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FY2005 Energy and Water Appropriations (11-29-04)

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill provides funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy (DOE; other than fossil energy and energy efficiency programs), the Department of the Interior's Bureau of Reclamation, and several independent agencies. Programs of interest to the geosciences include DOE programs for renewable energy (particularly geothermal) and activities within the Office of Science, such as the Basic Energy Science program which has a geoscience division, as well as some activities in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  This bill also funds the Yucca Mountain site characterization activities and environmental remediation of the nuclear weapons complex at DOE.


FY05 Energy and Water Appropriations Process


FY04 Enacted

House Action

Senate Action


FY05 Enacted

Department of Energy (total)






Renewable Energy Resources






--Geothermal Technology Development












Non-Defense Site Acceleration Completion






Non-Defense Environmental Services






Defense Environmental Management






--Defense Site Acceleration Completion






--Defense Environmental Services






Basic Energy Sciences






--Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Energy Biosciences






Nuclear Waste Disposal*






Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal*






National Climate Change Technology Initiative






* These two accounts combined fund the Yucca Mountain project.

President's Request

Department of Energy
The total Department of Energy request for FY 2005 is $23.5 billion, an increase of 1.8% from last year's funding level. The department is responsible for a wide array of missions, most not related to energy. The two largest parts of the budget are the National Nuclear Security Administration ($9 billion), which oversees the development and management of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, and environmental cleanup of former nuclear weapons production facilities ($14 billion).

Office of Science
Total funding for the DOE Office of Science was cut by 1% to $3.43 billion in the president's request. Within the Office of Science, the Basic Energy Sciences (BES) programs would receive $1.06 billion, up 5.2%. The Chemical Sciences, Geosciences, and Biological Energy Sciences account within BES is slated to receive $228 million, an increase of 4% above last year's request. Also within the Office of Science, the Biological and Environmental Research program would receive nearly $501 million, down almost 22% from last year, but up slightly from the FY03 budget.

Nuclear Waste Disposal
Last year's decision by the President and Congress to accept the Yucca Mountain site as the nation's permanent disposal site for high-level nuclear waste means that the project has moved into its second phase. After more than 20 years and $4 billion in site characterization, funding for Yucca Mountain will now be focused primarily on activities to support the submission of a license application to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The budget request includes $591 million for licensing and program management activities, basically flat from last year's request but an increase of nearly 58% from the allocation two years ago. Within this amount, there is a sizable jump in funding for activities related to waste acceptance, storage, and transportation in anticipation of the repository accepting waste by 2010.

Environmental Management
The Office of Environmental Management (EM) is responsible for managing the cleanup of the environmental legacy of the nation's nuclear weapons program -- everything from research to testing to production. The total EM request comes to $7.4 billion, a 4.1% increase from the comparable FY 2004 budget request. The budget request states that this level of funding should provide the resources for EM to work towards its goal to complete cleanup of 89 of the 114 sites by the end of 2006.

Geothermal technology funded under the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is marked for an increase of 1% from last year's request, to total $25.8 million. Again, research related to hydrogen has won out over the established programs within this account. In total, EERE has requested $374 million, an increase of 1.2% from last year's request.

More details on the overall DOE budget request can be found at

House Action

On June 25th the House approved the FY05 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill, allocating $28 billion for the Department of Energy. This amount is $49 million above the President's request and $735 million above the FY04 enacted level, with the majority of this increase directed toward the Army Corps of Engineers.

Under the Energy Supply account, Renewable Energy Resources was allocated $343 million, a 7% decrease from the FY04 enacted amount of $370 million and an 8% decrease from the President's request of $374 million. Included in this category is Geothermal Technology Development and Hydropower. For geothermal technology, the Committee provided the $25.8 million that the president requested and directed DOE to maintain university research funding at FY04 levels. $5 million was recommended for hydropower, $1 million less than requested by the President but $100,000 more than last year's allocation. DOE was directed to focus on completing a limited program involving new turbine technologies and then transfer them for deployment. Any research for advanced hydropower technology should not be funded by DOE, but rather the agencies that own and operate the Federal hydropower facilities.

Non-Defense Site Acceleration Completion was allocated $151.8 million by the Committee, identical to the President's request and $11.2 million shy of the FY04 enacted level. $500 million was recommended by the Committee for the Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning Fund, which is a 17% increase over the FY04 enacted level. Non-Defense Environmental Services was also funded at the President's requested level of $291.3 million, but was still $14.7 million short of FY04 funding. In the category of Defense Environmental Management, the Committee recommended $6.9 billion, a reduction of $63 million from the President's request and a $263 million increase from FY04. Of this $6.9 billion, $5.9 billion was directed toward Defense Site Acceleration Completion, whose funding increased 6% from the FY04 level of $5.6 billion. Defense Environmental Services was allocated $958 million, a 5% decrease from the FY04 enacted level. In response to a 2003 Idaho Federal district court decision that stated the DOE does not have the authority to reclassify high level nuclear waste, the cleanup sites at Savannah River and Idaho will not be funded in FY05 while the DOE seeks to overturn the court's decision.

The Committee recommended a 6% increase for Basic Energy Sciences, giving this category a total of $1.08 billion compared to FY04 level of $1 billion. This amount was also $13 million more than the $1.06 billion requested by the President. $232 million was recommended for the chemical sciences, geosciences, and energy biosciences research.

Funding for the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository was recommended at $131 million from the Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal category, with none of the requested $749 million recommended for the Nuclear Waste Disposal category. DOE originally requested $880 million from these two categories but assumed that $749 million would come from legislation that would allow the reclassification of fees paid into the Nuclear Waste Fund to be used to fund the Nuclear Waste Disposal portion of the bill. Even with limited funding, the Committee directed DOE to keep the project on schedule for licensing in December. If the reclassification legislation does not pass, however, Yucca Mountain will be seriously under funded for FY05, delaying the project from its expected 2010 opening date.

The Committee once again did not provide any funds for the National Climate Change Technology Initiative (NCCTI), claiming a plethora of other DOE research related to this topic rendered funding it unnecessary.

Senate Action

The Senate never took a vote on this bill in subcommittee, full committee or on the Floor. The first time Senators voted on funding for the Energy and Water Appropriations bill was when they voted on the omnibus spending bill on November 20th. See Consolidated Appropriations (below).

Consolidated Appropriations Bill

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. This is reflected in the FY05 Enacted column of the chart above.

Overall, the Department of Energy was mostly flat funded for FY05 with total funding allocated at $23.1 billion. The Renewable Energy Resources account will receive a 3.4% increase to $383 million. Hydropower and Geothermal Technology Development were both flat funded at $4.9 million and $25.5 million respectively. The report states, "Geopowering the West is funded at current year levels. The Department is directed to maintain funding for university research at the fiscal year 2004 funding level. The conference agreement includes $500,000 for the Full Circle Project in Lake County, California; $1,000,000 for geothermal research at the University of Nevada-Reno; $500,000 for the Tuscarora Geothermal Project; $300,000 for the Klamath and Lake Counties Geothermal-Agricultural Industrial Park in Oregon; $750,000 for the Geothermal Mill Redevelopment project in Massachusetts; and $196,000 for the University of Texas Permian Basin Center for Energy and Economic Diversification for geothermal research."

Non-Defense Site Acceleration Completion received $150 million, 8% less than in FY04. Non-Defense Environmental Services took a 6% cut to $287 million. Defense Environmental Management enjoyed a 4.5% increase to $6.94 billion. Defense Site Acceleration Completion also benefited from a 7.2% increase to $6 billion. Defense Environmental Services suffered an 8.6% cut to $924 million. Basic Energy Services got an 8.6% increase to $1.1 billion. Chemical, Geosciences, and Energy Biosciences received a 12.7% increase to $251 million.

Nuclear Waste Disposal's 45% increase to $343 million was mostly offset by Defense Nuclear Waste Disposal's 41% cut to $229 million. Together, the $573 million will fund the Yucca Mountain Nuclear Waste Repository. Since this number is $307 million less than requested by the President, the prospect of Yucca Mountain opening by 2010 is in doubt.

The Conference declined to fund the National Climate Change Technology Initiative.

Sources: Department of Energy website; White House Office of Management and Budget; United States Senate website; U.S. House of Representatives website; THOMAS legislative database; American Institute of Physicists.

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/AAPG 2004 Summer Intern, and David Millar 2004 AGI/AAPG Fall Semester Intern

Last Update November 29, 2004

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