IN A NUTSHELL: President Bush released his budget outline for fiscal year (FY) 2002. Entitled A Blueprint for New Beginnings: A Responsible Budget for America's Priorities, the document only provides funding levels for broad budgetary categories and for agency totals -- for example, the only number for the National Science Foundation is its overall $4.5 billion allocation, and it does not provides any numbers for the U.S. Geological Survey. Detailed numbers will be provided on April 3rd. The document does specify a number of proposed changes, for example the elimination of the Project Impact hazard mitigation program at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. This update includes excerpts from the budget document and comments on the president's proposals for key geoscience agencies.
Addressing a joint session of Congress on February 27th, President George W. Bush made the case for his fiscal year (FY) 2002 budget. During the speech, Bush said: "Last year, government spending shot up 8 percent. That's far more than our economy grew, and far more than the rate of inflation. If you continue on that road, you will spend the surplus and have to dip into Social Security to pay other bills. Unrestrained government spending is a dangerous road to deficits, so we must take a different path." The budget blueprint released earlier today reflects that intention. All of the following quotes are taken directly from the budget document, which is available online at http://w3.access.gpo.gov/usbudget/index.html.
Department of the Interior
"The 2002 Budget provides DOI with $9.8 billion. This represents a four-percent reduction below 2001 but a 15-percent increase (almost $1.3 billion) over the 2000 level." Bush's budget would fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund at $900 million and provide support to eliminate the National Park Service maintenance backlog within five years. Funds would also be available to begin planning studies on oil and gas production in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.
No specific numbers were provided for the U.S. Geological Survey, but the budget outline did state: "The budget also proposes to better target many U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) activities. The self-stated performance goal of USGS is 'to provide science for a changing world.' DOI is examining ways to focus USGS on providing sound science to support the Department's land management agencies in their decision-making processes."
As reported in an AGI alert, previous reports indicated that cuts to the USGS could run as high as 22 percent. We have received copies of over 200 letters sent by concerned geoscientists to Secretary of the Interior Gale Norton and OMB Director Mitchell Daniels. The pressure to reduce the size of the cut to USGS appears to be making some headway, but the phrase "better target" in the budget outline does not bode well for eliminating the cut altogether.
National Science Foundation
The presidentís budget provides $4.5 billion for the National Science Foundation (NSF) of which approximately $1.5 billion is "for new research and education awards in 2002, to fund nearly 10,000 new competitively reviewed grants." The budget total represents a 1-percent increase over FY 2001 as reported by the Wall Street Journal last week.
"The 2001 enacted level for NSF included a number of earmarked and lower-priority projects. While the majority of projects must be assessed in their merits through an extensive review process, many of these projects do not face such scrutiny and often address lower-priority areas or needs. The 2002 Budget does not renew funding for these projects, saving $45 million."
"The budget also better focuses facility project resources by maintaining commitments for the Large Hadron Collider, the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation, and Terascale Computing Systems. Facility project spending will be reduced by $13 million, reflecting no new starts or major facility projects in 2002."
The "no new starts" pledge makes it very unlikely that the president's budget request will include the Earthscope project, which was recently endorsed by a new report from the National Research Council (Basic Research Opportunities in the Earth Sciences, available online at http://www.nap.edu). Many of the letters from geoscientists to OMB have stressed the value of this project and other geoscience programs at NSF.
Department of Energy
The budget provides $19.0 billion for the Department of Energy, a three- percent reduction from FY 2001 levels. No specific numbers are given for science programs within DOE, but the budget document does comment on the need for more aggressive cost-sharing requirements in DOE's applied R&D programs: "Subsidies to industry average 50 percent and exemptions are common. Federal R&D funds could be better leveraged and R&D projects would stay more focused on real market needs if the level and consistency of R&D cost-sharing requirements were increased."
ďUsing a consortium of companies to direct research funding to address broad industry issues, a restructured 'clean coal' research program will spend more that $2 billion over 10 years for technology and efficiency improvements to reduce the environmental impact of the use of coal."
"As part of the Administrationís plan to allow oil and gas drilling in a small part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and other Federal lands, bonuses paid by winning ANWR bidders, up to $1.2 billion, will be set aside to help fund enhanced research on alternative energy technologies. Bidding bonuses are estimated to be received in 2004."
The big increase for clean coal technology programs in a declining budget has many geoscientists worried about the fate of the petroleum and natural gas programs also located in the Office of Fossil Energy. Reductions to those programs could run over 50 percent.
"Provides $14.5 billion for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), a two-percent increase over 2001 and a seven-percent increase over 2000."
"Earth Science: NASA has worked with the National Academy of Sciences to develop future Earth Science research priorities and, based on these priorities, has developed plans for the second generation of Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites. NASA's outyear plan for these satellites has been underfunded in recent years, but the budget will provide a five-percent increase in 2002 for a science-driven EOS Follow-On program while discontinuing lower-priority remote sensing satellite and environmental application projects to ensure that EOS priorities can go forward."
"Space Science: To ensure successful execution of programs already underway, two projects with a very large escalation in cost, the Pluto-Kuiper Express and Solar Probe missions, will not be funded. To support a potential, future sprint to the planet Pluto before 2020, additional funds will be directed to key propulsion technology investments. The budget funds a more robust Mars Exploration Program and provides critical technology funding to support future decisions on high-energy astrophysics missions."
Department of Commerce
"Within the more than $3 billion budgeted for the Departmentís National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), increased funding of $83 million is provided to continue procurement of the next generation of weather satellites. The National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System, which is being jointly developed with the Department of Defense, will provide advanced measurements to benefit both near-term weather and longer-range climatic analyses."
"Funding is eliminated for the Coastal Impact Assistance Fund, which overlaps with the more general Coastal Zone Management Act grant program, as well as a number of unrequested projects."
"The budget proposes to end the Emergency Steel and Oil and Gas Loan Guarantee programs after the second round of applications. Adequate funding would remain to address pending applicants for both programs. The oil and gas program was created when oil and gas prices were far below current levels, and demand for this program has been particularly limited."
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Following Bush's campaign promise to increase states' flexibility in meeting federal regulations, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) budget bestows $1 billion in grants to states for environmental programs. Core regulatory, research, and enforcement activities would receive $3.7 billion. "EPA will also redirect resources to develop new, more effective methods to achieve environmental progress. EPA will set high standards for environmental protection, make those expectations clear, and focus on results and performance. To reach those goals, EPA will place greater emphasis on innovative approaches to environmental protection, such as market-based incentives. . . . The Federal Government will continue to play a crucial role in environmental protection, and EPA will seek higher levels of cooperation among stakeholders. . . . In addition, EPA intends to improve the role of science in decision-making by having scientific information and analysis help in directing policy and establishing priorities. The EPA will also enhance its approach to environmental information by making data collection and management more efficient and more accurate, reduce paperwork for regulated entities, and standardize business practices."
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The presidentís budget provides $2 billion for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) core operations. According to the budget document, savings within FEMA are made by eliminating the Project Impact disaster preparedness program, requiring public buildings to carry disaster insurance, reducing the federal share "for hazard mitigation grants from 75 percent to 50 percent," phase out the fire grant program, and reform the National Flood Insurance Program to end coverage for "repetitive loss" properties. The budget does maintain $140 million for the Emergency Food and Shelter Program, which will be "administered by a board of charitable, non-profit, and faith-based organizations."
Sources: White House Office of Management and Budget A Blueprint for New Beginnings: A Responsible Budget for Americaís Priorities
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.
Posted February 28, 2001
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