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Thanks to everyone who contributed to this issue of E-mail News


* Energy Bill's Fate Remains Undecided
* Omnibus Spending Bill Unveiled, Awaits Final Passage
* DOE's FY 2004 Spending Bill Complete
* FY 2004 Interior Spending Bill Signed By President Bush
* Increased Funding for Science Education
* Court Ruling May Effect Mining on Public Lands
* EPA Unveils Science Inventory Database
* EPA Accepting Comments on HazWaste Certification
* Mercury Hearing Held in House
* Timely Solar Storm May Save NOAA Center
* Administration Settles Climate Change Lawsuit
* Texas School Board Approves Textbooks
* DOE Basic Science Research Not Visible
* Memo Distributed on Lobbying Guidelines for AGI & Member Societies
* List of Key Federal Register Notices
* New Material on Web Site

*** Energy Bill's Fate Remains Undecided ***

As reported in an AGI Special Update, more than two months of closed-door negotiations between the House and Senate produced legislation that quickly passed the House on November 18th and seemed headed for a quick trip to the president's desk. In the Senate, Midwestern Democrats were poised to vote with the Republican majority thanks to large ethanol subsidies in the bill that benefited farmers. But the momentum vanished almost overnight, when an unlikely coalition of Republican senators from New England and the rest of the Senate's Democrats refused to end debate on the bill and take a final vote. Some of these legislators like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) had concerns about the budgetary implications of passing a $31 billion bill. The New Englanders objected to a provision that would shield manufacturers of the gasoline additive MTBE, which has been linked to groundwater contamination, from liability.

The fractious nature of this debate was indicative of the bill itself, which included many singular provisions to garner support of a region or, in several cases, one lawmaker. But even with these "sweeteners" the bill could not get through the Senate. With freezing temperatures absent throughout much of the country and no spike in fuel prices, there is no public outcry to pass energy legislation. Instead, the bill will stay exactly where it is . teetering on the edge between passage and ultimate defeat until sometime early next year when Congress resumes and the Senate again begins to talk about the merits of the bill. Additional information about geoscience provisions in the energy bill can be found in the Special Update at

*** Omnibus Spending Bill Unveiled, Awaits Final Passage ***

Also on the list of unfinished business is the remainder of the federal budget for fiscal year (FY) 2004, which began on October 1st. Congressional leaders had hoped to wrap up work on the government's financial plan before Thanksgiving, but prolonged fights over non-budgetary issues such as overtime pay guidelines, outsourcing of federal work and new Federal Communications Commission rules for TV station ownership forced House leaders to schedule a final vote for December 8th. The Senate plans to act the next day; however, a Washington Post editorial penned on December 1st cautioned that this process may "lumber" into mid-January.

Seven appropriations bills are still outstanding: Agriculture, Commerce-State-Justice, District of Columbia, Labor/Health and Human Services, VA/HUD and Independent Agencies, Foreign Operations and Transportation-Treasury. They have been combined into an 'omnibus' bill for consideration by the House and Senate. Lawmakers have also passed a Continuing Resolution (CR) in order to keep the government running at FY 2003 levels through January 31st, 2004 and allow plenty of time to craft a strategy to pass the bill.

The major details of the omnibus package have been released by the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. All the numbers reported are subject to at least a 0.59% across-the-board cut, which could increase in final negotiations. The National Science Foundation (NSF) would receive $5.6 billion, a $300 million increase over last year. That translates to a $220 million increase for Research and Related Activities, a $27 million increase for the Geosciences Directorate and a $25 million increase for the Office of Polar Programs. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Account is slated to receive almost $156 million, a $7 million increase over FY03. Earthscope is slated to be funded at $43.5 million, which is slightly less than the $45 million request but in line with House recommendations. Due to the Senate's policy of "no new starts" this year, neither the National Ecological Observation Network nor the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program's ship was funded.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would receive $3.7 billion. Within that figure, $400 million has been set aside for Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. NASA funding is equal to the President's request of $15.5 billion, $80 million above last year. And the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been allocated $8.4 billion, $375 more than the President requested but $74 million below last year's funding level.

More information will become available in the next few days about specific accounts funded within these Agency budgets. The Government Affairs Program will sift through the Conference Report and send out a Special Update with the specific information important to the earth science community. The Appropriations section of the GAP website will also be updated with this information. It can be found at

*** DOE's FY 2004 Spending Bill Complete ***

The Energy and Water Conference Committee completed its work reconciling the differing House and Senate appropriations bills in early November. On November 17th the House passed the conference report by a vote of 387-36. On the same day, the Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent, sending it to President Bush for his signature. Generally, the final allocation meets the Administration's budget request for the Department of Energy (DOE), with adjustments for some programs. Total funding for DOE is $22 billion, an increase of almost $1.2 billion over fiscal year 2003 and $147 million below the budget request.

Within the energy supply account, renewable energy resource R&D will receive $344 million, which is $76 million less than last year and $100 million below the budget request. Much of the reduction is the result of the transfer of activities to the new Electricity Transmission and Distribution program. Geothermal technology development will receive $1 million more than the requested $25 million, but that is still a decrease of $4 million from last year. The conferees direct DOE to continue funding university research and Geopowering the West at the FY 2003 funding level. Hydropower will be funded at $5 million, the same as last year's allocation.

DOE's Environmental Management (EM) program includes defense and non-defense environmental cleanup as well as activities related to uranium facilities. In total, the budget request was $7 billion for these programs. The final bill will provide a total of $6.63 billion for defense environmental cleanup, which is $174 million less than the budget request. The non-defense programs get a boost over last year and are slated to receive nearly $503 million in FY04. This reflects a trend in EM programs toward tackling sites that can be cleaned up and put on a path to long-term stewardship first, then wrestling with sites that require long-term clean-up or isolation solutions.

DOE's Office of Science is funded at $3.45 billion for FY04, an increase of $140 million over the budget request and $156 million above FY 2003. Funding for basic energy sciences is $1.0 billion, slightly above the request. The chemical sciences, geosciences and energy biosciences account received $4 million more than last year, bringing the account up to the President's request of $221 million.

One of the major sticking points during conference negotiations was the major differences between the House and Senate bills regarding high-level nuclear waste disposal. The conferees provided a total of $580 million for nuclear waste disposal, $11 million below the budget request and $123 million more than fiscal year 2003. Despite the contentious funding debate (see AGI's October 2003 Monthly Review), no explanatory language about this funding level were included in the conference report.

Also funded through the Energy and Water Appropriations bill is the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Bureau of Reclamation at the Department of the Interior. Funding for the Army Corps would come to $4.57 billion. The Bureau of Reclamation would receive $948 million, an increase of $70 million over the President's request and $13 million above FY 2003 funding. More at

*** FY 2004 Interior Spending Bill Signed By President Bush ***

President Bush signed the FY 2004 Interior and Related Appropriations bill into law (Public Law 108-108) on November 10th. The House approved the final conference report on the bill by a close 216-205 vote on October 30th. The Senate also approved the measure in an 87-2 vote on November 3rd. Information on how specific accounts fared in this process can be found in AGI's October 2003 Monthly Review or on AGI's web site at

*** Increased Funding for Science Education ***

Federal investment in education was a priority again this budget year, and the Math and Science Partnerships programs fared well. Within the Department of Education, this program was funded at $150 million, a 50% increase over last year. It received $140 million within the National Science Foundation (NSF), a $12 million boost over FY 2003 funding.

On the heels of the second round of grants being awarded for NSF's Math and Science Partnership program, the House Science Subcommittee on Research held an oversight hearing on October 30th where schoolteachers and university representatives praised the new federal education program as a unique "opportunity to bring together partners across the community," to improve math and science education. To learn more about these Partnership programs, see

*** Court Ruling May Effect Mining on Public Lands ***

The United States District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision on November 18th stating that the Interior Department may not issue permits to hard-rock mines if they degrade or damage public lands, even if the mines are deemed to be essential. The Court found that Interior's top lawyer in 2001 "misconstrued the clear mandate" of the Federal Land Policy and Management Act of 1976 (FLPMA); however, the Court also noted that the plaintiffs failed to prove that the current regulations fail to prevent significant degradation of public lands, leaving ample room for the Department or the National Mining Association to appeal the decision to the Circuit Court. The decision was posted on-line at More on mining policy at

*** EPA Unveils Science Inventory Database ***

For years the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has used an agency-wide Science Inventory to catalog current and past science products and activities. On November 18th, the Agency unveiled a searchable, Web-based format for the database that the public can use. The EPA plans to update the inventory as new information becomes available, making it a dynamic tool for planning, managing and enabling collaboration on environmentally related science that supports EPA's overall mission. The Science Inventory is on the Internet at Users can conduct keyword searches or can search within nine cross-cutting science topics: aging initiative, contaminated sediments, ecological assessment tools, genomics, tribal science, children's health, cumulative risk, environmental justice and non-indigenous species.

EPA also announced a new Human Health Research Strategy in early November. This plan will further the Agency's mission to protect public health by identifying and prioritizing the scientific research that will be conducted over the next 5 to 10 years in the fields of biology, ecology and other environmental sciences. The Strategy is available at

*** EPA Accepting Comments on HazWaste Certification ***

Until December 15th, 2003 the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will be accepting comments about professional certifications as related to hazardous waste facilities, specifically who may certify such facilities. At issue is whether only professional engineers can make these certifications or if Certified Hazardous Materials Managers or Professional Geologists are capable of doing so. If you would like to read the comment solicitation in its entirety, log onto The request for comments was published in the October 29th, 2003 Federal Register, page 61662.

*** Mercury Hearing Held in House ***

On November 5th, the House Science Subcommittee on Environment Technology and Standards held a hearing about the state of science and technology surrounding the mercury debate. The panel heard from academic, government, industry and environmental experts about the ongoing regulatory and legislative efforts to control mercury emissions from the utility industry. The testimony led members to conclude that there is "compelling evidence" of the health effects of mercury contamination. More information about the hearing is available at AGI's coverage of mercury policy can be found at

*** Timely Solar Storm May Save NOAA Center ***

Our local star obtained the attention of policymakers on Capitol Hill with a huge magnetic solar storm that arrived at Earth in late October and lasted into November. This event served to underscore the importance and vital work being performed by the Space Environment Center (SEC), an agency that has been under attack this year as lawmakers look to trim spending anywhere possible. A Senate Appropriations Subcommittee report called for the activities performed by the SEC to be transferred to other government agencies. In a hearing, the Science Committee learned about SEC, the services it provides and its collaborations with other Federal agencies. Following the hearing, Subcommittee Chairman Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) said, "It is clear from today's hearing that (1) the services that NOAA's SEC provides are unique and vital to our nation and its citizens every day, much more so than people realize; and (2) it is neither in the mandate nor the mission of the Air Force or NASA to take on these crucial responsibilities. Such a transfer would require significant cost expenditures above the $8 million sought by the Administration for the SEC. It would also undoubtedly cause a temporary to intermediate loss of space-weather forecasting services at a time when many critical U.S. industries and the public increasingly rely on these forecasts every day." Ehlers continued, "I believe this is a case of if it isn't broke then we shouldn't try to fix it." He further vowed to share these views with members of the Appropriations Subcommittee. To learn more about this agency, services it provides or the hearing, see

*** Administration Settles Climate Change Lawsuit ***

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), a free-market advocacy group, announced details of an agreement with the White House on November 6th, wherein CEI will drop its lawsuit against the Bush Administration. At issue was a Clinton-era federal report on climate change that included information not produced by federal agencies. Instead, it was written by a third party not bound by the federal Data Quality Act. CEI's chief complaint was that the computer models used in the study were unreliable and revised past climate history to incorrectly portray the 20th century as unusual. Under the deal, a disclaimer was added to the report. CEI issued a press release about the agreement that is on-line at,03740.cfm. More on climate change policy issues at

*** Texas School Board Approves Textbooks ***

On November 7th, the Texas Board of Education voted 11-4 in favor of biology textbooks being considered for adoption. Anti-evolution groups had sought to have the Board reject these textbooks on the basis of what they claimed were factual errors. The Board's action clears the way for local school districts to adopt these textbooks and receive reimbursement from the state. In October, AGI partnered with the American Institute of Physics, the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the American Astronomical Society to author a statement urging the Board to resist pressure to undermine the treatment of evolution in biology textbooks now under consideration for adoption. Each organization reached out to society members and scientists in Texas and urged them to sign on to the document. On November 1st, the statement was sent to the Texas Board of Education with signatures from over 550 Texas scientists and educators. To view the full statement and list of signatories, see

*** DOE Basic Science Research Not Visible ***

The Department of Energy (DOE) is seeking public comments on a report titled, "Critical Choices: Science, Energy, and Security." Issued by a 14-member panel that DOE Secretary Abraham created last December, the report blasts the Department for being "badly managed, excessively fragmented, and politically unresponsive." It recommends DOE install an undersecretary for science, make greater use of peer review in selecting research projects and make a more concerted effort to repair facilities at the national laboratories. For a copy of the report, see

*** AGI Memo on Lobbying Guidelines Distributed ***

Earlier this week, the AGI Government Affairs Program distributed a memo to the leadership of AGI's Member Societies with basic lobbying guidelines, including limitations placed on lobbying by the Internal Revenue Service, congressional registration requirements, and limits on gifts to Congress and the executive branch. The legal framework has not changed much in the intervening years since the original memo, and the basic conclusion remains the same: all of AGI's member societies can engage in and support more lobbying than they do now. The AGI memo is available at

On November 30th, the Washington Post recently ran an excellent article on the subject of non-profit lobbying, entitled "The lobbying law is more charitable than they think." The article will be available for free on the Post's web site ( for the next 11 days.

*** List of Key Federal Register Notices ***

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 Information on submitting comments and reading announcements are also available online at

Department of Energy (DOE), National Energy Technology Laboratory Notice of Availability of Oil Exploration and Production Program Solicitation. Volume 68, Number 214 (5th November 2003): pp. 62567-62569

Department of Energy (DOE), Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Notice of Open Meeting. Wednesday, December 3rd, 2003; 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. Loews L'Enfant Plaza Hotel, 480 L'Enfant Plaza, SW., Washington DC 20024. Volume 68, Number 220 (14th November 2003): pp. 64615

NASA Advisory Council, Biological and Physical Research Advisory Committee Meeting. Monday, December 8th, 2003, from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. Holiday Inn Washington Capitol, 550 C Street SW., Washington, DC 20024. Volume 68, Number 221 (17th November 2003): pp. 64917-64918

Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Management Site-Specific Advisory Board, Rocky Flats. Thursday, December 4th, 2003; 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. College Hill Library, Room L107, Front Range Community College, 3705 West 112th Avenue, Westminster, CO. Volume 68, Number 222 (18th November 2003): pp. 65050

Office of Science and Technology Policy, Meeting of the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. December 2nd, 2003, Washington, DC. Monticello Ballroom (lower level) of the Wyndham Washington Hotel, 1400 M Street, NW, Washington, DC 20005. Volume 68, Number 222 (18th November 2003): pp. 65070

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT) Superfund Subcommittee Meeting. December 9th, 2003 from 8:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and December 10, 2003 from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Hilton Crystal City at National Airport, 2399 Jefferson Davis Highway, Arlington, VA 22202. Volume 68, Number 223 (19th November 2003): pp. 65277-65278

Department of Energy (DOE), Energy Information Administration Solicitation of Comments on the Policy for Statistical Information Based on Petroleum Supply Reporting System Survey Data. Comments must be filed by December 22nd, 2003 at Petroleum Division, EI-42, Forrestal Building, U.S. Department of Energy, 1000 Independence Ave., SW., Washington, DC 20585. Volume 68, Number 224 (20th November 2003): pp. 65452-65454

Department of Energy (DOE), Enhanced (Engineered) Geothermal Systems (EGS) Research and Development (R&D) notice of issuance of funding. Volume 68, Number 226 (24th November 2003): pp. 65895

*** New Material on Web Site ***

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

* Energy Policy Overview (11-21-03) * Special Update: Final Energy Bill Passes House, Close to Senate Approval (11-20-03) * Mining Policy (11-20-03) * Asbestos Policy (11-20-03) * FY2004 Energy and Water (DOE) Appropriations (11-19-03) * FY2004 VA/HUD (NSF, NASA, EPA) Appropriations (11-19-03) * Clean Air Issues: Clear Skies Initiative/Multi-pollutant Legislation (11-18-03) * Climate Change Policy Overview (11-13-03) * High-Level Nuclear Waste Legislation (11-12-03) * Mercury Policy (11-12-03) * FY2004 Interior (USGS, DOE Fossil Energy) Appropriations (11-11-03) * Summary of Hearings on Clean Air Issues (11-11-03) * State Challenges to the Teaching of Evolution (11-10-03) * Climate Change Hearing Summaries (11-7-03) * Federal Science Education Policy (11-5-03) * High Plains Aquifer Legislation (11-5-03) * Geotimes Political Scene: Our Public Lands (by AGI 2002-2003 Congressional Science Fellow Larry Kennedy; 11/03)

Monthly review prepared by Emily M. Lehr and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program.

Sources: Competitive Enterprise Institute, Department of Energy website, E & E Daily, Environmental Protection Agency website, Greenwire, House Science Committee website, National Mining Association, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration website, NOAA Space Environment Center, THOMAS: Library of Congress, Washington Post.



*** Final Energy Bill Passes House, Close to Senate Approval ***

IN A NUTSHELL: This Monday, a House-Senate conference committee completed work on a 1,200-page compromise bill that quickly passed the House the following day and awaits Senate action. President Bush has already indicated that he will sign the measure if presented to him. Details of the compromise were released on Friday after 71 days of closed-door negotiations that excluded Democrats but exposed internal rifts among House and Senate Republicans. The final bill does not reflect a comprehensive national energy policy . indeed it is in some sense more notable for what it does not include than what it does . but its many provisions address a wide variety of energy-related issues important to the many constituencies that senators and representatives must serve. And a number of the provisions will affect geoscientists.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

The House passed its version of comprehensive energy legislation, H.R. 6, in April of this year. The closely divided Senate spent the last week of July debating their version, S. 14, but that debate quickly became bogged down by nearly 400 proposed amendments and a partisan fight over President Bush's judicial nominees. Rather than leave town for the August recess without a vote, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) and Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) brokered a deal under which this year's bill was traded for last year's Democrat-sponsored bill (S. 517 in the 107th Congress). That "ticket to conference" bill passed 84-14 and set the stage for a conference committee of House and Senate members to iron out differences and come up with a final version.

Alas for Senate Democrats, the passage of their bill also marked the end of bipartisan involvement in the process. Republican conferees spent 71 days negotiating over a wide variety of competing provisions in the two different versions passed by the House and Senate (with Senate Republicans working from the provisions in S. 14). They emerged late on Friday, November 14th, with a nearly 1,200-page conference report (H. Rpt. 108-375) describing the final bill. Democrats had their first chance to see the report over the weekend, having been shut out of negotiations that had instead showcased the extent to which competing interests and ideologies exist within the majority party. Delays resulted from particularly lively disagreements between the chairmen of the House and Senate tax-writing committees, who could not agree on the scope of tax incentives included within the bill as they sought to satisfy their own constituencies.

The conference committee approved the measure on Monday, November 17th, and the House passed it the following day by a 246-180 vote. Senate debate has already begun and could wrap up by the end of this week.

The final bill reflects a whirlwind of conflicting political, regional and economic pressures. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Pete Domenici (R-NM), who was in charge of the conference process, told the Washington Post: "We had to write one law for the country, a country with many strong regional and ideological differences on energy policy. We can't do what can't be done." Rather than a single national strategy, the final package contains dozens of pieces that reflect diverse visions of the nation's energy future and, perhaps more importantly, enough "sweeteners" to discourage a Senate filibuster.

*** Arctic Gas, Not Arctic Oil ***

In many ways, what is most notable about the bill is what it does not include. When President Bush first called for a national energy policy three years ago, a key goal was to reverse the increasing U.S. dependence on crude oil imports. But the final bill does not include some of the key actions that were supposed to help achieve that goal. First and foremost, exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was left out of the bill. Indeed, opposition to oil and gas drilling was so strong that a provision was dropped that would have accounted for and taken stock of offshore energy resources in areas currently under moratorium. The conference report does provide federal financial support for a proposed $20 billion trans-Alaska gas pipeline . a major potential source of new natural gas supplies. But these incentives may not be enough to get the project off the ground, and some analysts predict that the gas will not make it to the lower 48 states for at least 10 m ore years, regardless of the financial scenario.

*** Oil and Gas Research and Production Incentives ***

Although the bill does not mention ANWR, there are plenty of other provisions that deal with encouraging domestic oil and gas production. The bill requires the Secretary of Energy to research, develop, demonstrate and find commercial applications for oil and gas exploration and production including gas hydrates, reservoir life and extension, transportation and distribution infrastructure, ultraclean fuels, heavy oil and oil shale, related environmental research and compressed natural gas marine transport.

Several new clauses were included in the conference report that have not been seen since last year. There are new marginal property production tax incentives for oil and gas wells that produce an average of less than 25 barrels per day. This is in addition to the royalty relief those properties also receive. The bill also includes an increased tax credit for coalbed methane extraction.

The bill establishes a 10-year, $2-billion R&D program for obtaining natural gas from ultra-deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico and from unconventional sources onshore such as coalbed methane. Envisioned as an academic-industry-government partnership, the program will, according to sponsor Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), "go a long way toward filling the projected gap in natural gas production and consumption that will exist between now and 2015."

Many bill provisions are highly specific, reflecting the interests that were brought to bear on the process. For example, Texans successfully included a "Sense of the Congress" resolution that addresses oil and gas development under Padre Island National Seashore. As with some other units of the National Park System, Padre Island was set aside with an understanding that subsurface resource could continue to be developed in an environmentally sensitive manner. The resolution underscores the National Park Service's obligation to allow such development, stating: "any regulation of the development of oil, gas, or other minerals in the subsurface of the lands constituting Padre Island National Seashore should be made as if those lands retained the status that the lands had" before the park was created in 1962.

*** Geoscience Data Preservation ***

One provision in the final energy package with a direct impact on geoscientists is the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program Act. This provision authorizes a cooperative program between state geological surveys and the Department of the Interior to archive geologic, geophysical, and engineering data, maps, well logs, and samples; provide a national catalog of such archival material; and provide technical and financial assistance related to the archival material. The legislation authorizes up to $30 million per year for this effort, but as is the case with nearly all other programs created in the bill, such spending levels will only come to pass if the money is provided in annual appropriations bills.

*** Renewable/Alternative Energy and Energy Efficiency ***

The final bill does not include a renewable portfolio standards provision, which would have required large utilities to steadily increase their use of energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar power. The bill also does not require improvements in the fuel efficiency of cars and trucks (the Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards). Instead, the final legislation mandates that any future fuel efficiency requirements take into consideration the impact on auto industry jobs, among other new factors, before requiring a higher performance standard.

Tax incentives to promote wind power generators, energy-efficient homes and hybrid passenger cars were among the conservation "sweeteners" added to the bill. Also included were funds to power government buildings by state-of-the-art photovoltaic cells, incentives for developing new energy-efficient traffic lights and $6.2 million to promote bicycles as a way to conserve energy. Hill leaders are touting these and other measures saying they will save enough electricity between now and 2020 to make it unnecessary to build 130 new 300-megawatt power plants. Senate Democrats countered in their "Parade of Horribles" press release by pointing out that these energy savings only add up to about three months of U.S. energy consumption.

Geothermal energy will get a small boost in the form of royalty relief and a slightly streamlined permitting process. Congress will also require the Departments of Agriculture and the Interior to identify areas with geothermal potential on federal lands, review management plans and consider leasing these lands. To carry out this provision, the departments must establish an administrative procedure for processing the lease applications and a joint database retrieval system for tracking lease and permit applications in order to minimize the problems that arise because different departments oversee different federal lands.

Research-related provisions in the bill provide DOE's Office of Science with a 65 percent increase over the next five years. Although dominated by physics, the office does support fundamental geoscience research as well.

*** Clean Coal and Carbon Sequestration ***

Rather than address climate change head-on with greenhouse gas reporting provisions as Democrats had sought in S. 517, the conferees instead decided to fund additional research into coal mining and coal-related technologies . placing special emphasis on research and development that explores the "minimization of contaminants in mined coal that contribute to environmental concerns." The Secretary of Energy was further directed to find innovations for existing power plants, research the integrated gasification combined cycle, advanced combustion systems, turbines for synthesis gas derived from coal, carbon capture and sequestration and joint project permeability enhancement in coals for natural gas production and carbon dioxide sequestration.

*** MTBE and Ethanol ***

In earlier versions of the energy bill, the Senate sought to ban the fuel additive MTBE and replace it with ethanol as a means of achieving Clean Air Act mandates. Environment and Energy Daily reported that the ethanol provisions in the energy bill, a major sticking point during conference negotiations, add 5 billion gallons per year of ethanol and other renewable-based fuel to the nation's gasoline supplies, starting at 3.1 billion gallons in 2005 and ramping up to 5 billion gallons by 2012. At the same time, the bill phases out MTBE use by 2015 and authorizes funds for producers making the transition from MTBE to other additives. On the surface it appears the Senate succeeded in turning out MTBE; however, bill language allows governors to override the phase out for their individual states and the president to do so for the nation. There is also a provision that grants liability protection to MTBE producers from September 5th, 2003. This would nullify at least one lawsu it that was recently filed in New Hampshire.

*** Reforming the Electricity Grid ***

In the wake of the August 14th power blackout, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has been trying to create independent regional organizations to oversee transmission. The conference report effectively negates those efforts and instead creates mandatory reliability rules for the nation's electricity transmission networks. It also gives federal regulators the right to use their authority to create rights-of-way for new transmission lines needed to relieve congestion.

Also in the electricity arena, the legislation's most far-reaching feature may be the repeal of the 1935 Public Utility Holding Company Act, which limits utility industry mergers. The act's repeal is a top priority for the electric power industry and the Bush administration. The Washington Post predicted that "if the bill passes, a wave of mergers and acquisitions could follow."

The nuclear power industry, which has not received a new plant license since 1978, will receive a boost. The bill provides more than $100 million a year in production tax credits for about a half-dozen new plants using advanced designs. Looking to the future, the bill also authorizes US participation in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor project, which is a step down the road toward fusion energy.

*** A Jobs Bill ***

Shortly after releasing the conference report for lawmakers to review, Senator Domenici released a statement calling the Energy Policy Act of 2003 a "jobs bill" that will create nearly 1 million new jobs. Specifically he touted that the construction of the Alaska Natural Gas Pipeline would create more than 400,000 direct and indirect new jobs. The substantial investment in clean coal technology will garner 62,000 jobs. The mandated natural gas and oil-related research will create "10,000 research jobs in the fields of math, engineering, physics and science at an estimated annual salary of $125,000." Further, incentives for geothermal energy will create between 750 and 1,000 direct jobs and even more indirect jobs. This jobs-based approach is a significant departure from the original rationale behind developing a coherent national energy strategy, but it underscores the economic concerns that are certain to dominate in the coming election year.

With the House having already passed the final bill, it awaits only Senate action before heading to President Bush, who has indicated that he will sign it into law. A number of Democratic senators have already signaled that they would support the bill . at least 9 are needed to close off debate should a senator threaten to filibuster, assuming that all 51 Republicans vote in favor of the bill. But such party unity is in no way guaranteed with at least 6 Republican senators indicating concerns, particularly regarding MTBE liability. Ultimately, senators must decide . in the words of Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND), who supports the bill because of its ethanol subsidies . "Is there more good than bad here?"

Update prepared by Emily M. Lehr and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

The Conference Report is available in PDF format at:

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee majority press releases:

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee minority press releases:

Sources: Environment & Energy Daily, Greenwire, House Science Committee, L.A. Times, New York Times, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website, Thomas legislative database, and Washington Post.



On Saturday, January 17th , the USGS and Caltech will hold a public event to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Northridge earthquake. This event will showcase innovations by Caltech and USGS seismologists in the fields of earthquake research, technology, engineering and safety since the Northridge earthquake.

The Northridge Earthquake 10th Anniversary Event will allow the public a first-hand look at earthquake research and technology. There will be a variety of speakers in Beckman Auditorium from 9 AM to 3 PM. Caltech and the USGS will have many informative exhibits highlighting on-going earthquake research and technology, along with displays from other participating organizations such as the Red Cross, the Seismic Safety Commission, Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC), and the Office of Emergency Services (OES). There will also be hands-on activities and movie viewing opportunities for kids and adults. This is just one more way that the USGS and Caltech are learning from the past and planning for the future.

The event is free and begins at 9 AM at Beckman Auditorium on the Caltech campus in Pasadena. There is limited free parking available.

For more information see or call 626-583-6801 or 626-395-6318



You are invited to attend the FORWARD to Professorship Workshop, sponsored in part by a grant for the National Science Foundation. The Workshop will be held May 19th to 24th, 2004 in Washington DC.

For additional information visit

FORWARD in SEM: Focus on Reaching Women for Academics, Research and is a joint program of the George Washington and Gallaudet Universities, and is funded by a National Science Foundation ADVANCE leadership award. This workshop is provided for women and minorities who may be considering, or are currently in, a tenure track position in science, engineering or mathematics. The 2 1/2 day workshop will focus on skills, strategies and "insider information" necessary to obtain a tenure-track position, to succeed in one and advance to other positions of leadership. This is also an opportunity to network and meet peers.

If you have questions, please contact Yell Inverso at

Yell Inverso, B.S.
Gallaudet University
Graduate Research Assistant



The 2004 Presidential Awards for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring program solicitation, NSF 04-525, is available electronically via NSF's Online Document System at

The deadline for nomination submittals is March 2nd, 2004 (First Tuesday in March).



University of Colorado

The Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science, and the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado, Boulder invite applications for a half-time tenure-track faculty position at the assistant or associate professor level in atmospheric science. The faculty member also will be a Research Associate in LASP half-time. A Ph.D. is required and post-doctoral experience is preferred. We are seeking an applicant who will establish a vigorous and innovative research program, and who will contribute to the departmental teaching program at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The primary emphasis will be on remote sensing related to the Earth's radiation budget, clouds or aerosols. Applicants should submit a curriculum vita, a description of research and teaching interests, and arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to:

Prof. Owen B. Toon, Chair
Search Committee
Program in Atmospheric and Oceanic Science
311 UCB
University of Colorado
Boulder, CO 80309-0311.

Review of applications will begin on Jan 15th, 2004 and will continue until the position is filled. The University of Colorado at Boulder is committed to diversity and equality in education and employment.

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University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Martin Fellowships in Geological Sciences

The Department of Geological Sciences at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is seeking outstanding M.S. and Ph.D. candidates to pursue research in the broad field of geological sciences. The department has strengths in marine/coastal geology and geochemistry, isotope geochemistry, quantitative paleoclimatology, seismology, tectonics, structural geology, surface processes, and paleontology; for more detail please visit our website ( All applicants for graduate study will be considered for Martin Fellowships. These endowed fellowships will include a stipend of $18,500/year (Ph.D.) and $16,500 (M.S.), plus tuition, health insurance, and fees. The application deadline for fall 2004 is January 1st, 2004.

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Indiana University, College of Arts and Sciences

The Department of Geological Sciences seeks applications and nominations to fill two to three tenure-track positions. Up to two may fill endowed positions. Our new colleagues will be expected to develop and maintain an internationally recognized research program and to participate in teaching and other academic activities appropriate for faculty members at Indiana University.

We seek a person in any area of sedimentary geology who will complement the Department’s recent expansion in hydrogeology, basin analysis, clay mineralogy, sedimentary geochemistry, and mudstone sedimentology. Exceptional individuals with an outstanding record of scholarly achievement may be considered for the Robert R. Shrock Endowed Position in Sedimentary Geology. Questions concerning this position should be addressed to Professor Mark Person, (812-855-4404; email:

We invite applications in all areas of Solid Earth Geophysics. We seek an individual who will interact with and effectively complement existing research programs in the Department of Geological Sciences. Preference will be given to candidates whose research contributes to current major national emphasis areas in geophysics. Outstanding candidates with an appropriate background in applied and exploration geophysics may qualify for the Judson Mead Endowed Position. Questions concerning this position should be addressed to Professor Gary Pavlis (812-855-5141; email:

In Biogeochemistry we seek a colleague with research interests in geomicrobiology and/or paleoclimatology engaged in the study of multidisciplinary linkages between the life sciences and the geosciences. Our shared laboratory instrumentation includes state-of-the-art analytical equipment and experienced technical support personnel. The appointee will participate in the design of our custom laboratory space within a new state-funded building. Questions concerning this position should be addressed to Professor Simon Brassell (812-855-3786; email

Applicants should send a statement of research and teaching interests, current resume, reprints as appropriate, and names and addresses of three references (including email address) to:

Chair, Department of Geological Sciences, Indiana University
1001 East Tenth Street
Bloomington, IN 47405-1405

The review of applications will begin on January 1st, 2004 and will continue until the positions are filled. Indiana University, as an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer, encourages applications from women and minorities.

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University of Texas at El Paso
Assistant Professor: Geological Sciences-Paleoclimatology and Environmental Change

DESCRIPTION: The Department of Geological Sciences and the Center for Environmental Resource Management at the University of Texas at El Paso invite applications for a tenure-track faculty position at the assistant professor level beginning August 2004. Located on the border with Mexico in a desert-mountain setting, UTEP attracts students from throughout the country and the world to its graduate programs. The Department of Geological Sciences and the Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM) support undergraduate, M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in Geological Sciences as well as interdisciplinary undergraduate, M.S., and Ph.D. programs in Environmental Science. Additional funding and research opportunities in environmental disciplines come from two university research centers: CERM, and the Pan-American Center for Earth and Environmental Science. The Department is housed in a spacious building that contains extensive analytical and computing facilities. In addition, th e collaborative research environment on our campus affords easy access to a superb variety of analytical equipment in other departments. For more information about our activities and facilities, visit our web sites at <> and <>

QUALIFICATIONS REQUIRED: The candidate must have a Ph.D. degree at the time of appointment. We seek applicants with research and teaching interests that will augment our programs in environmental science and engineering. Research specialties might include, but are not limited to environmental geology, soil science, stable isotope geochemistry, and surface processes. We are particularly interested in candidates who seek to integrate the record of the past with current questions in environmental research. The successful candidate will be expected to develop a vigorous, well-funded research program, and to teach introductory courses in his/her specialty.

APPLICATION PROCEDURE: Applicants should send a CV, a short description of teaching and research interests and the names of three people willing to provide professional references to:

Kate C. Miller, Chair
Department of Geological Sciences,
University of Texas at El Paso
El Paso, TX 79968-0555
Phone: 915-747-5424
Fax 915-747-5073

We will begin reviewing applications on February 1st, 2004, and will accept applications until the position is filled.

The University of Texas at El Paso does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, veteran's status or sexual orientation in employment or the provision of services.


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