Government Affairs Program SPECIAL UPDATE


Spending Bill for USGS Signed Into Law

(10-17-00)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

IN A NUTSHELL: President Clinton signed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2001 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill into law on October 11, 2000.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and land management agencies were beneficiaries of last-minute negotiations between the Clinton Administration and Congress to increase funding levels. The increases were largely related to a compromise on spending for conservation and land acquisition programs. In the final bill, USGS programs receives $882 million. Fossil energy R&D at the Department of Energy receives $433.7 million. This update also briefly reports on funding for other Department of the Interior agencies and the U.S. Forest Service.

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Two weeks into the new fiscal year, only three of the required thirteen appropriations bills have been signed into law.  Nothing new there as appropriations delays have become a regular feature of Washington's partisan landscape. What is surprising is that the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 4578) is the third FY 2001 spending bill to become law, having receiving the president's signature on October 11th (Public Law 106-291). In recent years, non-spending provisions -- known as "riders" -- on environmental and public land-related resource issues have earned the Interior bill multiple veto threats and made it one of the last spending bills completed, often as part of a massive omnibus spending measure.

Conservation and Land Acquisition
The FY 2001 bill does contain a few riders, but the principal sticking point in negotiations this time centered on the president's Lands Legacy initiative, the centerpiece of his budget request for the Department of the Interior (DOI). Earlier versions of the Interior bill that passed the House and Senate contained little funding for the initiative's federal land acquisition and conservation programs. At the same time, Congress was working on its own acquisition/conservation plan. Known as the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA; H.R. 701), the bill would direct federal oil and gas royalty payments into the Land and Water Conservation Fund and related state and federal land acquisition and conservation programs. At one point, negotiators tried to insert CARA, which passed the House with broad bipartisan support, into the Interior bill in place of the president's requested Lands Legacy spending. In the final compromise, CARA provisions were altered and renamed as the Land Conservation, Preservation, and Infrastructure Improvement Program (LCPIIP).

LCPIIP is a six-year program that is not mandatory and "does not guarantee annual appropriations" in future years. According to the DOI Budget Office, LCPIIP uses a "fence and cap" structure by which "funds are set aside under the budget resolution and can only be spent for new land conservation, preservation and infrastructure improvement activities (cap mechanism).  While funds are subject to appropriations through the annual appropriations process, they may not be spent on any other purposes (fencing mechanism)."  LCPIIP will provide $1.6 billion over the six-year term -- $1.2 billion to DOI and U.S. Forest Service programs and $400 million to coastal programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  In FY 2001, DOI programs receive $686 million in addition to amounts provided elsewhere in the bill.  The USGS receives $20 million of these funds for cooperative geologic mapping ($5 million), earth science information management and delivery ($2 million), water resources/stream gages ($5 million), biological research ($3 million), and science support/accessible data transfer ($5 million).

U.S. Geological Survey
The House-Senate conference report refers to the USGS as the "primary steward of the Nationís public lands." The bill's base allocation for the USGS is $862 million, a boost from both the House and the Senate versions of the bill but still lower than the $895.4 million requested in the President's budget.  When the funds provided in LCPIIP are added, the grand total for the agency is $882 million, an increase of $73.7 million from the FY 2000 enacted level (see table below).

The National Mapping Division gets $128.7 million, including $56.6 million for national data collection and integration, $36.7 million for geographic research and applications, and $35.4 million for earth science information management and delivery ($37.4 million once the LCPIIP funds are added). Report language calls USGS the "appropriate agency to manage the Landsat program in partnership with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration."

Funding for the Geologic Division totals $220.8 million of which $72.9 million is for geologic hazards assessment programs (including a $2 million increase over FY 2000 for earthquake hazards and a $1 million increase for the cooperative geological mapping program separate from the $5 million in LCPIIP funds). Language in the final report explains that some of the additional funds for the geologic mapping program are expected to be used to develop a prototype database of maps converted to digital format. Geologic landscape and coastal assessments receive $69.5 million, and the geological resources research initiative receives $78.4 million.

The Water Resources Division receives $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.  According to the USGS Budget Office, funding for the stream gaging program receives a nice boost from several sources, including the $5 million from LCPIIP and $2.7 million in emergency appropriations for USGS stream gages in specified regions affected by natural disasters.  Because the funding from LCPIIP is not a guaranteed annual appropriations and is "to remain available until expended," these funds will not be used for adding new gages to the network.  Instead, funds from LCPIIP will be used to enhance current sites and improve services.

Table of Total FY 2001 Funding for U.S. Geological Survey
 
Program
FY 2001 enacted
(figures in $millions)
Change from FY 2000
Natl. Mapping Div. (NMD) 128.7 +1.6%
   LCPIIP info management     2.0 --
      TOTAL NMD  130.7 +3.2%
Geologic Division (GD) 220.8 +4.5%
   LCPIIP geologic mapping     5.0 --
      TOTAL GD 225.8 +6.9%
Water Resources Div. (WRD) 197.2 +6.1%
   LCPIIP stream gages     5.0 --
      TOTAL WRD 202.2 +8.8%
Biological Res. Div. (BRD) 157.9 +15.3%
   LCPIIP bio research     3.0 --
      TOTAL BRD 160.9 +17.5%
LCPIIP science support     5.0
USGS Total 882.0 +8.4%

Land Management Agencies
Excluding the funds that were added in the LCPIIP, the other geoscience activities funded in the Interior bill were higher overall than in either the House or Senate bills. The Department of the Interior receives a total of $9.38 billion. Among DOI agencies affecting the earth sciences, the Bureau of Land Management receives $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.  The Fish and Wildlife Service receives $964.1 million, the National Park Service is allotted $1.94 billion, and the Minerals Management Service receives $139.5 million.

Although the U.S. Forest Service is part of the Department of Agriculture, it is included in the Interior appropriations bill, receiving $3.6 billion. The total includes $229.6 million for forest and rangeland research and $139.5 million for cooperative forestry.  Under LCPIIP, the Forest Service receives an additional $30 million for forest legacy, $20 million for additional planning/inventory/monitoring, and $4 million for urban and community forestry.

Department of Energy
The Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Fuels programs are also part of this bill. They receive $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 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 receive the same funding as in FY 2000 ($14.3 million) and R&D into gas hydrates receives a healthy $10.0 million.  Petroleum exploration and production supporting research, which had a low budget request compared to previous years, receives an increase over both the budget request and FY 2000 levels to total $28.9 million.  Also within the petroleum and oil technology subdivision, reservoir life extension/management receives $14.7 million, the effective environmental protection activities receive $10.8 million, emerging processing technology applications receive $3.6 million, and the new ultra clean fuels initiative receives $10.0 million.

Non-Spending Provisions
Following the trend of the last several years, the Interior appropriations bill includes legislative riders, including one that prevents any funds from the bill to be used to implement changes in hardrock mining regulations that are "not consistent with the recommendations contained in the National Research Council report entitled 'Hardrock Mining on Federal Lands' so long as these regulations are also not inconsistent with existing statutory authorities."  Another rider would affect the Interior Columbia Basin Ecosystem Management Project by requiring that the analysis of the project conforms with current regulations before a final decision is made.  The DOI Budget office has a quick summary of the legislative provisions included in the FY 2001 bill (see http://www.doi.gov/budget/2001/leg_rider.html).


Special update prepared by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: Department of the Interior Office of Budget, E&E News, House/Senate Conference Report, Library of Congress, USGS Budget Office, and USBudget.com.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted October 17, 2000


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