Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Please Help Support Senate Resolution 440

Recognizing soil as an essential natural resource and soils professionals as playing a critical role managing our nation’s soil resources.

Whereas soil, plant, animal, and human health are intricately linked and the sustainable use of soil affects climate, water and air quality, human health, biodiversity, food safety, and agricultural production;

Whereas soil is a dynamic system which performs many functions and services vital to human activities and ecosystems;

Whereas, despite soil’s importance to human health, the environment, nutrition, and food, feed, fiber and fuel production, there is little public awareness of the importance of soil protection;

Whereas the degradation of soil can be rapid, while the formation and regeneration processes can be very slow;

Whereas protection of United States soil based on the principles of preservation and enhancement of soil functions, prevention of soil degradation, mitigation of detrimental use, and restoration of degraded soils is essential to the long-term prosperity of the United States;

Whereas United States legislation in the areas of organic, industrial, chemical, biological, and medical waste pollution prevention and control should consider soil protection provisions;

Whereas United States legislation on climate change, water quality, agriculture, and rural development should offer a coherent and effective legislative framework for common principles and objectives that are aimed at protection and sustainable use of soils in the United States;

Whereas soil contamination coupled with poor or inappropriate soil management practices continues to leave contaminated sites in the United States;

Whereas soil can be managed in a sustainable manner, which preserves its capacity to deliver ecological, economic, and social benefits, while maintaining its value for future generations: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate--
(1) recognizes it as necessary to improve knowledge, exchange information, and develop and implement best practices for soil management, soil restoration, carbon sequestration, and long-term use of the nation’s soil resources;

(2) recognizes the important role of soil scientists and soils professionals, who are well-equipped with the information and experience needed to address the issues of today and those of tomorrow in managing the nation’s soil resources;

(3) commends soil scientists and professionals for their efforts to promote education, outreach, and awareness necessary for generating more public interest in and appreciation for soils;

(4) acknowledges the promise of soil scientists and professionals to continue to enrich the lives of all Americans by improving stewardship of the soil, combating soil degradation and ensuring the future protection and sustainable use of our air, soil, and water resources.


Shaunna said...

So what does this bill actually accomplish for us soil scientists. It doesn't look like it gives funding or anything.

Science said...

Thanks for your question and comment. They are helpful. To clarify, S Res 440 is a simple resolution, not a bill. Anyhow, a simple resolution (S Res) is used to express a nonbinding position of the Senate or to deal with the Senate's internal affairs, such as the creation of a special committee. The National Soil Resolution does not require action by the House of Representatives, nor will it be interpreted for regulatory purposes. Though, it would be great if the House could pass a similar document— as the President in office would sign it.

Science said...
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Science said...

***For more definitions and terminology related to the US government and congressional activities please view:

Thomas Benusa, CPSSc said...

I am really glad to see that someone is fianlly recognizing the role of the SOIL PROFESSIONAL and the role we play in soil management and land use. I am a soil professional from Pennsylvania trying to raise the awareness of the profession with in the Commonwealth.

We ask the soil to purify our water, grow our food, provide recreational activities, and provide a stable platform for our homes and offices.

Remember, without soil, life on land would not exist, as we know it. The soils under our feet are a vast reservoir for life and play a part in almost every aspect of human. This vital living system must be protected.

The general public really needs to understand the depth of our edication and the wide range of our experiences that help us maintain not only the soil but also the ecology of the United States.

ferris said...

It's one of those things where you feel all warm and fuzzy inside once they pass it but in the end it changes nothing.

Simply more hot air from our elected officials.

Terri said...

I still did not see where Shauna's question was actually answered - and I have the same one.

Science Policy PC said...
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Anonymous said...

I'd feel more comfortable leaving the soil's welfare to the so-called soil professionals if their research wasn't funded by corporate money.

Science Policy PC said...

S. Res 440 will not directly increase funding for soils and soil science, but it will raise awareness, which is the first step in the process to increase funding for soil science research. Unless we can increase awareness about the importance of soils and soil science, how can we expect Congress to fund soil science research in these tight funding years? Therefore I would disagree with Ferris, and argue S. Res 440 is not simply something that will make us feel “warm and fuzzy inside” but rather, will result in future funding increases, because raising awareness among those who dole out the dollars is the first step to increasing funding. Working here on the Hill, I am painfully reminded Agricultural Legislative Assistants (LA) often have no clue about the role soils play in our daily lives. For example, when we visited an office to talk about the Congressional Soils Caucus with the Agricultural Legislative Assistant, his immediate response was, "The Legislator doesn't care about soils; he only cares about clean water." The LA had no clue about the filtering capacity of soils. Supporting efforts that increase awareness of soils and related ecosystem services, help us to more easily justify the need for funding soil science. Allowing for easy education of LAs and legislators alike.

Shaunna and Terri I hope this answers your questions.

Barbara Fricks-Science Policy Intern

Curtis said...

Having recognition of soil as a significant part of planning for everything related to the environment it will bring legislators back to the basics when it comes to making statements and laws regarding environment and the soil. Right now in Michigan we have a state that says that septic systems at best may last 20 years and should be replaced by public sanitary sewers if and when possible. Had the Governor read much about on-site soil surveys such as are performed in Wisconsin, Illinois and Indiana for sanitary wastewater disposal; she may have altered her opinion and not made such broad brush statements that are at best flimsy and at worst costly. In general, lawyers take great hubris in making laws and later find that they have to "eat crow" because some of those laws were ill conceived and built on lack of understanding of science. Having a "National Soil" is another issue that I would say is not necessary or expedient because of the great diversity of soils throughout the United States, with no one soil being universal enough to be designated as the "National Soil."