Science policy in the Trumpocene
8 hours ago
Recent legislation (Assembly Bill No. 20, 4th Extraordinary Session) will abolish the Board for Geologists and Geophysicists (Board) effective October 23, 2009, at which time all Board Member and Executive Officer positions are also abolished. The Board for Professional Engineers and Land Surveyors (BPELS) will then assume “…all the duties, powers, purposes, responsibilities, and jurisdiction previously vested in the Board…” along with “…two personnel years…for performance of the board’s responsibilities...” under the Geologist and Geophysicist Act.The Association of Engineering and Environmental Geologists (AEG) has alerted it's members with an email blast that says,
This transfer, which had no impact whatsoever on the budget, was not accompanied by the resources or structure necessary for BPELS to fulfill its new mission. As it stands now, there will be no geologists or geophysicists on BPELS, there will be no name change to reflect its new mission, and BPELS will not have the manpower to perform its new functions - only two personnel years were reallocated from BGG. Early discussions with BPELS personnel indicated that none of the standing committees, including the Exam Committee, will be continued. BPELS has since declined to meet with us until after the October 23 elimination date to discuss the many serious issues that have not been addressed. The net effect of all this is that geologists will soon be regulated by an agency that is ill equipped to handle the responsibility and arguably hostile to its new licensees.
The good news is that there is something that can be done - we can seek an injunction against implementation of AB4X 20. The BGG was abolished suddenly and without due process, eliminating any open, fair and transparent review of the potential consequences. Existing law that carefully and deliberately outlines the specific measures and the timetable necessary for the elimination of boards and commissions was ignored entirely. The injunction will hopefully stop this action and require legislators to follow established procedures where informed voices can be heard in the formation of a board responsible for public safety.
To get started, the California Sections of AEG are forming the California Association of Professional Geologists, which will file the injunction. We hope that other organizations representing geoscientists, including AEG’s national organization, will join in down the road. AEG, however, cannot fund this effort alone. We need your help! The estimated cost for this is $15,000 to get through filing the initial complaint and up to $100,000 to see it through to the end. Noting the early estimate of $15,000, one geologist pledged $100 and challenged 149 other geoscientists to match his gift. A great way to put it! We, of course, will gratefully accept all contributions, of greater or lesser amounts, based on your ability to give. Contributions may be sent to:AEGSC-Political Action Fund1772-J E. Avenida De Los Arboles, PMB #304Thousand Oaks, CA 91362The other side to this effort is an approach to legislators. We will be asking you to write letters at the appropriate time and with the appropriate message. We are in the process of consulting with legislators to elicit their advice and support in reinstating the BGG or repurposing BPELS into an agency that is fully equipped to fulfill its mission. With your help we can reach this important goal!
Peter Thams, Chair Bill Godwin, Chair John Pfeiffer, Chair
Southern California Section San Francisco Section Sacramento Section
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is hosting public meetings on September 30 and October 15 to provide information and receive input on the recent Department of Interior proposed withdrawal (temporary segregation) of almost 1 million acres of federal lands near the Grand Canyon. The segregation will prevent the location of new mining claims for 2 years while the Department evaluates whether to withdraw these lands for up to an additional 20 years. During this two-year segregation period, various studies will be conducted and an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prepared.
The BLM will be the lead agency, working in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service, the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the U.S. Geological Survey and the National Park Service to prepare an EIS used to support a final decision on the withdrawal. The EIS will disclose the potential impacts the proposed action would have on the human environment and natural and cultural resources, as well as determine what measures would be necessary to mitigate or reduce those impacts. In addition to analyzing the potential impacts, the EIS will also identify and analyze alternatives to the proposed action.
The first meeting will be held on September 30, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the Fredonia Elementary School Cafeteria, 221 E. Hortt, Fredonia, Arizona. A second meeting will be held in Flagstaff, Arizona on October 15, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., at the High Country Conference Center, 201 West Butler Avenue, Flagstaff, Arizona. An open houseformat will be used for both meetings. This will provide an opportunity to learn about the EIS process and for the public to submit written comments and discuss ideas with agency officials.
Comments may also be mailed to the Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Strip District, 345 East Riverside Drive, St. George, UT 84790, by sending an email to email@example.com . Additional Information can be found at blm.gov/az
Previously, Jeffrey Fehmi, Ph.D., assistant professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment, and his team evaluated 29 different native species from around the Rosemont site compiled into four seed mixes. The local seed mixes were tested in the University of Arizona greenhouses using three types of soil from the proposed mine site, with several soil amendments and fertilizer combinations, and watered to simulate low, average and high rainfall years. The field testing is to verify these greenhouse results under real-world conditions.
The field testing is the third phase of the project, which will evaluate the established native species seed mix and methods, as they are exposed to the actual environmental conditions of the site. The field testing will involve test plots where numerous reclamation options will be evaluated. These include differences in site preparation (how smooth the surface is at the time of planting) and the use of mulch (none, mulch placed on the soil surface, and mulch incorporated into the soil). These differences in practice will be tested on two soil types expected to be used in the mine reclamation.
Establishing vegetation on the plots will help to hold soil in place and prevent soil erosion and loss while retaining water and air quality. Roots reach down into the soil and bind the soil beneath, while the plant cover helps to intercept the rainfall impact and to allow it to infiltrate the soil.
The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee is drafting a bill that would establish a Water Resources Management Council consisting of Cabinet level members and a director nominated by the President. The bill, called the Sustainable Watershed Planning Act, would establish regional watershed planning boards to work for a comprehensive water management infrastructure of all watersheds. The boards would develop five year plans for water use and conservation, and be comprised of members from stakeholders and local, state, and federal agencies.
The legislation is an attempt to consolidate and coordinate water management so that regional effects from local management decisions can be taken into account. There are some doubts over the legislation, as stakeholders and state water managers are unsure what the specific goals of the council and planning boards are, but water experts agree that the current water management structure needs to be fixed.
"The petitioners state that mining activities (both small- and large-scale) adversely affect the Sonoran desert tortoise through habitat fragmentation, loss, and degradation; introduction of contaminants and fugitive dust (dust that cannot be attributed to a single point of origin, such as a smokestack); off-road travel associated with mining activities or roads created for said activities; and entrapment of tortoises in mine spoil heaps."FWS is carrying out a 12-month long study to determine if listing is warranted.