American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

House Floor Debate on National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act: 3-11-97

The following debate took place on March 11, 1997 and culminated with passage of H.R. 709, which now must pass the Senate in identical form and be signed by the President. The text is taken from the Congressional Record.

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I move to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 709) to reauthorize and amend the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992, and for other purposes, as amended.

The Clerk read as follows:

TEXT OF H.R. 709

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Pursuant to the rule, the gentlewoman from Wyoming [Mrs. Cubin] and the gentleman from Puerto Rico [Mr. Romero-Barcelo], each will control 20 minutes.

The Chair recognizes the gentlewoman from Wyoming [Mrs. Cubin].

(Mrs. CUBIN asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, today I rise in support of H.R. 709, a bill to amend the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992. This law is a codification of cooperative federalism. It expressly authorizes the practice of the U.S. Geological Survey using a small but significant portion of its geologic mapping budget to find mapping projects of priority to the State geologic surveys on a 50-50 matching share basis. In this manner, the act promotes the basic scientific endeavor the mapping the bedrock geology and superficial deposits of this country. Most people do not realize the importance of geologic mapping. It meets society's needs for geologic hazards identification and abatement, for groundwater protection, land use planning and mineral resources identification.

H.R. 709 reauthorizes this cooperative program for three years, 1998 to the year 2000. It establishes thresholds for the sharing of funds between Federal, State and academic components. In general, the administration has agreed to dedicate not less than 20 percent of the budget line for geologic mapping to the cooperative State map component and not less than 2 percent to the education mapping or ed map component. The ed map function is to ensure small amounts of granted moneys will be available for student training in fields of mapping skills.

This bill was amended in subcommittee by my friends, the ranking member, the gentleman from Puerto Rico [Mr. Romero-Barcelo] and the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands [Ms. Christian-Green]. The sum of those amendments clarified the definition of State to include the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, American Samoa, Guam, and the United States Virgin Islands.

I do believe, Mr. Speaker, that the matching funds requirement is important because it assures greater scrutiny of budget requests than would otherwise be the case. The various State legislatures making funds available for their geological surveys, as well as the committee and the Congress overseeing Federal budgets, must be satisfied the mapping program brings useful results. I believe the program is indeed an important part of the U.S. Geological Survey's mission, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 709.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

[Page: H835]

[TIME: 1515]

Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

(Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the gentlewoman from Wyoming [Mrs. Cubin], our chair of the subcommittee, for her attitude and openness and her cooperation in the process of this bill. It has been a real pleasure working with her as the ranking member, and I look forward to a lot more of this bipartisan cooperation that we have had in this bill.

Mr. Speaker, we bring this bill, reauthorizing the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992, to the floor today with the full support of the Committee on Resources. Democrats and Republicans alike voted to favorably report this bill to the House, and the Clinton administration has endorsed the bill.

We need geologic mapping in our society for many worthwhile purposes, including emergency preparedness, environmental protection, land use planning and resource extraction.

The Earth provides the physical foundation for our society. We live upon it and we use its resources. Therefore, we need to work toward a better understanding of the Earth's resources and its inherent dangers.

Geologic maps are one effective way to convey the Earth science information needed for better understanding and decision-making by all of us: people in Federal agencies, State and local government, private industry and citizens alike.

The National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 authorized the USGS to organize a national program of geologic mapping through a partnership with State geologic surveys, academia and the private sector. This cooperative relationship is essential to develop the extensive amount of material for informed decision-making.

I understand that nothing in current law or the reauthorization bill prevents Puerto Rico or other territories from participating in this valuable program. However, we wanted to be absolutely clear on this issue. Therefore, the gentlewoman from the Virgin Islands, Delegate Christian-Green, and I offered amendments in the Committee on Resources that designate the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the other territories and the District of Columbia as eligible to participate in the geologic mapping program. The bill before us today contains these amendments.

Accordingly, it is my pleasure to support the adoption of the bill, and I urge all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to vote yes on H.R. 709, as amended.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Nevada [Mr. Gibbons].

Mr. GIBBONS. Mr. Speaker, I would like to begin by thanking the gentlewoman from Wyoming for her diligent work on H.R. 709, the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1997. This legislation becomes very important when we address the issues of safety in the environment. H.R. 709 reauthorizes the Geologic Mapping Act of 1992, which was a legislative response to troubles in the National Academy of Sciences with their lack of basic geologic mapping efforts in this country.

Being a geologist myself, I can personally attest to the importance that mapping has on many aspects of our society. Geologic maps benefit safety regulations, telling us where natural disasters may occur. They also map fault lines and water flow patterns, which are important to identify when building infrastructure for transportation. Without a detailed geologic map of the United States, we will continue to address issues such as safe drinking water and environmental systems understanding, in the same way someone drives a car at night without headlights.

It is important for us to explore and understand what resources we have and how best to use them before we fool-hardily make unscientific decisions without the full knowledge of our underlying environment.

I also believe detailed geologic mapping provides the basic information for solving a broad range of societal problems. These include delineation and protection of our sources of safe drinking water, environmental systems understanding and foundations of ecosystem management, the identification and mitigation of natural hazards, such as earthquake-prone areas, volcanic eruptions, landslides and other ground failures, as well as many other land use planning requirements.

This legislation would provide an array of benefits for States. It would assist State and local communities with land and water decisions, aid farmers and ranchers with crop decisions, encourage habitat protection for endangered species, and aid the mining industry with site determination for mineral resources.

Another benefit of this legislation is its funding formula. The appropriation from the National Geologic Mapping Reauthorization Act of 1997, which requires a 50-50 matching of Federal funds from non-Federal sources, will involve State colleges and universities. This, I believe, sets an excellent precedent, allowing the Federal Government, States and colleges to cooperate in a unified, intelligent manner.

H.R. 709 authorizes in the fiscal year 1998 $26 million to be appropriated, 75 percent for Federal mapping and supporting mapping activities, 23 percent for State mapping activities, and 2 percent for educational mapping activities. Funds for fiscal year 1999 are $28 million and for fiscal year 2000 are $30 million. Each year the funding formula decreases the Federal mapping activities by 1 percent and increases State mapping activities accordingly. Since fiscal year 1993, approximately $7.5 million in Federal appropriated funds have been matched by State moneys in this cooperative peer review process of producing geologic maps.

It appears that only about one-fifth of this Nation is mapped to adequately address the issues described in section 2 of this bill. Congress has finally begun to understand the importance of geologic mapping, and it is time that we use our dollars wisely to bring about the best science to this country. H.R. 709 will achieve this goal in a cooperative partnership with little money and a big return on science that benefits our constituents.

To close, Mr. Speaker, the reauthorization of the National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992 will allow a joint venture of Federal, State and academic institutions to continue on the appropriate path of mapping the geology of this Nation. As section 2, paragraph (B) states, `Geologic maps are the primary database for virtually all applied and basic Earth science investigation.' It is because of this continued need for core science that I urge all Members to support H.R. 709, and I believe this bill is in the best interest of science and this Nation as well.

Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from American Samoa [Mr. Faleomavaega].

(Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

Mr. FALEOMAVAEGA. Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the gentlewoman from Wyoming, the chairlady of our subcommittee, that has taken the initiative and leadership in passing unanimously by our Committee on Resources this very important piece of legislation. I thank my good friends from Puerto Rico and our Democrat ranking member of the subcommittee for bringing to the attention of the Members what I consider to be a little oversight in the fact that the National Geological Mapping Reauthorization Act did not include the insular areas.

I am very happy that the gentlewoman from Wyoming has taken the initiative, with my good friend from Puerto Rico, to see that the proper amendments are made to change this reauthorization act.

Mr. Speaker, I am also happy to see my good friend from Nevada. Who could be a better expert than a person who is knowledgeable about geological issues, a geologist himself, my good friend,the gentlewoman from Nevada [Mr. Gibbons]. Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to consider his expertise and the importance of this piece of legislation, and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 709.

[Page: H836]

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I reserve the balance of my time.

Mr. ROMERO-BARCELO. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to state that I certainly appreciate the help of the ranking minority member in adding the other additions to the bill that were originally left out. I, too, feel it was more of an oversight, that it is very important and certainly does improve the quality of the bill.


Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on H.R. 709, as amended.

The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Goodlatte). Is there objection to the request of the gentlewoman from Wyoming?

There was no objection.

Mrs. CUBIN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.

The SPEAKER pro tempore. The question is on the motion offered by the gentlewoman from Wyoming [Mrs. Cubin] that the House suspend the rules and pass the bill, H.R. 709, as amended.

The question was taken; and (two-thirds having voted in favor thereof) the rules were suspended and the bill, as amended, was passed.

A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.

Text from the Congressional Record obtained off Thomas: The Library of Congress web site.

Contributed by David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs

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Last updated March 12, 1997

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