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Update on FY2001 Interior Appropriations (10-11-00)

**For most recent update see the AGI website for the 107th Congress**

The FY 2001 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, H.R. 4578, provides funding for the Department of the Interior (DOI), the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, the Department of Agriculture's U.S. Forest Service, and other smaller federal agencies, such as the Smithsonian Institution.  The congressional budget resolution allocated this bill only $14.7 billion (so-called 302(b) allocation) for FY 2001.  The President's budget request included close to $16.3 billion for programs covered by this bill, including a 10% increase for the US Geological Survey (USGS).  Key programs in the Interior bill for the earth sciences are found in the USGS, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the National Parks Service (NPS), the Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE), the Minerals Management Service (MMS), and the Bureau of Reclamation (BOR) within DOI, the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy, the U.S. Forest Service, and the Smithsonian.

Most Recent Action
President Clinton signed the FY 2001 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 4578) into law on October 11th.  At the event Clinton said that the bill is "a remarkable piece of legislation that provides a lasting legacy for our grandchildren by establishing for the first time a dedicated and protected fund that states, communities and federal agencies can use to buy and protect precious federal land -- from neighborhood parks to Civil War battlefields, to parcels of pristine wilderness."  The House passed H.R. 4578 in a 348-69 vote on October 3rd, and the Senate passed the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill in a 83-13 vote two days later.  Details from the final conference report are available below.


 House Action   Senate Action   Conference Action 

House Action
Overall funding for the Interior and Related Agencies bill (H.R. 4578) is down nearly $300 million from the FY2000 enacted level of $14.9 billion and close to $1.7 billion less than the $16.3 billion requested by the President.  The Department of the Interior (DOI), slated for an 11% increase in the president's budget request, is looking at a much tighter budget than they had hoped.  At the May 17th House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies markup, the entire DOI would be funded at $7.263 billion, $57.5 million less than last year's enacted level, and $1.143 billion less than the President's budget request.  A similar fate fell upon the US Geological Survey (USGS), which had requested a 10% increase to $895.4 million, the agency's largest increase.  Under the House marks, the USGS would receive $816.7 million.  Although this amount represents a $3.3 million increase over FY 2000 levels, it is nearly $80 million less than requested by the president and is a major blow to the survey's efforts to grow after years of budgetary stagnation and retrenchment.  AGI sent out an Action Alert: Initial House Spending Levels for USGS Fall Far Short of President's Request.

The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior marked up the FY 2001 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill on May 17th.  Subcommittee Chairman Ralph Regula (R-OH) is quoted in the subcommittee's press release as saying, "This year's Interior bill was very difficult to put together.  The constraints of the budget resolution on natural resource spending, compared to other priority issues, presented a number of challenges in meeting the operational needs of all the agencies in the bill."  The Subcommittee passed H.R. 4578 in a voice vote after several amendments were made to the bill.

According to EENews, the same day as the Interior Subcommittee mark up, the House Republican conference voted on a resolution to greatly limit riders on the 13 appropriation bills.  "[T]he contentious measures in the Interior bill were permitted because they were considered 'limitation amendments,' or limits in funding, not riders, according to House Speaker Dennis Hastert's (R-IL) office."  Three key amendments were accepted at the subcommittee mark up: 1) an amendment introduced by Rep. James Hansen (R-UT) would limit funds available to DOI to plan and manage National Monuments designated by President Clinton (under the Antiquities Act of 1906) after 1999, 2) an amendment introduced by Rep. George Nethercutt (R-WA) would limit funds for implementing the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project; and 3) an amendment introduced by Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA) would block funds for the establishment of a wildlife refuge in the Yolo Bypass near Sacramento.

Funding for key earth science programs by the numbers:

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) requested $715.2 million for Management of Lands and Resources but received on $674.6 million.  BLM received a huge cut in funds for land acquisition (such as the current works to acquire the Baca ranch in north-central New Mexico) to $19 million from the $60.9 million requested.  In total, BLM requested $1.36 billion and received $1.26 billion.  The Minerals Management Service requested a grand total of $140.2 million and received $133.3 million.  The Office of Surface Mining, Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE) requested $309.2 million and received $295.6 million in the subcommittee mark up.  OSMRE's abandoned mine environmental reclamation received the largest cut to total only $183.0 million of the $195.8 requested.

The Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy requested at total of $375.6 million for research and development and received $410.4 million.  Increases in natural gas and petroleum programs were the primary reason for the increase, especially programs that requested funding cuts compared to FY 2000 enacted levels.  The President's budget request included a generous increase in natural gas technologies infrastructure, jumping from $1.0 million in FY 2000 to a request of $13.2 million in FY 2001.  The committee mark up cut this program to $8.1 million, or $5.1 million down from the request.

On May 25th, the House Committee on Appropriations marked up H.R. 4578, the Interior appropriations bill.  During the full committee mark up, several amendments were added before the committee passed the bill along party lines (31-22) and reported on it (H. Rept. 106-646).  Funding levels for key provisions in the bill did not change much from the subcommittee numbers, but several new legislative riders were added.  The committee's press release includes summaries of a few of these amendments.  Rep. Joe Skeen (R-NM) introduced an amendment that would allow the Minerals Management Service to use revenues from oil royalty sales to help finance royalty-in-kind programs regardless of fiscal year cycles.  Another amendment would ban federal agencies from using funds to implement the Kyoto Protocol, as well as an amendment to limit funds available for activities related to the American Heritage Rivers initiative, a presidential pet-project.  The Office of Management and Budget has released a statement threatening a White House veto if the bill remains in its current form.

The USGS did not receive anything close to the 10% increase requested in the President's budget.  Instead, the House Appropriations Committee gave a modest $3.3 million increase over FY 2000 levels, to total $816.7 million.  This amount is $78.7 million less than the $895.3 million in the budget request.  Within the USGS, all four of the divisions received cuts with the largest going to the National Mapping Program -- a $32.5 million cut.  By the numbers: the National Mapping Division would receive $122.8 million (requested $155.3 million), the Geologic Division would receive $211.3 million (requested $224.8 million), the Water Resources Division would receive $188.0 million (requested $197.6 million), and the Biological Resources Division would receive $140.4 million (requested $158.8 million).

Funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy is looking a little less gloomy than the USGS marks.  DOE's budget request transferred funds from the petroleum research and development (R&D) sector to help boost natural gas R&D, a move that the House Appropriations Committee helped to change by cutting $5.1 million from the natural gas technologies infrastructure -- more information on specific funding levels for programs within the Interior bill is available below.

After three days of floor debate, the House passed H.R. 4578 in a 204-172 vote on June 16th.  Several amendments were offered during debate, including an amendment by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) to limit the types of costs that are eligible for reimbursement under the Minerals Management Service's royalty-in-kind program.  According to her floor statement, "This amendment will strike language that would have given the royalties-in-kind program the ability to finance the gathering and marketing of oil and natural gas products.  It will continue to allow the Department of the Interior to finance the cost of transportation and processing of oil and natural gas."  Several other amendments were introduced to augment funds for activities related to public land operations at the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and the National Parks Service.  A failed amendment offered by Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) would have increase funding for Forest Service recreation programs by $26 million and decrease Department of Energy petroleum technology programs by $53 million.

Senate Action
On June 20th, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies marked up H.R. 4578, the FY 2001 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill -- returning to the old appropriations style, the subcommittee is working from the House bill number instead of a separate Senate number.  According to the committee press release, the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) would receive a total of $847.6 million for FY 2001, which is higher than the $816.7 million allocated in the House but still less than the budget request of $895.4 million.Like the House bill, the Senate bill for the most part ignores administration initiatives in favor of restoring funds to existing programs and recommending several specific projects. As in the House, the exception is partial support for administration-requested increases to improve real-time hazard monitoring capabilities for earthquakes, volcanoes, and floods. Within that total, the National Mapping program requested $155.3 million and received only $126.7 million, an 18.4% decrease from the request.  The Biological Resources Division would receive $147.8 million, up $10.9 million over FY 2000 and up $7.4 million over House levels but $11 million below the request.  The full committee passed the bill on June 22nd, releasing the accompanying report (S. Rpt. 106-312).

Unlike the House version, the Senate bill would provide across-the-board increases for uncontrollable costs (such as cost-of-living salary increases). For the Geologic Division, the Senate bill would provide $218.5 million, up $7.3 million over FY 2000 but $6.3 million below the request. Within that amount, the Senate bill provides a $2 million increase for upgrading seismic networks, $0.5 million for volcano hazards work, and $0.5 million for geologic mapping projects related to groundwater studies. The Senate bill also restored funding cuts proposed in the presidentís budget to the Energy Resources program ($2.5 million) and the Minerals Resources program ($3.2 million). The report specifies several projects to be funded, including coastal erosion studies in South Carolina and numerous projects in Alaska.

The Senate version of H.R. 4578 provides $196.7 million for the Water Resources Division, up $10.8 million above FY 2000 and $0.9 million below the presidentís request. The bill provides increases of $3.1 million for upgrading the streamgage network and $2 million to accelerate the groundwater studies program. Specified projects include work in Lake Champlain, Lake Mead, Hawaii, and Alaska. The bill would restore funding for several programs cut in the president's request: toxic substances hydrology program ($1.7 million), hydrologic research and development ($2.5 million), and hydrologic networks and analysis ($2.2 million).

Similar to the House report, the most interesting Senate report language has to do with the National Mapping Division (NMD), which would receive $126.7 million, the same as FY 2000 and a whopping $28.6 million below the request. (The House had cut an additional $4 million from NMD's budget.) In both cases, report language criticized the division's handling of contracts and redirection of funds to programs not specified by Congress. The Senate report states: "The Committee is deeply disturbed by events that have transpired over the past year within the Mapping Program. Mapping Program staff redirected substantial sums of money to activities, which were unauthorized and for which dollars were not appropriated, without the Committee's knowledge or consent. The apparent lack of recognition by the Mapping Program staff that these actions were, at a minimum, contrary to accepted procedure, as well as their lack of cooperation as the Committee attempted to obtain complete information, has proven as disturbing as the initial events themselves. The Committee will not tolerate the continued failure of the Mapping Program to operate in a responsible and accountable manner. The Committee expects the Director of USGS to act immediately to ensure that systems are put in place whereby the Mapping Program's budgetary operations are coordinated with the larger USGS budget office and appropriate oversight is provided at a sufficiently detailed level to avoid further incidents of this magnitude."

The Senate report also expresses dismay that "complaints continue to be heard regarding the Survey's perceived competition with the private sector. Most recent complaints have focused on the assumption by USGS of Landsat 7 activities at the EROS Data Center, but each year has brought a flurry of similar complaints regarding related issues. The Committee is frustrated that USGS has not made further inroads in this area and insists that it address these problems directly. The Committee should not be the forum for the private sector's complaints because of the perception that USGS itself is not responsive. The Committee expects USGS to take these criticisms seriously and set up procedures that will increase communications with the private sector and address its concerns in a satisfactory manner."

Funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy R&D  would be $401.3 million, an increase of $25.8 million above the budget request. Natural gas technologies had requested $38.8 million and received $39.8 million -- $13.9 million for exploration and production activities, $6.0 million for gas hydrates, $7.1 million for infrastructure, $10.2 million for emerging processing technology applications, and $2.6 million for effective environmental protection.  Petroleum activities received a total of $51.5 million a decrease of $1.0 million than the budget request.  Within the petroleum-oil technology sector, the exploration and production supporting research sector requested $20.8 million and received $26.4 million.  The overall decrease in petroleum-oil technology is due to a $12 million "transfer of unobligated balances from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve petroleum account."

In response to the Senate Appropriations Committee allocation levels, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Statement on Administrative Policy (SAP).  According to the SAP, "The Administration strongly opposes the environmental and other authorization provisions in the  Committee-reported bill, which are inappropriate for inclusion in an appropriations act. Such riders  rarely receive the level of congressional and public review required of authorization language, and they often override existing environmental and natural resource protections."  It continued by listing what OMB view as the most objectionable riders, which includes an automatic extension for grazing permits that are scheduled to expire in FY 2001, pending the completion of environmental reviews; prohibits the formation on a National Wildlife Refuge in Indiana and Illinois, diminish opportunities for communities to participate in the American Heritage Rivers program, prohibits the Department of the Interior from issuing prospecting permits for hardrock mining in the Mark Twain National Forest, and several other provisions.  The SAP takes issue with an amendment that prohibit the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol saying, "This provision is unnecessary, as the Administration has no intent to implement the Protocol prior to congressional ratification. To the extent this language might reach expenditures for negotiations with foreign governments, it would raise serious constitutional concerns, because the Constitution commits to the President the power to decide whether to engage in such negotiations."  There was also a section in response to congressional attempts to postpone the implementation of the Forest Service's roadless initiative.   Shortly after OMB released the SAP, the Senate began floor debate on the bill.

On July 18th, the Senate passed H.R. 4733, the FY 2001 Interior Appropriations bill, in a 97-2 vote.  Senate floor debate, which began on July 10th, was arduous due to the number of proposed amendments.  During the first day of debate, Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) offered an amendment to increase funding for emergency expenses resulting from wind storms by $7.2 million, which passed.  Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) introduced a successful amendment that would provide an additional $990,000 to cover the implementation costs of the Valles Caldera Preservation Act (S. 1892). By a 50-49 vote, the Senate defeated an amendment by Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) to restrict the president's authority to establish national monuments under the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Conference Action
The House and Senate members of the Conference Committee included: Senators Slade Gorton (R-WA), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Harry Reid (D-NV), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Herbert Kohl (D-WI) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  House members included Representatives Ralph Regula (R-OH), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), Joe Skeen (R-NM), Charles Taylor (R-NC), George Nethercutt (R-WA), Zach Wamp (R-TN), Peter King (R-NY), John Peterson (R-PA), Bill Young (R-FL), Norman Dicks (D-WA), John Murtha (D-PA), James Moran (D-VA), Robert Cramer (D-AL), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), and David Obey (D-WI).

On September 29th, the Interior and Related Agencies Conference Committee filed its report (H. Rept. 106-914).  According to the report, the Department of the Interior will receive a total of $8.4 billion for its programs and agencies. The Bureau of Land Management will receive $1.7 billion, including $176.9 million for land resources, $76.9 million for energy and minerals, $3.9 million for Alaska minerals, $625.5 million for wildland fire management, and $31.1 million for land acquisition.  The funding for land acquisitions is nearly double the FY 2000 level but still well below the president's $60.9 million request for these activities.  Other agencies within DOI by the numbers: the Fish and Wildlife Service received $964.1 million, the National Park Service was allotted $1.94 billion, the Bureau of Indian Affairs was allocated $2.14 billion, and the departmental offices received $325.6 million.

The Minerals Management Service received $139.5 million, including $6.1 million for oil spill research.  Funding for the Outer Continental Shelf Lands programs totaled $118.1 million -- $36.5 million for the leasing and environmental program, $23.6 million for the resource evaluation program, $43.2 million for the regulatory program, and $14.8 million for the information management program.  The Royalty Management activities received $86.3 million, including $10.1 million for valuation and operations.

Funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) received a boost from the House and Senate proposals to total $862.0 million, still lower than the $895.4 million requested.  The National Mapping Division was provided $128.7 million, including $56.6 million for national data collection and integration, $35.4 million for earth science information management and delivery, and $36.7 million for geographic research and applications. The Geologic Hazards, Resource and Processes programs received $220.8 million.  Within the Geologic Division, the geologic hazards assessments program was allotted $72.9 million, including a $2 million increase over FY2000 for earthquake hazards and a $1 million increase for the cooperative geological mapping program.  Also within the Geologic Division, the geologic landscape and coastal assessments received $69.5 million and the geological resources research initiative was allotted $78.4 million.  The Water Resources Division received $197.2 million -- $95.0 million for the water resources assessment and research program, $33.8 million for the water data collection and management program, $62.9 million for the Federal-State program, and $5.5 million for the water resources research institutes.  The Biological Resources Division received $157.9 million.

Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Fuels programs that are covered under the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations totaled $1.5 billion -- $433.7 million for fossil energy research and development (R&D), $1.6 million for the Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserve, $814.9 million for energy conservation, and $161.0 million for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.  Within the $433.7 million for fossil energy R&D, $82.4 million will go to advanced systems for coal powered systems and $52.7 million will go for fuel cell R&D.  Research into greenhouse gas sequestration will receive $18.8 million.  In the natural gas sector, exploration and production received the same funding as in FY2000 ($14.3 million) and R&D into gas hydrates received a healthy $10.0 million.  Petroleum exploration and production supporting research, which had a low budget request compared to previous years, received an increase over both the budget request and FY2000 levels to total $28.9 million.  Also within the petroleum and oil technology subdivision, reservoir life extension/management received $14.7 million, the effective environmental protection activities received $10.8 million, emerging processing technology applications received $3.6 million, and the new ultra clean fuels initiative received $10.0 million.


Sources: USBudget.com, House Appropriations Committee website, EENews, Department of the Interior website, Office of Management and Budget website , and the Library of Congress.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at govt@agiweb.org.

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs

Last Updated June 14, 2000; Last Updated on October 11, 2000


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