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Update on FY2003 Interior Appropriations (3-13-02)

The fiscal year (FY) 2002 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2217) will provide funding for the federal programs within 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.  The President's budget request for this bill totaled $18.1 billion.  The Senate provided a 302(b) allocation of $18.5 billion and the House provided $18.9 billion.  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 Institution.

Most Recent Action
President Bush signed the Interior appropriations bill into law on November 5th (Public Law 107-63).

The House and Senate passed H.R. 2217, the FY 2002 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill, on October 17th.  No amendments were offered during floor consideration in either chamber.  Several of the contentious issues that were added to earlier versions of the bill were removed in Conference Committee -- including language on Lease Sale 181 in the Gulf of Mexico and a provision regarding hardrock mining regulations on public lands.  The House passed the bill in a 380-28 vote, and the Senate passed it in a 95-3 vote.  Now that Congress has passed the bill, it awaits presidential approval, which is expected in the next few days.  When it was all said and done, the geoscience-related programs within the Interior bill faired well.  The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) will receive $914 million, more than was provided by either the House or Senate version of the bill and a 12% increase over the president's budget request. The Department of EnergyFossil Energy programs will receive close to $583 million, a 30% increase above the budget request.


  House Action    Senate Action    Conference Action 

House Action
The House Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies began marking up the fiscal year (FY) 2002 Interior Appropriations bill at the beginning of June.  According to the press release, the subcommittee version totals $18.9 billion and continues conservation programs from last year's Title VIII that contained legislative language from the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA).  The bill (H.R. 2217) also funds the USGS at $900 million, "restoring a $90 million cut in the President's request and providing [an] $18 million increase over FY01."

On June 21st, the full House Appropriations Committee passed H.R. 2217 and filed its report (H. Rept. 107-103).  The full committee maintained the $900 million for the USGS and restored nearly all the funding that had been removed from the President's budget request for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy.  Funding for the Minerals Management Service was given a slight increase to total $149.9 million.  The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement was allocated $103.2 million, an increase of almost 7% above last year's level.  Research at the Forest Service is up slightly to $237 million, and the minerals and geology program received the $49 million requested. In total, the Forest Service System received $1.3 billion.

The House Interior Appropriations bill would increase the USGS budget by 2% over the FY2001 funding level of $882.8 million and by 11% above the President's budget request.  Funds for the heavily hit Water Resources programs were restored to close to or above the FY2001 levels.  Conservation spending that began in last year's appropriations as Title VIII will total $25 million -- these funds are reserved for state planning partnerships.

National Mapping programs are marked for a 5.7% increase to total $130.7 million, a slight boost from last year's allocation.  Earth science information management and delivery was the big winner in the division with a 11% increase over the budget request to total $36.9 million, but this amount is lower than last year's level of $37.6 million.  The committee report listed a $0.7 million increase to total $3 million for the gateway to the Earth program to help provide USGS information to end users.  National data collection and integration activities received $57.2 million, a 6$ increase above the budget request.  Geographic research and applications were funded at $36.6 million, a slight increase over the budget request and just under last year's allocation.

Geologic programs would receive a total of $228.2 million, a 6.7% increase over the budget request and just above last year's allocation.  Funding for geologic landscape and coastal assessments account would receive an increase of nearly 19% above the request.  The committee report states that it strongly supports the agency's need "to enhance and expand the Survey's coastal geology program, and therefore has provided an increase of [$1 million] above the enacted level for the Coastal and Marine Geology program to continue the process of developing a comprehensive multi-disciplinary coastal program within the Survey."  The Advanced National Seismic System received a $400,000 increase over last year's funding.  The committee also stated its support of the Survey's Real Time Hazards initiative but did not specify a particular funding level for the program.

The best news is for the Water Resource programs that faced deep cuts in the budget request.  In total, the programs would receive $205.5 million, an increase of nearly 30% over the request.  The Water Resources Research Institutes that were zeroed out in the request received $6 million, and the committee directed the Survey to report on the feasibility of a national assessment of available water by January 2002.  The report also directs the USGS to contract with the National Academy of Science "to examine water resources research funded by all Federal agencies and by significant non-Federal organizations that fund water resources research.  The research to be examined should include the topics of water quality, quantity, and water use.  The Academy's report should suggest the content and coordination mechanisms for a comprehensive water research program for the Nation, as well as examination of the adequacy of current coordination mechanisms."

Funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy -- hard hit in the budget request -- was set at $579 million, a 29% increase from the request.  The gas and petroleum programs received healthy boosts to funding levels similar to those of FY2001.  Natural gas exploration and production more than doubled to total $19.6 million, and petroleum exploration and production came to $31.4 million.  Gas hydrates research is marked for $9.8 million, an increase of more than double the request.  In total the gas activities received a 92% increase to total $40.3 million.  Petroleum programs are marked for an 84% increase to end up at $56 million.  Funding for carbon sequestration comes to $32.3 million (up almost 56%).  The President's Clean Coal Initiative will receive the $150 million requested in the request.

On June 21st, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 2217 in a 376-32 vote after accepting several floor amendments.  Three key earth science-related amendments were accepted on the House floor.  Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) introduced language "to prevent funds in the bill from being expended to conduct preleasing, leasing and related activities under either the Mineral Leasing Act or the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act within the boundaries of a National Monument."  Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) introduced an amendment to prevent funds from being used to "suspend or revise the final regulations" for hardrock mining regulations that were published in the November 21, 2000, Federal Register -- the often referred to 3809 regulations.  The last amendment was introduced by Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) "to prevent use of funds to execute a final lease agreement for oil or gas development in the area of the Gulf of Mexico known as Lease Sale 181 prior to April 1, 2002."

The Administration's Response
Just before the House passed H.R. 2217, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a Statement of Administration Policy (SAP) to voice concern over several provisions in the bill.  While the SAP does not threaten a presidential veto, it does makes several comments on the issues of state flexibility in conservation efforts and the restructuring of the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy.  In the area of the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), the statement "requests that the Committee reallocate funds to fully fund LWCF and allow State governments -- not the Federal Government -- to determine how best to address the priority conservation needs in their respective States."  The SAP relays the Administration's desire to reform the fossil fuel programs by terminating "some poor performing programs."  It also says that "DOE and OMB have recently embarked on an intense effort to evaluate the performance and value of DOE's Research and Development (R&D) programs. The Administration would welcome the Congress' input and assistance in this important review because the results of the review will inform the FY 2003 Budget development process."



Senate Action
After passing the House of Representatives on June 21st, H.R. 2217 was referred to the Senate for its consideration.  The Senate Appropriations Committee completed its review of the bill  and filed its report (S. Rept. 107-36) on June 28th.  Overall funding for the bill totals $18.6 billion, including $892.5 million for the USGS.  Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-WV) noted in the committee press release that the "bill restores funding for the vital national science programs conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey, . . . [and provides] more than $1.3 billion in specially designated conservation spending."  Similar to the House version, the Senate bill includes $25 million in conservation activities at the USGS.

In total the Department of the Interior was set at $9.4 billion.  The Bureau of Land Management was allocated $776 million, including $91.9 million for energy and mineral activities and $4 million for Alaska minerals.  Funding for the Minerals Management Service totaled $151.9 million, an increase of almost 2% above the requested amount.  The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement is marked for $102.4 million.  The Forest Service received $242.8 million, a 3% increase from the request, that includes $49.4 million for minerals and geology management.  Funding for the Smithsonian Institution was increased slightly to provide $401.2 million, with $209.9 million of those funds for museums and research institutes.

The $892.5 million for the USGS marks a 9.7% increase from the budget request.  Overall funding for the National Mapping programs totals $129.8 million, which equals an increase of almost 5 percent.  The committee reports states that $3 million of the mapping funds will be for "the management and operations of land-observing satellites," and that the $2 million proposed cut for "the archive and delivery of satellite data at the EROS Data Center" has been restored.

Funding for Geological programs totals $229.5 million, an increase of over 7 percent.  By the numbers: geologic hazard assessments received $75.7 million (up nearly 3%), geologic landscape and coastal assessments received $74 million (up more than 15%), and geologic resource assessments received $79.9 million (up more than 5%).  Report language specifies that $2 million will be used to install volcano monitoring equipment in Shemya (an Aleutian Island in Alaska) because of the site's critical role in the National Missile Defense program.  Cooperative geological mapping is marked for a $1 million decrease from last year's allocation.  Funding for international mineral analysis, the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and cooperative coastal erosion studies in South Carolina will remain at FY2001 levels.

The heavily hit Water Resources programs would receive an overall increase of 26% above the budget request to total $200.8 million -- this amount is still nearly $3 million less than last year's funding level.  Water resources assessment and research is marked to receive $93.7 million.  The committee report stated that the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) is marked for a decrease of $3.6 million, and the water information delivery program is marked for a $1.8 million decrease.  Water data collection and management saw a 42% increase to total $37.3 million, and the Federal-State programs received the $64.3 million requested.  Similar to the House, the Senate restored funding ($5.5 million) to the Water resources Research Institutes.

The Senate also restored a majority of the proposed cuts to the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (FE), but the Senate level is still 1.5% less than the House number.  In total, FE is marked to receive $570.4 million, which equals an increase of 27% above the President's request.  Like the House, the Senate version fully funds the presidential Clean Coal Power Initiative but it does transfer $33.7 million (of the $150 million) from clean coal technology.  Carbon sequestration came out as a big winner with an increase of nearly 56% to total $32.2 million. Natural gas exploration and production is marked for $17.4 million, an 85.6% increase above the budget request.  Gas hydrates would receive more than twice the request under the Senate version to total $9.8 million.  In total, the natural gas technologies programs are allocated $43 million, an increase of 105% above the $21 million requested.  Petroleum exploration and production will also see an increase to reach $26.4 million (up nearly 30%); reservoir life extension/management activities received $8 million (up nearly 64%); and effective environmental protection is marked for $10.7 million (up 102%).

On July 11th, the Senate began consideration of H.R. 2217.  Several amendments were offered during the floor debate but a majority of the accepted ones were technical corrections.  An amendment (S. Amdt. 879) introduced by Sen. Richard Durbin (D-IL) would prohibit oil and gas exploration in national monuments.  It passed in a voice vote.   Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced language (S. Amdt. 893) to postpone leasing activities related to Lease Sale 181 and the Gulfstream pipeline project until after April 1, 2002.  Similar language was introduced by Rep. Jim Davis (D-FL) during the House floor debate on the bill earlier in the month.  The Senate tabled Nelson's amendment in a 67-33 vote, which is a parliamentary procedure often used to keep contentious issues out of discussion.  After two days of discussion, the Senate passed the bill by voice vote.

The Administration's Response
While the Senate debated the bill, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) responded to objectionable provisions in the bill by sending a "Statement of Administration Policy" (SAP).  SAPs are the office's official response to congressional action.  They often are the vehicle for presidential veto threats, but so far President Bush has not  threatened to veto any of the appropriation bills.  Overall, the SAP addressed to the Senate about H.R. 2217 mostly focused on the Senate's use of "misleading budget practices" for so-called emergency funding and advanced appropriations.  The largest complaint in regards to the Department of the Interior section of the bill was the low funding for the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) state grants.  "While the Senate [bill included] language to give States some flexibility to reallocate grant funding, it redirects the request for LWCF State grants to various specialized conservation accounts. The Administration requests that the Senate reallocate funds to fully fund LWCF and give State governments -- not the Federal Government -- the full flexibility to determine how best to address the priority conservation needs in their respective States."

Several comments were made by members of Congress about the low funding for the Department of Energy programs, despite the Administration's focus on developing a domestic energy policy.  Included in the SAP is a section regarding a presidential directive for the Secretary of Energy to "review of existing energy efficiency and alternative and renewable energy research and development (R&D) programs to ensure future program budget allocations are performance-based and modeled as public-private partnerships."  It goes on to say that the Administration believes that R&D activities should become increasingly supported by private industry, especially as "projects move closer to commercialization."  The only more specific comment made in the SAP was on R&D activities related to the president's Clean Coal Initiative.  OMB urges the Senate to remove language that would "unduly restrict the President's proposal to fund innovative research and development projects at universities, government laboratories, and private companies."



Conference Action
House conferees include Representatives Norman Dicks (D-WA), Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Jack Kingston (R-GA), Jim Kolbe (R-AZ), James Moran (D-VA), John Murtha (D-PA), George Nethercutt (R-WA), David Obey (D-WI), John Peterson (R-PA), Raplh Regula (R-OH), Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN), Joe Skeen (R-NM), Charles Taylor (R-NC), Zach Wamp (R-TN), and C.W. Young (R-FL).   Senate members include Senators Robert Bennett (R-UT), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Conrad Byrd (D-WV), Ben Nighthose Campbell (R-CO), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Judd Gregg (R-NH), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Daniel Inouye (D-HI), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Patty Murray (D-WA), Harry Reid (D-NV), and Ted Stevens (R-AK).

The House-Senate Conference Committee released its report (H. Rept. 107-234) on October 10th after a historically short conference committee meeting.  The compromise bill provides a total of $9.4 billion, including just over $1 billion for conservation activities -- these funds are a continuation of the Title VIII from last year's Interior bill that was a modified Conservation and Reinvestment Act.  Discretionary funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy totaled close to $583 million, an increase of 30% above the budget request for these research and development programs.  Overall, the funding for key geoscience-related programs received a boost to top both the budget request and the FY2001 allocation.

According to the Conference Report, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is slated to receive $914 million, which includes $25 million from the conservation fund that will help support cooperative-state programs, such as the geologic mapping program.  This funding level marks a 12% increase from the original budget request and a 3.5% increase from last year's historically high level of $882 million.  Basically ever line item in the USGS budget received a boost from the budget request and most received a nudge above last year's allocation.  Congress reinstated a majority of the funds for the Water Resources Division, which faced deep cuts in the budget request.  Details for each of the divisions is available below.

The Geology Division is marked to receive $233 million, a 9% increase from the budget request.  The biggest winner in geology are the activities related to "geologic landscape and coastal assessments" that received a 21% increase above the president's request and a 5% increase above last year's funding level.  The report language states that the advanced seismic network is will be allocated and additional $300 thousand over last year's level.  There is also increased funding for the minerals at risk program and coastal programs in North Carolina and Louisiana.  Hazard assessments programs will receive $75 million, and geologic resource assessments will receive close to $80 million.

The Water Division ended up 29% above the budget request to receive nearly $206 million, which is a slight increase from last year's allocation.  Water resources research institutes, which had been zeroed out in the request, not only was reinstated but also received a 10% boost.  Another big winner in the water divisions are the programs under the line item of water resources assessment and research that received close to $97 million, an increase of more than 48% from the budget request.  Federal-state programs were allocated $64 million, and water data collection and management activities will receive $39 million.  Report language strongly supports the idea of a National Academy of Sciences examination of both federal and "significant" non-federal activities related to water research  to establish an integrated-national water research program.

The Mapping Division, which had requested $124 million (a 5% decrease from the FY01 level), received an increase of nearly 8% to total $133 million.  According to the report, the funds include a $3 million for Landsat 5 operations.  Earth science information management and delivery activities will receive $36 million, an increase of 8% above the requested level but a 3% decrease from the FY01 allocation.  Geographic research and applications line item, which includes programs such as Urban Dynamics, received a 2% increase to total $37 million.  Also receiving good news was the Biological Division that is marked to receive a total of $166 million.

Other Department of the Interior agencies also received good news in the final appropriations bill.  The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will receive a total of $1.9 billion, a 6% increase from the budget request but a 13% decrease from last year's allocation.  Within BLM, the energy and mineral activities will receive a little more than $95 million and the Alaska minerals program will receive $4 million.  The report language also stated that BLM is marked to receive $6 million related to oil and gas permitting, with an emphasis on coalbed methane permitting.  There is also a request by Congress for the agency to "identify and evaluate oil and has resources and reserves on public lands."  The National Park Service is marked to receive $2.3 billion, which is 8% less than the president's request but 9% more than last year's level.  Funding for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) totals $157 million, a slight increase above the request. Activities at MMS related to the Outer Continental Shelf lands will be allocated $128 million.  The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement will receive a little less than $307 million.  The Department of Agriculture's Forest Service (FS) will receive $4.1 billion, including $313 million from the conservation fund.  Geology management within FS received the requested $49 million, and the recently established Valles Caldera National Preserve received $2.8 million, more than double the budget request.

There is more good news for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) in the conference report. The president requested deep cuts for several of the FE programs. Not only did Congress restore these cuts but also several areas received increases over last year's allocations.  Overall, FE programs in the Interior bill total close to $583 million, which is a 30% increase from the president's request and 35% above the FY 2001 allocation.  Carbon Sequestration received a 56% increase from the request to total $32 million.  The president's Clean Coal Power Initiative ended up receiving the requested $150 million once funds were transferred out of the old Clean Coal Technology fund.  Funding for advanced research, which includes university coal research, is slated to receive $28 million, an increase of close to 8%.  Funding for both the natural gas exploration and production and gas hydrate programs came to $20.5 million and $9.8 million, respectively, more than double the president's request.  The natural gas programs received more than double the request, totaling $45 million, which is just above the previous year's allocation.  Petroleum and oil technology programs saw a similar increase, with exploration and production research increasing by 59% over the request to total $32 million.  According to the report language, "there is an increase of [$3 million above last year's level] in exploration and production for arctic research bu the Office of Arctic Energy in Alaska."  Overall the petroleum and oil technology activities are up 84% from the request and close to 2% from last year's level.  Cooperative research, which was to receive no funding under the budget request, received a 2% increase from last year to total $8 million.


Sources: USBudget.com, House Appropriations Committee website, Senate 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 A. Baker, AGI Government Affairs.

Posted July 19, 2001; Last Updated November 8, 2001


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