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FY 2005 Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary Appropriations -- NOAA (11-29-04)

The primary interest for the geoscience community in the Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary (CJSJ) Appropriations bill is the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Formed by President Nixon on October 3, 1970 as a part of the Commerce Department, NOAA was established to, in Nixon's words, serve a national need "...for better protection of life and property from natural hazards...for a better understanding of the total environment...[and] for exploration and development leading to the intelligent use of our marine resources..." Of particular interest to geoscientists is NOAA research conducted through the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which is the driving force behind NOAA environmental products and services that protect life and property and promote sustainable economic growth.

FY 2005 CJSJ Appropriations Process


FY04 Enacted
House Action

Senate Action
FY05 Enacted

Department of Commerce (total)





NOAA (total)





National Weather Service





National Ocean Service





Oceanic & Atmospheric Research






President's Request for FY 2005

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The proposed funding for NOAA in FY05 is $3.3 billion, an 8.2% decrease from last year's appropriation. Within NOAA, the majority of the research is managed by the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), which is slated to receive a 12% decrease, leaving the program with a total of $350 million. Under the President's FY05 budget request, the National Ocean Service (NOS) would receive $394.3 million (down 22%). The National Weather Service is slated for a 3% increase, bringing the total to $749 million.

NOAA's budget slashes funding for the "wet side", which includes the NOS and OAR. Programs in NOS that will receive less funding than last year include: Navigation Services (down $15 million), Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment (down $80 million) and Ocean & Coastal Management (down $31 million). In OAR, the Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes Research program was cut by $50 million. The Weather and Air Quality Research program was cut by $20 million. However, the Climate Research Program requested $13 million more than last year.

NOAA's budget documents are available at

House Action

Congress passed the Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary FY05 Appropriations bill July 8th without offering any amendments that would boost funding for the severe cuts to NOAA. The amount appropriated by the bill for NOAA is $2.3 billion, a decrease of $543 million from the FY04 enacted level and $215 million less than the President's requested amount. With overall funding cut by 36%, many one-time, non-recurring projects will be terminated. Funding for ocean and fisheries programs received the most significant cuts, while many of the atmospheric programs remain funded at the president's requested levels. In cutting NOAA's funding, the Committee went against the recommendation of two reports published earlier this year by the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. Both reported that significantly higher levels of funding were necessary for ocean and coastal protection and research.

The bill provides $351 million for the National Ocean Service (NOS), a 31% decrease from the FY04 enacted level of $511 million and an 11% decrease from the President's requested amount of $394.3 million. Included in this amount is additional funding for Mapping and Charting, which the Committee has directed NOAA to use to address the hydrographic survey backlog detailed in the National Survey Plan. NOAA must submit a report by January 31, 2005, explaining their plan for completing the survey. The Committee also expects NOAA to work with private mapping companies to minimize duplication and maximize surveying capabilities in the private sector. A report on this progress must be submitted no later than November 1, 2004 assessing how NOAA's mapping responsibilities are being fulfilled and at what cost. Funding is continued for the Great Lakes National Water Level Observation Network (NWLON) and Geodesy programs in North Carolina, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Alabama, and Washington. NOAA's Coral Reefs program will be funded at the requested amount of $25 million. The Marine Sanctuaries Program was allocated $30 million, which is $6 million below the President's request and $34 million below FY04 levels. The Committee expects the conservation activities at the Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Exploration Center to receive top priority for these funds.

Funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service was also cut, receiving $526 million, $622 million less than FY04. Funding is continued for horseshoe crab research, tuna tagging, bluefish/striped bass research, and highly migratory shark research. The Committee recommended $80 million for the Pacific Salmon Recover Program, $20 million less than the President's requested amount and $9 million less than FY04. NOAA was also directed by the Committee to assign high priority to Saltonstall-Kennedy grant proposals for research and education efforts that focus on protecting high-risk consumers from naturally occurring bacteria in raw molluscan shellfish.

Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) was allocated $318.5 million, a 20% decrease from the FY04 enacted level of $398 million and a 9% decrease from the $350 million requested by the President. The Committee recommendation includes $68.5 million for the Climate and Global Change program, a $9.2 million increase over the President's requested amount. Funding for the Climate Change Research Initiative was continued at the FY04 level. Additionally, $60 million was recommended for the National Sea Grant College Program, a $2.5 million increase over the President's request. The Committee heavily emphasized the importance of monitoring the Great Lakes and funded many of these research efforts at requested levels.

The National Weather Service (NWS) received the requested funding of $698.7 million. The Committee also agreed with the proposal to move the Space Environment Center program from OAR to NWS. The National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS) also received the requested amount of $139.5 million.

Senate Action

On September 15th, the Senate Commerce Committee passed its Commerce, State, Justice and the Judiciary (CJSJ) Appropriations bill (S. 2809) for Fiscal Year 2005 (FY05). The Committee recommended a $6.9 billion total budget for the Department of Commerce, a 14% increase over the budget request, a 16% increase over the FY04 enacted level, and just over a billion more than recommended by the House. The budget recommendation for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which includes the National Weather Service (NWS), the National Ocean Service (NOS), and the Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) account, are detailed below.

The budget recommendation for NOAA is about $4 billion, a 22% increase over the budget request of $3.4 billion and a 12% increase over the current level. The report states, "The Committee recommendation disapproves the budget request which proposes to terminate or significantly reduce almost $700,000,000 from programs ranging from climate change to marine mammal management to infrastructure support." This recommendation stands in stark contrast to the House number for NOAA of $2.4 billion.

Within this account, $806 million is slated for the National Weather Service, a 7.6% increase over the budget request, an 11% increase over FY04 funding levels, and $100 million more than recommended by the House. According to the report, Alaska would receive heavy investment in climate monitoring systems. It states, "The Committee has on two occasions held hearings in Alaska at which NOAA representatives have testified. These hearings have focused on climate change in the Arctic and impacts, such as the influence of declining sea ice on coastal storms and coastal erosion. In both hearings NOAA witnesses have admitted that the agency's observational network in Alaska is sparse compared with any other State. Accordingly, the Committee has included an increase of $1,000,000 under the line item `Coastal Global Ocean Observing System' in the attached table. These funds are for procurement of not less than four new coastal marine automated observing systems [C-MAN] to be installed and operated along Alaska's west coast along the Bering and Chukchi Seas. The Committee hopes that these observational improvements will lead to improved forecasts for rural Alaskan communities in these coastal areas."

The National Oceans Service would receive $739 million, 1.3% below the request, 1.9% more than current funding, and nearly $400 million more than recommend by the House. Additionally, NOAA was directed to use $1 million "to conduct research and provide technical assistance to the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve in Ecuador."

Oceanic and Atmospheric Research is slated to receive $479 million, a 36% increase over the budget request and a 20% increase over the current funding level. The House recommended $318.5 million for OAR.

Conference Committee Action

Once again, Congress failed to pass all thirteen appropriations bills by the September 30th deadline and opted to pass two continuing resolutions, funding all federal agencies at FY04 levels until December 3. Congress came back into lame duck session on November 16th with the omnibus appropriations legislation first on the agenda. When all the dust settled, Congress agreed on the massive 3000 page $388 billion spending bill H.R. 4818 for FY05. The bill, which was crafted under the mantra of fiscal restraint, employed a 0.8% across-the-board cut to reign in spending. That is reflected in the FY05 Enacted column in the table above.

Prior to the 0.8% cut, Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary appropriations were subject to a 0.54% across-the-board recission. The Department of Commerce emerged as one of the few budget winners with a 9.8% increase, from $6 billion in FY04 to $6.6 billion in FY05. The total NOAA budget will grow 4.8% to $3.89 billion. The National Ocean Service was cut 8.5% to $663 million. The National Weather Service received a 6.4% boost to $775 million. The Oceanic and Atmospheric Research budget will increase 2.8% to $409 million.

Sources: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, White House Office of Management and Budget, United States Senate website, U.S. House of Representatives website, THOMAS legislative database.

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

Contributed by Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs Program staff; Gayle Levy, AGI/AAPG 2004 Spring Semester intern; and Ashlee Dere, AGI/AIPG 2004 Summer Intern, David Millar, AGI/AAPG Fall Semester Intern.

Last Update November 29, 2004


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