USGS Announces Investments in Mineral Mapping and Data Preservation with Funding from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
WASHINGTON - States, federal agencies and natural resource managers will soon have significantly more resources to invest in boosting the nation’s understanding of its energy and critical mineral resources, training and retaining the next generation of natural resource scientists and preserving the nation’s irreplaceable geologic knowledge. These resources are detailed in the newly released spend plan from the U.S. Geological Survey that details how the agency will invest the funds appropriated in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.
“The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law makes historic investments in the USGS’ efforts to provide vital science to address critical minerals, energy and supply chain issues,” said David Applegate, USGS Associate Director for Natural Hazards exercising the delegated authority of the director. “We look forward to working with our partners in the states and our fellow federal agencies to leverage these resources to deliver new mapping capabilities, invest in our science infrastructure, foster a more diverse and inclusive workforce and safeguard our geologic heritage to be of use as our resource requirements continue to change.”
The largest geoscience investment from the BIL is to the USGS Earth Mapping Resource Initiative (Earth MRI), a partnership among the USGS, the Association of American State Geologists (AASG) and other federal, state, Tribal and private-sector organizations to modernize the nation’s surface and subsurface mapping. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding will accelerate the identification of areas with potential critical mineral resources still in the ground and in mine wastes.
The law augments the funding of Earth MRI with an additional \$64 million per year over the next five years for a total of \$320 million. The expansion and acceleration of Earth MRI through the infrastructure law funding will yield new understanding of the potential for sustainable mineral production and mine waste reprocessing and remediation in the United States.
Data collected through the expanded Earth MRI will support development of a national mine waste inventory, development of assessments quantifying the nation’s domestic mineral resources as called for in the Energy Act of 2020 and identification of locations suitable for sustainable development as called for in response to Executive Order 14017.
The infrastructure law has enabled USGS to continue with $23.7 million of investments in the National Geological and Geophysical Data Preservation Program (NGGDPP).
The NGGDPP was established to preserve, catalogue and enable access to geological and geophysical data and materials for research and educational use. The NGGDPP provides competitive grants to state geological surveys and funds projects executed by USGS and other Department of the Interior bureaus, to preserve, modernize and make publicly available geological and geophysical data and assets. Many of the preserved assets are irreplaceable due to landscape changes or lack of access.
The infrastructure law has expanded the funding the USGS can make available to state geological surveys, and the NGGDPP has already received grant proposals that will utilize the BIL funds. The NGGDPP will also provide funding for projects to USGS and other DOI bureaus to preserve historical geological and geophysical data and samples relevant to the characterization of national critical mineral resources.
These investments are long-term commitments, and as each project yields results, those will be communicated with the American public.
More information about the USGS Earth MRI initiative can be found here.
More information about the USGS NGGDPP program can be found here.
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