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FY2005 VA/HUD & Independent Agencies Appropriations --
NSF, NASA, EPA (11-29-04)

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.

FY05 VA/HUD Appropriations Process


FY04 Enacted

House Action

Senate Action

FY05 Enacted
National Science Foundation (total)




Research & Related Activities




-- Geosciences Directorate



not specified

not specified
not specified
-- Office of Polar Programs



Major Research Equipment & Facilities




-- Earthscope




-- Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation


not specified

not specified
moved to Research and Related Activities Account; not specified
moved to Research and Related Activities Account; not specified
-- Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP)




not specified
Education & Human Resources




-- Math and Science Partnerships




National Aeronautics and Space Administration (total)




Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration




-- Earth Science Enterprise


-- Office of Space Science
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (total)




Science and Technology




Hazardous Substances Superfund




Environmental Programs and Management




Leaking Underground Storage Trust Fund




State and Tribal Assistance Grants




-- Clean Water State Revolving Funds




-- Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds




-- Brownfields





President's Request

National Science Foundation
In the FY 2005 proposed budget NSF would receive only a 3% boost to $5.75 billion. Within the total request, $4.3 billion would go to the Research and Related Activities (RRA) account that funds the disciplinary directorates, an increase of just under 5% from last year's allocation. Of this total request, $778 million would go to Education and Human Resources, a cut of 17.9% from last year's funding level. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account, which funds capital costs associated with large-scale facilities such as telescopes or networked installations, is slated to receive $213 million, an impressive 36% increase from what this account received last year.

This funding increase is less than the amount authorized last year by legislation, signed by President Bush in December 2002, which would put the agency on a budget-doubling track similar to that achieved by the National Institutes of Health over the past five years. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Christopher Bond (R-MO) and Ranking Minority Member Barbara Mikulski (D-MD) both support the NSF and are deeply disappointed by the 3% increase. At a hearing of the subcommittee in late February, Senator Mikulski stated: "Senator Bond and I are committed to doubling the NSF's budget. It's bipartisan and bicameral. But we cannot do it alone."

Geosciences Directorate
The request for the Geosciences Directorate, which includes Atmospheric, Oceanic and Earth Science Divisions, is complicated by the administration's attempt last year to transfer several programs from other agencies into the directorate. Congress rejected this proposed transfer. Funding for the Geoscience Directorate (GEO) would increase from the FY2004 appropriation, with a budget request of $728.5 million. Within GEO, the Earth Sciences Division (EAR) would receive $155.6 million, Atmospheric Sciences would receive $243.6 million, and Ocean Sciences would receive $329.3 million all increases from the FY 2004 budget.

In FY 2005 GEO will emphasize research on the key physical, chemical and geologic cycles with in the Earth system. Both the Earthscope and Ocean Drilling Programs operations budgets were doubled in the FY 2005 budget request. The Climate Change Research Initiative funding would stay flat with the 2004 funds.

Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction Account
The total MREFC amount requested for 2005 is $213.3 million, up 37.6% from 2004. New starts requested in the 2005 MREFC budget include: National Ecological Observatory Network ($12 million), Scientific Ocean Drilling Vessel ($40.9 million) and Rare Symmetry Violating Processes ($30 million). On a long-term outlook, other new starts budgeted to start in 2006 are Ocean Observatories Initiative, Alaska Region Research Vessel.

The budget documents also clearly state the priorities for MREFC funding in FY 2005. EarthScope is one of seven projects highlighted. Others include continued support of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program (IODP), and continued construction of the Advanced Modular Incoherent Scatter Radar (AMSIR). For FY 2005, the $47.4 million requested for EarthScope in the MREFC account would support three of its components: the United States Seismic Array (US Array), the San Andreas Fault Observatory at Depth (SAFOD), and the Plate Boundary Observatory (PBO).

Polar Programs
The Office of Polar Programs (OPP) funds research activities, in conjunction with other federal agencies, in the Arctic and Antarctic. OPP is requesting $349.7 million for FY 2005, an increase of 2.2% from last year's funding level. Of this amount, $281 million will be for the Polar Research Program, with the remaining amount going towards Antarctic Logistical Support Activities. Science facilities; operations at McMurdo, South Pole and Palmer stations; engineering construction and facilities maintenance; and data handling and communications all have budget request increases for 2005.

The NSF budget documents provide a wealth of information regarding the research and education funded by the foundation, including multi-year trends in funding and descriptions of successful past research that is benefiting the nation. The budget documents are available on the web at

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
NASA has requested $16.2 billion for FY 2005, a slight increase (5.2%) over the agency's congressional appropriation in FY 2004. The increase is largely for reorienting the agency toward space exploration and manned missions to the Moon and Mars. In mid-January President Bush announced a new mandate for NASA; a return to the moon with robotic missions no later than 2008. To accomplish this goal, $11 billion would be reallocated from other NASA programs. The plan also calls for completing work on the International Space Station by 2010 and refocusing onboard research on the effects of space flight on astronaut health. The shift in NASA's mission would add 1% in FY 2005 to the space science budget, which would increase to $4.1 billion.

Programs that feel the effect of the reallocation are the Earth Science Enterprise (ESE) and Earth science applications. ESE would be cut by 7% to $1.41 billion and Earth science applications would decrease 15% to $76.9 million. Despite the cuts, the ESE budget includes funding to complete the current generation of satellite systems, the June 2004 launch of the Aura satellite that will look at the physics and chemistry of the Earth's atmosphere, and Cloud-Sat satellites to study climate and weather.

NASA budget documents are available at

Environmental Protection Agency
In its FY 2004 request, EPA has sought a total of $7.76 billion, down 2% from the agency's FY 2004 appropriation. Extramural research grants and graduate fellowships administered by the EPA would be severely cut under the FY 2005 budget request. The Science to Achieve Results (STAR) graduate fellowship program would be cut by 33.5 % relative to the FY 2004 enacted level. Approximately 93 fewer of the larger STAR research grants would be awarded. The cuts to the STAR program are somewhat surprising because the National Academy of Science called the program "excellent" in a recent report. Research programs that would be affected by the proposed cuts in EPA STAR funding include: ecosystems protection ($22.2 million decrease), pollution prevention ($5 million decrease), endocrine disruptors ($4.9 million decrease), mercury research ($2 million decrease) and hazardous substance research centers ($2.3 million decrease). Other research programs that would receive less funding next year include an $8.3 million cut for Homeland Security Building Decontamination Research and a $1 million cut for Environmental Technology Verification. Lastly, all funding for the EPA Office of Environmental Education would be eliminated in the proposed budget. The office received approximately $10 million in FY 2004.

EPA's budget documents are available at

House Action

On September 9th, the House Appropriations Committee passed H.R. 5041, the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 federal budget recommendation for the Departments of Veterans Affairs, Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies. The total House budget recommendation for VA/HUD is $128 billion, $66 billion of which will go to the Veteran's Administration. Appropriations to geoscience-related functions of the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the EPA are outlined below.

National Science Foundation
The Committee recommends $5.47 billion for the overall budget of the National Science Foundation. This represents a decrease of $111 million from the FY04 allocation and a $278 million decrease from the President's budget request. The Committee expressed disappointment that the NSF submitted their budget request in a strategic plan format with the strategic goals: 'People,' 'Tools,' and 'Ideas.' The NSF has been instructed to prepare a traditional appropriations account structure of greater detail, to be submitted no later than October 15, 2004. Given the lack of a detailed budget request from the NSF, the Committee did not made funding recommendations for all programs and directorates, including the Geosciences Directorate or the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation.

The Research and Related Activities account was allocated $4.2 billion, $73.7 million below FY04 and $194.3 million below the budget request. Office of Polar Programs was given $350 million, as requested by the President. In their report the Committee noted that, "expenses for the Antarctic operation programs have substantially increased due to rising fuel costs, increased Coast Guard support costs, the weather, and extraordinary ice conditions in the bay. The Committee expects NSF to provide the necessary resources for operations, research support and logistics, and science and research grant support to fully fund the Antarctic operations."

The Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction account is slated to receive $208 million, an increase of $53 million from FY04 but $5 million short of the President's request. Within this account, the Committee recommends $47.3 million for Earthscope and $30 million for the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

NSF's Education and Human Resources activities are designed to encourage the entrance of talented students into science and technology careers, to improve undergraduate and K-12 science and engineering education, and to provide opportunities for underrepresented segments of the scientific and engineering communities. The Committee proposes $843 million for this account, $90.5 million short of the FY04 level and $2.9 million less than the budget request. The Math and Science Partnerships would receive $82.5 million, $2.5 million more than the request and $56.7 million less than the 2004 level.

The Committee recommended that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) receive $15.1 billion for Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, $1 billion less than requested and $228 million less than the 2004 funding level. The Committee noted that NASA has failed to pass an independent audit for the second time in three years. Although $1.6 billion of the $1.743 billion debt discrepancy has already been reconciled, the Committee instructed NASA to submit a report documenting the reconciliation of the remaining $143 million by September 30, 2004.

The Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration account funds research and development in space science, earth science, biological and physical research, and aeronautics and education programs. The Committee proposes $7.6 billion for this account, $139 million less than the budget request and $209 million less than the FY2004 level. Within this account, the Earth Science Enterprise and the Office of Space Science are slated to receive $1.476 billion and $4.037 billion respectively. Full funding is provided for several important NASA missions, such as the Mars exploration programs, because, "the Committee believes that the planetary exploration and space science programs at NASA are essential to the mission and success of the federal space programs." The Committee also urged NASA to take the advice of the National Academy of Sciences and look into ways to extend the life of the Hubble Space Telescope

The Committee explained the cuts it did make by saying that, although they are supportive of the exploration aspect of NASA's vision and President Bush's proposal, they do not believe it should take priority over NASA's science and aeronautics programs. The elimination of funding for many new initiatives accounts for most of the cuts to the agency. It also cut funding requested for the International Space Station due to delays in the shuttle operations.

The Environmental Protection Agency
The Committee recommended funding the EPA at a level of $7.75 billion for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005, $613 million short of last year's allocation and $36 million less than the President's request.

The Committee recommends an appropriation of $729 million for the Science and Technology account, a decrease of $52.6 million below last years level but an increase of $39.8 million above the budget request. This account funds "all EPA research…carried out through grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with other Federals agencies, states, universities, and private business, as well as in house research."

The Hazardous Substances Superfund account, which funds clean up of "emergency hazardous materials, spills, and dangerous, uncontrolled, and/or abandoned hazardous waste sites," would receive $1.3 billion under the House's plan. This is equal to the FY04 appropriation and $124 million below the budget request.

The Committee recommends $2.2 billion for the Environmental Programs and Management account, which covers the operating and administrative expenses for a broad range of abatement, prevention, and compliance functions. The allocation is $38.6 million less then last year's level and $75.5 million less than requested.

The State and Tribal Assistance Grants account, which provides funds for programs operated by state, local, tribal, and other government partners, is slated to receive $3.36 billion, a decrease of $18 million below the 2004 fiscal year spending and $127 million above the budget request. Within this account, the Committee recommends $850 million for Clean Water State Revolving Funds, $845 million for Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Funds, and $95 million for Brownfields assessment and revitalization grants. Money from the State Revolving funds infrastructure projects is designed to improve water quality for residents in rural areas. According to the EPA's website, "A brownfield is a property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. EPA's Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields."

The Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, a response program for, "clean-up of releases from leaking underground storage tanks," is recommended to receive $74 million. This is 1.55 million below 2004 funding but $1.45 more than the budget request.

Senate Action

On September 21, 2004, the Senate Committee on Appropriations passed the Fiscal Year (FY) 2005 Veteran's Affairs and Housing and Urban Development and Independent Agencies Bill, S.2825. The following is a summary of the appropriations to geoscience related programs in the National Science Foundation, NASA, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
The Committee recommended $5.7 billion for the National Science Foundation. This follows the president's request and gives the agency a 3% increase over the current funding level. The report states, "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."

According to the report, "the Research and Related Activities Account addresses the Foundation's three strategic goals: people--developing a diverse, internationally competitive and globally-engaged workforce of scientists, engineers, and well-prepared citizens; ideas--enabling discovery across the frontiers of science and engineering, connected to learning, innovation, and service to society; and tools--providing broadly accessible, state-of-the-art science and engineering facilities and shared research and education tools." This account would receive $4.3 billion, 3.6% more than the current level but 1.1% less than the budget request. The Geosciences Directorate would be funded at $728.5 million. This is the same as the president's request; it reflects a 1.9% increase over the current level. The Office of Polar Programs would suffer a 19% cut from the budget request and an 18% cut from current funding, falling to a $281.6 million budget for FY05. There were no recommendations specified for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation or the Integrated Ocean Drilling Program.

The Committee recommended $929 million for the Education and Human Resources Account, roughly equal to current funding but also a 20% increase over the request. According to the report, "the education and human resources appropriation supports a comprehensive set of programs across all levels of education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics [STEM]. The Committee is on record expressing disappointment by the administration's lack of support in its budget request for assisting smaller research institutions and minorities."

The Committee rejected the administration's request to transfer the Math and Science Partnership [MSP] program to the Department of Education. According to the report, "the MSP program is an important asset in providing improved math and science education by partnering local school districts with faculty of colleges and universities." Therefore, the MSP program is recommended to receive $110 million, 38% more than requested but 21% less than current funding.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
The Committee recommended $15.6 billion for NASA, flat funding from FY04 and 4% less than requested. According to the report, "the current Federal fiscal environment is not favorable to supporting completely the budget NASA has presented for fiscal year 2005. The out-year costs also seem overly optimistic at time when both the administration and Congress are committed to reducing the Federal budget deficit. However, steps toward laying the foundation of future NASA initiatives must be taken in order for there to be a future for many NASA activities once the Shuttle program is retired and the International Space Station is completed." An additional $300 million is intended for emergency funding of an emergency servicing mission to the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration account is slated to receive $7.7 billion in FY05, on par with the budget request and current funding levels. The Earth Science Enterprise would receive $164 million, a 10% increase over the request and a 1.8% increase over the current enacted level. According to the report, "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. The Committee believes that Earth science has been a critical part of a balanced space program long advocated by this Committee. The Committee remains fully committed to a robust Earth science program at NASA notwithstanding the recent headquarters reorganization plan. The Committee expects NASA to remain fully committed to Earth science, with future missions identified with 5 year funding profiles that reflect a serious commitment to Earth science as a vital part of the Nation's space program."

The Office of Space Science is slated to receive the budget request of $4 billion, 8.3% more than current funding. The report states, "The Committee
anticipates that there will be a Hubble servicing mission which, at this time, is not a part of the fiscal year 2005 budget submission. Once the study being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences is completed, the Committee will consider any appropriate funding options presented by NASA. NASA should consider a servicing mission a priority."

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The Committee recommended $8.5 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency in FY05. That's a 9.5% increase over the request and 1.6% more than the enacted level. The Science and Technology Account, which "provides funding for the scientific knowledge and tools necessary to support decisions on preventing, regulating, and abating environmental pollution and to advance the base of understanding on environmental sciences," is slated to receive $758.2 million, 10% more than the request and 3% less than the current level.

The Environmental Programs and Managementaccount, "includes the development of environmental standards; monitoring and surveillance of pollution conditions; direct Federal pollution control planning; technical assistance to pollution control agencies and organizations; preparation of environmental impact statements; enforcement and compliance assurance; and assistance to Federal agencies in complying with environmental standards and insuring that their activities have minimal environmental impact." The Committee recommended $2.3 billion for this account. This is the same as the president's budget request and a 1.3% increase over the current enacted level.

The Hazardous Substances Superfund account is slated to receive the requested $1.4 billion, 9.7% more than the current level. Through this fund, the EPA is mandated to, "(1) provide emergency response to hazardous waste spills; (2) take emergency action at hazardous waste sites that pose an imminent hazard to public health or environmentally sensitive ecosystems; (3) engage in long-term planning, remedial design, and construction to clean up hazardous waste sites where no financially viable responsible party can be found; (4) take enforcement actions to require responsible private and Federal parties to clean up hazardous waste sites; and (5) take enforcement actions to recover costs where the fund has been used for cleanup."

The Committee recommends $70 million for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund, 7.3% less than the current level and 3.4% less than the president's request. According to the report, "the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorizations Act of 1986 [SARA] established the leaking underground storage tank [LUST] trust fund to conduct corrective actions for releases from leaking underground storage tanks containing petroleum and other hazardous substances."

State and Tribal Assistance Grants are slated to receive $3.9 billion, roughly equal to the current funding but 20% more than the budget request. Money from this account funds "grants to support the State revolving fund programs; State, tribal, regional, and local environmental programs; and special projects to address critical water and waste water treatment needs." Within this account, the Clean Water State Revolving Funds would continue the FY04 level of $1.4 billion. That's $50 million, or 3.8%, more than the budget request. The Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Fund would also receive the FY04 level $850 million as requested by the budget. The Brownfieldsaccount would receive $140 million, 16% above the budget request at the current enacted level.

Conference 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. This is reflected in the FY05 Enacted column in the table above. Although most non-defense and non-homeland security agencies were flat funded or had their budgets cut, a few agencies, such as NASA, did get a boost.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
The NSF's budget was cut 1.9% from the FY04 level to $5.47 billion. The Research and Related Activities account will receive $4.22 billion, a cut of 0.7%. The Office of Polar Programs budget is set to increase 1.2% to $347 million. The Major Research Equipment and Facilities got a 10.7% boost over FY04 funding with $173.6 million. Earthscope benefited from an 8% boost with a FY05 budget of $47 million. The Network of Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) was not funded for FY05 under the Major Research Equipment and Facilities Account because they are through the construction phase. In the future NEES will be funded in the Research and Related Activities account under the Engineering Directorate. A specific number for NEES funding in FY05 was not specified.

The Integrated Ocean Drilling Project, which received no funding last year, was funded this year at $15 million but this is far less than the $40 million budget request. Education and Human Resources took a 10% cut to $841 million, but that is still $70 million more than what was requested. The NSF Math and Science Partnerships (MSP) program was funded at $79.4 million, down from $139 million last year. Most, but not all of this NSF MSP funding was transferred to the Department of Education Math and Science Partnership Program. This effectively stifles the competitive, peer-reviewed NSF program in favor of the DOEd's formula based grant programs to states.

National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
NASA bucked the wholesale budget slashing trend with a 4.1% budget increase to $16 billion. The report language states:
"The conferees direct the National Academy's Space Studies Board to conduct a thorough review of the science that NASA is proposing to undertake under the space exploration initiative and to develop a strategy by which all of NASA's science disciplines, including Earth science, space science, and life and microgravity science, as well as the science conducted aboard the International Space Station, can make adequate progress towards their established goals, as well as providing balanced scientific research in addition to support of the new initiative. This study should be completed no later than March 15th, 2005.

The conferees have included substantial funding for the space exploration initiative, but to date there has been no substantive Congressional action endorsing the initiative. The conferees note that the initiative is a very long-term endeavor and will require tens of billions of dollars over the next two decades. As such, the initiative deserves and requires the deliberative benefit of the Congress. To this end, the conferees call upon the appropriate Committees of jurisdiction of the House and Senate for action to specifically endorse the initiative and provide authorization and guidance. NASA is directed to forward a comprehensive package of authorization legislation for consideration by the 109th Congress."

The Science, Aeronautics, and Exploration Account will receive $7.7 billion, a 2.6% cut from the current enacted level. According to the report, "Federal investments in aeronautics research and development have delivered countless economic and societal benefits to the nation over the years. Challenges in dealing with the projected growth in air traffic as well as the need to reduce significantly the adverse environmental impacts of future aircraft will require that NASA remain deeply engaged in aeronautics research and development."

The Earth Science Enterprise will benefit from a slight increase to $163 million. The Office of Space Science received a 6.8% increase, from $3.77 billion in FY04 to $4.05 billion for FY05.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
The EPA is saddled with a 4.1% cut next year, bringing their total funding down to $8.02 billion. The Science and Technology account was cut 4.8% to $744 million. The Hazardous Substances Superfund was flat funded at $1.2 billion. This is the first year that the Superfund account is funded entirely from the Federal Treasury since all of the money from the expired polluter tax has been exhausted. Environmental Programs and Management is flat funded at $2.3 billion. The Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund suffered an 8% cut to $69 million.

The State and Tribal Assistance Grants were cut 7.8% to $3.58 billion. The Clean Water State Revolving Funds took a big hit with a 19% cut, from $1.35 billion in FY04 to $1.1 billion. The Safe Drinking Water account stayed roughly the same at $843 million. However, Brownfields revitalization suffered a 26% cut, from $121 million to $89 million.

Sources: Eos; NASA website; Environmental Protection Agency website; American Institute of Physicists; National Science Foundation website; 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; Gayle Levy, AGI/AAPG 2004 Spring Semester Intern; and Ashlee Dere, AGI/AIPG 2004 Summer Intern, David Millar, AGI/AAPG 2004 Fall Semester Intern.

Last Update November 29, 2004

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