By Lindsay Davis, GSA Science Policy Fellow
Bipartisan bills to reauthorize the “National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992” through fiscal year 2023 have been introduced in both the Senate and the House. On 11 September, 2017 the “National Geologic Mapping Act Reauthorization Act” (S. 1787) was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) with Senator Angus King, Jr. (I-Maine) as an original cosponsor. A companion bill, H.R. 4033, was introduced in the House on October 12, 2017 by Representative Doug Lamborn (R-Colorado) with Representative Anthony G. Brown (D-Maryland) as an original cosponsor. In addition to extending the reauthorization period, the bills would transfer the role of Chairman of the 16-person geologic mapping advisory committee from the Associate Director for Geology to the Associate Director for Core Science Systems, reflecting a change in the organization of the U.S. Geological Survey. The mapping advisory committee advises the Director with regard to the planning and implementation of the mapping program.
The original intent of the “National Geologic Mapping Act of 1992” was to reverse the decline of geologic mapping in the United States by establishing a National Cooperative Geologic Mapping Program (NCGMP). The Act specifically cites several applications of the data obtained from geologic maps: mineral, energy and water resource exploration; toxic and nuclear waste disposal; environmental land use planning; decreasing the impact of a multitude of natural hazards; constructing and maintaining infrastructure; and geoscience research. The NCGMP is responsible for the formulation and implementation of a plan to provide extensive coverage of geologic maps within the United States, management of the data, and other related functions. After the bill was signed into law in 1992, the NCGMP was established and has been functioning effectively for twenty-five years. The NCGMP is a partnership between state governments, the federal government, and universities, and it provides the majority of the funds for the production of geologic maps in the United States. These entities collaborate to manage data collection and to create and distribute geologic maps and three-dimensional framework models. Maps are distributed digitally via the National Geologic Map Database and have extensive applications and geographical coverage. Additional information regarding the NCGDMP is available at https://ncgmp.usgs.gov/.
Additional cosponsors to the Senate bill include Senator Don Sullivan (R-Alaska), Senator Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee). The Senate bill has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources; meanwhile, the House bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. Currently no hearings have been scheduled.