AGI Fiscal Year 2006 Testimony to House Appropriations
Subcommittee on Energy and Water and Related Agencies
Written Testimony Submitted by
Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
American Geological Institute
to the U.S. House of Representatives
Subcommittee on Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations
March 18, 2005
To the Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee:
Thank you for this opportunity to provide the American Geological
Institute's perspective on fiscal year (FY) 2006 appropriations
for geoscience programs within the subcommittee's jurisdiction.
The president's budget requests significant cuts in the Department
of Energy (DOE). In particular, the president's request would eliminate
the Office of Fossil Energy oil and natural gas research programs,
and we ask for restoration of those to their FY 2003 levels. Additionally,
as the largest supporter of physical science research in the U.S.,
DOE's Office of Science deserves the subcommittee's full support
and restoration of the proposed budget cut.
AGI is a nonprofit federation of 42 geoscientific and professional
associations that represent more than 100,000 geologists, geophysicists,
and other earth scientists. The institute serves as a voice for
shared interests in our profession, plays a major role in strengthening
geoscience education, and strives to increase public awareness of
the vital role that the geosciences play in society's use of resources
and interaction with the environment.
DOE Fossil Energy Research and Development
AGI urges you to take a critical look at the Department of Energy's
Fossil Energy Research and Development (R&D), Natural Gas Technology
R&D and Oil Technology R&D accounts as you prepare to craft
the FY 2006 Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations
bill. Over the past four years, Members of Congress have strongly
emphasized the need for a responsible, comprehensive energy policy
for the country. The growing global competition for fossil fuels
has led to a repeated and concerted request by Congress to ensure
the nation's energy independence. The president's proposal that
these programs be eliminated is short sighted and will not allow
us to achieve energy independence.
The research dollars spent by these programs go largely to universities,
state geological surveys and research consortia to address critical
issues like enhanced recovery from known fields and unconventional
sources that are the future of our natural gas supply. This money
does not go into corporate coffers, but it helps American businesses
remain competitive by giving them a technological edge over foreign
companies. All major advances in oil and gas production can be tied
to research and technology. AGI strongly encourages the conferees
to restore these funds and bring these programs back to at least
FY 2003 levels.
Today's domestic industry has independent producers at its core.
With fewer and fewer major producing companies and their concentration
on adding more expensive reserves from outside of the contiguous
U.S., it is the smaller independent producers developing new technologies
concentrated on our domestic resources. However, without federal
monetary contributions to basic research that drives innovation,
small producers cannot develop new technologies as fast, or as well,
as they do today. The program has produced many key successes among
the typical short-term (one to five years) projects usually chosen
by the DOE for support. And even failed projects have proven beneficial,
because they've often resulted in redirection of effort toward more
practical exploration and production (E&P) solutions. Ideally,
DOE and private sector participants share the programs R&D funding
on a 50-50 basis, with the government contributing actual dollars
and the company contributing dollars or "in kind" products
and services. To justify the use of public funds, new technology
developed from such projects is made available to the industry.
In 2003, at the request of the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee,
the National Academies of Science released a report entitled Energy
Research at DOE: Was It Worth It? Energy Efficiency and Fossil Energy
Research 1978 to 2000. This report found that Fossil Energy R&D
was beneficial because the industry snapped up the new technologies
created by the R&D program, developed other technologies that
were waiting for market forces to bring about conditions favorable
to commercializing them and otherwise made new discoveries. In real
dollars from 1986 - 2000 the government invested $4.5 billion into
Fossil Energy R&D. During that time, realized economic benefits
totaled $7.4 billion. This program is not only paying for itself,
it has brought in $2.9 billion in revenue. Why not continue to fund
oil and gas R&D so we can attain the energy independence we
need for stable and continued economic growth?
The federal investment in energy R&D is particularly important
when it comes to longer-range research with diversified benefits.
In today's competitive markets, the private sector focuses dwindling
research dollars on shorter-term results in highly applied areas
such as technical services. In this context, DOE's support of fossil
energy research, where the focus is truly on research, is very significant
both in magnitude and impact compared to that done in the private
sector, where the focus is mainly on development. Without more emphasis
on research, we risk losing our technological edge in this global
and increasingly more expensive commodity.
As we pursue the goal of reducing America's dependence on unstable
and expensive foreign sources of oil, we must continue to increase
recovery efficiency in the development of existing domestic oilfields,
conserving the remaining in-place resources. Since the 1980's, 80
percent of new oil reserves in this country have come from additional
discoveries in old fields, largely based on re-examination of previously
collected geoscience data. These data will become even more important
in the future with development of new recovery technologies.
The research funded by DOE leads to new technologies that improve
the efficiency and productivity of the domestic energy industry.
Continued research on fossil energy is critical to America's future
and should be a key component of any national energy strategy. The
societal benefits of fossil energy R&D extend to such areas
as economic and national security, job creation, capital investment,
and reduction of the trade deficit. The nation will remain dependent
on petroleum as its principal transportation fuel for the foreseeable
future and natural gas is growing in importance. It is critical
that domestic production not be allowed to prematurely decline at
a time when tremendous advances are being made in improving the
technology with which these resources are extracted. The recent
spike in both oil and natural gas prices is a reminder of the need
to retain a vibrant domestic industry in the face of uncertain sources
overseas. Technological advances are necessary to maintaining our
resource base and ensuring this country's future energy security.
DOE Office of Science
The DOE Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic
research in the physical sciences in the United States, providing
more than 40 percent of total funding for this vital area of national
importance. The Office of Science manages fundamental research programs
in basic energy sciences, biological and environmental sciences,
and computational science and, under the president's budget request,
would be cut by 3.8% from about $3.6 billion last year to $3.5 billion.
AGI asks that you restore this cut.
Within the Office of Science, the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) program
supports fundamental research in focused areas of the natural sciences
in order to expand the scientific foundations for new and improved
energy technologies and for understanding and mitigating the environmental
impacts of energy use. BES also discovers knowledge and develops
tools to strengthen national security.
While the Basic Energy Sciences account is slated for an increase,
the entire increase would be devoted to Materials Sciences and Engineering
(MES) and the Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Energy Biosciences
(CSGEB) account would decline by 7.4%. The geosciences activity
within CSGEB supports mineral-fluid interactions; rock, fluid, and
fracture physical properties; and new methods and techniques for
geosciences imaging from the atomic scale to the kilometer scale.
The activity contributes to the solution of problems in multiple
DOE mission areas, including reactive fluid flow studies to understand
contaminant remediation; seismic imaging for reservoir definition;
and coupled hydrologic-thermal-mechanical-reactive transport modeling
to predict repository performance. In short, this account deserves
your full support and well-rounded funding.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony to the
subcommittee. If you would like any additional information for the
record, please contact me at 703-379-2480, ext. 228 voice, 703-379-7563
fax, firstname.lastname@example.org, or 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI Government Affairs Program.
Posted: May 12, 2005