AGI Fiscal Year 2007 Testimony to Senate Appropriations
Subcommittee on Energy and Water and Related Agencies
Written Testimony Submitted by
Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs
American Geological Institute
to the United States Senate
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations
April 28, 2006
Thank you for this opportunity to provide the American Geological
Institute's perspective on fiscal year (FY) 2007 appropriations
for geoscience programs within the Subcommittee's jurisdiction.
The President's budget requests significant cuts in the Department
of Energy (DOE) research programs related to energy resources. In
particular, the President's request would eliminate the Office of
Fossil Energy's oil and natural gas technology research programs
and the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy's geothermal
technology research program. Given the interest of the Administration
and Congress to reduce the nation's foreign oil dependence and reduce
gasoline prices, it seems like an inopportune time to eliminate
programs that could help with these objectives. We hope that Congress
will restore funding for these programs. AGI applauds the requested
14% increase for the largest supporter of physical science research
in the U.S., DOE's Office of Science, and encourages the Subcommittee's
full support for this increase. We also support the President's
Advanced Energy Initiative which includes increased funding for
clean energy research. The request focuses spending on solar, biomass/biofuels,
hydrogen fuel, FutureGen and nuclear power, however, other clean
energy alternatives, such as geothermal, could be included in appropriations
while remaining consistent with national needs and objectives.
AGI is a nonprofit federation of 44 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 2007 Energy and Water and Related Agencies Appropriations
bill. Over the past five 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
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.
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 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
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 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 grow by 14% from about $3.6 billion last year to $4.1 billion.
AGI asks that you support this much needed increase.
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.
The Basic Energy Sciences (BES) would remain the largest program
in the office with an increase of 25% from $1.134 billion in FY
2006 to $1.420 billion in FY 2007 in the President's request. Within
the BES, Chemical Sciences, Geosciences and Biosciences would receive
a $47.9 million increase over their FY 2006 budget. About half of
this increase would go toward the President's Hydrogen Initiative
($6 million increase) and basic research related to energy technologies
($22.4 million increase) and the other half would go toward nanoscale
science research ($22.2 million increase). Other programs would
be reduced by $3.2 million to make up the difference between these
increases and the overall budget. AGI strongly supports the requested
increases for these programs.
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 22, 2006