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Staff & Center News

House Testimony on Gas Hydrates Bill

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Bill Dillon visited Capital Hill on May 12 to testify at the hearings for a gas hydrate bill ("Methane Hydrate Research and Development Act") for the House Science Committee, Subcommittee on Energy and Environment. Last year, the bill never got beyond committee in the House and it thus needed to be resubmitted in both Houses this year. Earlier this year, the Senate approved the bill by acclamation and sent it again to the House. The House modified the bill slightly, perhaps to our advantage, by designating that the funding will go through the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, which means it will go through the group in DOE that Bill Dillon and Tim Collett have been working with for several years. The bill specifies that the Geological Survey will be part of the research program.

Bill Dillon was pleased to be told before the hearings that he could mention that the USGS and DOI support the bill. The three people who testified were sworn in, given five minutes to make a prepared statement, and then questioned. The questions were generally good and universally friendly, and the participants seemed to praise the idea of gas hydrate research. There was a great deal of interest in the possibility of improving air quality by switching to methane as a conventional fuel. The bill was praised for having "something for everybody." The Chair, Congressman Calvert, was very interested in fuel cells and asked Bill questions about them. Bill admits knowing little about fuel cell technology, except that methane is ideal for fuel cells.

Two other colleagues also testified about the gas hydrates bill. Gerry Holder, Dean of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh, has been involved in gas hydrates for a long time and suggested that the expenditures should be an order of magnitude larger than planned (i.e., $100 million). Bob Kripowicz, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy at DOE, extensively praised the USGS for our continuing gas hydrates work. He is an old friend of the Survey (and Abby Sallenger) from his days as a House staffer. Markup was held at the end of the subcommittee meeting and the bill was reported favorably out of subcommittee to the full Science Committee. The proposed numbers are approximately $5M, $7.5M, $10M, $10M, and $10M for 5 years.

Tim Collett from the Central Energy Resources Team will be testifying on May 25 at a hearing of a subcommitte of the Resources Committee. MMS lab folks from the Universities of Alaska, Hawaii (Mike Cruikshank), and Mississippi (Bob Woolsey), and Bilal Haq from NSF also will be testifying in the next round.


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Florida Wetlands

Outreach Montessori Academy Volunteer

Students Visit Woods Hole

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Long Island Coring

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Gas Hydrates Bill Testimony

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