FY2005 Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations (11-29-04)
Geoscience-related agencies covered by the Interior and Related Agencies appropriations include the U.S. Geological Survey, Department of Energy oil and gas research programs, Bureau of Land Management, Minerals Management Service, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and U.S. Forest Service. For more information about the geoscience value of these agencies, click here.
Created by an act of Congress in 1879, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has evolved over the years, matching its talent and knowledge to the progress of science and technology. According to their website, the USGS serves the Nation as an independent fact-finding agency that collects, monitors, analyzes, and provides scientific understanding about natural resource conditions, issues, and problems. The value of the USGS to the Nation rests on its ability to carry out studies on a national scale and to sustain long-term monitoring and assessment of natural resources. Because it has no regulatory or management mandate, the USGS provides impartial science that serves the needs of our changing world. The diversity of scientific expertise enables the USGS to carry out large-scale, multi-disciplinary investigations that build the base of knowledge about the Earth. In turn, decision makers at all levels of government--and citizens in all walks of life--have the information tools they need to address pressing societal issues.
The priorities of the Department of Energy's (DOE) energy program are to: increase domestic energy production; revolutionize our approach to energy conservation and efficiency; and promote the development of renewable and alternative energy sources. As the website illustrates, fossil fuels coal, oil and natural gas -- currently provide more than 85% of all the energy consumed in the United States, nearly two-thirds of our electricity, and virtually all of our transportation fuels. Moreover, it is likely that the nations reliance on fossil fuels to power an expanding economy will increase over at least the next two decades even with aggressive development and deployment of new renewable and nuclear technologies. Because our economic health depends on the continued availability of reliable and affordable fossil fuels, the Department of Energys Office of Fossil Energy oversees two major fossil fuel efforts: emergency stockpiles of crude oil and heating oil and research and development of future fossil energy technologies.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is responsible for managing 262 million acres of land--about one-eighth of the land in the United States--and about 300 million additional acres of subsurface mineral resources. The Bureau is also responsible for wildfire management and suppression on 388 million acres. Practices such as revegetation, protective fencing, and water development are designed to conserve, enhance, and develop public land, soil, and watershed resources. Keeping public lands protected from fire on all Department of the Interior managed lands in Alaska, and suppressing wildfires on the public lands in Alaska and the western States is a high priority for BLM since they are dominated by extensive grasslands, forests, high mountains, arctic tundra, and deserts. The BLM manages a wide variety of resources and uses, including energy and minerals; timber; forage; wild horse and burro populations; fish and wildlife habitat; wilderness areas; archaeological, paleontological, and historical sites; and other natural heritage values. The Bureau also has an active program of soil and watershed management on 175 million acres in the lower 48 States and 86 million acres in Alaska.
The Minerals Management Service (MMS) is the federal agency that manages the nation's natural gas, oil and other mineral resources on the outer continental shelf (OCS). The agency collects, accounts for and disburses more than $5 billion per year in revenues from federal offshore mineral leases and from onshore mineral leases on federal and Indian lands. There are two major programs within MMS, Offshore Minerals Management and Minerals Revenue Management.
Established in 1916, the National
Park Service (NPS) has stewardship responsibilities for the protection
and preservation of the national park system. The system, consisting
of 388 separate and distinct units, is recognized globally as a leader
in park management and resource preservation. The national park system
represents much of the finest the Nation has to offer in terms of
scenery, historical and archeological relics, and cultural heritage.
Through its varied sites, the National Park Service attempts to explain
America's history, interpret its culture, preserve examples of its
natural ecosystems, and provide recreational and educational opportunities
for U.S. citizens and visitors from all over the world, according
to the NPS website.
The Smithsonian Institution is unique in the Federal establishment. Established by the Congress in 1846 to carry out the trust included in James Smithson's will, it has been engaged for over 150 years in the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" in accordance with the donor's instructions. With the expenditure of both private and Federal funds over the years, it has grown into one of the world's great scientific, cultural, and intellectual organizations. It operates magnificent museums, outstanding art galleries, and important research centers. Its collections are among the best in the world, attracting approximately 25,000,000 visitors in 2002 to its museums, galleries, and zoological park, according to the Smithsonian webiste. As custodian of the National Collections, the Smithsonian is responsible for more than 140 million art objects, natural history specimens, and artifacts. These collections are displayed for the enjoyment and education of visitors and are available for research by the staff of the Institution and by hundreds of visiting students, scientists, and historians each year. Other significant study efforts draw their data and results directly from terrestrial, marine, and astrophysical observations at various Smithsonian installations.
Congress established the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nations benefit. Their website indicates that over the years, the public expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment. National forests encompass 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."
Total funding request for the Department of the Interior (DOI) comes to $11 billion, a 2.8% increase from the FY2004 funding level and the "largest presidential request in the Department's history". Among the agency's priorities is supporting cooperative conservation, accelerating Indian trust reform, reforming the Abandoned Mine Lands program, implementing the Healthy Forests Initiative, addressing the National Park Service's maintenance backlog and enhancing the education of American Indian children.
Funding for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is up just about 5% for a total requested level of $179 million. The Outer Continental Shelf Resource Evaluation program is also up 5% to $146.1 million.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has requested $1.7 billion, a 2% cut from last year's allocation. Funding for BLM energy and mineral programs has decreased 3% from last year's allocation, giving a total of $104 million for these activities. However, the leasing of gas fields will raise an additional $4.0 million in revenue, keeping the total budget at the 2004 enacted level.
The National Park Service (NPS) is slated for an increase of just under 5%, for a total request of $2.4 billion. Resource stewardship geologic resources funding within NPS will stay the same at $2.7 million. Within this account, NPS budget documents outline a monitoring program for water quality in the parks and an "inventory and monitoring program for park vital signs" which will increase 8% to $41 million. Also with the resource stewardship account is the water quality monitoring program that will see a 5% increase to $12.6 million.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs Division of Energy and Minerals is responsible for overseeing all mineral and petroleum development on native lands. In addition, it funds geologic and resource assessments of those lands. Approximately 10 percent of US onshore production of petroleum in the lower 48 states comes from tribal lands. The Bureau of Indian Affairs budget request of $2.3 billion for 2005 is down 3.6 percent from the FY 2004 enacted budget.
U.S. Geological Survey
In all cases, the many increases and decreases described here do not take into account the uncontrollable costs (salaries, maintenance, etc.) that increase each year and cut into funds available for actual program activities. This year there have been reductions across many programs, and targets some specific programs such as mineral resources (down almost $7 million) and cooperative topographic mapping (down $3 million). USGS Director Charles (Chip) Groat told EOS that "We are not seeing the big program gashes that we had before." Groat attributes this change partly to better internal management and information technology improvements. The budget winners were water availability, invasive species and natural hazards. The Enterprise Information budget, a new program for FY05, would receive funding from each division of the agency to total $45 million, and will consolidate funding for technology, management and information throughout the agency.
The biggest hit in the geologic discipline goes to the Mineral Resources Program, which would receive a $7 million decrease after flat funding last year. The FY 2004 request would have cut $9.1 million from the program, but funding was restored by Congress in the final budget. The proposed cuts transfer over $3 million to the new enterprise information budget and an $11 million reduction for earmarks.
The Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS) will be funded at a flat rate from FY04 appropriation, in contrast to the $2 million cut requested in last year's presidential budget. The program has never come close to the funding levels called for in the last reauthorization of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program (NEHRP). That legislation, signed into law in November 2000, authorized $170 million over five years.
The National Water-Quality Assessment program requested an increase of $200,000, its first increase since FY 1999. The Ground Water Resources Program would increase by $800,000 for a water availability and use initiative. The Toxic Substances Hydrology Program would decline by $518,000 to $12.64 million, which is far less drastic than last year when cutbacks were proposed and a transfer of what remained to the National Science Foundation.
Department of Energy -- Fossil Fuels
Funding for oil and natural gas R&D combined make up only 6.5% of the total Fossil Energy R&D budget, a percentage that continues to drop with each new request. Funding for Natural Gas Technologies totals $26 million, a 40% cut from last year. Also funded through the natural gas account is $6 million for joint research with industry into the potential of gas hydrates as a future energy resource. The funding for hydrates is down 36% from last year, for a total of $6 million. The budget proposes to consolidate a number of programs under the Natural Gas Exploration and Production account into a new Sustainable Supply account while cutting 21% from last year's allocation. According to budget documents, this consolidation is in part due to a federal government-wide assessment of programs that encourages management to "phase out programs and activities that are neither productive nor integral to the program's mission and goals."
Simply put, the Oil Technology R&D account is gutted in the president's request. As with natural gas, programs within the Oil Exploration and Production account have been consolidated but with much more dramatic cuts. The total Oil Technology request is $26 million, a 40% cut from last year. Funding for the Oil Exploration and Production account was slashed to a total of $3 million, down 84% from last year's funding level. Also within the overall FE funding is $20 million for the Naval Petroleum & Oil Shale Reserves (NPR).
The FE budget document is available at http://fossil.energy.gov/budget/.
U.S. Forest Service
Funding for wildland fire management would decrease by 12% from last year's allocation, to total $1.4 billion. Forest and Rangeland research requested an increase of $14.3 million for science and technology. The Minerals and Geology Management program requested $60 million, a 10% increase from last year's funding level.
Addition information on the USFS budget request is available at http://www.fs.fed.us/budget_2004/.
Last year a specially appointed science commission released a report outlining the role of research within the Smithsonian. The report noted that funding erosion and poor long-term scientific leadership have placed the institution in poor financial standing. Adding to the funding complexities are congressionally mandated increases for targeted programs; the report asserts: "The cannibalization of staff positions to fund these mandated increases must stop." Earlier, the National Research Council released a report with similar findings. The message, however, does not appear to have had a significant impact on the president's FY 2004 request. This year, however $1.5 million would go toward implementing some of the commission's recommendations such as expanding the fellowship program and providing funds for the care of the collections at the National Museum of Natural History.
More information on the DOI budget request is available at http://www.doi.gov/budget/toc.html.
On June 17th, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Interior Appropriations bill by a vote of 334 to 86. Overall, the House decided to reduce funding for grant programs and new initiatives proposed by the administration request and instead provide funding for core, mission-essential programs. The FY05 Interior Appropriations bill restores the $18 million in program cuts from the US Geological Survey and partially restores cuts to key energy research programs. Total funding for the Department of Interior is $9.8 billion, $213 million below the request and $108 million above FY04. The Bureau of Land Management was funded $1.7 billion, $46 million below FY04 and $12 million below the request. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is funded at $1.3 billion, $45 million below FY04 and $62 million below the request. The U.S. Forest Service received $4.2 billion, $8 million above the request and $294 million below 2004. The Smithsonian was allocated $620 million, $24 million above FY04 and $8 million below the request.
U.S. Geological Survey
For the fifth year in a row the [House Appropriations] Committee has partially restored a number of high-priority [USGS] research programs that were proposed for reduction or elimination, according to the committee report (H. Rpt. 108-542) that accompanies the Interior appropriations bill (H.R. 4568). The Survey has been a leader in the development of cooperative programs and outsourcing its activities. The Committee believes that Bureaus that are successful in implementing these policies should be rewarded and not penalized, the report says.
The following analysis addresses differences between the Presidents
budget request and the House appropriations bill for FY 2005. Direct
comparisons with FY 2004 program budgets are problematic because of
the transfer of $44 million from all existing programs into a new
Enterprise Information account in FY 2005.
The House Appropriations Committee resoundingly rejected a large cut that was proposed for the USGS mineral resources program. According to the committee report, Mineral resources research and assessments are a core responsibility of the Survey and the Committee strongly disagrees with the proposed reduction in the Surveys mineral resources program (H. Rpt. 108-542).
Other changes from the Presidents budget request include an increase of $800,000 for the USGSs water availability project. The agencys implementation plan calls for the establishment of two pilot projects at an estimated cost of $5.2 million. The House bill would provide funding to initiate the USGSs top priority pilot project in the Great Lakes region. The Committee expects the Administration to continue to request funding in future budgets to expand this program for other areas of the country, according to the House Appropriations Committee report.
The House Appropriations Committee discussed the fate of the damaged Landsat 7 satellite, which generates long-term remote sensing data that are vital to many aspects of the government and private sector:
The Committee is concerned that the Survey is not adequately planning for the future of the Landsat 7 program. The Committee has twice reprogrammed funding to keep Landsat 7 operations going under the condition that a short-term fix and a long-term solution to the problem be investigated. To date, no solutions to the problem of continuing operations for a degraded satellite have been proposed. The Committee will no longer increase funding, or reprogram funding from other ongoing Survey programs, to keep the Landsat 7 program operating (H. Rpt. 108-542).
The National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII) program came under scrutiny from the House Appropriations Committee:
The Committee is concerned about the growth of the National Biological Information Infrastructure (NBII); the number of planned regional and thematic nodes is too high and inadequately justified The Committee directs the Survey to locate all new thematic' nodes in the same physical location as existing regional nodes and to consolidate operational expenses. The Committee also suggests that the Survey reduce the number of planned NBII regions and realign existing regions to align better with the Survey's existing regional structure (H. Rpt. 108-542).
The House bill would provide an increase for the Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units, but the [Appropriations] Committee is concerned about the strategic growth of this system and directs the Survey to develop a long-term plan addressing the number and location of new units that are needed prior to any expansion of the system.
Department of Energy -- Fossil Fuels
The report also noted that "several programs funded in the energy conservation account need to be closely coordinated with fossil energy programs so that the highest priority energy research projects are funded. They include the cooperative programs with States, the mining industry of the future program, the industrial gasification program, and the reciprocating engines program."
The House allocated $105 million to partially restore funding for the clean coal power initiative, an increase of $55 million above the budget request and $65 million below the fiscal year 2004 level. In report language that accompanied the Energy and Water bill, the Committee stated their belief that this is enough funding to "maintain a robust program."
In advanced research, there are increases of $4,800,000 for coal utilization science and $3,000,000 to restore the materials program.
In report language, the Committee noted that, "Oil and natural gas research is critical to improving current technology and ensuring the best use of our domestic oil and gas reserves. Despite the Committee's urging to the contrary, these research areas continue to be seriously underfunded in annual budget requests." The House approved $41.6 million for natural gas technologies, an increase of $15.6 million above the budget request and $1.4 million below the FY04 level. There is an increase of $5 million to restore the exploration and production program. In gas hydrates, there is an increase of $3.5 million to restore critical research on methane hydrates. In natural gas infrastructure, there is an increase of $7.1 million to fund ongoing projects.
Oil Technology programs were funded at $34.7 million, an increase of $19.7 million above the budget request and $378,000 below the FY04 level. There is an increase of $15 million to restore exploration and production supporting research programs, including $1 million for cooperative research with Russia. There is an increase of $2million to restore the reservoir life extension program. There is also an increase of $2.7 million to restore the effective environmental protection program.
The House also agreed to increases of $4.3 million for cooperative research and development, $4.6 million for fossil energy environmental restoration, $7 million for plant and capital equipment of which $3 million is for projects at the Albany Research Center and $4 million is to continue the National Energy Technology Laboratory renovation program, $2 million for advanced metallurgical research, $665,000 for special recruitment programs, and $500,000 to restore funding for National Academy of Sciences program reviews. The Committee further stipulated that, "The $500,000 for the National Academy of Sciences review of programs should remain in the base for a continuing annual review by the Academy of programs, using the Academy's matrix, to measure the relative benefits expected to be achieved and to inform decision making on what programs should be continued, expanded, scaled-back, or eliminated."
Also noted in it's report, "The funding for special recruitment
programs is to attract highly qualified students to pursue Federal
energy careers and to increase diversity in the fossil energy workforce.
The Office of Fossil Energy has been assessing programs to pay for
a Technical Career Intern Program and to participate in the Mickey
Leland Energy Fellowship Program with minority educational institutions.
The Committee believes that these recruitment programs should be funded
directly and not through assessments on other programs. The Committee
has added a line item to the budget for that purpose. It includes
$165,000 for the Technical Career Intern Program and $500,000 for
the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship Program. These programs should
be continued under this budget line item in the future. The Committee
suggests that the Technical Career Intern Program be increased to
$340,000 in fiscal year 2006 and that the Mickey Leland Energy Fellowship
Program continue at the $500,000 level in fiscal year 2006."
On September 14th, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill (S. 2804) for Fiscal Year 2005 (FY05). The bill offers divides a total budget of $20.2 billion amongst its constituent agencies. The Committee's funding recommendations for geoscience-related functions in the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Energy, the Bureau of Land Management, the Minerals Management Service, the National Park Service, the Smithsonian Institution, and the US Forest Service are explained in the following paragraphs.
United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Geological Programs is slated to receive $228.2 million, 2.5% less than FY04 funding but 3.4% greater than the President's request of $220.8 million. Within this account, Mineral Resources would remain flat at $56 million, 13% more than the President requested for FY05. The Advanced National Seismic System would receive $4.4 million, equal to FY04 funding amount and the budget request.
The Committee recommends $120 million for Mapping Programs, an increase of $883,000 or 0.8% over the request and a $9.9 million (7.7%) cut below current funding levels. The report states, "In agreement with the budget request, the following reductions have been taken to the fiscal year 2004 level: $1,887,000 in expected buyout savings, $494,000 for GIS mapping, and a transfer of $8,619,000 to the newly created Enterprise Information activity." Within base funds, $1 million is expected to fund mapping activities in Alaska.
The Committee recommends $213 million for Water Resources Programs, a 5% increase over the budget request but 1.4% below FY04 funding. The Committee was "dismayed" that the National Institutes of Water Research program was once again targeted for elimination with the proposed $10 million cut. The Biological Resources account is slated to receive $173 million, 1.1% less than current funding but 3% more than requested. The Northern Prairie Carbon Crediting initiative was aportioned $1 million. Facilities were funded at $95 million, $2 million (2.1%) more than current funding and $993,000 (1%) less than requested. Science Support is slated to receive $65 million, $25 million or 29% less than current funding levels and $3.2 million less than the President's request. To support the new Enterprise Information account, $27 million was transferred from Science Support.
Department of Energy Fossil Energy R & D
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Minerals Management Service
National Park Service (NPS)
United States Forest Service (USFS)
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. Prior to the 0.8% across-the-board cut, the Interior bill suffered an additional 0.594% recission to each bureau within the agency.
Of all the appropriations bills, Interior took the biggest cut all.
Funding fell from $20.6 billion in FY04 to $19.8 billion, a 3.8% cut.
United States Geological Survey (USGS)
Geological Programs are to receive $229 million, a 2% decrease over
FY04. Mineral Resources will be funded at $55 million, 1.4% less than
FY04 but 13% more than the president's request. The Advanced National
Seismic System emerged as one of the few winners in the bill, with
a 15% increase to $5.25 million. Mapping Programs suffered a 9% cut
to $118 million from $130 million in FY04. Water Resources Programs
is funded at $214 million, a 2.3% cut. Biological Resources is slated
to receive $174 million, 2% less than in FY04. The Facilities and
Science Support accounts will receive $95 and $66 million, a 1.7%
and 28% cut respectively.
Department of Energy Fossil Energy R&D (DOE)
Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
Minerals Management Service (MMS)
National Park Service (NPS)
The NPS Resource Stewardship account received a $3 million increase
to $338 million. Inventory and Monitoring was cut 1.4% to $37.5 million.
The managers made no specific mention of the Water Quality Monitoring
United States Forest Service (USFS)
Sources: Eos; House of Representatives Commitee on Appropriations website; U.S. Department of the Interior FY05 Budget; National Council for Science and the Environment; Thomas legislative database; U.S. Geological Survey; White House Office of Management and Budget.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.
Contributed by Emily M. Lehr, AGI Government Affairs Program staff and Gayle Levy, AGI/AAPG 2004 Spring Semester Intern, David Millar AGI/AAPG 2004 Fall Semster Intern
Last Update November 29, 2004