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Public Policy Report for 06/08/2001

    Science posts in new administration beginning to fill...
  • New science advisor named at Interior Department
  • Bennett Raley nominated as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science at Interior Department
  • White House Science Advisor position still vacant
  • Other news...
  • Director of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History resigns
  • Good news for USGS in House Appropriations Subcommittee markup
  • Support sought for legislation to create position for Deputy Administrator for Science for EPA

The AIBS Public Policy Report is distributed broadly by email every two weeks to AIBS membership leaders and contacts, including the President, President-Elect, Secretary, Treasurer, Executive Director, AIBS Council Representative, Journal Editor, Newsletter Editor, Public Policy Committee Chair, Public Policy Representative, and Education Committee Chair of all AIBS member societies and organizations (see the Membership Directories for contact information).

All material from these reports may be reproduced or forwarded. Please mention AIBS as the source; office staff appreciate receiving copies of materials used. If you have questions, comments, or suggestions, please contact the AIBS Director of Public Policy, Dr. Robert Gropp [publ...@aibs.org; 202-628-1500 x250].


NEW SCIENCE ADVISOR NAMED AT INTERIOR DEPARTMENT - Ornithologist James Tate -- a career biologist with diverse experience in private industry, education, and government -- will become Science Advisor to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton, who said, "Jim Tate is a veteran biologist and public policy expert who has devoted his career to conservation and wildlife protection efforts. She added, "Jim's background and experience make him the perfect addition to our team." Since he began his conservation career more than 30 years ago as an associate professor at Cornell University and assistant Director of the highly respected Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology, Tate has worked extensively on endangered species issues. For the past two years, he served as Advisory Scientist for the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory on projects including Sage Grouse and other environmental issues. From 1991 to 1999, he served Senators Malcolm Wallop, Dirk Kempthorne, and Mike Crapo. Tate was a professional staff member for the Senate Environment & Public Works Committee and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. From 1988 to 1991, he was a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's division of Endangered Species. Tate also was a branch chief and policy analyst with the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement from 1984 to 1988. He served as a manager of environmental affairs for Atlantic Richfield's coal subsidiary in Denver, Colorado from 1974 to 1984. In Wyoming, Tate oversaw environmental compliance permitting for the Coal Creek Mine and Black Thunder Mine, which won numerous environmental awards. Dr. Tate received his PhD in Zoology from the University of Nebraska with a thesis on the foraging behavior of woodpeckers. His experience also includes teaching for the National Audubon Society at the adult education facility off the coast of Maine and serving as editor of the Society's Blue List of declining species. He has held offices and served on boards of scientific and conservation organizations including The Wilson Ornithological Society and the Wildfowl Trust of North America.


BENNETT RALEY NOMINATED AS ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR WATER AND SCIENCE AT DOI - Bennett Raley has been nominated by the Bush administration to serve as Assistant Secretary for Water and Science. The Assistant Secretary for Water and Science is responsible for overseeing the Bureau of Reclamation and the United States Geological Survey. Interior Secretary Gale Norton praised President Bush's selection, saying that, "Time and time again, Bennett Raley has formed partnerships to bring people together to protect our environment and threatened species. Bennett helped develop and implement Endangered Species Recovery Programs in the Upper Colorado and Platte River basins and played a key role in resolving the 10-year deadlock over designation of Colorado Wilderness Areas. Bennett produces real results that will make him an important part of an Interior Department committed to protecting our nation's treasures." Raley was general counsel for the Northern Colorado Water Conservancy District. He also served as Special Assistant Attorney General for the New Mexico Office of the State Engineer and Interstate Stream Commission in federal court litigation in the Rio Grande and Pecos River basins. Raley also played a key role in the negotiation of a resolution of a 10-year deadlock over the designation of Wilderness Areas in Colorado. Raley participated in innovative efforts in the Upper Colorado River and Platte River basins to provide for the protection of water use and development in a manner consistent with the Endangered Species Act. During the 102nd Congress he served as Staff Counsel to United States Senator Hank Brown, whom he assisted on the negotiation of the 1993 Colorado Wilderness Act, which The protected 771,000 acres of high-altitude national forests in Colorado from road-building,logging or other development. Although environmentalists expressed concern that the Colorado wilderness lands did not include the water rights to rivers and streams, Raley was credited with crafting compromise language helped end a decade-long deadlock that blocked the protection of the lands. Raley received a B.S. in Agricultural Business from Colorado State University in 1979, and a J.D. from the University from the Colorado School of Law in 1983.

The announcement is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. Like some other nominees to the Interior Department, Raley's nomination has raised some concerns among conservation organizations. Like Norton, Raley believes strongly in states rights, as well as rights of property owners. He is a member of the board of litigation of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the conservative think tank that advocates on behalf of property owners. Raley has testified to the House Resources Committee that he believed that the implementation of the Endangered Species Act was usurping the water rights of farmers and municipal water districts. He stated, "In fact, if I had my choice, I believe that the existing law should be repealed and Congress should start over and develop a program that achieves national interests in the protection of endangered species without encroaching on private property and the prerogatives of states." Raley also lobbied against a 1994 bill by Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. John Chafee, R-R.I., to reauthorize the Clean Water Act, which required the Environmental Protection Agency to set new guidelines for states on controlling polluted runoff. He called the new pollution rules a violation of states rights, saying "The huge debate that's looming . . . is whether or not the purpose of the act is to protect water quality for use -- whether human, agricultural or industrial -- or whether it's a radically different goal of returning the streams to a pristine condition." In a statement released after his nomination, Raley pledged to seek "fair and balanced solutions" to disputes over water policy.


WHITE HOUSE SCIENCE ADVISOR YET TO BE NAMED - For several months, science advocates have been expressing concern about the new Administration's slow pace in filling key science positions in the executive branch, especially the position of White House science adviser. However, Bush advisors, along with House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert say that the failure to name a science advisor does not signify a lack of commitment to science on the part of the Bush Administration. Responding to an increasing drumbeat from the science community, which has become more public in recent weeks with articles in the New York Times and the Boston Globe, Boehlert issued a press release challenging "the recent assertion by the Science Committee Minority that President George W. Bush has taken an unusually long time to nominate a White House Science Adviser. The minority claimed that until this year May 19th was the latest a science adviser has been appointed. In fact, President Reagan did not nominate his adviser until July 1, 1981, and none was appointed until July 27, 1981. Similarly, Dr. Allan Bromley, President George Bush's science adviser, was not appointed until August 4, 1989. Chairman Boehlert said, "While I support the minority's desire to have a science adviser, I'm concerned by their attempt to Turn this into an excuse for a partisan attack. It is not uncommon for the Administration to be conducting a search for a Science Adviser at this point. Boehlert added, "The Administration has been working strenuously to fill this important slot. There is no indication whatsoever that the Administration has either been dragging its feet in this matter or downgrading science."

The White House Science Advisor position was created in 1950, when investment banker William Golden, an advisor to President Truman, recognized the need to coordinate and oversee the research efforts of various federal agencies. Golden recommended that Truman create a science advisory committee whose chair would act as the president's science advisor.


DIRECTOR OF SMITHSONIAN'S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF NATURAL HISTORY RESIGNS - In late May, Robert W. Fri, who has been the director of the National Museum of Natural History for the past five years, announced that he would leave his post later this year because he is not comfortable with the ongoing reorganization of scientific research at the Smithsonian Institution. "The upcoming reorganization of the science units of the Smithsonian will substantially affect the National Museum of Natural History," Fri said in a statement released by his office. "This process will require the leadership of a management team committed to pursuing its success over the long haul. I do not feel that I can make that commitment enthusiastically." The reorganization of scientific research at Natural History and other Smithsonian facilities is the result of initiatives by Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence M. Small, who is pressing for Smithsonian's independent museums to depart from their traditional, investigator-driven scholarship and to replace it with a focus on a limited number of prioritized areas of scholarly activity. The plan to reorganize research - together with the now-forgone plan to close the Conservation and Research Center - have created an uproar within the Smithsonian's scientific staff. They and other scientists object to the closed process in proposing cuts. At the conclusion of the May 7 Board of Regents meeting, Small promised to consult with the scientific community by creating a scientific advisory board, yet the process of implementing Small's intended changes seems to be proceeding without the naming of such a body. Fri is the first science director to resign under Small. Fri's statement indicates that he found some of the proposed changes unacceptable. One model under discussion would place the individual research and collections in all the museums under several administrative centers and have the chiefs of those centers report directly to the Smithsonian's undersecretary of science -- bypassing the museum director. "This separation would leave the museum to concentrate on exhibit and education functions," Fri said. AIBS continues to monitor SI/NMNH events closely.


GOOD NEWS FOR USGS IN HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS SUBCOMMITTEE MARKUP - On June 7, the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Interior and Related Agencies decided to fund the U.S. Geological Survey is funded at $900 million, restoring a $90 million cut in the President's request and providing $18 million increase (2 percent) over FY01. Further details will follow in our next regular report. Although AIBS and the Coalition for Science-based Land Management had pressed for an increase of 4 percent so the agency could at least keep pace with inflation, this is nonetheless good news.


SUPPORT SOUGHT FOR LEGISLATION TO CREATE DEPUTY ADMINISTRATOR FOR SCIENCE POSITION AT EPA - Rep. Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) is seeking support for his bill to create a deputy administrator for science at EPA, which was passed by the House Science Committee's Environment, Technology and Standards subcommittee unanimously on May 17. Mr. Ehlers has distributed a "Dear Colleague" letter asking for co-sponsors for the bill. If you are interested in supporting this legislation, write to your Congressional representative, asking that he or she co-sponsor this legislation (H.R. 64). You can send a letter to any member of the House of Representatives addressed to The Honorable [member's name], United States House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. 20515.

Remember--a personal letter is far more effective than e-mail, which has flooded most Congressional offices to the point that it is often ignored. If you do send e-mail, be sure to include your full address so the recipient will know that you are a constituent.


 


The American Institute of Biological Sciences is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) scientific association headquartered in Washington DC, with a staff of approximately 30. It was founded in 1947 as a part of the National Academy of Sciences and has been an independent organization since the mid-1950s, governed by a Board of Directors elected by its membership. The AIBS membership consists of approximately 6,000 biologists and 80 professional societies and other organizations; the combined individual membership of the latter exceeds 240,000 biologists. AIBS is an umbrella organization for the biological sciences dedicated to promoting an understanding of the natural living world, including the human species and its welfare, by engaging in coalition activities with its members in research, education, public policy, and public outreach; publishing the peer-reviewed journal, BioScience; providing scientific peer review and advisory services to government agencies and other clients; convening scientific meetings; and performing administrative and other support services for its member organizations.


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