SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
Page 1 TOP OF DOCTHE UNITED STATES AND ANTARCTICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 12, 1997
U.S. House of Representatives,
Committee on Science,
The Committee met at 10:09 a.m., in room 2318 of the Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman of the Committee, presiding.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The Committee on Science will be in order.
I want to welcome everyone to the first official Full Committee hearing of the Science Committee in the 105th Congress. I wish to thank our distinguished witness, Mr. Norman Augustine, who is testifying today as Chairman of the NSF's United States Antarctica Program External Panel.
Moreover, I want to recognize his daytime job as Chairman and CEO of Lockheed Martin.
We all recognize the importance of your time and the Committee, the NSF and the American public are very thankful to you, Mr. Augustine, for your hard work and dedicated service, not only in this area, but in the other areas where you have volunteered.
The Committee looks forward to receiving the recommendations in your report, ''The United States and Antarctica in the 21st Century.''
Having recently been to Antarctica with the gentleman from Tennessee, I saw first-hand the aging facilities and know that there are many concerns as to whether some of these buildings will last even until the end of the 20th century.
For those of you not aware, Antarctica comprises 10 percent of the Earth's land mass and is nearly one-and-one-half times the size of the United States. Its associated seas represent 6 percent of the world's oceans and the ice consists of 70 percent of the Earth's fresh water.
Page 2 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In an extreme Antarctic winter, temperatures can drop below minus 60 degrees Fahrenheit and winds can reach 180 miles per hour. The Antarctic is an extremely harsh environment in which to conduct research to work and to live.
The United States has important foreign policy, national security, scientific, and environmental interests in this vast area. A strong year-round presence in Antarctica in the form of cutting-edge scientific research supported by infrastructure at three research stations is the principal means of realizing these interests.
The Amundsen-Scott Station at the South Pole is of particular importance in this regard, but its buildings and associated life support systems are nearing the end of their design life and are in need of replacement.
The estimated cost of replacement is substantial and this, combined with current and anticipated budget constraints, raises important issues concerning the U.S. Antarctic program.
The Science Committee on a bipartisan basis has been very supportive in the past of the Antarctic program. The Committee was instrumental in the last Congress in the passage of the Antarctic Science, Tourism and Conservation Act, which provided implementation of the Antarctic protocol.
Last year, the Committee supported the Administration's request for $25 million for health and safety upgrades at the South Pole Station.
In April of last year, the National Science and Technology Council provided to Congress a report on the U.S. Antarctic program. This report highlighted the continued need for the American presence in the Antarctic.
Furthermore, the report called for the establishment of an external panel to explore options for sustaining the high level of the Antarctic's program science activities under realistic constrained funding levels.
Today, Mr. Augustine, as Chairman of the External Panel, will discuss the recommendations of his committee. We note that he does so at a time when we are considering the Administration's request of $134 million for Antarctic research grants, operations and science support.
Page 3 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We note the Administration has again requested $25 million for upgrading the South Pole Station for Fiscal Year 1998. The National Science Board has also recommended an estimated $181 million for a 110-person enhanced station to ensure the future success of the Antarctic program.
Last year, before our Subcommittee on Basic Research, the State Department said that it ''believes it essential that the United States continue to maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica.''
At this point, I would like to submit for the record a joint letter to Secretary Albright from Mr. Brown and myself requesting that the new Secretary review and re-endorse this commitment and the reply from the Assistant Secretary for Legislative Affairs.
In addition, Mr. Brown and I will make a similar request of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and place this response in the record.
[The letters referred to follow:]
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE,
February 14, 1997
The Honorable Madeleine Albright, Secretary,
Department of State,
Washington, DC 20520
DEAR MADAME SECRETARY:
On March 12, 1997, the Committee on Science will receive testimony from Mr. Norman R. Augustine, Chairman of the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel, on the committee's review of the future of Antarctic research. The Augustine Panel was charged by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to review the condition of the current South Pole Station and to make recommendations on the need for a replacement facility.
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCLast year, the Subcommittee on Basic Research of the House Committee on Science, held a hearing on The Future of Antarctic Research. In his testimony, Mr. R. Tucker Scully, Office of Ocean Affairs, U.S. Department of State, stated that: ''The Department of State believes it essential that the United States continue maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica. The United States presence at the South Pole Station demonstrates United States commitment to conduct cutting edge scientific research there. Abandonment of the Station would create a vacuum and likely result in a scramble to occupy the site, to the detriment of our position as well as to the stability of the Treaty system.''
Before proceeding to consider an anticipated request to rebuild the U.S. Antarctic infrastructure at a cost approaching $200 million, we are seeking your reaffirmation that the continued presence of a research station operated by the United States at the South Pole is in the best interest of the Nation.
We would like to include your response in our hearing record; therefore, we would request your written position by March 10, 1997. Should you have any questions please contact Christopher Roosa, (202) 225-5848, of our Committee staff.
F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, JR., Chairman
GEORGE E. BROWN, JR., Ranking Democratic Member
THE SECRETARY OF STATE,
Washington, DC., March 13, 1997
Page 5 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on Science,
House of Representatives
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN:
Thank you for your letter regarding United States presence in Antarctica, including the importance of the United States research station at the South Pole.
I would like to reaffirm the Department's view that it is essential for the United States to maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica, including the South Pole Station.
I recognize that shrinking budgets raise issues of priority, particularly in respect of capital outlays such as are projected for necessary replacement of South Pole Station. However, budgetary decisions on the United States Antarctic Program, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), must be based on the fact that it is a national program that serves important foreign policy and national objectives as well as basic scientific, environmental and economic interests. From this perspective, appropriation within the NSF budget of the funds necessary to maintain an active and influential United States presence in Antarctica, including renovation of South Pole Station, represents both a priority and cost effective investment.
I wish the Committee every success in its review of this important issue.
MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
United States Department of State,
Washington, DC. 20520, March 10, 1997
Page 6 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
The Honorable F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr., Chairman,
Committee on Science,
House of Representatives
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN:
Secretary Albright has asked that I reply to your letter of February 14 requesting our written position on United States presence in Antarctica, including the importance of the United States research station at the South Pole.
As noted in your letter, the Department of State testified on this issue before the Subcommittee on Basic Research last year. The view expressed in the testimony (attached) that it is essential for the United States to maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica, including at the South Pole Station, continues to represent the Department's position.
The authoritative statement of the Department's policy on U.S. presence in Antarctica continues to be that contained in the April 1996 Report of the National Science and Technology Council's Committee on Fundamental Science (Annex II). The report sets forth our conclusion that:
Shrinking budgets raise issues of priority, particularly in respect of capital outlays such as are projected for necessary replacement of South Pole Station. However, funding decisions on the United States Antarctic Program must be based on the fact that it is a national program that serves important foreign policy and national objectives as well as basic scientific, environmental and economic interests. From this perspective, appropriation of the funds necessary to maintain an active and influential United States presence in Antarctica, including renovation of South Pole Station, represents both a priority and cost effective investment.
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIf we can be of further assistance, please do not hesitate to let us know.
BARBARA LARKIN, Assistant Secretary, Legislative Affairs
Attachment: As stated.
TESTIMONY OF R. TUCKER SCULLY
DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF OCEAN AFFAIRS
DEPARTMENT OF STATE
SUBCOMMITTEE ON BASIC RESEARCH
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
23 JULY 1996
I am pleased to appear at this hearing of the House Committee on Science to discuss the future of the U.S. Antarctic Program.
The United States has important national interests, including foreign policy and national security, in Antarctica. These include:
maintenance of Antarctica as an area of peaceful international cooperation, to which U.S. nationals have access for peaceful purposes. pursuit of the unique opportunities Antarctica offers as a laboratory for basic scientific research--research which provides insights essential to the understanding of our planet;
Page 8 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC protection of the Antarctic environment and conservation of its living resources; and
preservation of the U.S. position of non-recognition of claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica.
United States interests are given concrete expression through the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The Treaty guarantees freedom of scientific research in Antarctica and prohibits military and nuclear activities.
The primary expression of these interests in Antarctica is the year-round presence there maintained by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), the program of scientific research and associated logistics funded and managed by the National Science Foundation. This presence includes continuous operation of a station at the South Pole that the U.S. has operated since 1957 at the summit of the Antarctic ice cap, as well as two other strategically located stations.
Current United States Antarctica policy dates from the 1950's when growing scientific research activities in Antarctica necessitated coming to grips with potentially explosive disputes over territorial sovereignty there. Seven nations (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K.) had asserted claims to territorial sovereignty over parts of Antarctica. The claims of Argentina, Chile and the U.K. overlapped in the Antarctic Peninsula and one area was unclaimed. The United States, the Soviet Union and other nations active in scientific activities did not recognize these claims.
The United States took the initiative to pursue a treaty among the nations active in Antarctica that would achieve U.S. objectives. The result was the Antarctic Treaty of 1959, or Treaty of Washington as it is often known. The Treaty:
guarantees freedom of scientific research in Antarctica;
reserves Antarctica exclusively for peaceful purposes, including prohibition of all activities of a military nature, nuclear testing and nuclear explosions, with rights of on site inspection to ensure compliance; and
Page 9 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC establishes regular meetings of the Parties to develop measures to implement the Treaty and to deal with new issues as they arise.
These provisions rest upon the Treaty's imaginative judicial and decision-making formulations. The Treaty freezes previously asserted rights and claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica, as well as any prior basis of claim (e.g., the United States basis of claim). It prohibits any new claims, and provides that no acts or activities carried out while the Treaty is in force will constitute a basis for a claim. Concomitantly, decision-making authority under the Treaty is conditioned upon involvement in actual activities in Antarctica. Specifically, full participation in decision-making rests upon an activities criterion: demonstration of interest in Antarctica by the conduct of substantial scientific research there.
The influence of a Party to the Treaty is directly linked to the extent and quality of its scientific presence in Antarctica. The U.S. Antarctic Program, as it has been carried out for the last 35 years, accords us the leadership role in Antarctica and the Treaty operations. Our leadership role is symbolized in the strategic location of the U.S. South Pole Station at the intersection point of the various conflicting international territorial claims.
The legal and political framework of the Treaty permits Parties to agree to disagree over sovereignty while enabling them--starting from different legal assumptions--to apply common obligations to activities in Antarctica. The Treaty has proven to be a durable and dynamic international framework that has evolved to deal effectively with new scientific, environmental and resource management issues and to accommodate new players. The number of Treaty Parties active in Antarctica has grown from 12 in 1961 to 26 in 1996 and includes all permanent members of the UN Security Council as well as Japan, India and Brazil. The regular meetings of the Treaty Parties provide a forum for peaceful cooperation among them even when bilateral relations are strained or hostile. For example, Argentina and the UK continued to interact peacefully within this forum during the Falklands War and the United States and the former Soviet Union were able to cooperate on Antarctic matters even when relations were at their worst.
Page 10 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe international peace and political stability established in Antarctica by the Antarctic Treaty has been and remains indispensable for successful pursuit by the United States of its Antarctic interests and has become an important objective in its own right.
For all of these reasons, maintenance of health of the Treaty is an important foreign policy and national security objective of the United States. It may seem ironic to apply a national security yardstick, with its military connotations, to an area that is effectively de-militarized. However, the potential for international discord and conflict over Antarctica territorial claims which would exist absent the Treaty is, if anything greater, than was the case in 1959.
More than any other nation, the United States, as the pre-eminent actor in Antarctica, benefits from the effective operation of the Antarctic Treaty. More than any other nation, the United States is responsible for the effective operation of the Antarctic Treaty. This leadership role is founded upon the active and influential presence in Antarctica maintained by the United States through the United States Antarctic Program. This presence accords the United States a decisive role in the Treaty's activities based decision system and in maintaining the political and legal balance that makes the Treaty work.
The Department of State believes it essential that the United States continue maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica. The United States presence at the South Pole Station demonstrates United States commitment to conduct cutting edge scientific research there. Abandonment of the Station would create a vacuum and likely result in a scramble to occupy the site, to the detriment of our position as well as to the stability of the Treaty system.
The Department believes that funding decisions on the United States Antarctic Program should be based on the fact that it is a national program that serves important U.S. foreign policy and national security objectives as well as basic scientific, environmental and economic interests. From this perspective, appropriation of the funds necessary to maintain an active and influential United States presence in Antarctica represents both a priority and cost effective investment.
Page 11 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe State Department believes that our foreign policy and national interests must be reflected in budgetary decisions affecting United States presence in Antarctica. This concludes my statement, Mr. Chairman, I will be happy to take any questions that you may have.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Before recognizing Mr. Augustine, I would like to recognize Mr. Gordon, the Acting Ranking Minority Member, for any opening statement he may have.
Mr. GORDON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And also, I want to thank you for the invitation to join you on that long, cold trip. As Mr. Augustine knows, when you get ready to go from Christchurch on down to the Antarctic, you get fitted with your full gear, survival gear, in case your plane goes down. And two of the items they give you are two dog tags, one with a long chain, the other with a shorter chain.
I think probably to the delight of some of the folks helping us get suited there, I asked what the small chain was for. And he grinned and told me that it was for your toe in case they have to bring us back in a bag.
And as the Chairman knows, one of our engines went out on the C-130 as we were coming back, and so I was hoping he wasn't correct on that.
But I thank you for the time you've taken away from your important demands to help us. As you well know, our presence at the South Pole and the Antarctic is important to this country and not only geopolitical, military requirements, but also for our scientific requirements.
But it's like every other part of the government. With shrinking resources, we need to get a dollar's worth for what we spend. And I think that your efforts will help us do that, and I thank you for that.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Thank you, Mr. Gordon.
Page 12 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Augustine, without objection, the full text of your statement will be included in the record at this point, and you may proceed as you wish.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Augustine follows:]
STATEMENT BY NORMAN R. AUGUSTINE
U.S. ANTARCTIC PROGRAM EXTERNAL PANEL
THE UNITED STATES IN ANTARCTICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
MARCH 12, 1997
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to present the findings and recommendations of the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel, which I have had the privilege of chairing since its establishment by the National Science Foundation last August. We have completed our work except for publishing the final report, which, when completed in April, will give background information and present in considerable detail our 22 findings and 12 recommendations. Each of these findings and recommendations has the unanimous support of the Panel.
The Panel consisted of 10 individuals and myself, selected by the NSF to represent the research community, the business engineering community, and the operations community. Over the years, the members of the Panel have made some 44 individual trips to Antarctica, visiting or working in all the major U.S. Antarctic facilities and observing non-U.S. activities as well. Together as a Panel we visited McMurdo and South Pole stations, summer camps, an icebreaker and support facilities at Christchurch, New Zealand. In addition, we held four meetings, all of them open to the public and all but one lasting two full days each. During the meetings, the Antarctic inspection trip, and in individual fact-finding sessions, we received approximately 70 formal briefings and conducted about 80 ''one-on-one'' meetings with persons involved in virtually every aspect of the Antarctic program. We received over 200 responses to our request for ''public comments.'' The NSF cooperated extensively in developing and providing information in response to our requests.
Page 13 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe task NSF gave us last August was, put simply, to ''examine a full range of infrastructure, management, and scientific options'' in order to maintain a high quality research program, to implement the U.S. policy of providing an active and influential presence in Antarctica, and to do these things under realistic budget scenarios. We benefited greatly from the informative policy review that the National Science Technology Council completed in April, 1996, concerning the U.S. Antarctic Program. That review, as you know, was prepared in response to a request made by the Congress in September, 1995. The review called attention to the high geopolitical, scientific, and environmental value of the Antarctic program and noted the resultant premium on detailed understanding of options for cost reductions. It was this situation that led the NSTC to recommend that an external panel be convened by the NSF to explore options for sustaining the high level of the U.S. Antarctic Program under realistic funding levels.
One of the Panel's early actions was to consider the basic question asked by the Congress and responded to by the NSTC: What should be the role of the United States in Antarctica?
We strongly agree with the NSTC position that, to quote from its review, ''. . . from a policy perspective the NSTC finds that maintaining an active and influential presence in Antarctica, including year-round operation of South Pole Station, is essential to U.S. interests . . . '' In fact, the Panel views the substantial U.S. presence in Antarctica as a critical, perhaps even the most critical, element in assuring the continued political stability of that region. In addition, working in cooperation with other nations, the U.S. plays an important role in assuring the preservation of a fragile and nearly pristine ecological system which serves as an important indicator of future environmental trends throughout the planet.
The other major reason to continue the National presence in Antarctica is that, because of the unique physical conditions which prevail in Antarctica, the region serves as a one-of-a-kind scientific laboratory for the investigation of phenomena which range from the microscopic to the Earth shaping. Again, to quote from the NSTC, ''. . . The NSTC finds the USAP research program to be of very high quality and of great interest to a broad scientific community.'' Our Panel concurs in this finding. Some examples of the research that our Panel considers to be especially noteworthy are as follows:
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Scientists have discovered the character and causes of the Antarctic ozone hole, which has served as an early warning of the threat to the planet's ozone shield, and are now monitoring its impact on life and its predicted recovery.
Global warming is a complex and controversial topic, but there is no controversy about the benefits to be gained through understanding and detecting whether or not we are experiencing a systematic and unprecedented warning. The polar regions are integral to this process and perhaps leading indicators of it.
Geophysical research conducted in recent years has shown that the West Antarctic Ice Sheet disappeared and re-established itself after it had initially formed. Understanding this phenomenon will help us determine the potential for ice sheet collapse and associated sea-level rise. Sea level rise at the rate predicted by some glaciologists would drastically impact the coasts of the world.
The South Pole is the site of the cleanest air that can be found in the world today. Measurements of atmospheric gases and aerosols there are critical to understand the chemistry of the clean atmosphere and to unambiguously detect global human influences.
Natural features at the South Pole--both the cold and dry atmosphere overhead and the clear ice sheet beneath--are enabling important experiments in astronomy and astrophysics.
Parts of Antarctica are uniquely suited to the recovery of meteorites, some of whose origin can be traced to the Moon and to Mars. Recent discoveries, yet to be fully confirmed, have suggested the possibility that primitive forms of life once existed on Mars.
The Antarctic Ocean is being investigated as a major sink for excess carbon dioxide released by human activities, a large factor in global climate studies.
Data collected to understand many of these and related phenomena show fluctuations caused by extraneous influences over various time scales. Conclusions drawn from these studies are valid only with continuous and regular sampling to build statistical confidence. Many Antarctic measurements have been made for decades, and the continuity of this scientific record is vital.
Page 15 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCI will turn now from discussing the rationale for the Nation's presence in Antarctica to the topic that occupied most of the time of the External Panel, which was, ''How shall we as a Nation implement this presence effectively and efficiently?''
We quickly saw that the present time is one of extraordinary change in the management of the U.S. Antarctic Program. One reason for the high level of oversight attention being given to America's program in Antarctica, both by our Panel and by the previous groups, has of course been the NSF's identification of the need to redevelop America's research facility at the South Pole. The Panel concluded that this redevelopment is in fact necessary in order to achieve basic standards of safety, health and environmental protection and so that the nation can respond to the challenges of modern-day science. Also, a year-round presence, as noted in the NSTC review, '' . . . protects the U.S. position on sovereignty in Antarctica and accords us a decisive role in the [Antarctic] Treaty's activities-based decision system, both of which are essential to maintaining the political and legal balance that makes the Treaty work.'' Such a year-round presence places significant demands for reliable, self-contained facilities.
Our Panel therefore agrees with the NSF and the NSTC that South Pole Station will need to be rebuilt or replaced. However, as we became increasingly familiar with the Antarctic program during our work, we recognized that four additional factors make the time between now and the turn of the century a particularly significant period, not only in terms of the need for intense management attention, but also as an opportunity to search for new means of reducing costs and in fact of re-inventing ways of conducting Antarctic activities.
The four additional factors are as follows:
First, the U.S. Navy is withdrawing from Antarctica, ending its historic, key role there on behalf of the Department of Defense. This role included exploration in the 19th Century and the first half of the 20th Century and, since the 1950s, operational and logistics support of research sponsored by the National Science Foundation.
Page 16 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSecond, as the Navy completes its withdrawal by 1999, the Department of Defense is shifting heavy-lift (LC-130) air transport functions to the New York Air National Guard. This change will put all the Nation's ski-equipped C-130 operations, for both the Arctic and the Antarctic, under one military unit.
Third, as the Navy withdraws, NSF is continuing to transfer many of the Navy's traditional support functions to civilian contractors. Impressive efficiencies and cost-reduction actions have been taken in recent years and the Panel has identified further opportunities for additional savings, which I will address in a moment.
Fourth and finally, all three of America's year-round stations in Antarctica--and particularly the one at the South Pole--are aging, costly to maintain and, in some cases, of arguable safety. The Panel believes that the U.S. would not send a ship to sea or a spacecraft to orbit in the condition of some of the facilities in Antarctica, particularly the one at the South Pole. The quality of these facilities is not in keeping with the standard reasonably expected of a nation of America's stature. The Panel believes that steps need to be taken without delay to remedy these conditions.
As I stated earlier, the Panel had twenty-two principal findings and twelve principal recommendations. In the interest of saving time this morning, I will briefly discuss just the Panel's recommendations.
First. America's presence in Antarctica. Forty-three nations are waging peace in Antarctica, under the Antarctic Treaty. This huge region contains six percent of the world's ocean, nine percent of its land, and 70 percent of its fresh water (in the form of ice). High among the reasons that we have international harmony in the Antarctic is the role played by the United States which over many years has helped to create the existing system of treaties and international agreements governing human conduct in the region. The presence of the United States in Antarctica is a key element of the stability in the region. Thus, our first recommendation is that the United States, as a matter of national policy, should maintain a continued year-round presence in Antarctica, including at the South Pole.
Page 17 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSecond. Safety and Health. Critical safety and health shortcomings exist at U.S. facilities in Antarctica, particularly at South Pole Station. The most urgent of these are being rectified through Congressional and NSF support provided in FY97. But additional concerns demand attention. We recommend prompt steps to eliminate safety and health shortfalls at all U.S. facilities in Antarctica. I will speak further about the facilities at South Pole in another recommendation.
Third. Program Scope. The U.S. Antarctic Program operates three major field sites (Palmer, Amundsen-Scott and McMurdo), two research ships (Polar Duke and Nathaniel B. Palmer) and numerous remote data collection sites which are either uninhabited or inhabited only on a temporary basis.
The three stations play very different roles in the fabric of the U.S. Antarctic Program. Palmer provides a base for ocean sciences in a unique climatic zone that allows year-round access, is the least costly of the three stations to operate, and is of geopolitical significance because it is in a region of overlapping territorial claims. McMurdo offers access for ships carrying supplies and is the logistics hub for inland operations, as well as offering excellent research facilities itself. McMurdo is of course critical in providing logistics for South Pole Station. South Pole Station is strategically located from a geopolitical standpoint and provides a unique base for certain types of science. It has a long and continuous observational record that is critical in such areas as monitoring stratospheric ozone, and is the base for astronomy projects providing new insights into the universe. South Pole Station is in some respects the ''crown jewel'' of America's Antarctic presence--but cannot operate without logistics support from McMurdo. Our third recommendation is, therefore, that the United States should continue to maintain permanent facilities at Palmer, McMurdo, and the South Pole.
Fourth. International Cooperation. International cooperation and shared support of science offer benefits to United States objectives in Antarctica and can foster and advance Antarctic research. Much international cooperation is under way in Antarctica with great success. The notion of reducing cost through international research projects is realistic in some instances, particularly for larger projects. But, in most cases, cost savings are offset by the increased effort of coordination and the reduced efficiency typical of many international projects.
Page 18 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCOne aspect of potential cooperation, in the judgment of the Panel, does not meet the criteria for U.S. endorsement. Specifically, to internationalize with foreign capital investment in U.S. core facilities raises ''ownership'' issues that work to the detriment of U.S. interests and, in the opinion of the Panel, worldwide interests. It is not illogical that a foreign nation that shares the basic costs of a facility should seek a voice in the operation of that facility and ultimately a share in the ''title'' to that facility.
Our recommendation is therefore that international cooperation in scientific research and logistics support should be encouraged, but core facilities and infrastructure at permanent U.S. sites in Antarctica should be provided by and maintained by the United States.
Fifth. South Pole Facilities. The Panel carefully examined four options for the construction funding period FY98 through FY02 and for the life cycle costs FY98 through FY25.
Rehabilitating the existing station is the lowest cost option, but would be imprudent because of such factors as the lack of fire suppression systems, the substandard space conditions in the under-snow utility tunnels, the need for improved safety exits, and the disruption to science and operations as various systems fail due to aging.
Upgrading safety in the existing station was considered, but the cost-benefit tradeoff for this option is unattractive.
The Enhanced station is the term the Panel used for the new design that has been proposed by the NSF. An Enhanced station would provide additional capability and the opportunity for development of energy and environmental technologies. However, not all of these additional capabilities are mandatory, making this option difficult to support in a fiscally constrained budget environment.
We asked the NSF to evaluate its Enhanced station design and see if a reduction in cost would be achievable through certain changes in requirements. This redesign has produced what the Panel terms the Optimized (new) station.
It is our recommendation that the existing South Pole Station should be replaced with the Optimized station. Construction can be completed by the year 2005 if the necessary budgetary steps are taken immediately for funding over the five-year period FY98-FY02.
Page 19 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSixth. Funding. Budget austerity and other changing conditions over the last two decades have necessitated the transition of management of the U.S. Antarctic interest to a single agency, the NSF. A consequence of this change has been to place in a relatively small, research-oriented agency, normally dedicated to the support of science in an academic environment, the responsibility for a major national undertaking in one of the world's most remote and demanding environments. The Panel finds it remarkable that the NSF has been able to assume this responsibility with little or no disruption to ongoing activities--and indeed with the realization of considerable efficiencies that are described in our report.
Nonetheless, the U.S. Antarctic Program should be viewed as a national program, much like the space program, not merely as another NSF science project, and should therefore be scoped, funded, and judged as such. In general, the government budgetary policy does not provide for a ''depreciation'' account to cover the cost of replacing capital assets as they wear out. The NSF Antarctic budget is simply not adequate to fund in entirety the periodic major capital expenditures demanded by an activity with the scale of the U.S. Antarctic Program. The consequence of seeking to function as if this were not the case is to suffer a continually eroding capital plant . . . as has indeed been the realization at present.
The Panel devoted considerable attention to the issue of how much funding for construction of South Pole Station should be derived from temporary cuts in Antarctic research. There is strong consensus that quality of science should be maintained and, further, that the Panel should not seek to micromanage the detailed content of the science effort in Antarctica. On the other hand, the extremely challenging federal budget condition demands at least some offset from the research program to help invest in new facilities. It is the Panel's position that the most equitable and effective way to control the cost of science on the continent is to limit the number of scientists conducting research in Antarctica.
Given the imperative to replace the existing facility at the South Pole and the lack of any current budget plan for doing so, the Panel concludes that four funding sources must be drawn upon. In the following, the dollars cited will be cumulative dollars over the period FY98-FY02.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC(1) NSF should moderately cut back Antarctic field research and its operational support while the new Optimized facility is being built. We have suggested that a $20M reallocation for infrastructure is achievable during the years in which the new station is constructed.
(2) The capability of the replacement South Pole facility should be reduced to the level of the Optimized Station described a few moments ago. This action cuts the cost of a new station by approximately $30M. The replacement station cost thus becomes $120M, to be spread over the five funding years FY98-FY02, compared to the most recent NSF proposal of $150M and to earlier station concepts that ranged up to $200M.
(3) The process of deriving cost reductions associated with the transition of functions from the Navy to the NSF and its contractors should continue to be energetically pursued. This action can be expected to reduce costs by $30M over the period FY98-FY02.
(4) The above steps are what we believe to be prudent steps to reduce the cost of a new facility at South Pole Station and to reduce or reallocate other costs in the Antarctic program. Unfortunately, there remains a funding shortfall which in the Panel's judgment can only be reasonably funded by the provision of an additional $95M over the five years FY98 through FY02 in the NSF budget. This Panel believes that this will permit the phased replacement of the existing South Pole Station without unduly compromising the nation's program of research or jeopardizing its presence in Antarctica.
Seventh. Planning and Budgeting. Our report notes that the lack of a continuing long-range Antarctic integrated capital plan (and supporting budget) makes it virtually impossible to maintain an efficient and modern set of facilities. We recommend that the NSF prepare, and annually update, a long-range plan that coordinates science, support and facility needs to carry out the U.S. Antarctic Program. Implementation funds should be identified to support the long range plan.
Eighth. Management. U.S. operations in Antarctica present a management challenge because of their diversity and the 10,000-mile ''pipeline'' involved in supporting the field operation from the United States. Two management tenets which apply in such situations are to have a single operating manager (for support activities) and to establish an organization under this manager which minimizes the number of interfaces. These principles should be embraced in the evolving management structure.
Page 21 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCNinth. Program Integration. Many, but not all, support functions for Antarctic research can be related to particular research projects. Evaluation of such costs should be made a more explicit part of the review of potential research projects. We believe that more explicit allocation of operational costs could help motivate researchers and support staff to achieve efficiencies on their own.
Tenth. Transition. As noted, the Panel believes all support functions should be under the management of a single prime support contractor. This and other transitions of management responsibilities offer attractive opportunities to ''reinvent'' U.S. operations and to consolidate like-functions and eliminate unneeded functions. We recommend that the NSF and its contractor, since 1990, Antarctic Support Associates, review those functions no longer to be performed by the Department of Defense to ensure they are transferred to the recipient organization in the most efficient possible manner . . . or, where possible, eliminated altogether.
Eleventh. Telecommunications. Although the telecommunications capability in Antarctica has been substantially improved in recent years, it remains substandard. On the other hand, budget pressures may demand that the next major telecommunications upgrade be deferred pending completion of a new South Pole Station at which time relevant new technologies (perhaps based on the use of large constellations of low-orbiting satellites) may become available anyway. The Panel recommends that meanwhile the NSF seek advance arrangements with governmental and commercial geostationary satellite operators to make geostationary satellites systematically available as they reach the end of their economic commercial life.
Twelfth and last. Tourism. Tourism in Antarctica is increasing and is an inevitable facet of an affluent, mobile world. There is no logic to argue that Antarctica should be reserved solely for research scientists; hence, visits by the public should in general be welcomed. On the other hand, a greater presence of humans will require visit management, just as our nation's parks require a management structure that responds to the volume and the nature of usage. Now is the time to work with other nations and agencies to plan for increasing numbers of visitors in a manner which permits the magnificence of Antarctica to be widely enjoyed but is not harmful to the environment or disruptive to the research being done there. Additional issues arise that are best resolved prior to their occurrence, such as who is to fund search and rescue operations and what nations shall have directive air traffic management authority over non-sovereign territory.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCWe recommend that the U.S. Government, presumably the Department of State, convene U.S. Government organizations having interests in Antarctica, develop a policy regarding the increased tourism expected in Antarctica in the years ahead, and work with other interested governments to address this issue in a proactive and cooperative manner.
This last point concludes my formal remarks. I want to close by noting again that our final report, now in preparation, has the support of all eleven of us who served on the External Panel. Since August, when we began our task, we have come to know many of the 3,500 men and women who work in the U.S. Antarctic Program each year, and to have developed a keen appreciation for some of the challenges they face. The changes that we are recommending are intended to help them, in the long run, do their work better and to continue U.S. leadership in Antarctic issues of importance to the Nation and the world.
I will be happy to respond to questions or comments.
BIOGRAPHIES OF MEMBERS
Norman R. Augustine Mr. Augustine, Chairman of the U.S. Antarctic Program External Panel, is Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Lockheed Martin Corporation. He has served as Chairman of the Defense Science Board, the National Academy of Engineering, the White House/NASA Advisory Committee on the Future of the U.S. Space Program, and the Aeronautics Panel of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board, as well as President of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. He holds a B.S.E. and M.S.E. from Princeton University, is the recipient of more than 10 honorary degrees and is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has served as a Trustee of Princeton University and Johns Hopkins University, and as a member of the Advisory Board of The Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He is a former Assistant Director of Defense Research and Engineering in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and a former Under Secretary of the Army. Mr. Augustine has been to Antarctica twice and to the South Pole once.
Page 23 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Richard Alley Dr. Alley is a Professor of Geosciences and Associate of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, University Park, where he has worked since 1988. He graduated with a Ph.D. in 1987 from University of Wisconsin and earned M.S. (1983) and B.S. (1980) degrees from Ohio State University, all in Geology. Dr. Alley teaches and conducts research on the climatic records, flow behavior, and sedimentary deposits of large ice sheets to aid in prediction of future changes in climate and sea level. He is a Packard Fellow, a former Presidential Young Investigator, and the 1996 recipient of the Horton Award of the American Geophysical Union Hydrology Section. Dr. Alley has served on a variety of advisory panels and steering committees for the National Science Foundation, targeted research activities, and professional societies. His Polar experience includes three field seasons in Antarctica, one to the Pole and five in Greenland.
John B. Anderson Dr. Anderson is Professor and Chairman of the Department of Geology and Geophysics at Rice University. He earned his Ph.D. from Florida State University, an M.S. from University of New Mexico and a B.S. from University of South Alabama. He has published 160 articles and has written 150 abstracts, most dealing with Antarctic marine geology and coastal evolution. He has written or contributed to three books--Glacial Marine Sedimentation, Paleoclimatic Significance of Glacial Marine Deposits, and Antarctic Marine Geology. Dr. Anderson was the Associate Editor of Geology from 1991 to 1993. He currently serves on the editorial boards of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists and the American Geophysical Union-Antarctic Research Series. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Polar Research Board, and a member of the Steering Committee-West Antarctic Ice Sheet Study. He received the 1992 Gulf Coast Association of Geological Studies Outstanding Educator Award and the 1996 Rice University Graduate Teaching Award. Dr. Anderson has made 18 expeditions to Antarctica and the Southern Ocean region.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRita R. Colwell Dr. Colwell is President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology. She received her B.S. and M.S. degrees from Purdue University and her Ph.D. from the University of Washington, Seattle. Dr. Colwell has received several honorary degrees, including an honorary Doctor of Science from her Alma Mater, Purdue University. Dr. Colwell was named the 1996 Maryland Legislature Outstanding Woman of the Year. Her other awards include the Medal of Distinction from Barnard College, Columbia University; Andrew White Medal, Loyola College; Purkinje Gold Medal, Czechoslovakia Academy of Sciences; the Maryland State Civic Award (presented by Governor Schaefer); and the Fisher Award, American Society for Microbiology. Dr. Colwell is a past President and Board Chairman of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and has served as President of the International Union of Microbiological Societies, the American Society of Microbiology, and Sigma Xi. She is a Member of the Health and Environment Research Advisory Committee (HERAC), Department of Energy; Board of Trustees, International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh; and Science Board, Food and Drug Administration. Dr. Colwell chaired the Crary Science and Engineering Center Panel, Division (now Office) of Polar Programs, and the Polar Research Committee, National Science Board, and served as Vice-Chair, Polar Research Board, National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Colwell has traveled to Antarctica four times and has made four trips to the South Pole.
Charles E. Hess Dr. Hess is Director of International Programs at the University of California, Davis. He earned his Ph.D. in Physiology, Horticulture and Plant Pathology and an M.S. degree from Cornell University, and holds an B.S. degree from Rutgers University. He is a former Assistant Secretary for Science and Education at the Department of Agriculture. He served as a Member and Vice-Chair of the National Science Board, Member of the U.S. Antarctic Safety Review Panel, and Member of the NSB Committee on the National Science Foundation Role in Polar Regions, which recommended the construction of the Crary Science and Engineering Center. Dr. Hess has made five trips to Antarctica and four trips to the South Pole.
Page 25 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHansford T. (H.T.) Johnson General Johnson, USAF (Ret), is Chairman of the Greater Kelly Development Corp. in San Antonio, Texas. He is responsible for leading the transformation of the $7.5 billion Air Force depot into an industrial center that will perform government and commercial work. He served as the President and CEO of USAA Capital Corp. and was a member of the 1993 Base Closure Commission. As Commander in Chief of the U.S. Transportation Command, he led the movement of the troops and equipment to Panama in 1989 and the Persian Gulf in 1990-91. His command was also responsible for the air and sea lift to Antarctica, and he landed a C-5 Galaxy on the ice at McMurdo Station in 1991. Gen. Johnson was the Deputy Commander of the U.S. Central Command during the escorting of the Kuwaiti tankers through the Persian Gulf and Head of Operations in the Strategic Air Command during the raid on Libya in 1986. Gen. Johnson's responsibilities have included balancing Air Force programs at successive lower levels during a period of ''downsizing.'' He was a combat pilot in Vietnam and was a graduate of the first class--and later served as Assistant Professor--of the USAF Academy. He holds Masters Degrees from Stanford in Aeronautics and Colorado in Business. Gen. Johnson has been to Antarctica twice and the South Pole once.
Lewis E. Link, Jr. Dr. Link is the Director of Research and Development of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Prior to this assignment, he served as the Director and Technical Director of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory in Hanova, New Hampshire, and Fairbanks, Alaska, the principal federal center of expertise for cold regions engineering research serving both the Department of Defense (DoD) and civilian agencies. He has served as the Assistant Chief of the Corps at the Coastal Engineering Research Center and has been active in research, publishing over 90 technical papers and reports. He has served on or chaired advisory boards and technical committees for NASA, American Society of Civil Engineers, Society of American Military Engineers, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, NATO, the Department of Defense, and various universities. Dr. Link earned a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering from Pennsylvania State University, a M.S. in Civil Engineering from Mississippi State University and a B.S. in Geological Engineering from North Carolina State University. Dr. Link has been to Antarctica twice and to the South Pole twice.
Page 26 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCRudy K. Peschel Rear Admiral Peschel, recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard as Chief, Office of Navigation, overseeing that agency's polar operations, among other responsibilities concerning international and domestic waterway safety. Early-career aviation and sea duty took him to Arctic regions during the North Slope oil discovery and transportation development. Headquarters and field command billets involved him in capital planning, resource justification to the Office of Management and Budget and Congress, and major base transitions from the Department of Defense to USCG management. He was Deputy Commander of the multi-agency/multi-nation Western Hemisphere Drug Traffic Task Force and Commander of the ice-intensive Great Lakes District. He spent part of the 1996 icebreaking season at McMurdo Station and aboard USCGC Polar Star. He graduated in 1963 with a B.S. in Engineering from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, in 1966 from Navy Flight Training at Pensacola, and in 1972 from Naval Postgraduate School at Monterey with an M.S. in Management Science. Adm. Peschel has been to the Antarctic and the South Pole twice.
Russell L. (Rusty) Schweickart Mr. Schweickart is President and CEO of ALOHA Networks, Inc. (ANI). He received his B.S. and M. S. degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1956 and 1963. He served in the Air Force and the Massachusetts Air National Guard as a fighter pilot. Selected by NASA in the third group of astronauts in 1963, he flew as the Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 9's flight to the Moon in March 1969. He served as Commander of the backup crew on the first Skylab mission and subsequently as a Program Manager at NASA Headquarters. In 1977, he joined the administration of Governor Jerry Brown of California as his Advisor for Science and Technology. Appointed by the Governor to the California Energy Commission in 1979, Mr. Schweickart served as its Chairman for five years. In 1985, he founded the Association of Space Explorers, the professional organization of astronauts and cosmonauts, and was later the founder and president of Courier Satellite Services, Inc., and Executive Vice President of CTA Commercial Systems, Inc. In 1987-88, Mr. Schweickart chaired the National Science Foundation's Antarctic Safety Review Panel producing the ''Safety in Antarctica'' report. Mr. Schweickart has been to Antarctica three times and to the South Pole twice.
Page 27 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCSusan Solomon Dr. Solomon is a Senior Scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Aeronomy Laboratory. She served as Head Project Scientist for the National Ozone Expedition at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, in 1986-7, and has been a leader in ozone research for more than a decade. Her theoretical and observational work was key to identifying the cause of the Antarctic ozone hole, and she has received numerous honors in recognition of those studies. She is a Member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a foreign associate of the French Academie des Sciences. She has previously served as Chair of the Advisory Committee for the National Science Foundation's Division of Polar Programs and as a member of the Polar Research Board, National Research Council. She earned her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, her B.S. degree from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and she has three honorary doctorate degrees. Dr. Solomon has been to Antarctica four times and to the South Pole once.
Edward C. Stone Dr. Stone has been Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) since January 1991, and a Vice President and David Morrisroe Professor of Physics at California Institute of Technology. He earned his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Physics from the University of Chicago. He is Chairman of the California Association for Research in Astronomy, which is responsible for the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. Dr. Stone is a Member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society and the International Academy of Astronautics, and received the National Medal of Science from President Bush. He has been an investigator on 14 NASA missions and served as the Chief Scientist for the Voyager Mission. He has been to Antarctica once and to the South Pole once.
TERMS OF REFERENCE
UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC PROGRAM EXTERNAL PANEL
Page 28 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCIn its April 1996 report on the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), the National Science and Technology Council (via its Committee on Fundamental Science), determined that:
''The National Science Foundation has implemented U.S. policy in an effective manner''
''the USAP research program is of very high quality''
''at the current level of investment, the USAP is cost effective in advancing American scientific and geopolitical objectives; from a science perspective, the NSTC supports the continuation of three stations with year-round presence.''
''maintaining an active and influential presence in Antarctica, including year-round operation of South Pole Station, is essential to U.S. policy interests.''
The NSTC also recognized, however, that budgetary uncertainties place a premium on detailed understanding of cost reduction options. Thus, the NSTC recommended that ''an external panel be convened by NSF to explore options for sustaining the high level of USAP science activity under realistic constrained funding levels.''
The report suggests that the panel should ''examine a full range of infrastructure, management, and scientific options.'' In particular, I request that the panel examine and make recommendations concerning: the stations and logistics systems that support the science while maintaining appropriate environmental, safety, and health standards; the efficiency and appropriateness of the management of these support systems; and how and at what level the science programs are implemented. The panel's views and recommendations should include consideration of eventual replacement of South Pole Station and other infrastructure.
The panel's advice is sought on how the USAP can maintain the high quality of the research program and implement the U.S. policy in Antarctica under realistic budget scenarios.
Page 29 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Administration's projections are that the overall National Science Foundation budget will decrease somewhat through fiscal year 2000 before increasing with inflation for the subsequent two years. Thus, one scenario that should receive particular attention is that corresponding to a budget freeze for the USAP science program and infrastructure, including South Pole Station. Purchasing power would decrease by approximately 15% between now and the year 2002 in this scenario. Supplemental funding from other federal agencies or other sources within NSF should not be assumed, but the panel is encouraged to consider best practices developed by these agencies and the private sector in operating remote facilities, as well as new technologies (e.g., robotics) and approaches that could yield further efficiencies and cost savings. NSF looks to the Panel to recommend promising approaches and investments that can produce significant long-term savings in the USAP.
In considering other scenarios, the panel is encouraged to identify areas in which substantial increases in program effectiveness would result from resource reallocations or short-term changes in budget profiles. Capital investments that lead to overall reductions in life-cycle costs should receive careful attention under all budget scenarios considered.
NSF will evaluate and seek to implement the recommendations of the panel to the extent practical within the context of overall budget constraints and competing requirements.
Input to the FY 1998 budget process is highly desirable (October-December 1996 timeframe), and thus the panel is asked to report in two phases.
(1) In the first phase, options for cost savings within the current program scope should be explored and recommendations developed for how these cost savings could best be applied to meet the science, foreign policy, and national security objectives of the USAP. A useful specific target might be seeking savings adequate to support South Pole Station replacement within the current budget envelope. These results, provided late in 1996, will furnish a useful benchmark for the budget process and for the Panel's further deliberations.
Page 30 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC(2) In the second phase, the Panel is asked to examine the full range of options available to optimize the Antarctic program at various funding levels.
In its deliberations the panel should consider:
priority, scope, and scale of the various science programs
options for use and levels of activity at research stations, field camps, and research vessels
changes in logistics and supply operations to optimize delivery of science.
increased use of robotic or other automated technologies and possible reductions in on-site presence of program personnel.
cost sharing with international partners at a program and infrastructure level. investments that over the long term would improve the program and reduce life-cycle costs.
The report should include a summary of the panel's recommendations on maintaining an effective program in the various scenarios, with an explicit statement of the assumptions and tradeoffs made.
The panel charge is complex, but I ask that the panel provide its final report to me in early 1997. The recommendations will guide me in my planning and policy discussions within the NSF and NSB, as well as with OSTP, OMB, and the Congress as we seek to sustain the high quality USAP science programs and maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica in the face of budget realities.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCAUGUST 2, 1996
United States Department of State,
Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs,
Washington, DC. 20520-7250, January 27, 1997
Mr. Norman Augustine,
Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer,
Lockheed Martin Corporation,
6801 Rockledge Drive,
Bethesda, Maryland 20817
I would like to underline our interest in seeing strategic and foreign policy considerations accorded due weight in examining options for the future United States Antarctic Program, including United States presence in Antarctica. The fact that you are chairing the external review panel examining these options, (already known as the Augustine Panel), in itself, is reassuring to us on this score.
When the Congress mandated a study of future United States presence in Antarctica in light of growing budget constraints, it was clear that United States strategic and foreign policy objectives, as well as science priorities, were at stake. The importance of our strategic and foreign policy interests in Antarctica is summarized in the Department of State's Memorandum of March 9, 1996 to the National Security Council. The Department of Defense cleared this memorandum. A copy is attached.
We have coordinated further with DOD and wish to reiterate the basic point that maintaining an active and influential United States presence in Antarctica serves important strategic and foreign policy objectives. This presence in Antarctica, anchored at the South Pole, gives us a decisive voice in the Antarctic Treaty system, which is the basis for the peace and stability of the area.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Treaty prohibits military and nuclear activities in Antarctica and guarantees freedom of scientific research there. It sets aside disputes over territorial claims which would otherwise put us at odds with important allies and guarantees our access to the entire continent for peaceful purposes. Moreover, it has proven a dynamic and resilient basis for dealing with new issues relating to resources and the environment.
It is essential that our strategic and foreign policy objectives be reflected in the important decisions that must be made about the future U.S. presence and program in Antarctica. In our judgment, when viewed from the perspective of overall national objectives, investment in this presence, including rebuilding and continued occupation of South Pole Station, will be seen as cost-effective as well as necessary.
I wish you every success in overseeing completion of the work of the Panel.
With best wishes,
TIMOTHY E. WIRTH
March 9, 1996
MEMORANDUM FOR ANDREW D. SENS
NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
SUBJECT: ANTARCTICA: FUNDING OF THE UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC PROGRAM, INCLUDING SOUTH POLE STATION
Page 33 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe United States has important foreign policy and national security interests in Antarctica. These interests are given concrete expression through the Antarctic Treaty of 1959. The Treaty guarantees freedom of scientific research in Antarctica and prohibits military and nuclear activities, with rights of on site inspection to assure compliance. It is the indispensable basis for successful pursuit by the United States of the unique opportunities Antarcticaa offers for scientific research, as well as associated goals of protecting the environmentt of Antarctica and conserving its resources.
The Treaty's framework for managing conflicts over territorial sovereignty in Antarctica has prevented regional conflicts such as the dispute over the Beagle Channel or the Falklands war from spreading to Antarctica. The international peace and political stability in the area resulting from the Treaty has greatly supported foreign and national policy objectives of the United States. Moreover, the importance of Antarctica for national security, environmental and scientific interests was reflected in PDD-26 signed by President Clinton.
The success of the Antarctic Treaty and the achievement of United States interests through it rest upon the year round presence in Antarctica maintained by the United States Antarctic Program (USAP), the program of scientific research and associated logistics funded and managed by the National Science Foundation. The most visible symbol of this presence is South Pole Station, in continuous operation since 1956.
Budget constraints have raised important issues relating to United States presence in Antarctica. The Senate Appropriations Committee has expressed concern over the costs of the USAP and called for the National Science and Technology Council to review United States presence in Antarctica. U.S. facilities at the South Pole have reached the end of their design life and need replacement.
The Department believes that our foreign policy and national interests must be reflected in budgetary decisions affecting United States presence in Antarctica. This presence is particularly important when viewed in the light of the dispute over territorial sovereignty in Antarctica. Seven nations (Argentina, Australia, Chile, France, New Zealand, Norway and the U.K.) assert claims to territorial sovereignty over parts of Antarctica. The claims of Argentina, Chile and the U.K. overlap. The United States, along with Russia and others active in Antarctica, reject claims and assert the right of access to all areas of Antarctica for peaceful purposes. At the same time, the United States has a solid basis of claim in Antarctica, resulting from its activities there prior to 1959.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Antarctic Treaty includes imaginative juridical and decisionmaking provisions that permit Parties to agree to disagree over sovereignty. It freezes previously asserted rights and claims to territorial sovereignty in Antarctica, including reservation of any prior basis of claim (e.g., the United States basis of claim). It prohibits new claims and provides that no acts or activities carried out while the Treaty is in force may constitute a basis for a claim. Decisionmaking authority in the Treaty system is linked to actual involvement in activities in Antarctica. The twelve nations that negotiated the Treaty were all active in scientific research on the continent. Participation in decisionmaking by nations that subsequently become Party requires demonstration of interest in Antarctica by the conduct of substantial scientific research there.
The Treaty has proven to be durable and dynamic, evolving to deal effectively with new scientific, environmental and resource management issues and to accommodate new participants. The number of Treaty Parties active in Antarctica has grown from the original twelve to twenty-six and includes all permanent members of the United Nations Security Council as well as Japan, India and Brazil. The regular meetings of the Treaty Parties provide a forum for peaceful cooperation among them even when bilateral relations are strained or hostile. For example, Argentina and the U.K. continued to interact peacefully within this forum during the Falklands War and the United States and Soviet Union were able to cooperate on Antarctic matters even when relations were at their worst.
More than any other nation, the United States benefits from the Antarctic Treaty. The potential for international discord and conflict over Antarctica that would exist absent the Treaty is, if anything, greater now than when it was negotiated. The United States has developed a world class program of scientific research in Antarctica and shaped the innovative resource management arrangements that have evolved under the Treaty. The effective operation of the Antarctic Treaty is a direct result of the active and influential United States presence in Antarctica maintained through the Antarctic Program. This presence accords the United States a decisive role in the Treaty's activities based decision system and in maintaining the political and legal balance that makes the Treaty work.
Page 35 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCThe Department of State believes it essential that the United States continue to maintain an active and influential presence in Antarctica, including year-round operation of South Pole Station. United States presence at the South Pole Station demonstrates United States commitment to assert its rights in Antarctica, its basis of claim, and its commitment to conduct cutting edge scientific research there. Abandonment of the Station would create a vacuum and likely result in a scramble to occupy the site, to the detriment of our position as well as to the stability of the Treaty system.
Shrinking budgets raise issues of priority, particularly in respect of capital outlays such as are projected for necessary replacement of South Pole Station. However, funding decisions on the United States Antarctic Program must be based on the fact that it is a national program that serves important foreign policy and national objectives as well as basic scientific, environmental and economic interests. From this perspective, appropriation of the funds necessary to maintain an active and influential United States presence in Antarctica, including renovation of South Pole Station, represents both a priority and cost effective investment.
The Department of Defense has cleared this memorandum.
WILLIAM J. BURNS, Executive Secretary
Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Chairman, I wonder, just before Mr. Augustine begins, if I can be recognized just for a moment.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from New Mexico.
Mr. SCHIFF. I thank you. I promise to be very brief.
Of course, I join you in welcoming Mr. Augustine here and thanking you, Mr. Augustine, for the effort you've put into this particular matter.
I just want to say that this particular area of Antarctic research falls under the jurisdiction of my Subcommittee. But I want to say I am very pleased, Mr. Chairman, that you've brought this matter to the Full Committee level. I think that it's a matter that Congress has not focused on as much as it should, and I think your choosing to make this a Full Committee matter is one that will enhance the importance of this issue before the Congress, and I appreciate it.
Page 36 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Second, I want to say to Mr. Augustine that, I think like yourself, Mr. Chairman, we'll be elsewhere for a mark-up this morning, and I have even another mark-up going on in another Committee.
Mr. Augustine is more than accustomed to our comings and goings and knows full well that it's the permanent record here that is most important.
So I apologize in advance for that necessity to be going back and forth.
I have a few brief additional remarks that I ask unanimous consent to be made part of the record.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Schiff follows:]
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. STEVE SCHIFF
I want to commend the Chairman for holding this hearing on ''The United States and Antarctica in the 21st Century.''
I want to join with Chairman Sensenbrenner and thank Mr. Norm Augustine and his External Panel for all their hard work.
As the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Basic Research, our Subcommittee has been assigned the jurisdiction for the Antarctic Programs and this hearing is extremely helpful in our ongoing authorization process for the National Science Foundation FY 98.
The Subcommittee understands that the United States has important foreign policy, national security, scientific, and environmental interests in the Antarctic. Since I have assumed the Subcommittee Chairmanship in the last Congress, I have been conducting oversight of the entire Antarctic program. The Subcommittee has been following closely the proposal for the re-building of the South Pole Station, the transfer of logistical support from the Navy to the Air Guard, and the health and safety issues currently at Amundsen-Scott Station.
Page 37 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCI look forward to hearing the External Panel's recommendations today. They will prove beneficial as we draft our NSF authorization bill over the upcoming weeks.
Mr. SCHIFF. Thank you. I yield back, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Mrs. Morella wants to welcome a constituent.
Mrs. MORELLA. I do indeed. And Mr. Chairman, I'd like to ask unanimous consent that my opening statement, which deals with how wonderful Antarctica is, having visited there, and how wonderful Mr. Augustine, be included in the record.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection.
[The prepared statement of Mrs. Morella follows:]
STATEMENT OF HON. CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, SCIENCE COMMITTEE, U.S. AND ANTARCTICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY, MARCH 12, 1997
Mr. Chairman, I am very pleased to welcome an old friend, Norm Augustine, to the Committee this morning.
In addition to his superlative efforts at Lockheed Martin, Norm has also devoted his time on many commissions and boards on behalf of our Nation--including serving as Chairman of the United States Antarctic Program External Panel.
In this regard, Norm and I have always shared a strong interest in Antarctica.
I have long been an ardent supporter for the preservation of the Antarctic Continent and its surrounding seas and the scientific research which is done there.
I was very proud to have worked diligently for the landmark passage of the Antarctic Environmental Protection Act, which we passed into law this past September.
While the United States took one small environmental step in ratifying the Antarctic Environmental Protocol, when the remaining ratifying nations finally enact the protocol, it will be the world's Antarctic settlements and the Antarctic Continent which will be taking one giant collective leap forward to protect its environment from the adverse effects of human activities.
Page 38 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCHaving had the opportunity to personally visit and participate in studies in Antarctica, under the guidance of the National Science Foundation, I clearly understand the need to reinforce the status of Antarctica as a natural reserve dedicated to peace and science.
Antarctica provides the world with an unmatched natural laboratory for scientific research.
This international research is making invaluable contributions to our insights into the history of the Earth, the evolution of our universe, world climate change, global ocean circulation, ozone depletion, and astronomy, among many other very important planetary issues.
There are, however, pressures on the Antarctic environment from the effect of human activity, which has risen fairly dramatically since research activities have intensified over the past few decades.
Today, there are more scientific stations on the continent, housing more scientists and support personnel, than ever.
Coupled with an increasing rise in Antarctic tourism, additional pressures are made daily to this very unique and delicate environment.
The need to move forward on implementing the Antarctic Environmental Protocol was clear and compelling. Environmental concerns, however, were not the only concerns we have with Antarctica. The United States also has both national security and foreign policy interests there.
I would like to thank Norm, and the members of his panel, for their valuable insights and recommendations as we, in Congress, consider the question of the future role of the United States in Antarctica.
Working together to develop a coherent strategy and developing guidelines for our Nation's presence in Antarctica, we can preserve this fragile and still-developing glacier ecosystem for generations to come, while also engaging in productive and important scientific research.
Welcome Norm, I look forward to your testimony and to reviewing the External Panel's report.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Page 39 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
Mrs. MORELLA. But, Mr. Chairman, I just wanted to welcome my old friend, Norm Augustine, to the Committee this morning to give us his expertise.
In addition to his superlative efforts at Lockheed Martin, Norm has also devoted his time to many commissions, boards on behalf of our nation, including serving as chairman of this United States Antarctic Program External Panel.
He is a writer. He is a scholar. He is a philanthropist. He is a volunteer. He is an executive, an entrepreneur, and he's a good friend.
And so I welcome him and look forward to hearing his comments.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Now would Mr. Augustine like to quit while he's ahead?
STATEMENT OF NORMAN AUGUSTINE, CHAIRMAN, UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC PROGRAM EXTERNAL PANEL, THE NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION, ARLINGTON, VIRGINIA
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Well, thank you, Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee. Thank you for those generous comments.
I would like to submit for the record a formal statement and speak informally for a few moments as well.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Without objection.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I really appear, not as an individual so much as a representative of the 11 members of our External Review Panel. Those members in most cases are quite familiar with Antarctica, having made a total of 44 trips to Antarctica among the 11 members.
Page 40 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As a panel, we spent 7 rather full days receiving briefings. We spent 8 days traveling to and from Antarctica just after the Christmas holidays, including 2 days at the Pole.
We solicited public comments and comments from people involved at the program. We received over 200 such comments that were extremely helpful and I think indicative of the interest in the U.S. Antarctic program.
It's obvious that the Committee, most members have traveled to the Pole themselves and so, if you'll forgive me if some of what I say is somewhat familiar to you.
Certainly as the Committee knows, the United States today operates three major facilities in Antarctica and a number of temporary facilities. The permanent facilities would be Palmer Station on the Antarctic Peninsula, McMurdo Station, and Amundsen-Scott Station at the Pole.
In addition, we operate two ships--we as a Nation operate two ships, the Polar Duke and the Nathaniel B. Palmer, that are closely associated with the scientific activities conducted at Palmer Station.
The overall budget in Fiscal Year 1997 for the Antarctic program was $193 million, of which $70 million goes to science and science support. Of that, $40 million is science support, direct support, and $30 million is science itself.
Those ratios give some indication of the difficulty and challenge of conducting science in such an unforgiving and difficult environment.
Our panel has 22 principal findings and 12 recommendations which will be documented very shortly in our report that will be released.
Today, in view of time, I'm going to just touch on a few of the principal recommendations that I think might be of interest to the Committee. Our report will be available to you very shortly.
The first topic certainly would have to be the subject that you, Mr. Chairman, raised, and that has to do with U.S. presence in Antarctica.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC As you know, there are seven nations who have made claims, sometimes overlapping, to territorial rights in Antarctica.
The United States policy, long and consistent and reconfirmed to our panel by the State Department, is that the United States believes that Antarctica should be preserved as a nonsovereign territory available for the benefit of all human kind.
And indeed, Antarctica is a fine example of international cooperation.
On the other hand, there are frictions that underlie that caused by these overlapping claims. By and large, the claims are, geographically speaking, pie-shaped pieces bounded on the sides by lines of longitude and with the apex at the South Pole.
By having the United States stationed right at the Pole, basically the United States overlaps each of these claims. And it's our panel's conclusion that a significant and perhaps the most significant factor in preserving the stability of Antarctica from a geopolitical standpoint is the U.S. presence there.
It's further our belief that presence needs to be a year-round presence. One can't establish presence, we believe, by appearing strictly during the Antarctic summer season.
We also believe that the Pole is the crown jewel of Antarctica, both from a political standpoint and also from a scientific standpoint. So a station at the Pole is very critical.
A station on the peninsula is, we believe, quite important. For one reason, it's the most accessible part of Antarctica. Further, there are in fact overlapping claims in the peninsula. And from a scientific standpoint, that's where much of the interesting biological research can be done.
If one is to have a station at the Pole, one also needs a logistics base and it turns out that McMurdo Station is the most southerly point accessible by water and with dry land a good part of the year.
So those three stations seem to form a rather good collection, both to conduct science and to establish presence.
Page 42 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Turning to science, we found the quality of the science at Antarctica to be very high, very consistent with science that we're familiar with conducted elsewhere, including here in the United States.
The Antarctic scientific program, as well as the program in general, we found to be extremely well managed by the National Science Foundation. The NSF has taken a number of actions to reduce costs, has plans to make additional cost reductions, and for an institution that was established basically to conduct science or to oversee the conduct of science, it's quite remarkable how well it's dealt with this enormous logistical challenge that it faces.
You're well aware that the Navy will soon be departing its role in Antarctica. Many of the responsibilities will be privatized. Some will be shifted to the Air Force National Guard.
The science we saw we felt was quite important, ranging from the studies of the ozone hole to investigations of the origin of the universe, Project Amanda.
Antarctic turns out, for various reasons, to be a fine place to find meteorites, such as the one that recently suggested at least the possibility of very primitive life forms on Mars.
The health of the west Antarctic ice sheet is of great importance to all of us from the standpoint that sheet did at one time apparently melt and then re-establish itself. Were it to melt again, it would raise sea level by some 12 feet, with important implications for much of the population of the planet that does indeed live near the coastlines.
Let me turn to the subject of international involvement.
It's been suggested that by increasing international participation and cost-sharing, the United States might be able to reduce its own costs.
International cooperation in Antarctica in science today is very healthy. The panel strongly encourages that.
On the other hand, our panel concluded that seeking international support of the funding of permanent stations--namely for the capital structure--would not be in the best interest of either the United States or of stability in Antarctica, geopolitical stability.
Page 43 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The reason the panel feels that way is that if various nations were to contribute funds to the maintenance of a facility, permanent facility, it would not be unreasonable that they would expect some role in the governance of those facilities and in the operation of those facilities and ultimately, in the so-called title to those facilities.
So while we strongly support international cooperation in research and in logistics, such as is going on today at a rather extensive pace, we are not supportive of the notion of international financial involvement in U.S. capital facilities in Antarctica.
A brief word about tourism.
Tourism is clearly rising in Antarctica, with important implications for the environment there, a very brittle environment, and also important implications in such areas as who has the authority to provide directive air traffic control. Who has the responsibility to provide search and rescue?
It's our view that it would be very appropriate for the United States and other nations, in anticipation of this growing tourism, to agree on how many of these difficult issues are to be dealt with. And the time to do that would be now, rather than after some of these incidents may have occurred.
And that brings me to the subject of facilities, an extremely important aspect of the charter we were given.
The facilities at Palmer Station and at McMurdo Sound are generally good facilities, in need of some upgrading. We've recommended some specific actions to be taken there.
Our principal concern is the facility at the South Pole, Amundsen-Scott Base, which, candidly, is a facility in great disrepair, a facility of some not inconsiderable health and safety risks, particularly in such an unforgiving environment, very dry, very subject to fire, and without the opportunity for much of the year of outside help or support, in case of a problem.
It's our committee's view, our panel's view, that the United States would not assign scientists to work in the Arctic under conditions and in the facilities of the type that we have in Antarctica.
Page 44 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC It's our belief we would not send a ship to sea or a spacecraft to orbit in the condition of the facilities that we have at the pole.
We examined four options for upgrading the facilities. One was basically to continue to patch up the existing facility and maintain it as long as one possibly could.
The second was to make minimal safety upgrades to the facility. And I should note that, of course, this committee strongly supported last year a $25 million supplement to the Fiscal Year 1997 budget, in order to make some of the most critical improvements to the South Pole station, including upgrading the garage, the fuel storage area, the electric power system, and so on.
The third option we examined is a new station. Any new station will take, under those conditions at the pole, on the order of half a dozen years to budget and to build.
So we're looking at a new station at the earliest in the earlier part of the next century. In the meantime, the existing station must continue to operate. And in our cost estimates, we allowed for statistical costs of continuing to operate obsolescent equipment.
The new facility that was proposed originally by many who have looked at the requirements in Antarctica is a very fine facility which our panel would certainly endorse.
However, we also recognize, as the Committee pointed out, the strong pressures on budgeting for the NSF, indeed, for the federal budget as a whole.
Our panel, thus defined, with the help of NSF, a reduced capability, less costly facility, that reduced the cost by about $30 million. The cost of that facility, then, will be about $125 million to establish. There's another $5 million roughly that's needed to fix existing components prior to the time that the new facility can be put in place.
We identified some $15 million of what we believe to be very high priority needs at Palmer and McMurdo. So that adds up to about $145 million of demand, if you will.
We sought to find offsets to those costs. And with the help of the NSF or, really, with the leadership of the NSF, we've identified about $30 million of cost reductions over the next 5 years that we believe are achievable.
Page 45 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC We also believe that it's appropriate that during this period, that there be a temporary reduction in the science effort itself. Part of that is our belief that the science community should have to carry part of the burden of rebuilding the South Pole station. And we've recommended about a $20 million reduction over 5 years in science and science support.
So if you take the $145 million requirement, subtract the $50 million saving, one arrives at a $95 million unfunded demand over the next 5-year period. This is after, of course, downsizing the station by some $30 million.
I'm sure the Committee is interested in the spread of those numbers over the 5-year period. We can provide those to you, but I happen to recall that the Fiscal Year 1997 figure represented a demand of $26.7 million over what was in the original budget plan.
Mr. Chairman, and members of the Committee, I believe that summarizes our panel's principal findings. As I said, there's an elaboration in the written statement. There will be further elaboration in the formal report.
And I'd be happy to try to answer any questions you might have.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Thank you very much, Mr. Augustine. And again, thanks for your very clear and incisive work.
As you know, the original NSF request was for $181 million. I think you shaved it down to $120.
$95 million, and you're adding, plus the $20 million in reduced science while this is being redone, still leaves us about $5 million short.
Is that $5 million supposed to be picked up from additional savings within NSF programs?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Mr. Chairman, I'm afraid I'm not familiar with the overall NSF budget and their request. I'm only familiar with this segment.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Well, just to clarify, perhaps.
You suggested $95 million in additional funding to redo the South Pole station, plus $20 million that would be saved from reduced science efforts.
The cost is $120 million. So that leaves us $5 million short. And I was wondering where you thought that would come from?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Yes. It's our belief that--maybe what I should do is reiterate the numbers just to be sure that I've properly portrayed them.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Sure.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. A new station would require about $125 million over the next 5 years, not now in the plan. We believe there's an additional $5 million of just maintenance and repair to the existing station, not now in the basic plan.
And $15 million additional needed at Palmer and McMurdo. That's $145 million new requirement.
We've offset that $45 with $30 million of cost savings and we've made recommendations. Another $20 million reduction in the science budget. So there's really $95 million required over and above what we understand to be in the plan.
Now we are told that there has been a $25 million placeholder submitted that could be used to offset that $145 million.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. I understand now. The NSF $181 million plan suggested to have a permanent capability of 110 people available down at the pole.
You have suggested going down to a 75-person station as a way to save money and to make these necessary repairs a little bit more affordable and salable.
I expect to hear complaints from the scientific community that the reduction in berths from 110 to 75 will be a reduction in the number of scientists that will be able to go to the Pole because the maintenance and administrative personnel would be kind of fixed if we have a 75-person station or if we have 110-person station.
Page 47 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Was that concern factored into your decision and recommendation?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We believe that one of the principal ways to control the cost of science in Antarctica is to control the presence on the continent.
In fact, without that control, it's likely that costs will tend to increase with time.
The facilities at Antarctica that we have proposed do provide additional growth during the summer season. There's a summer camp, so called, that you saw that are adequate temporary facilities for summer use.
So the winter contingent would be basically the same as it is today. In summer, permanent quality facilities would be downsized somewhat.
But there in addition is the summer camp to handle overflow.
So it's our belief that the facilities are quite adequate for the science to be conducted.
[The following clarification was received for the record:]
In April 1996, when the NSTC published its report on the U.S. Antarctic Program, NSF had prepared six South Pole Station size options ranging in population from 25 to 200. The Optimized Station that the External Panel is recommending reconfigures NSF's 110-person (enhanced) option from three elevated buildings to two and reduces or deletes various systems that are not critical for the conduct of science; it retains the ability to support a station population of 110.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. Thank you. The gentleman from Tennessee is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. GORDON. Mr. Augustine, I want to concur with your observations of the importance of the South Pole to this country, the need for international cooperation, yet still autonomy for the United States in those critical areas like the South Pole proper.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And the need to upgrade our facilities there, but to try to do it in an economic way.
Directly in your comments, you mentioned reducing the science or the cost, thereby science, and indirectly by reducing the size.
I was wondering whether you had the opportunity to see what kind of prioritizing and evaluation of the science there that was being done and whether it was adequate, and what would be your recommendation as to a way to prioritize the science as those reductions that you're recommending are made.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We did review the science program being conducted in Antarctica.
There are of course many different facets, as you well know, ranging from biological work to astronomy to environmental work to geological research and so on.
It was our view that there is no obvious imbalance in the work that's being conducted today. The program seems sensible.
Mr. GORDON. But is there a way to prioritize it? Within those different categories?
If you're going to have to cut out 10 percent, what is the 10 percent that may be less productive?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We decided that it would be probably inappropriate for our committee to try to dictate individual science projects that should be cut out.
Mr. GORDON. But what about a system for that, though?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. There is a system which we think could in fact be modified and improved. Basically, it's a system of peer review that's been long established and very effective.
However, the peer review system as it exists today basically focuses on the quality of the science with relatively lesser or relatively after-the-fact consideration of the cost of the science.
One of our recommendations that I didn't discuss was that we modify this peer-review system whereby the cost of the science is given equal weight with the benefit from the science in determining what work should be done.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So, having done that, we think there is a process basically in place with that change.
Mr. GORDON. Within the National Science Foundation?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Within the National Science Foundation, where, by peer review, people who are more familiar with these particular projects than we can go through one by one and establish a priority.
We did say, however, that in view of the logistics burden at the Pole, much of the airlift will be consumed by rebuilding a station for the next 5 years. Obviously, one would look to reducing the science at the Pole just because of the inability to support it at the current level.
Mr. GORDON. Five minutes go quickly, so let me try to get one more question in here, if I could, please.
Two minutes left, I understand, before Beulah rings.
When I was there, I noticed that there were a lot of, if you want to say, brand-name manufacturers that had products, whether they were cranes, whether they were automobiles, trucks, whatever, at the Pole that had been functioning there for quite some time.
Was there any thought given to in a responsible way setting up or making available for endorsements, if you will, that X-truck had been working there for 10 years and every time they started it, it cranked up, for those kinds of commercial endorsements, if someone obviously would pay a commercial rate with some kind of an umbrella that it would be certainly appropriate and accurate information?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We did consider that. It does appear to be a source of augmentation of at least modest additional funds.
One of our panelists happens to be an astronaut who was involved in the Apollo program and added some cautions to us, in the sense that he told this famous story of the Tang, that the astronauts, after doing a blind test, they decided that it was Tang that they all liked.
Page 50 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Then the maker of Tang wanted to say that the astronauts chose that. And the question then became, does the United States Government want to put its imprint on Tang or on some specific product?
And so, he said it became very complex legally to try to do this.
But it does seem to us that there should be a way to encourage manufacturers to provide equipment free and have the benefit of at least being able to say, factually, that that's our equipment at the South Pole and it works, or in Antarctica and it works.
Mr. GORDON. I think that obviously there has to be some discretion with this.
There's equipment there that has been working and I assume, appropriately, and that to be able to state those facts would be of great commercial benefit to someone. And if it is a fact and if they feel that it's appropriate, I think that we should look into those funds.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman from Maryland, Mr. Bartlett.
Mr. BARTLETT. Thank you very much. I appreciate your testimony. Thank you.
I'd just like to follow up on the gentleman's line of questioning about involvement of private sector and the opportunities for increasing the involvement of the private sector by providing opportunities for them to capitalize on the contribution that they have made to the scientific effort at Antarctica.
Did your committee look in any specific way at how that might be accomplished? Or do you have a recommendation for a procedure that could be pursued to determine how to amplify, how to enhance the opportunity for commercial firms to become partners in this scientific exploration and to appropriately economically in advertising benefit from it?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Mr. Bartlett, I think there are perhaps several levels that one could pursue, and I'll try to be brief so as not to use your time.
One would be the idea that Mr. Gordon has mentioned of having products contributed.
Page 51 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Another is for industrial firms to join forces with universities to conduct joint research projects that could be conducted in Antarctica.
A third has to do with the logistics and operation of the facility, which in fact today is being privatized with the shift from Navy logistic support to a private contractor with subcontractors as well.
And so I think we'll see a U.S. Antarctic program that has heavy industrial involvement over the next few years. Our panel strongly endorses that.
Mr. BARTLETT. Well, thank you. I think that our Committee is in the enviable position of having responsibility for the last two frontiers in the world--Antarctica and space. And I think that we need to exploit the opportunities for involving the private sector in these two exciting last frontiers.
Thank you very much.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman's time has expired.
The gentleman from Indiana, Mr. Roemer.
Mr. ROEMER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I too want to welcome Mr. Augustine to the Committee. And I would be remiss if I didn't pass on especially warm comments from my in-laws, who used to live next to you for many years.
They send their very best. And I won't get into any of the stories that I've heard.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. That was more dangerous than Antarctica.
Mr. ROEMER. Let me begin by just asking you, in your recommendations, of the $20 million savings on science, I assume that would be until the construction and improvement is done.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. That's correct. It was our view that would be a temporary action and that once the demands for construction had let up, the science program could re-establish itself.
Mr. ROEMER. So you would strongly support this Committee and the appropriate Committees, then, recommending and finding a way to get this $20 million back into the science component of the Antarctica science programs.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. AUGUSTINE. That would absolutely be the view of the panel.
Mr. ROEMER. Let me ask you another question, then.
You seem to really have emphasized the geopolitical concerns here. Certainly, the sensitivity here with the number of nations involved is important, their sensitivity to our military presence or our naval presence, with the ramifications of the 1959 treaty and so forth.
Is it fair for the National Science Foundation, then, given this emphasis on geopolitics, for the National Science Foundation to assume much of the burden of construction and infrastructure and geopolitical costs?
Should we try to encourage some other source of funding here?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. That's a very good question. I think our panel would say that there are several very good reasons to be in Antarctica. One is geopolitical. One is science. One is stewardship of the environment. And there are probably others.
In our view, the geopolitical considerations alone justify having probably three stations at Antarctica. They wouldn't probably be as large as they are today, but we believe that is the case.
As you point out, the NSF in Antarctica basically acts as an agent for the United States to carry out United States policy. And so, in that sense, it not only probably isn't equitable. It probably is not possible for the NSF to occasionally face major capital expenditures of the type that are required to sustain an operation of the magnitude of Antarctica.
Mr. ROEMER. Were you able to explore any other options or do you have any recommendations that we may look at through the State Department or other funding sources?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We did speak to the State Department with regard to its conviction that the United States should maintain a presence in Antarctica. We did not discuss alternative funding sources.
In fact, the panel got as far as saying that there's a $95-million shortfall over the next 5 years and frankly, at that point, we basically withdrew.
Page 53 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. ROEMER. So if you did continue to pursue this, I would hope that you would be in touch with the Committee and be able to recommend any other sources.
I do agree with you that the financial burden upon the NSF, which is primarily interested in science, then as a prime contractor and as a manager of the construction or improvement of these facilities, that might be stretching their expertise and their capabilities.
Let me just end by asking you to comment, if you can, on this. And if you can't, maybe you'd do it in a written answer.
Your sixth recommendation, you state that you find it almost remarkable that NSF has been able to manage this program as well as they have. In addition to a source of funding coming from something other than NSF, do you have any recommendations as to how we should manage these three facilities in the future?
Should it be done primarily under NSF? Who would you recommend, or how would you recommend we deal with the single prime contractor and subcontractors?
Mr. AUGUSTINE. We have a number of recommendations in our report concerning management, but let me just very briefly respond to your question.
It's our view that NSF is doing a superb job of managing the program. Science is, other than presence, which is sort of a passive activity, science is the heart of what takes place in Antarctica today, which is logical for NSF to manage.
The only principal changes we would suggest would be that as the NSF converts to a civilian contract logistic support, that they have a single prime contractor.
But other than that, we think the basic management structure is sensible.
Mr. ROEMER. Thank you.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Thank you.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. The gentleman's time is expired. The gentleman from Tennessee is recognized for 1 minute for a clarification.
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. GORDON. Mr. Augustine, I just wanted to quickly clarify my I guess comments concerning sponsorship.
They were not limited to just having manufacturers provide their products for use at the South Pole. It was also a suggestion to look into the possibility of allowing manufacturers to buy the right to advertise that their product had been used, and again, in an appropriate way and all this, for X-period of time, under X-circumstances, and that had been satisfactory, that sort of thing.
I think there's probably more money to be gained in that regard than just in providing the product itself.
Mr. AUGUSTINE. Yes, you made that clear. I think that's appropriate.
Chairman SENSENBRENNER. And to further clarify the record, the gentleman from Tennessee wants to charge me for unfurling a Packer flag at the South Pole as run up to the Super Bowl.
Thank you very much, Mr. Augustine, for your very valuable testimony. Once again, I think that you have done a very good job not only in driving the costs down, but in clarifying what the issues are as the Congress and the Administration deals with the future of the U.S. Antarctic program.
And if there is no further business to come before the Committee, the Committee stands adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 10:50 a.m., the hearing was adjourned.]
Page 55 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
THE UNITED STATES AND ANTARCTICA IN THE 21ST CENTURY
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED FIFTH CONGRESS
MARCH 12, 1997
Printed for the use of the Committee on Science
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE
Page 56 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCF. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr., Wisconsin, Chairman
SHERWOOD L. BOEHLERT, New York
HARRIS W. FAWELL, Illinois
CONSTANCE A. MORELLA, Maryland
CURT WELDON, Pennsylvania
DANA ROHRABACHER, California
STEVEN SCHIFF, New Mexico
JOE BARTON, Texas
KEN CALVERT, California
ROSCOE G. BARTLETT, Maryland
VERNON J. EHLERS, Michigan
DAVE WELDON, Florida
MATT SALMON, Arizona
THOMAS M. DAVIS, Virginia
GIL GUTKNECHT, Minnesota
MARK FOLEY, Florida
THOMAS W. EWING, Illinois
CHARLES W. ''CHIP'' PICKERING, Mississippi
CHRIS CANNON, Utah
KEVIN BRADY, Texas
MERRILL COOK, Utah
PHIL ENGLISH, Pennsylvania
GEORGE R. NETHERCUTT, JR., Washington
TOM A. COBURN, Oklahoma
PETE SESSIONS, Texas
Page 57 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC
GEORGE E. BROWN, Jr., California RMM*
RALPH M. HALL, Texas
BART GORDON, Tennessee
JAMES A. TRAFICANT, Jr., Ohio
TIM ROEMER, Indiana
ROBERT E. ''BUD'' CRAMER, Jr., Alabama
JAMES A. BARCIA, Michigan
PAUL MCHALE, Pennsylvania
EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON, Texas
ALCEE L. HASTINGS, Florida
LYNN N. RIVERS, Michigan
ZOE LOFGREN, California
LLOYD DOGGETT, Texas
MICHAEL F. DOYLE, Pennsylvania
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas
BILL LUTHER, Minnesota
WALTER H. CAPPS, California
DEBBIE STABENOW, Michigan
BOB ETHERIDGE, North Carolina
NICK LAMPSON, Texas
DARLENE HOOLEY, Oregon
TODD R. SCHULTZ, Chief of Staff
BARRY C. BERINGER, Chief Counsel
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCPATRICIA S. SCHWARTZ, Chief Clerk/Administrator
VIVIAN A. TESSIERI, Legislative Clerk
ROBERT E. PALMER, Democratic Staff Director
*Ranking Minority Member
C O N T E N T S
March 12, 1997:
Norman Augustine, Chairman, United States Antarctic Program External Panel, The National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA
Written statement and attachments