating the extended restrictions too.

5. Drought and Tsunami Legislation Signed By President

Congress passed two bills related to natural hazards, the "National Integrated Drought Information System Act", H.R. 5136 and the "Tsunami Warning and Education Act", H.R.1674. Both bills provide new infrastructure and research funding to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to improve forecasting and reduce the impacts of droughts and tsunamis. The drought bill authorizes a forecasting and monitoring network, which NOAA is already developing, to help anticipate, mitigate and react to droughts more effectively. The tsunami bill authorizes a new NOAA research program and standardizes existing warning systems. The President signed these bills into law on December 8th. The programs will be reviewed by the National Academy of Sciences and the Government Accountability Office. Although the bills authorize new funding to NOAA, the congressional appropriation committees will ultimately decide how much of this funding is provided annually.

6. US-India Nuclear Trade Agreement Approved as Arab Nations Consider Nuclear Energy

In the early hours of the morning on Saturday, December 9th, Congress passed a nuclear trade agreement which will give the President the authority to negotiate nuclear trade for civilian purposes with India. This agreement, H.R.5682, sponsored by Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Senator Henry Hyde (R-IL), is the first to allow such an agreement in thirty years and passed by a vote of 330-59 in the House and a voice vote of 85-12 in the Senate.

The Bush Administration claims that this bill will make an exception for India, a country that has not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to relieve it from poverty through alternative forms of energy. Congressman Gary Ackerman (D-NY) supported the bill because it would result in U.S. inspections on two-thirds of nuclear activities in India as opposed to none at present. Critics, however, state that the agreement would supply India with enough nuclear material and technology to build 40 to 50 nuclear weapons each year, instead of their current production of seven a year.

Leader of the opposition to H.R.5682, Representative Edward Markey (D-MA), expressed concern that India's neighbors Pakistan and Iran will not tolerate this agreement. Other critics echoed Markey's concerns stating that it opens up the way for Israel and Pakistan to seek the same exception.

This legislation passed at the same time as Arab leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council met in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for a two-day meeting on December 9th and 10th, to discuss the beginnings of a joint nuclear energy development program. The meeting called for a peaceful nuclear program in Iran and insisted that Arab nations have a right to peaceful civilian nuclear development to ease the costs of energy despite their oil resources. Arab officials stated that the meeting was "an announcement so there will be no misinterpretation of what we are doing." However, some analysts interpreted the announcement as a message to warn the U.S. against cooperating with Iran on nuclear issues in order to settle the conflict in Iraq as the recent Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group has suggested.

7. The 110th Congress: Let's Get It Started

The 110th Congress started their first session on January 4, 2007 with the historic election of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi as the first female Speaker of the House. The Democrats will hold majorities in both chambers with 233 Democrats and 202 Republicans in the House and 50 Democrats, 49 Republicans and 1 Independent in the Senate. Senator Timothy Johnson (D-SD), who underwent brain surgery in December to alleviate an intracranial hemorrhage caused by arteriovenous malformation, remains hospitalized and may require months to recover. The Democrats remain undecided on Senator Johnson's role on committees as the new Congress begins.

Congress has reorganized the appropriations subcommittees so that they are balanced in number and jurisdiction. This should make it easier for Congress to complete the federal budget on time. There are now 12 subcommittees in the House and 12 subcommittees in the Senate. One new subcommittee is being created in both chambers: Financial Services and General Government, which will oversee the Treasury Department, the federal judiciary, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the District of Columbia. The former Transportation-Treasury-Housing subcommittee will become the Transportation-Housing subcommittee. The House State-Science-Justice-Commerce subcommittee will be renamed Commerce-Justice-Science, to correspond with the Senate subcommittee. The House also will re-establish a Legislative Branch subcommittee; the Senate never abolished its panel.

The new Congress also began to set-up some new rules on spending, authorizing and tax legislation. The House has issued a new earmark disclosure rule that requires sponsors to be identified, provide justification and certify that neither they nor their spouses will benefit from the proposed legislation. The House and Senate also introduced separate resolutions on pay-as-you-go budget requirements. The proposed resolutions are slightly different, but basically require offsets for any new entitlement spending or tax cuts.

Finally the House has proposed some new ethics rules. House votes can no longer be held open for longer than the standard 15 minutes and the purpose of this rule is to prevent the high pressure tactics used to change or delay some votes during the extended voting process in the 109th Congress. In addition, lobbyists cannot pay for any travel, gifts or meals for members.

More information about the elections and the new Congress is available from the AGI Government Affairs Special Updates on Midterm Elections and New Leadership.

8. Calendar for the First Session of the 110th Congress

Congress expects to be working very long and hard in 2007. Below is a calendar of the days that the House and/or the Senate will be in recess and there are fewer breaks than the past few years. In addition, the House Democratic Leadership plans to be working 5 days a week and they are already scheduling votes on all five days. The Senate appears to be following the House lead and planning five-day work weeks. A longer work week may change the way that members handle travel, housing, family schedules and collegial communications because they will need to spend more time in Washington DC, less time in their home states and probably less time in transit.

Even with these additional work hours, Members and staff emphasize the importance of constituent meetings and constructive and concise communications on issues of concern to constituents. If you have an important issue of relevance to federal policy, please consider visiting your senator or representative in their local office while they are on recess or in Washington DC, while Congress is in session.

The following are the dates when Congress will be in recess:

January 15: Martin Luther King Day

January 25-26: House Republican Conference retreat

February 1-2: House Democratic Caucus retreat

February 19-23: President's Day Recess

April 2-9: Easter Recess for the Senate

April 2-13: Easter Recess for the House

May 28 - June 1: Memorial Day Recess

July 2 - July 6: Fourth of July Recess

August 6 - September 3: August Recess

October 26: Target Adjournment for the House (Senate not known)

9. DOE Releases Short-Term Energy Outlook Report

On December 12th, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) released official energy statistics from the U.S. Government in a Short-Term Energy Outlook Report. Highlights from the report include short-term energy price estimates of oil, gas and average household heating expenditures. The report states that West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil prices were above $60 per barrel in the last week of November due to cuts in production by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), a recent decline in surplus U.S. product inventories and projected increase in energy demand during the winter season. The EIA projects that WTI prices will average $66 per barrel in 2006 and $65 per barrel in 2007. Natural gas prices are projected to increase in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the first quarter of 2006 due to predictions of a colder winter by about $0.65 per thousand cubic feet (mcf) to an average of $8.65 mcf. This winter average household heating is projected to cost $938 compared to $948 last winter. The next update will be released from EIA on January 9, 2007.

The Short-Term Energy Outlook Report is available online.

10. DOE Inspector General Report Recommends Relocating Strategic Petroleum Reserve's Alternate Site

Experience from Hurricane Katrina has prompted the Department of Energy's Inspector General to recommend the relocation of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve's alternate operating station in a December 2006 Audit Report. The Stennis Space Center in Mississippi serves as the emergency operating facility for the 727 million barrel reserve. However, located only 55 miles from the primary site in New Orleans, this alternate site was "rendered inoperable" synchronously with the main station during Hurricane Katrina due to problems with its computer network system. In the Audit Report, the Inspector General commended the department for providing 21 million barrels of oil in loans and sales during the Gulf of Mexico's oil production shutdown. However, it urged DOE to move SPR's alternate site to avoid the potential shutdown of both operating facilities at the same time. The department said it plans to evaluate the reserve's alternate site in the future.

The Inspector General's report is available online.

11. NASA's Exploration Plans

On December 4, 2006, NASA disclosed two crucial elements of the new U.S. space policy aimed at returning humans to the Moon - the initial stages of a Global Exploration Strategy and a proposed U.S. lunar architecture. The Global Exploration Strategy will address why humans are returning to the Moon and what they will do on the surface. In April 2006, NASA met its congressional mandate and began developing the strategy. The strategy has been created through a dialogue with over 1,000 individuals from NASA, 13 other international space agencies, non-governmental organizations and private interests.

The lunar architecture will examine how to achieve the goal of exploring the Moon. Chartered in March 2006, NASA's Lunar Architecture Team plans to create a solar-powered lunar base near one of the lunar poles in order to learn how to use the Moon's natural resources to human advantage and eventually travel to Mars. Four person crews will begin seven-day visits to the Moon in 2020. Following these short visits, 180-day missions to prepare for journeys to Mars will be launched. NASA will continue to refine and develop its Global Exploration Strategy and lunar architecture through open dialogue in 2007.

A NASA press release on these plans is available online.

12. USGS Publishes Land Use Report

A new USGS publication - Rate, Trends, Causes, and Consequences of Urban Land-Use Change in the United States (Professional Paper 1726) - studies the change in land use associated with increasing urbanization and its impacts at local, regional, and national scales. Based on the broad view of satellite imagery, the twenty scientific contributions that make up the publication examine urban land change in the United States from many perspectives - historical, geographic, economic, and ecological. Together the analyses provide new insights into critical issues of concern for both science and society.

An online version of Professional Paper 1726 is available.

13. Wiley and Blackwell Merger Could Result in Changes for Academic Community

John Wiley and Sons announced its plans to buy out Blackwell Publishing for $1.08 billion in December. The merger will result in company control of over 1,200 titles, including many society journals. In the past, mergers have resulted in considerable price increases for libraries.

Wiley is required to file this transaction with the Department of Justice. The department then has 30 days in which to consider the merger or ask the company to provide more information for an extended review. The Information Access Alliance (IAA), a coalition of five library organizations, has asked that the Department of Justice require a review of the transaction and has submitted a white paper entitled "Publisher Mergers: A Consumer-Based Approach to Antitrust Analysis." The IAA is also contacting the New York State Attorney General's Office and the California State Attorney General's Office to inform them of the merger. These agencies have antitrust enforcement authority and can choose whether or not to act in accord with the Department of Justice.

IAA is also compiling a list of libraries willing to discuss their commercial publisher experience with officials. If you would like to participate, please contact Karla Hahn, Director of the Office of Scholarly Communications or the Association of Research Libraries at or (202) 296-2296.

14. Science Editor in Chief Responds to Fraudulent Papers

On December 1st, Donald Kennedy, Science Magazine's editor-in-chief, released an editorial entitled "Responding to Fraud." The committee assembled to examine the publishing process also released a report which analyzed the magazine's handling of two fraudulent papers. It recommended steps for Science and the scientific community to take to respond to publication fraud. Following this committee report, Kennedy provided a response. The release of this editorial, report and response continues a running anthology from Science magazine on its response to two fraudulent stem cell papers by Dr. Woo Suk Hwang and his colleagues that were published in the magazine in 2004 and 2005.

The committee report recommends changes in order to prevent such an occurrence in the future. It calls for the creation of a "formal, required 'risk assessment' for papers selected for publishing with "special scrutiny" on those that are highly visible on topics such as climate, energy and human health. It recommends the development of a method to clarify the contributions and responsibilities of authors and co-authors, and more extensive information in the published supporting material. Finally, the committee calls for common standards for Science and Nature so that authors will not choose a journal based on its standards. "The report is notable for its thoroughness, insight and candor," stated Kennedy in his editorial.

The editorial, committee report and response are available online.

15. Cobb County School Board Abandons Evolution Disclaimer Stickers

On December 20, the Cobb County School Board decided to abandon their court case to retain stickers in biology textbooks that question the theory of evolution. After four years in court, the school board decided it would be too expensive and time-consuming to proceed with their appeal. The Cobb County School Board agreed in federal court never to use a similar sticker or to undermine the teaching of evolution in science classes.

More background on this and other legislative and legal battles about the teaching of evolution are available from AGI's Government Affairs web page on evolution

In addition, the National Center for Science Education tracks and evaluates threats to the teaching of evolution and provides tools to help teachers and other professionals deal with the controversy.

16. Flock of Dodos Documentary: Do Likeable Scientists Exist?

Randy Olson, an evolutionary biologist and filmmaker has produced a documentary entitled "Flock of Dodos: The Evolution-Intelligent Design Circus" that looks into the public debate on evolution versus intelligent design. Olson wanted to examine, through live interviews, taped public debates and informal discussion groups, why scientists in America are having a difficult time explaining evolution to the general public. The documentary suggests that scientists are not as likable as the intelligent design advocates (at least among those who participated in the documentary) and this may be one reason why scientists have been ineffective in explaining evolution to the public. The documentary has received some early acclaim and thoughtful reviews that can be read on the documentary's web site. Flock of Dodos will be available to audiences around the country starting in February 2007 and several museums/institutions, that will be showing the documentary, plan to hold workshops or discussion panels around the anniversary of Darwin's birthday on February 12. The web site also has a list of times and locations.

More information about the Flock of Dodos documentary is available at

17. Join Us for Congressional Visits Day on May 1-2

Join us for the 12th annual Congressional Visits Day (CVD) on May 1-2, 2007. This two-day annual event brings scientists, engineers, researchers, educators, and technology executives to Washington to raise visibility and support for science, engineering, and technology. Participants will spend the first day learning about how Congress works, the current state of the budget process and how to conduct congressional visits. The second day will consist of visits with members of Congress. In addition to the workshops and visits, participants will get to meet other scientists and engineers, meet federal science agency representatives and attend a reception and breakfasts at which members of Congress will speak and meet with the audience.

Please consider participating in these visits and plan early to come to Washington DC. Many scientific societies are involved in CVD, including several of AGI's Member Societies. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America and the Soil Science Society of America are very active participating societies in CVD and can help coordinate your visits. In addition these societies and AGI will coordinate some geoscience activities on May 1.

Individuals interested in participating should contact the Government Affairs Program at

18. William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship: Deadline February 1st

The American Geological Institute (AGI) is pleased to announce the William L. Fisher Congressional Geoscience Fellowship. The successful candidate will spend 12 months (starting September 2007) in Washington, DC, working as a staffer for a Member of Congress or congressional committee. The fellowship is a unique opportunity to gain first-hand experience with the legislative process and contribute to the effective use of geoscience in crafting public policy.

Minimum requirements are a master's degree with at least three years of post-degree work experience or a Ph.D. at the time of appointment. The fellowship carries an annual stipend of up to $55,000. Support for the fellowship is provided by an endowment, established through the AGI Foundation, in honor of William L. Fisher.

All application materials must be transmitted by February 1, 2007.

For more details on this fellowship and similar fellowships offered by AGI Member Societies (AGU, GSA and SSSA), visit AGI is an equal opportunity employer.

Key Federal Register Notices

DOE: The Department of Energy is implementing provisions in the Energy Policy Act of 2005 that require DOE to establish revised energy efficiency performance standards for the construction of all new Federal buildings, including both commercial and multi-family high-rise residential buildings and low-rise residential buildings. The amendment made by this interim final rule is effective January 3, 2007. The incorporation by reference of certain publications in the interim final
Comments must be received by DOE no later than February 2, 2007 to For further information contact Cyrus Nasseri at (202) 586-9138,
[Federal Register: December 4, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 232)]

DOI: The National Park Service is extending the public comment period for the National Park Service Benefits-Sharing Draft Environmental Impact Statement until January 29, 2007. Information will be available for public review and comment on the Internet at For further information contact Susan Mills, Benefits-Sharing EIS at (307)344-2203,
[Federal Register: December 8, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 236)]

NSF: The National Science Foundation is publishing its fall 2006 regulatory agenda. For further information on a particular item, call or write the individual identified as agency contact. General comments or inquiries about this agenda may be directed to Penelope C. Baker, Administrative Officer for the Office of the General Counsel of NSF at (703) 292-8060.
[December 11, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 237)]

DOT: The Pipeline and Hazardous Material Safety Administration is publishing the following list of special permit applications that have been in process for 180 days or more. The reason(s) for delay and the expected completion date for action on each application is provided in association with each identified application. For further information contact Ann Mazzullo at (202) 366-4535.
[Federal Register: December 13, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 239)]

NOAA: The draft Report for one of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Products is available for public comment. This draft Report addresses the following CCSP Topic: Product 4.5 Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States. After consideration of comments received on the draft Report, the final Report along with the comments received will be published on the CCSP web site. Comments must be received by February 1, 2007.

The draft Report is posted on the CCSP Program Office web site. The web addresses to access the draft Report is: Product 4.5 (Energy Production) Detailed instructions for making comments on the draft Report is provided with the Report. Comments should be prepared in accordance with these instructions.
[Federal Register: December 18, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 242)]

NSF: The National Science Board Commission on 21st Century Education in
Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics will hold a meeting to discuss preliminary draft recommendations of the Commission on Wednesday, January 10, 2007, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. EST (teleconference meeting) at the National Science Foundation, Room 545, Stafford II Building, 4121 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA 22230
[Federal Register: December 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 250)]

DHS, MMS, EPA and Coast Guard: The Coast Guard, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Minerals Management Service, in concert with representatives from various State governments, industry, environmental interest groups, and the general public, developed the National Preparedness for Response Exercise Program (PREP) Guidelines to reflect the consensus agreement of the entire oil spill response community. This notice announces the PREP triennial exercise cycle for 2007 through 2009, requests comments from the public, and requests industry participants to volunteer for scheduled PREP Area exercises.

Comments and related material must reach the Docket Management Facility on or before February 27, 2007. You may submit comments identified by Coast Guard docket number USCG-2006-26560 to the Docket Management Facility at the U.S.
Department of Transportation at
[Federal Register: December 29, 2006 (Volume 71, Number 250)]

New Updates to the Website

The following updates and reports were added to the Government Affairs portion of AGI's web site since the last monthly update:

  • Action Alert: Support Increased Funding for NSF (12-18-06)
  • Hearings on Climate Change (12-8-06)

Monthly Review prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs and Rachel Bleshman 2006 AGI/AAPG Fall Intern.

Sources: New York Times, AAAS R&D Budget and Policy Program, EIA Website Associated Press, Washington Post, Greenwire, E&E Daily, Library of Congress, Congressional Quarterly, and Department of the Interior.

This monthly review goes out to members of the AGI Government Affairs Program (GAP) Advisory Committee, the leadership of AGI's member societies, and other interested geoscientists as part of a continuing effort to improve communications between GAP and the geoscience community that it serves. Prior updates can be found on the AGI web site under "Public Policy". For additional information on specific policy issues, please visit the web site or contact us at or (703) 379-2480, ext. 228.

Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted January 8, 2007.


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