For the second consecutive year, earth scientists gathered in Washington, D.C., in September for geosciences Congressional Visits Day (geoCVD).
The event was developed and hosted by the Geoscience Working Group, a coalition of American Geological Institute (AGI) member societies with representatives in Washington, D.C. The group includes AGI, AAPG, the American Geophysical Union, the Geological Society of America, the Seismological Society of America and the soil science societies. It also includes the American Institute of Professional Geologists, the Association of Engineering Geologists and the Association of Women Geoscientists, which do not have DC representatives.
Fifty-six geoscientists attended this geoCVD, representing 23 states and Puerto Rico.
The AAPG delegation was coordinated by Deborah Sacrey, chair of the Washington Advocacy Group. It included many AAPG leaders: AAPG President John Lorenz, DPA President Paul Britt, AAPG Outreach Committee Manager Chuck Caughey, GEO-DC Governance Board members Bill Goff, David Hawk (also chair-elect of the House of Delegates) and Jim Hill, DEG President Mike Jacobs and GEO-DC Governance Board chair Dan Smith.
Don Juckett and I represented GEO-DC.
The AAPG group met together on the morning of Sept. 15 at the Army and Navy Club of Washington, D.C., for an overview of the two-day event, to prepare for our upcoming visits to Capitol Hill and for a briefing on current policy issues under consideration by lawmakers.
After the briefing we joined other geoCVD participants at the American Geophysical Union headquarters building for an introductory workshop that included policy presentations by representatives from federal agencies and congressional offices. The workshop also included time to prepare and practice for the visits scheduled the following day.
The group spent all of Sept. 16 on Capitol Hill meeting with lawmakers and their staff. Our goal with these meetings is for each participant to meet with his/her representative and senators or their staff.
Because of the many groups on Capitol Hill on a given day, our meetings are typically with staff. That is just as effective – perhaps more so – than meeting with the legislators, because the work gets done at the staff level.
During our meetings on the Hill we carry two complementary messages: The first is the general geoCVD message, and the second is a specific AAPG message.
- The geoCVD message was about the need to support federal geosciences research and development programs. We discussed how steady federal investments in earth and space science R&D maintain competitiveness, enable the reliable delivery of energy resources, environmental protection and a skilled geoscience work force.
- The handout specifically mentioned geoscience R&D programs at the National Science Foundation, U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy, National Atmospheric and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology.
- For AAPG’s themes at geoCVD, Deborah Sacrey, Dan Smith and DPA Government Affairs chair Carl Smith decided to address two broad topics: the energy opportunities and challenges we face in the United States and globally, and global climate change. The intent was to help policy makers and staff better frame the issues of energy and climate change, attempting to get beyond sound bite responses to a more fundamental understanding of the issues.
- The handout developed for these themes drew from AAPG statements on these and related issues, such as access and tax policy. The AAPG statements are reviewed and approved regularly by the AAPG Executive Committee and represent the Association’s current views on a host of topics.
The AAPG delegation had a total of 20 meetings over the course of two days. Thanks to all who took the time to participate in geoCVD 2009.
Planning already is under way for the next AAPG Congressional Visits Day. If you have thought about attending, mark your calendar for May 10-12, 2010.
The event is reserved exclusively for AAPG members and will feature both visits with federal agencies and with legislators and staff. Over the course of two and a half days we will introduce you to the policy making process, talk about policy issues that affect you, and give you an opportunity to make your voice heard with lawmakers and their staff.
For information, please visit the GEO-DC Web page and click on the CVD link.
Finally, an update and word of thanks to all of you who took the time to provide the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) with your views on the draft proposed 2010-2015 Five-Year Program (September 2009 Washington Watch).
On Sept. 22, the MMS reported that it had received more than 450,000 comments on the program. It is now tabulating and analyzing the comments.
Initial estimates suggest that up to 325,000 of those comments are supportive of OCS development. The Consumer Energy Alliance alone helped deliver 150,000 supportive comments.
If the estimates prove correct, these are impressive numbers.
This process is far from over, but it does demonstrate the importance of action by our members, acting as citizens to influence public policy. Creating opportunities for you to do that is a principal function of GEO-DC – so thank you to all who responded.
And if you wanted to respond but didn’t, stay tuned: Our work here is not finished, and more opportunities for involvement are on the horizon.