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Government Affairs Program ACTION ALERT


House and Senate Appropriators Restore Cuts to USGS, DOE

(Posted 7-19-02; Revised 7-23-02)


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

IN A NUTSHELL: The House has passed and the Senate is considering appropriations legislation that restores funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and Department of Energy’s fossil energy research program, both the subject of significant cuts in the president’s request for fiscal year (FY) 2003. Funding for the USGS would total $928 million in the House version (up 6.6% over the president’s $867 million request and 1.6% over FY 2002’s $914 million allocation) and $927 million in the Senate version (up 6.8% over request, 1.4% over FY 2002). Water and geologic programs that were proposed for large reductions, elimination, or transfer in the president’s request were completely restored in both bills. Both House and Senate bills are accompanied by strong language chastising the administration for failing to adequately support the important work of the USGS. In the Department of Energy, funding for natural gas exploration and production was nearly doubled from the budget request -- the Senate providing $23.5 million (up 14% from last year) and the House with $22.2 million (up 8% from last year). Petroleum research, which was threatened with a 50% cut, is still down but not as much. The House recommendation totaled $30.4 million (down 6% from last year), and the Senate recommended $27.4 million (down 15% from last year). Please write to members of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, especially if you are a constituent of a member on the Interior subcommittee, to thank them for making a strong investment in the geosciences. For more information on geoscience appropriations, including other geoscience-related programs in the Interior bill, see http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis107/appropsfy2003.html.

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Most years, the Interior and Related Agencies appropriations bill is one of the last of the annual spending measures to make it through Congress. Legislative provisions regarding environmental and resource issues generate filibuster threats, inadequate funding for national parks, and controversies surrounding the National Endowment for the Arts can generally be counted on to slow things down. But not this year. Only the military construction bill has progressed farther. The Senate Appropriations Committee acted first, passing their version of the fiscal year (FY) 2003 bill, S. 2708, on June 27th. The House counterpart, H.R. 5093, passed through committee on July 9th. After two days of debate, the full House passed it on July 17th in a 377-46 vote. Several amendments were added to the bill during House floor consideration, including one by Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA) that would prohibit funds from the bill to be used for drilling permit activities in the southern California Outer Continental Shelf -- the state is currently in litigation with the federal government to setup a lease-by-back program similar to the one announced for Florida.

U.S. Geological Survey

Overall funding for the USGS would total $928 million in the House version and $927 million in the Senate version -- both well over the requested $867 million and last year's $914 million total. In the House bill, geologic programs would total $235 million, an increase of 4.5% over the budget request and a slight increase over last year's allocation. The Senate proposal would provide $239 million, an increase of 6.2% above the request and 2.5% more than last year. The Senate report specifically states that the committee does not support the administration's proposed reduction for the National Cooperative Geological Mapping program, which it funded at last year's levels (as did the House). The Senate also provided $500,000 for the Central Great Lakes Geological Mapping program. The House report includes language regarding funds for the Survey to implement the National Academy of Science's recommendation for a comprehensive coastal program.

Water programs would receive a total of $210 million in both bills (up 17.9% from request and up 1.8% from last year). Both bills restore the funding for the National Water Quality Assessment Program, with an increase of 11% above the request, but that amount translates into an increase of only 1% above last year's allocation. Funding for the National Streamflow Information Program would be restored, under both proposals, to last year's funding level of $14.3 million. Also receiving a slight increase from last years funding would be the Water Resources Research Institutes that faced elimination in the budget request. Appropriators did not approve the president's request to cut the Toxic Substances Hydrology program by $4 million and transfer the remaining $10 million to the National Science Foundation. Instead, it left the program at FY 2002 funding levels. In response, the White House Office of Management and Budget released a Statement of Administration Policy on H.R. 5093 asserting: "The Administration is also disappointed that the [Appropriations] Committee ignored the proposed transfer of $10 million for toxic hydrology research funding from the U.S. Geological Survey to the National Science Foundation."

In other USGS numbers, the Senate would provide $131 million for mapping activities (up 1.4% from request and down 1.7% from last year) and $172 million for biological research activities (up 7.3% from request and up 3.5% from last year). House numbers for mapping activities would be $135 million (up 4.5% from request and up 1.4% from last year) and $170 million for biological research activities (up 6.2% from request and up 2.4% from last year). The House report accompanying the bill (H. Rept. 107-564) contains extensive language on USGS mapping programs, particularly regarding development of the National Map, emphasizing the "benefits of updated digital geographic data for use in geographic information systems" and encouraging the Department of the Interior to give higher priority to such efforts.

Report Language on USGS Budget Trends

The reports accompanying both bills had more than a few choice words for the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) about its repeated attempts to cut USGS programs. The House Report (H. Rept. 107-564) states: "For the third year in a row the Committee has restored a number of high-priority research programs that were proposed for reduction or elimination by the Office of Management and Budget during the budget process. Officials at the Office of Management and Budget seemingly believe that the Department of the Interior no longer needs science on which to base natural resource policy decisions. This is not the position of the Congress as articulated in previous Interior bills, nor is it the position of the National Academy of Sciences which has provided recommendations on a program by program basis detailing the need to expand not eliminate the very programs that the Office of Management and Budget has targeted as unnecessary. The Committee strongly urges the Department and OMB to continue to fund these critical science programs in the base budget in future years."

In a similar tone, the Senate Report (S. Rept.107-201) contains the following paragraph in the USGS section: "The Committee is dismayed that the budget estimate for the USGS once again recommends large reductions to valuable ongoing programs. . . . The Committee does not agree to the termination or weakening of programs for which there is strong support from a board constituency, and a demonstrated value through the significant amount of non-Federal funds that are leveraged through most USGS programs. In the Committee's view, it will remain difficult to find the resources to support new directions for the Survey as long as the annual need to restore large amounts to base programs continues. As budget planning gets underway for fiscal year 2004, the Committee urges those involved in the process to bear in mind the expressed public support across the United States for the Survey's programs."

The full House report is available at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp107:FLD010:@1(hr564) and the Senate report at http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/cpquery/R?cp107:FLD010:@1(sr201).

DOE Office of Fossil Energy

Funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy (FE) also received good news in the House and Senate reports, or at least compared to the budget request. The Senate report noted: "More than [$93 million] in programmatic increases above the budget request were necessitated by the Department's proposed early termination of valuable research projects, many of which, in the opinion of the Committee, are central to our Nation's energy security." The House proposal would provide a total of $664 million, an increase of 36% above the budget request and 14% above last year's funding, and the Senate version would provide $641 million, an increase of 10% over last year. Neither the House nor the Senate provided the requested more-than-doubled funding of $54 million for carbon sequestration activates. Instead the two chambers provided increases of close to 30% above last year's allocation.

Funding for natural gas exploration and production was nearly doubled from the budget request -- the Senate providing $23.5 million (up 14% from last year) and the House provided $22.2 million (up 8% from last year). The reports noted the inclusion of funds to continue the National Laboratory/industry partnership program. Also under the natural gas program is research on gas hydrates. Both chambers would more than double the funding for these activities, with the Senate providing $10.5 million and the House providing $10.8 million.

Funding for petroleum exploration and production was hard hit in the budget request, with a request of less than half of the FY 2002 allocation. Both chambers were able to restore a majority of the cuts but still came in below last year's allocation. The House recommendation totaled $30.4 million (down 6% from last year), and the Senate recommended $27.4 million (down 15% from last year).

Please Thank the Appropriations Committee Members

Please take a moment and write a note to your representative to thank them for their strong support for federal geoscience programs (for a list of the roll call vote on the bill, see http://clerkweb.house.gov/cgi-bin/vote.exe?year=2002&rollnumber=318). We particularly need constituent letters to members on the House and Senate Appropriations Committees. A list of committee members can be found at http://appropriations.senate.gov and http://www.house.gov/appropriations. Below is the contact information for members of the House and Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittees. The Interior Appropriations Subcommittee chairmen are Rep. Joe Skeen (R-NM) and Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-WV); ranking members are Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) and Sen. Conrad Burns (R-MT). Letters should be addressed to:

The Honorable ___________
U.S. Senate
Washington, DC 20510
-- or --
The Honorable ___________
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515

Please send us a copy of anything you write: AGI Government Affairs Program, 4220 King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502; fax 703 379 7563; e-mail govt@agiweb.org.

House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

Norman Dicks (D-WA, 6th) 202/226-1176
Maurice Hinchey (D-NY, 26th) 202/226-0774 mhinchey@mail.house.gov
Jack Kingston (R-GA, 1st) 202/226-2269 jack.kingston@mail.house.gov
Jim Kolbe (R-AZ, 5th) 202/225-0378 jim.kolbe@mail.house.gov
James Moran (D-VA, 8th) 202/225-0017
John Murtha (D-PA, 12th) 202/225-5709 murtha@mail.house.gov
George Nethercutt, Jr. (R-WA, 5th) 202/225-3392 george.nethercutt@mail.house.gov
John Peterson (R-PA, 5th) 202/225-5796
Ralph Regula (R-OH, 16th) 202/225-3059
Martin Olav Sabo (D-MN, 5th) 202/225-4886 martin.sabo@mail.house.gov
Joe Skeen (R-NM, 2nd) 202/225-9599 joe.skeen@mail.house.gov
Charles Taylor (R-NC, 11th) repcharles.taylor@mail.house.gov
Zach Wamp (R-TN, 3rd) 202/225-3494

Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee

Robert F. Bennett (R-UT) 202/228-1168 senator@bennett.senate.gov
Conrad Burns (R-MT) 202/224-8594 conrad_burns@burns.senate.gov
Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) 202/228-4467 senator_byrd@byrd.senate.gov
Ben Nighthorse Campbell (R-CO) 202/224-1933 hotissues@campbell.senate.gov
Thad Cochran (R-MS) 202/224-9450 senator@cochran.senate.gov
Pete V. Domenici (R-NM) 202/228-0900 senator_domenici@domenici.senate.gov
Byron L. Dorgan (D-ND) 202/224-1193 senator@dorgan.senate.gov
Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) 202/228-3954 senator@feinstein.senate.gov
Judd Gregg (R-NH) 202/224-4952 mailbox@gregg.senate.gov
Ernest F. Hollings (D-SC) 202/224-4293
Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI) 202/224-6747 senator@inouye.senate.gov
Patrick J. Leahy (D-VT) 202/224-3479 senator_leahy@leahy.senate.gov
Patty Murray (D-WA) 202/224-0238 senator_murray@murray.senate.gov
Harry Reid (D-NV) 202/224-7327 senator_reid@reid.senate.gov
Ted Stevens (R-AK) 202/224-2354 senator_stevens@stevens.senate.gov


Alert prepared by Margaret A. Baker and David Applegate, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: House Appropriations Committee, Senate Appropriations Committee, Library of Congress, and E&E News.

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

Posted July 19, 2002; Revised July 23, 2002


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