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FY2004 VA/HUD & Independent Agencies Appropriations --
NSF, NASA, EPA (01-23-04)

The Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies (VA/HUD) Appropriations bill funds a number of important geoscience programs at the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Key programs of interest to the earth sciences include the NSF Geosciences Directorate and Math and Science Partnership, the NASA Earth Science Enterprise (ESE), and several of the environmental monitoring and research programs within EPA.

Most Recent Action: On December 8th the House of Representatives approved the Consolidated Appropriations bill for FY04 by a vote of 242-176. Unable to chart the financial course the government will take next year by considering the thirteen appropriations bills one-by-one, Congress "wrapped" the seven outstanding bills together in a catchall legislative vehicle called an 'omnibus' bill. This bill, H.R. 2673, which includes funding for NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), was finally approved by the Senate on January 22, 2004. After two failed attempts to cut off debate, Senate Majority Leader Frist said that it was "time to move on", and the Senate agreed by a vote of 65-28. The bill was subsequently approved and will be signed by the president. (1/22/04)

FY04 VA/HUD Appropriations Process

Account

FY03 Enacted
($million)

House Action
($million)

Senate Action
($million)

Reduced Conference Committee Action*
($million)
National Science Foundation (total)

5,300

5,480

5,630

5,586
5,600
5,557
Research & Related Activities

4,050

4,100

4,300

4,221
4,276
4,251
-- Geosciences Directorate

689

688

718

692
719
715
-- Office of Polar Programs
319

330

355

342
345
343
Major Research Equipment & Facilities

148

202

192

150
155
154
-- Earthscope

30

45

43.5

44
43.5

43.2
-- Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation
- -

8

8

8
8
8
-- Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)

- -

- -

25

0
0
0
Education & Human Resources

903

938

911

976
944
938
-- Math and Science Partnerships

128

200

140

145
140
139
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (total)

15,300

15,500

15,500

15,339
15,500
15,409
Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration

7,400

7,660

7,710

7,730
7,930
7,883
-- Earth Science Enterprise

1,710

1,552
N.S.
N.S.
N.S.
N.S.
-- Office of Space Science
3,501
4,007
N.S.
N.S.
N.S.
N.S.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (total)

8,080

7,630

8,010

8,183
8,400
8,350
Science and Technology

716

731

767

716
786
781
Hazardous Substances Superfund

1,260

1,390

1,280

1,265
1,265
1,258
Environmental Programs and Management

2,100

2,220

2,190

2,220
2,300
2,286
Leaking Underground Storage Trust Fund

73

73

73

72
76
75.5
State and Tribal Assistance Grants

3,830

3,120

3,600

3,814
3,897
3,874
-- Clean Water State Revolving Funds

1,350

850

1,200

1,350
1,200
1,193
-- Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds

850

850

850

850
850
845
-- Brownfields

167

211

171

160
93
92

*All conference report values are subject to a 0.59% across-the-board reduction, due to the late passage of this bill.

N.S. - Not Specified

President's Request

For fiscal year (FY) 2004, the president's request would provide NSF with a 9% boost over FY 2003 to $5.48 billion. NASA requested $15.5 billion for FY 2004, a slight increase over the agency's congressional appropriation in FY 2003. NASA's Earth Science Enterprise - funding the majority of the geoscience-related programs within the agency - has requested $1.55 billion, a decrease of nearly 10% from the FY 2003 appropriation of $1.71 billion. In its FY 2004 request, EPA has sought a total of $7.6 billion, down 5% from the agency's FY 2003 appropriation. Details on each of the budget requests are available on AGI's President's FY2004 Budget Request page.

House Action

On July 21, the House Committee on Appropriations passed the FY2004 Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 2861) and its accompanying report (H. Rept. 108-235). Four days later, the measure was approved on the House floor by a vote of 316-109. Details of spending and report language important to the geoscience community is below.

National Science Foundation

For the National Science Foundation, the Committee recommends a total of $5.6 billion for FY2004, a figure that exceeds last year's appropriation by $329 million and the budget request by $158 million. The Research and Related Activities account is slated to recieve a total of $4.3 billion, an increase of $250 million above last year's funding level and $200 million above the budget request. Within this account, the Geosciences Directorate is provided with $718 million, $30 million more than requested. The Office of Polar Programs are funded at $355 million, $25 million over the request, noting that "Expenses for the Antarctic operation programs have substantially increased due to the weather and unique situation created by lodged icebergs and three-year ice in the bay."

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account funds the capital costs for large facilities that provide "unique capabilities at the cutting edge of science and engineering." The Committee recommends a total of $192 million for the account in FY2004, an increase of $44 million over the existing funding level and $10 million less than the budget request. Generally, the Committee provided funds equal to or exceeding the requested amounts. Earthscope is provided with $43.5 million, approximately $1.5 million less than requested, but $13.5 million more than the previous year's level. The Committee report notes that the $10 million provided for Terascale Computing Systems and $960,000 for the South Pole Station represent the final year of funding for these projects. The Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) is set to begin the construction phase a year earlier than anticipated with a committee recommendation of $25 million. The Committee's appropriation of $12 million for a demonstration of the National Observatory Network (NEON) carried with it the following report language:

The Committee cautions NSF that this funding is provided purely for two prototype sites to determine the scientific requirements and optimum configuration of the network. Further, before NSF deploys the two prototype stations and formulates future budget requests for this project, NSF must identify and quantify other Federal funding and observatory networks in order to avoid redundancy of Federal research dollars and reduce the overall cost of the NEON project. The Committee directs NSF to provide a preliminary report to the Committee no later than 18 months from the enactment of this legislation and a final report no later than 24 months after enactment. The Committee will not entertain further budget requests for NEON until the final report is submitted to the Committees on Appropriations.

NSF's Education and Human Resources activities are funded at $911 million, an increase of $7.5 million above last year's level and $27.4 million below the budget request figure. Activities carried under the account "are designed to encourage the entrance of talented students into science and technology careers, to improve the undergraduate science and engineering education environment, to assist in providing all pre-college students with a level of education in mathematics, science, and technology that reflects the needs of the nation and is the highest quality attained anywhere in the world, and extend greater research opportunities to underrepresented segments of the scientific and engineering communities." The Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) program was established through passage of H.R. 1, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) on January 8, 2002 in an effort to restructure federal funding of elementary and secondary math and science education. An identically named program at the Department of Education complements the NSF program; for more information, see AGI's FY2004 Labor/HHS Appropriations page. The Committee recommendation of $140 million for MSP falls $60 million short of the budget request of $200 million, but exceeds the existing funding by $12.5 million.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Committee provides NASA a total appropriation of $15.5 billion in FY2004, which is an increase of $71 million from the budget request and a jump of $201 million over FY2003 enacted appropriation.

The Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration account provides for NASA research and development activities, including space science, earth science, biological and physical research, aeronautics, and education programs. The Committee recommends $7.7 billion for the account in FY2004, an increase of $47 million over the budget request and of $303 million above the FY2003 level "as estimated in this new account structure." Regarding the Earth Sciences account, the report language commends NASA for establishing an implementation plan for Earth science applications partnerships that resulted in a competition from which awards were announced on July 2, 2002. According to the report, the Committee

looks forward to working with NASA in the future to ensure adequate funding is provided for a more robust peer-reviewed competitive program. For this reason, the Committee recommendation does not include any funding for new remote sensing applications centers. The Committee directs $5,000,000 from the NASA Earth Science Enterprise be transferred to the Air Force Research Laboratory (PE 62204F Aerospace Sensors) to develop dual-use lightweight space radar technology.

In addition, the report language recognizes

concern in the graduate education community that the current level of stipends in NASA's Graduate Student Research Program and the Earth System Science Fellowship are lagging the level in other areas of the Federal government and that participation in the programs by the best and brightest is therefore jeopardized. The Committee believes that NASA's investment in graduate education tries to fill a crucial funding gap in much the same way that NASA support for basic and applied research fills a gap in those programs. When the NASA investment in graduate education via stipends is increased, the rewards to NASA will increase. The Committee directs NASA to evaluate the stipend level in its programs and report to the Committee on actions it will take to increase the level of stipend for its programs. Additionally, the Committee directs NASA to evaluate and report on the value of expanding its use of graduate fellowships to all NASA science offices.

Due to the February 1, 2003, shuttle tragedy, appropriators are awaiting the results of a congressional investigation before assigning appropriations for programs within NASA. The inquiry is expected to take place in the fall, and will largely be under the auspices of the House Science Committee.

Environmental Protection Agency

The bill provides the EPA with $8.01 billion, which is $375 million above President Bush's $7.63 billion FY 2004 budget request but $74 million below the $8.08 billion approved last year.

Within the EPA funding, the Committee recommends an appropriation of $767 million for the Science and Technology account for FY2004, an increase of $52 million above last year's spending level, and an increase of $36 million above the budget request. The account funds all EPA research (including Hazardous Substances Superfund research activities) carried out through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies, states, universities, and private business, as well as on an in-house basis. In addition to these funds, The Committee calls for the transfer of $45 million from the Hazardous Substance Superfund account for "ongoing research activities consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended."

The Committee recommends $1.28 billion for Hazardous Substances Superfund (Superfund), an increase of $10.3 million above last year's funding level and $115 million below the budget request. The majority of this funding ($891 million) is assigned to remedial, removal and other response/cleanup activities, a $39 million increase over the fiscal year 2003 level for Superfund response activities. The Committee "encourages the EPA to expedite cleanup efforts, especially those underway" and "to focus particular attention to remediate sites in the states with the largest number of Superfund sites." The Commitee calls for an evaluation of Superfund expenditures at Headquarters and the Regions, directing the EPA Inspector General to "recommend options for increasing resources directed to cleanup while minimizing administrative costs" including "options for enhancing the cost-effectiveness of cleanup contracting."

Bill language provides $200 million of the appropriated amount from the Superfund Trust Fund and the remaining $1.08 billion from general revenues of the treasury, and notes that these amounts "may require adjustments prior to enactment of this legislation." Bill language also transfers from the Superfund account $13 million to the Office of Inspector General and $45 million to the Science and Technology account, as noted above.

For fiscal year 2004, the Committee has recommended $2.19 billion for Environmental Programs and Management, a decrease of $27 million below the budget request and an increase of $95 million above the FY2003 funding level. The account includes a range of abatement, prevention, and compliance activities, as well as administrative costs, personnel compensation, benefits, travel, and expenses for many EPA programs.

Report language expresses the Committee's apparent concern over recent amendments adopted by the State of Florida to its 1994 Everglades Forever Act. The Committee instructs EPA to file two reports to both House and Senate Appropriations Committees indicating EPA approval of (1) the change in water standards as consistent with the requirements of the Clean Water Act, and (2) "the State of Florida's rule to set forth the numeric interpretation of the phosphorus criterion, as required under the Everglades Forever Act", respectively. The latter report "shall contain EPA's analysis as to whether the numeric criterion will result in improvements to the quality of water entering the Everglades Protection Area and protect the federal resources located therein consistent with the Consent Decree entered in United States v. South Florida Water Management District." More information on this controversy is available on AGI's Everglades policy page.

The Committee has provided the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund with $72.5 million, an increase of $702,000 over FY2003 and the same as the budget request. The fund provides additional clean-up resources to supplement state leaking underground storage tank programs and "may also be used to enforce necessary corrective actions and to recover costs expended from the Fund for clean-up activities."

The Committee recommends a total of $3.6 billion for State and Tribal Assistance Grants, a decrease of $233 million below the current fiscal year spending level, and $480 million above the budget request level. The account funds programs operated chiefly by state, local, tribal and other governmental partners, infrastructure projects through the State Revolving Funds and geographic specific projects, Brownfields assessment and revitalization grants, and miscellaneous categorical grant programs. The Clean Water State Revolving Funds, "intended to help eliminate municipal discharge of untreated or inadequately treated pollutants and thereby maintain or help restore this country's water to a swimmable and/or fishable quality", are slated to recieve $1.2 billion. This figure is $350 million more than requested and $150 million below the FY2003 level. The Committee provides the recommended $850 million for the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which finances improvements to community water systems to enable compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This account received the same funding in FY2003. Brownfields assessment and revitalization grants recieve $93.5 million from this account. The total Brownfields program is funded at $171 million, which includes $27.5 million from the Environmental Programs and Management account.

Senate Action

Bypassing approval by the subcommittee, the Senate full Committee on Appropriations approved the VA/HUD spending package (S. 1584) on September 4th. Details of funding levels and report language are available in Senate Report 108-143 which accompanied the bill. The full Senate approved the funding package on November 18th by unanimous consent after several days of debate, interrupted by action on other legislation and a 40-hour filibuster on President Bush's judicial nominees.

National Science Foundation

The Committee recommends a total of $5.585 billion for FY2004 for the National Science Foundation, a figure that exceeds last year's appropriation by $275.8 million and the budget request by $104 million. The accompanying report (S. 108-143) notes that "the Committee continues to be supportive of the efforts achieved in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act of 2002 (Public Law 107-368) and the pursuit of a doubling path for NSF funding. However, due to funding constraints, the Committee is not able to provide such funding at this time, but will continue to pursue these efforts in the future."

The Research and Related Activities account is slated to recieve a total of $4.22 billion, an increase of $164.15 million, a 4% increase. Within this account, the Geosciences Directorate is provided with $692 million, $5 million more than requested but the same level as FY 2003. The Office of Polar Programs is funded at $342 million, nearly $12 million over the request. Within the increase, the Committee designated $6 million "to address unexpected incurred costs assocated with additional efforts in providing fuel to research facilities in Antarctica. These neccessary efforts included additional ice breaking requirements and additional fuel transportation costs."

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account "supports the acquisition, procurement, construction and commissioning of unique national research platforms, research resources and major research equipment." The Committee recommends a total of $150 million for the account in FY2004, an increase of $1.14 million over the existing funding level but almost $53 million less than the budget request. Generally, the Committee provided funds equal to or exceeding last year's funding and the requested amounts. Earthscope is provided with $43.7 million, approximately $1.3 million less than requested, but $14 million more than the previous year's level. (It is our understanding that NSF revised the request, and the committee granted that amount.) The Committee report notes that the $10 million provided for Terascale Computing Systems, $8 million to continue to construction of the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) and $1.3 million for the South Pole Station modernization effort. As the Committee did not fund any "new starts" for FY04, there is no funding for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) or International Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), both of which were funded in the House bill.

NSF's Education and Human Resources activities are funded at $976 million, an increase of $73 million above last year's level and $38 million above the budget request figure. Within the report, the Committee notes that it is "deeply disappointed by the administration's lack of support in its budget request for assisting small research institutions and minorities. The Committee is particularly troubled by the continued back of support provided to the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR)." As such, the Committee provided $100 million to EPSCoR, a $10.6 million increase over last year and $25 million over the president's request. In this same vein, in order to "address the importance of broadening science and technology participation to minorities," the Committee recommendation includes $25 million for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Undergraduate Program (HBCU-UP), a $6 million increase over last year and $5 million more than the budget request. It also allocated $35 million for the Louis Stokes Allicance for Minoritiy Participationprogram, a $2.2 million increase over the administration's request.

The Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) program was established through passage of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) in 2002 as an effort to restructure federal funding of elementary and secondary math and science education. An identically named program at the Department of Education complements the NSF program; for more information, see AGI's FY2004 Labor/HHS Appropriations page. The Committee recommendation of $145 million for MSP falls $55 million short of the budget request of $200 million, but exceeds the existing funding by over $18 million.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Committee provides NASA a total appropriation of $15.3 billion in FY2004, which is level with last year's funding and $130 million below the president's request. The report notes that

"NASA is at a crossroad in its history. Because of the tragic loss of the Shuttle Columbia, the Committee believes that both the Congress and NASA must make a renewed commitment to safety as the highest priority in the NASA budget. While safety has always been our highest priority for NASA, something went terribly wrong on that tragic day in February when the Shuttle Columbia crashed to earth and seven of our bravest astronauts died. We know more about the Columbia tragedy now that the Columbia Accident Investigations Board [CAIB] has issued its final report. The findings are disturbing but provide a foundation for NASA to assess and institute the substantial reforms that must be made to make a return to flight both safe and successful."

The activities of NASA's Earth Science Enterprise seek to understand the total Earth system and the effects of humans on the global environment. This pioneering program of studying global climate change is developing many of the capabilities that will be needed for long-term environment and climate monitoring and prediction. Governments around the world need information based on the strongest possible scientific understanding. The unique vantage-point of space provides information about the Earth's land, atmosphere, ice, oceans, and biota as a global system, which is available in no other way. In concert with the global research community, the Earth Science Enterprise is developing the understanding needed to support the complex environmental policy decisions that must be addressed. In that vein, the committee decreased the budget for the Global Climate Change Research Initiative by $11 million from the president's request. Earth Science Applications were also decreased by $15 million. Instead, additional funds were allocated for mission formulation studioes for EOS follow-on missions and the EOSDIS Core System Synergy Program.

The House Science Committee is currently conducting a thorough investigation into the February 1, 2003, shuttle tragedy. Once those hearings conclude, appropriators may make adjustments to the NASA accountsduring conference negotiations in light of new information gleaned in those exchanges between NASA and the Congress.

Environmental Protection Agency

The bill provides the EPA with $8.18 billion, which is $552 million above the budget request and $105 million above last year's allocation.

Within the EPA funding, the Committee recommends an appropriation of $716 million for the Science and Technology account for FY2004, nearly $16 million below the president's request and the same as last year's funding. The account funds all EPA research carried out through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with other Federal agencies, states, universities, and private business, as well as on an in-house basis. In addition to these funds, The Committee calls for the transfer of $45 million from the Hazardous Substance Superfund account for "ongoing research activities consistent with the intent of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act of 1980, as amended."

The Committee recommends $1.3 billion for Hazardous Substances Superfund (Superfund), a slight increase above last year's funding level and $124 million below the budget request. Of this funding the Committee designated $879 million for response and cleanup activities; $148 million for enforcement; and $140 million for management and support. The Committee expresses concern in their report that EPA "is not dedicating enough fundings to actual remediation and Superfund close-out activities. The Committee expects EPA to allocate no less than 22 percent of its annual appropriation for these activities." The Committee further directed the Inspector General to conduct a full audit for years 2002 and 2003 to "assess the use of funds in Superfund cleanups and make recommendations for enhancing the completion of final cleanup and remediation activities in the Superfund program."

Bill language transfers $13 million from the Superfund account to the Office of Inspector General and $45 million to the Science and Technology account, as noted above.

For fiscal year 2004, the Committee has recommended $2.2 billion for Environmental Programs and Management, the same as the budget request and an increase of $122 million above the FY2003 funding level. The account includes a range of abatement, prevention, and compliance activities, as well as administrative costs, personnel compensation, benefits, travel, and expenses for many EPA programs.

While lacking the House's fervor over the Florida Everglades situation (see above), the report does note the Committee's strong support for the EPA Brownsfields program. The Committee funded the program at the budget request of $30 million and also allocated $160 million in the States and Tribal Assistance Grants account for Brownsfields. This results in $190.5 million for Brownsfields funding in FY04.

Within the Environmental Program and Management Accout, the Committee earmarked $9 million for Environmental Education, which the administration had eliminated from its budget, and $10 million for Geospatial.

The Committee has provided the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund with the requested amount of $72.5 million, an increase of $702,000 over last year's funding. The Committee further directed that "not less than 85 percent of these funds be provided to the States and tribal governments."

The Committee recommends a total of $3.8 billion for State and Tribal Assistance Grants, a decrease of $20 million below the current fiscal year spending level, and $693 million above the budget request level. The account funds programs operated chiefly by state, local, tribal and other governmental partners, infrastructure projects through the State Revolving Funds and geographic specific projects, Brownfields assessment and revitalization grants, and miscellaneous categorical grant programs. The Clean Water State Revolving Funds, "intended to help eliminate municipal discharge of untreated or inadequately treated pollutants and thereby maintain or help restore this country's water to a swimmable and/or fishable quality", are slated to recieve $1.3 billion. This figure is $500 million more than requested and equal to the FY2003 level. The Committee provides the recommended $850 million for the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program, which finances improvements to community water systems to enable compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act. This account received the same funding in FY2003. Brownfields assessment and revitalization grants recieve $160 million from this account, as noted above.

Conference Action

On December 8th the House of Representatives approved the Consolidated Appropriations bill for FY04 by a vote of 242-176. Unable to chart the financial course the government will take next year by considering the thirteen appropriations bills one-by-one, Congress "wrapped" the seven outstanding bills together in a catchall legislative vehicle called an 'omnibus' bill. This bill, H.R. 2673, which includes funding for NASA, NSF and EPA, has not yet been passed by the Senate. Instead, all departments and agencies covered in the $328 billion bill will be funded at FY03 levels through January 31, 2004. The Senate has tentatively scheduled their vote on this legislation for January 20, 2004 at 2:30 p.m.

National Science Foundation

The omnibus appropriations would provide the NSF with a $5.6 billion budget in FY 2004, an increase of $268 million, or 5%, over FY 2003. In an apparent nod to the National Science Foundation Authorization that sets a track for doubling the NSF budget in five years (an approximate budgetary increase of 14.86% per year), the conferees noted "very severe overall fiscal constraints" in their report language. The new increase contrasts with the 10.4% increase approved in the last budget cycle. The new budget for NSF is $5.578 billion; the authorized level is $6.390 billion.

Under the conference agreement, Research and Related Activities will receive a $226 million boost, translating to increases of 3.1-7.5 percent for each directorate. The report states: "The managers have given their highest priority to funding basic research within the research and related activities account. This account supports investigator-initiated grants within each of the core disciplines as well as critical cross-cutting research which brings together multiple disciplines. The conferees urge the Foundation in allocating the scarce resources provided in this bill and in preparing its fiscal 2005 budget request to be sensitive to maintaining the proper balance between the goal of stimulating interdisciplinary research and the need to maintain robust single issue research in the core disciplines."

The Geosciences Directorate is slated to receive 4.1 percent more funding than last year. This was in line with the House recommendation and 4.3% more than the administration requested. The Office of Polar Programs will be funded at $345 million next year, $26 million more than last year.

The conference agreement would allocate $155 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities construction--slightly more than the Senate bill, but far less than the $192 million provided by the House. The House bill included $12 million in initial funding for the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) but the Senate bill omitted all funding for this initiative. The conference agreement follows the Senate recommendation and omits all funding for NEON "without prejudice," which implies that the project was not rejected on merit and may be funded in future years. According to the conference report, "The conferees direct NSF to consider the recommendations in the National Academy of Sciences report and continue to refine the NEON plan from funds provided under research and related activities." The House had also included $25 million to initiate ship construction for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP) but due to the Senate's insistence on "no new starts," funding for IODP was abandoned in conference.

EarthScope, the geophysical instrument array designed to investigate the structure and dynamics of the North American continent, would receive $43.2 million for FY 2004, its second year of funding. This is slightly less than the administration's request but nearly equal to the House and Senate recommendations.

The conference report would provide $139 million for the President's Math and Science Partnership program, which aims to strengthen K-12 math and science education by linking local schools with colleges and universities. Undergraduate education would receive $162 million and graduate education would receive $156 million, which is sufficient to set NSF graduate stipends at $30,000 per year.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The conferees provided NASA with $15.5 billion, $200 million more than last year to meet the president's request. That increase led to additional funding for the Science, Aeronautics and Exploration programs. They will receive $7.93 billion next year, a 6.6% increase over FY03 funding. The amount provided by the conferees for FY04 is meant to keep the program running, assist NASA in addressing problems brought about by the destruction of the space shuttle Columbia and to serve as a placeholder until President Bush unveils a new space strategy early next year.

House Science Committee Chairman Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) commented that "The bill also takes an appropriately measured approach with NASA, providing some increased funding, emphasizing safety, recognizing the need to fund the full range of NASA programs, and moving ahead cautiously with new program requests." He went on to praise the conferees saying, "like the Science Committee, the Appropriations Committee is emphasizing the need to comply fully with the Columbia Accident Investigation Board's recommendations."

Environmental Protection Agency

The EPA will receive $8.4 billion next year, a $220 million increase over the Senate's mark, a $390 million boost from the House's bill and nearly $770 million beyond Bush's budget request. This increase benefited programs across the board.

The Science and Technology account will be funded above either the House or Senate recommendations of $767 million and $716 million, respectively. Instead, it will garner $786 million, a $70 million increase over last year. Environmental Programs and Management will receive a $200 million increase over last year's funding and $80 million more than the president requested. the Leaking Underground Storage Trust Fund will receive $76 million, a $3 million boost over FY03 levels and more than either the House or Senate recommended.

Hazardous Substances Superfund will receive a $5 million increase over last year, despite the administration's request for a $130 million boost. Looking for a way to trim costs of this program, the conferees directed the "EPA IG [Inspector General] to conduct an evaluation of Superfund expenditures at headquarters and the regions and recommend options for increasing resources directed to extramural cleanup while minimizing administrative costs. The conference agreement does not include a provision, as proposed by the Senate, to require EPA to allocate a specific percentage of its superfund budget to site remedy construction and long-term response activities. However, the conferees expect EPA to direct the maximum possible resources to these activities, and look forward to reviewing the IG's recommendations for increasing funding for these critical activities within available resources."

State and Tribal Assistance Grants were ramped up to $3.897 for FY04, a 1.7% increase over last year. Even though there was a slight increase, within that account the Clean Water State Revolving Funds were cut by $150 million. This is great news for an account that the administration requested be cut by $500 million. Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds will be flat-funded at $850 million and Brownfields were cut by $74 million from last years level bringing total funding for that program down to $93 million.

Sources: E&ENews Publications, House Committee on Appropriations, Library of Congress, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Washington Post, House Science Committee, National Council for Science and the Environment, and the White House Office of Management and Budget.

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

Contributed by Brett Beaulieu, AGI/AIPG 2003 Summer Intern; Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs Program and Gayle Levy, AGI/AAPG 2004 Spring Semester Intern

Last Update January 23, 2004


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