policy

Senate committee approves Land and Water Conservation Fund reauthorization

Geological Surveys Database

On October 2, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing on legislation that would permanently reauthorize the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Although Congress was unable to pass a reauthorization bill for the LCWF before its funding expired on September 30, the authority to carry out the program does not expire. The proposed legislation, called the Land and Water Conservation Authorization and Funding Act (S. 569), seeks to provide consistent and reliable authority for and funding of the LCWF.

Lawmakers reauthorize NOAA Marine Debris Program

Atlantic waves

President Trump signed the Save Our Seas Act of 2018 (S. 3508) into law on October 11. The Act reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Debris Program through fiscal year 2022. It also strengthens certain Coast Guard requirements to promote safety in the maritime industry and promotes awareness and implementation of marine technology within the Coast Guard.

OPM announces direct-hire for federal government STEM positions

Study group

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced a new direct hiring authority in various science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) positions in a memorandum issued by acting director Margaret Weichert to all federal agency heads on October 11. Federal agencies can use a direct-hire authority, which expedites the hiring process, to fill vacancies when a critical hiring need or severe shortage of candidates exists.

USGS briefing and report highlight expanded rollout of earthquake early warning system

Cracked road from earthquake

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) held a briefing on October 2 to discuss the ongoing rollout of the ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System. The briefing was held in conjunction with the release of a new USGS report on the status of and implementation plan for ShakeAlert. Effective implementation of the ShakeAlert System can reduce the impact of earthquakes, save lives, and protect property in earthquake-prone areas.

Representative Johnson introduces bill to combat sexual harassment in STEM

U.S. Capitol

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX-30) introduced H.R. 7031, the Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2018, on October 5. H.R. 7031 would expand research efforts to better understand the causes and consequences of sexual harassment affecting individuals in the scientific workforce, including students and trainees, and coordinate federal science agency efforts to reduce the prevalence and negative impacts of sexual harassment. Independent from Representative Johnson’s legislative proposal, several science agencies and organizations have announced new initiatives to combat sexual harassment in science in the last month.

FAA reauthorization bill passes with riders for disaster policy reform, Hurricane Florence funding, and geospatial data

NASA hurricane satellite image

President Trump signed a long-sought reauthorization for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) into law on October 5, which included a major set of reforms to address the rising costs of natural disasters in the U.S. and help communities improve their pre-disaster mitigation and recovery practices. The FAA reauthorization also contained supplemental appropriations for victims of Hurricane Florence and provisions of the Geospatial Data Act.

Geoscience for Community Priorities

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Background:
The geosciences provide valuable knowledge and tools that can be applied to a wide range of community issues, including air and water quality; geologic hazards; the provision of energy, water, and mineral resources; climate and weather impacts; and the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. Geoscientists are commonly keen to see this science put into action, but there are many factors that affect how geoscience is perceived and used in community decision-making. Communities vary tremendously in size, location, culture, history, resources, governance, priorities, and needs. Effective engagement strategies take account of this diversity and employ a range of approaches to support communities and individual decision-makers with science that they can trust, understand, and use.

In this webinar, experts in geoscience communication, education, and engagement discuss a variety of different techniques, media, and principles for more effective communication and collaboration between community leaders, decision makers, and geoscientists. Particular attention is paid to three types of engagement: facilitating community-led solutions by connecting community leaders with geoscientists; incorporating community issues into college-level geoscience curricula; and using online platforms to provide geoscience information, resources, access to expertise, and opportunities for communities facing similar issues to share their experiences.

Our speakers are:

  • Raj Pandya, Ph.D., Director, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union | pdf download icon Slides | YouTube download icon Video
  • Natasha Udu-gama, Ph.D., Senior Specialist, Thriving Earth Exchange, American Geophysical Union | pdf download icon Slides | YouTube download icon Video
  • Sarah Fortner, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Geology & Environmental Science, Wittenberg University | pdf download icon Slides | YouTube download icon Video
  • Cassaundra Rose, Ph.D., Program Manager, Policy and Critical Issues, American Geosciences Institute | pdf download icon Slides | YouTube download icon Video

Thank you to our media partners, the American Geophysical Union, American Institute of Professional Geologists, Association of Women Geoscientists, Council on Undergraduate Research, National Association of Geoscience Teachers, National Association of State Boards of Geology, and the Soil Science Society of America.

Resources to learn more:

Search the Geological Surveys Database for reports and factsheets about geoscience in communities.

Communities and Scientists Working Together

House and Senate committees hold hearings on PFAS chemical exposure

U.S. Capitol

Both the House and Senate held separate subcommittee hearings this month to address the emerging health and environmental impacts of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), a group of manufactured chemicals used in a variety of applications such as firefighting foam and many household products. Prior to the two hearings, Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), the senior senator from Michigan, introduced two bills that seek to address the PFAS crisis.

President approves two minibus appropriations bills, continuing resolution for FY 2019

U.S. Money

President Donald Trump signed two spending bill packages into law this month, allocating funding for parts of the federal government through fiscal year (FY) 2019 and providing short-term funding for other agencies at FY 2018 levels until December 7, giving Congress more time to agree upon the final FY 2019 appropriations for those remaining agencies while avoiding a government shutdown before the start of the fiscal year on October 1.

House passes bill to establish Every Kid Outdoors program

Gold Panning

On September 12, 2018, the House passed the Every Kid Outdoors Act (H.R. 3186) to provide fourth grade students and accompanying individuals with free access to federally managed public lands and waters, including historic sites such as national parks. Introduced by Representative Niki Tsongas (D-MA-3), H.R. 3186 codifies the already-existing “Every Kid in a Park” initiative launched in 2015 by President Barack Obama under the Department of the Interior.

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