HOUSE SUBCOMMITTEE PROPOSES SLIGHT FUNDING INCREASE FOR USGS
Although the United States House of Representatives and Senate have yet to reach agreement on a budget resolution setting spending caps for fiscal year 2005 domestic spending, the House Appropriations Committee has begun its work. On June 3, 2004 the House Appropriations Subcommittee responsible for funding the Department of the Interior and related agencies indicated its intent to provide Interior with $19.7 billion for FY 05. This level is roughly $300 million below the enacted FY 04 spending level and the President's FY 05 request. While details of the plan are not yet public, it appears that Congress has sustained it support for the United States Geological Survey (USGS). In what has become an annual practice, members of the subcommittee have again worked to restore budget cuts proposed by the administration, and provide the survey with a modest $4 million. While the $4 million increase is an appreciated and symbolic signal of Congressional commitment to the USGS, the proposed funding level remains well below the $1 billion advocated by the USGS Coalition. It will not be possible to determine how well USGS programs of primary interest to the biological science community faired until details of the plan become public in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, USGS Coalition member organizations continue to work with members of Congress to try and secure increased FY 05 funding for USGS programs. As part of this effort, the Coalition is working with members of Congress to secure passage of House Resolution 556. This legislation recognizes the contributions that USGS science has made to the nation during its 125 years of service and is an opportunity to educate members about the USGS and the importance of the biological sciences. As part of this effort, scientists that utilize and value USGS science, products, and services are encouraged to contact their Representatives and request they cosponsor this bipartisan legislation. For details on this effort and tips about communicating with your Representative, please visit http://www.aibs.org/announcements/040506_ask_your_representative_to.html or contact Dr. Robert Gropp in the AIBS Public Policy Office at rgr...@aibs.org.
NATURAL HISTORY COLLECTIONS IN U.K. ALSO STRUGGLING
Concern for the future vitality of natural history collections is not unique to biologists in the United States. Recently, news media have begun to report on the challenges facing natural history museums and collections in the United Kingdom. Following a recent online report from National Geographic (currently available at:
http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/06/0603_040603_museums.html), Scotland's "PA News" also reported on the topic in their June 6th edition (currently available at http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=3026607 ). The PA News article notes that challenges facing collection facilities include a shrinking scientific workforce and inadequate funding. The article notes that London's Natural History Museum is "struggling to find enough staff," and university collections are facing similar challenges to many in the United States. According to the article, only the University of London still maintains a natural history museum. At one time, all 18 colleges within the university had collections.
ROSEVILLE, CA SCHOOL BOARD REJECTS PROPOSAL TO INCLUDE ARGUMENTS AGAINST EVOLUTION SCIENCE CLASSES
For much of the past year, the Roseville Joint Union School District board of trustees has been occupied by a proposal to mandate that alternatives to evolution be included in science courses. On June 1, 2004 the school district near Sacramento voted down a resolution that would have established "The Quality Science Education Policy." Ultimately, the proposal was only supported by the school board president, Dean Forman, and board member Kelly Lafferty. Three board members opposed the resolution. According to the Roseville Press-Tribune, in public debate in opposition to the proposal, board member Jan Pinney stated, "We need [teachers] with us, not against us. They have spoken with one voice."
EPA REQUESTS NOMINEES FOR ENDOCRINE DISRUPTOR ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Environmental Protection Agency is extending the deadline for nominations for appointment to the proposed Endocrine Disruptor Methods Validation Advisory Committee (ECMVAC) until 4 p.m. on 18 June 2004. The EDMVAC will replace the current Endocrine Disrupter Methods Validation Subcommittee (EDMVS) under the National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology (NACEPT). The role of the proposed Committee will be to advise the EPA on scientific and technical aspects of the Tier I screens and Tier II assays being considered for the Endocrine Disruptor Screening Program (EDSP). The Committee will evaluate relevant scientific issues, protocols, data and interpretations of the data for the assays during the validation process and provide advice on the composition of the Tier I screening battery.
The Committee is seeking members of environmental/public interest organizations, public health organizations, animal welfare organizations, academia or Federal agencies, state, local or tribal governments. Information about the former EDMVS and related programs is available from http://www.epa.gov/scipoly/oscpendo/. The nomination time period is being extended due to a low number of submissions of nominations.
Nominations may be submitted electronically, by mail, or through hand delivery/courier. Detailed instructions are provided in the 1 June 2004 Federal Register:http://a257.g.akamaitech.net/7/257/2422/14mar20010800/edocket.access.gpo.gov/2004/04-12340.htm. For general information contact: Colby Lintner, Regulatory Coordinator, Environmental Assistance Division, Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202)564-1404; email address: TSCA-Hotline@epa.gov. For technical information contact: Jane Smith, Designated Federal Official, Office of Science Coordination and Policy, Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW, Washington, DC 20460; telephone number: (202) 564-8476; fax: (202) 564-8283; e-mail: email@example.com.
- Give your society or organization a voice in public policy decisions affecting your areas of science. Support the AIBS Public Policy Office's ability to work with you, on your behalf. See http://www.aibs.org/public-policy/funding_contributors.html
- AIBS special symposium. Evolutionary Science and Society: Educating a New Generation. Nov. 12th and 13th, 2004, Chicago IL at the National Association of Biology Teachers annual conference. Program and registration at http://www.aibs.org/special-symposia/
- BioScience for $12/yr! The BioScience Bulk-Purchase Program for Member Societies and Organizations. See http://www.aibs.org/announcements/031002_announcing_the_bioscience_bulkpurchase.html
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 and appreciation 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. Website: www.aibs.org.