FY2006 Department of the Interior Appropriations (8-15-05)
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.
For analysis of hearings held by Congress on Department of Interior
appropriations, click here.
Fiscal Year (FY)
2006 Department of Interior Appropriations Process
U.S. Geological Survey (total)
-- Earthquake Hazards
-- Volcano Hazards
-- Landslide Hazards
-- Global Seismographic Network
-- Earth Surface Dynamics
-- National Cooperative Geologic Mapping
-- Coastal and Marine Geology
-- Mineral Resource Assessments
-- Energy Resource Assessments
Water Resources Programs
Biological Resources Programs
Bureau of Land Management (total)
Energy and Minerals Management
Minerals Management Service (total)
Outer Continental Shelf Resource Evaluation
National Park Service (total for park system)
NPS Resource Stewardship - Geologic Resources
Smithsonian Institution (total)
U.S. Forest Service (total)
Minerals and Geology Management
Value of Agencies within the Department of the Interior Appropriations
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 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.
For FY 2005, the agency expects to collect and distribute about $9.5
billion from active Federal and Indian leases. There are two major
programs within MMS, Offshore
Minerals Management and Minerals
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."
Request for FY 2006
President Bush proposed a Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget of $10.8 billion
for the Department of the Interior. Among the agency's priorities
is supporting cooperative conservation, accelerating Indian trust
reform, implementing the Healthy Forests Initiative, addressing the
National Park Service's maintenance backlog and addresssing chronic
water supply issues in the West.
Funding for the Minerals Management Service (MMS) is up just over
4% for a total requested level of $290 million. The Outer Continental
Shelf Resource Evaluation program is down slightly to $28.7 million.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has requested $1.7 billion, which
is nearly equal to last year's allocation. The request for BLM energy
and mineral resources management also remains essentially flat from
FY 2005, including a small increase of $225,000 for mineral assessments
and slight reductions for both oil and gas and coal management funding.
The National Park Service (NPS) is slated for an decrease of just
under 3%, for a total request of $2.2 billion. Resource stewardship
geologic resources funding within NPS will stay nearly the same at
$2.6 million. The Cave and Karst Research Institute funding would
remain flat at $333,000.
Total funding for the U.S. Forest Service would decrease by 4.1%
from last year's funding level, for a total of $4.06 billion. The
Minerals and Geology Management program requested $60 million, a 7.1%
increase from last year's funding level.
The Smithsonian would essentially be flat-funded at $615 million
U.S. Geological Survey
The Presidents Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget request for the
U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is $933.5 million, a decrease of $1.9
million from the FY05 enacted level. According to administration briefing
documents, the FY06 proposed budget "will continue the Surveys
scientific excellence in the core USGS science programs and emphasize
our response to natural hazards." In a marked departure from
last year, the President's budget would fully fund all fixed costs
within the USGS, totalling $17.1 million.
The Presidents FY06 budget provides $208.1 million for Geologic
Programs, a 9.2% reduction from last year's enacted level. The Mineral
Resources Program is the sole federal provider of scientific information
for objective mineral resource assessments and unbiased research results
on mineral potential, production, consumption and environmental effects
and would receive a 53% cut, leaving the program with only $25 million
in FY06. This reduction would terminate the collection of nation-wide
basic geologic and mineral deposit data, the internationally coordinated
global mineral resource assessment, many mineral commodity reports.
Additionally, this cut would eliminate approximately 240 full time
positions within the USGS at facilities in Reston, Reno, Tucson, Denver
and Menlo Park, among others. The $25 million remaining in the program
would continue funding for minerals surveys and studies relevant to
ongoing land management by the Department of Interior, regulatory,
and remediation activities more oriented to the interests of states,
local governments, and universities.
The Administration requested $51.3 million for Earthquake Hazards
in FY06, a 9.3% increase over last year's enacted level. Increased
volcanic unrest in several U.S. volcanoes prompted the Administration
to request additional funding to expand monitoring at the volcanoes
most threatening to American lives and property. In all, a 5% increase
was requested for Volcano Hazards, bringing the total up to $21.8
million. This increase will complete modernization of the Mount St.
Helens monitoring network and improve the monitoring capability at
other Cascade volcanoes, as well as expand monitoring in the Northern
Mariana Islands. Landslide hazards would also receive a 3.2% increase
to 3.1 million under the administration's proposal.
Within the increases mentioned above, a total of $5.4 million will
help the USGS install and maintain additional seismic monitoring stations
to serve the dual purposes of supporting development of a global tsunami
warning system and enhancing earthquake monitoring and warnings. The
FY06 budget also includes increases for seismic monitoring and maintains
funding for the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS), which provides
accurate and timely information about earthquakes and their effects
on buildings and structures using modern monitoring methods and technologies.
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 Administration has requested $8.1 million as part of the 2005
emergency supplemental funding request for the USGS to begin procuring
and installing additional seismic monitoring stations and to enhance
the existing seismic monitoring network for tsunami detection.
Water programs would receive $204 million, down 3.3% from last year's
allocation. The funding proposed would expand upon the water availability
work currently being done in the Great Lakes with an increase of $400,000.
The Water Resources Research Institutes, which were zeroed out in
the president's FY03, FY04 and FY05 requests would be cut again by
$6.4 million this year.
National Mapping Program
Overall, mapping programs would receive $133.5 million, an 11% increase
above last year's allocation. This increase includes $19.5 million
in land remote sensing to maintain and bolster U.S. Landsat archives
and capabilities. In 2005, the scan line corrector on board the Landsat
7 satellite failed. Due to user demand, the USGS was able to keep
offering somewhat degraded Landsat images but at a reduced price.
That means that USGS has suffered a funding shortfall in this program
and the President's budget requests $12 million to cover this shortfall
for 2005 and 2006. The request also includes $7.5 million to begin
building ground station capabilities to download and archive landsat-like
data from the Landsat 7 follow-on mission. The first Landsat Data
Continuity Mission sensor will be flown on a National Oceanic and
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) polar orbiting satellite, set to
launch in late 2009. Both the National Aeronatutics and Space Administration
(NASA) and NOAA propose funding in their 2006 budgets for their roles
in this Landsat data continuity mission.
Also included in proposed funding for the mapping programs is a $250,000
increase for a science impact program designed to improve and expand
the use of USGS science information both within and outside the Department
of the Interior. The program is designed to help decision makers better
understand what USGS science is telling them and how to apply it.
Biology is also marked for a small decrease from last year's allocation.
Totaling $172.9 million, biology programs would receive increases
for finding solutions and assisting the mitigation of biological resource
problems facing Federal agencies and State, local and tribal governments.
The budget proposes increases of $750,000 to expand on science needed
by Interior bureaus, $750,000 to expand research in the Grand Canyon,
$252,000 for deepwater fisheries research in the Great Lakes, $300,000
for invasive species research, and $250,000 for ecological systems
On May 19, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a $26.2 billion
Interior and Environment Appropriations bill by a vote of 329 to 89.
The House bill gives the Department of the Interior a total budget
of $9.8 billion, a $16.6 million increase over the Administration's
budget request. Aside from major debates over whether the House should
restore the proposed 13% reduction in funds for payments in lieu of
taxes (PILT), which local governments collect to replace federal land
taxes, the Interior department enjoyed stable support from lawmakers
as the bill made it's way through the House. During floor debates,
an amendment to restore PILT funding was rejected by the House 109
to 311. An attempt by John Peterson, (R-PA) to lift the moratorium
on natural gas production in the Outer Continental Shelf was also
defeated by a vote of 262 to 157. Restrictions to drill off the nation's
coasts must be restored each year through the interior appropriations
U.S. Geological Survey
The House Appropriations bill includes $974.6 million for the U.S.
Geological Survey, an increase of $41.1 million above the President's
request and $38.1 million (roughly 4%) above the fiscal year 2005
The House restored $28.48 million in proposed cuts to the Mineral
Resources Program, essentially funding the program at its FY 2005
levels. Including Alaska mineral resource assessments, the total account
for USGS mineral resources increased by $1.2 million. A statement
from the Appropriations Committee regarding the proposed reductions
were included in the report accompanying the House bill:
"The Committee strongly disagrees with the proposed reduction
in the Survey's mineral resources program. Minerals and mineral products
are important to the U.S. economy, with processed minerals adding
billions of dollars to the economy. Mineral commodities are essential
to both national security and infrastructure development. Mineral
resources research and assessments are a core responsibility of the
Survey. The Committee does not agree that objective data on mineral
commodities can be generated in the private sector."
Aside from mineral resources, the geologic landscape and coastal
assessments account received a $1.4 million increase to fund a new
global dust study ($250,000) and a research program on the Florida
shelf ($1.3 million). Funding levels for landslide, volcano and earthquake
hazards remained unchanged from the President's request, hovering
at about $82 million, a $6 million increase over FY 2005 levels.
The House also restored funding for the $6.5 million Water Research
Institutes, which the Administration had proposed to zero out in FY
2006. Overall, water resources received $211.8 million in the House
bill, which is $7.6 million above the budget request and $551,000
above the FY 2005 enacted level. The committee sustained the Administration's
proposed increase for the water availability project, directing the
USGS to launch a second pilot project from the program and urging
the agency to request additional increases in the future to expand
the program throughout the country.
However, the House did instruct the USGS to evaluate how activities
within the Water Resource Division might compete with private sector
environmental consultants. No specific projects were tagged as potential
problems; the committee report simply stated: "The Committee
is concerned with reports that suggest that the Water Resource Division
(WRD) of the Survey is providing or seeking to provide a variety of
commercial services to Federal and non-Federal entities in direct
competition with the private sector. The Committee strongly discourages
WRD from providing commercially available services to Federal and
non-Federal entities through its cooperative water program unless
these services are performed by a private sector firm under contract
with the Survey or the entity with which the Survey has entered into
a cooperative agreement. The Committee encourages the Survey to focus
its efforts on carrying out its important mission of serving as a
national database for hydrologic data, theory, and research. The Survey
should submit a report to the House Committee on Appropriations by
December 31, 2005, regarding its past, present and future efforts
to avoid competing with the private sector."
National Mapping Program
The bill would fund the USGS geologic mapping program at $133.2 million,
which is a $250,000 reduction from the budget request, but still a
$14.45 million increase over FY2005 enacted levels. This increase
was offset by reductions to the proposed "science impact program,"
but did not affect the $19.5 million requested to enhance U.S. Landsat
archives and capabilities. In the report accompanying the final bill,
the appropriations committee commended the Administration for "finally
providing a detailed proposal to continue existing Landsat satellite
operations and implement the Landsat Data Continuity Mission,"
adding "Long-term remote sensing data are vital to many aspects
of the government and private sector and are strongly supported by
For biological resources programs, the House bill includes $174.8
million, an increase of $1.8 million above the budget request. This
small increase accounts for several congressional earmarks targeting
research on particular local species of wildlife and funds to support
other regional management projects and science centers.
The Committee recommends $47,087,000 for enterprise information, $680,000
below the budget request, and $2,714,000 above the fiscal year 2005
enacted level. The change to the budget request is a decrease of $680,000
for the `disaster.gov' initiative.
Bureau of Land Management
Funding for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the House bill
adds $5 million to the President's request, which includes an additional
$2 million for BLM's oil and gas program, raising BLM's overall allocation
for energy and minerals assessments to nearly $109 million. This figure
does not include funding for Alaska minerals assessments, which will
be funded at $2.2 million, $1.6 million below FY 2005 levels.
The extra $2 million for BLM oil and gas programs would be directed
towards further investigations into U.S. domestic oil shale development.
Calling oil shales "an important domestic energy resource,"
the committee attached to the bill instructions requiring BLM to submit
a report on the steps necessary to proceed with development.
Minerals Management Service
The House bill includes nearly $150 million for Outer Continental
Shelf leasing, regulations, and resource assessments, an increase
of $1.2 million from the Administration's request and $1.3 million
more than the FY 2005 enacted level. Within this increase is an additional
$200,000 for resource evaluation. Overall, MMS appropriations would
see a slight $7.7 million reduction from the President's request,
which comes from the exclusion of an executive request of $9.8 million
for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
National Park Service
Several changes were made to National Parks Service appropriations
in the House Committee, including an additional $30 million to boost
National Parks' baseline budgets, and partial restoration of proposed
cuts to historic preservation funding. These increases were offset
by major reductions, including a $45 million cut in land acquisition
and state assistance funding, and a $16 million cut in park construction
activities. Resource stewardship programs, including the $2.6 million
dedicated to geologic resources, remained unchanged from the budget
The House Appropriations Committee held funds essentially flat for
the Smithsonian, with one increase of $300,000 for the Tropical Research
Institute's work in microorganisms in tropical soil.
U.S. Forest Service
The House restored funds for the Forest Service by roughly $182 million
over the President's request, and an increase of $10 million over
the FY 2005 enacted level. In addition to restoring major cuts made
to capital improvement and maintenance funding, the increase also
involves several small increases in Forest service land and resource
Minerals and Geology Managment would be funded at $85.9 million,
a substantial $12 million increase above the president's requesta
and a $30 million increase from FY 2005 levels. According to the House
Appropriations Committee, most of this large increase is due to the
transfer of environmental compliance and restoration activities from
the vegetation and watershed management program. Of the additional
funds, $7.8 million goes toward the administration of mineral operations,
$1 million for processing mineral applications, and $3.2 million for
the management of geologic resources and hazards. The commmittee report
language states that "the budget request includes large reductions
which are ill-advised for the administration of mineral operations
and for the geological services programs."
The text of the bill (H.R. 2361) and the committee report (109-80)
is available at thomas.loc.gov.
Bill Considered within the Interior and Environment Subcommittee
of the House Appropriations
Committee: Chaired by Representative
Taylor (R-NC) other members include Representatives Wamp(R-TN),
Peterson (R-PA), Sherwood
(R-PA), Istook (R-OK),
Aderholt (R-AL), Doolittle
(R-CA), Simpson (R-ID),
Dicks (D-WA), Moran
(D-VA), Hinchey (D-NY),
Olver (D-MA) and Mollohan
On June 29, 2005 the Senate approved the $26.26 billion spending
bill for the Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection
Agency, and related agencies, which include the Smithsonian Institution
and the Forest Service. After extensive debate on pesticide testing
and the construction of logging roads in the Tongass National Forest,
the Senate passed the bill 94-0. In total, the Senate bill represents
a $98 million increase over the spending bill passed by the House
on May 19th.
U.S. Geological Survey
The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended a total of $963 million
for the USGS, $29.5 million above the Administration's request and
$11.5 million below the amount proposed in the House bill. The overall
allocation would be a 3% increase over the FY2005 enacted funding,
not including emergency supplemental funds that were added earlier
this year to improve tsunami and earthquake hazard mitigation activities.
The Senate bill includes a total of $237.2 million for the USGS geology
program, which is an increase of $29 million from the budget request.
Of this increase, $26.5 million was added to restore most of the cuts
to the Mineral Resources Program, bring the total for this program
to $51.5 million. In comparison, the FY2005 enacted funds for mineral
resources was $54.8 million, and the House recommended $54.6 million.
Other changes made to the administration's request include an additional
$2 million to restore the minerals information data collection and
analysis program, and $1 million to install better monitoring equipment
at the Alaska Volcano Observatory, and $500,000 for the gas hydrates
research program in Alaska.
On the proposed cuts to the Mineral Resources Program, the committee
"The committee is dismayed that the proposal to discontinue
much of the mineral resources activity has again resurfaced in the
fiscal 2006 budget request. The Survey has made this recommendation
during previous budget cycles and each time it has been rejected
by both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. No factual
evidence has been supplied to indicate that the private sector could
or should absorb this program's domestic and international responsibilities.
The United States is the world's largest user of mineral commodities
and, as developing nations become increasingly industrialized, the
demand and competition for these resources will increase significantly.
With no other agency providing the data and analysis in this area
of critical importance to our national security, it would seem irresponsible
to decrease or eliminate funding for what clearly would appear to
be an inherently Federal responsibility.
"Following a 2003 review of the mineral resources program
by the National Research Council, its recommendation to develop
an external grants program was implemented by the Survey with $200,000
in base funding. In the coming fiscal year, the Committee expects
the Survey to dedicate $1,000,000 of its base funds to this program
and explore further the ways in which other Council recommendations,
such as the establishment of outside advisory committee of the Council,
can be achieved."
Although the committee provided no additional funds for coastal and
marine geology, they recommended that the USGS continue "its
significant research and investment in the southern Louisiana area
in support of both State and Federal agency coastal restoration planning
The Survey's Water Resources Programs received a total of $214.8 million
in the Senate bill, which represents a $10.6 million increase over
the President's request, and $3 million increase over the House bill.
Similar to the House bill, the Senate committee restored $6.5 million
to the Water Research Institutes, which the administration proposed
to eliminate. Increases above the House bill include several programs,
whose costs range from $200,000 to $1 million, for various federal-state
partnered groundwater studies, water monitoring projects, and watershed
restorations. The decision to increase federal funds for some of these
regional, cooperative projects was based on the loss of financial
support from state and local governments. To partially offset these
increases, the Senate committee cut the administration's proposal
to conduct a $400,000 multi-state water availability study.
National Mapping Program
For mapping, remote sensing, and geographic investigations, the Senate
bill came in $6 million under the House bill and the President's request,
with a total allocation of $127.2 million. The Senate bill includes
$7.5 million for the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, but denied Landsat
7 satellite operations the $6 million of additional support that was
proposed by the Administration. In the report accompanying the bill,
the Committee reasoned that "the proposal ... is no different
than previous recommendations, all of which amount to a subsidy of
current operations." In last year's Interior Appropriations bill
report, the Senate committee had suggested that the USGS and the Interior
Department re-evaluate the Landsat 7 mission to make better use of
federal funds, and directed the USGS to provide quarterly reports
to show Congress how funds were being spent and whether supplemental
funding was needed. The committee indicated that they had not received
any quarterly reports from the USGS about Landsat 7 and therefore
they would not provide $6 million in operations support until USGS
provided justification for the funds.
The bill funds USGS Biological programs at $174 million, roughly $1.4
million above the president's request, and only $500,000 below the
House recommendation. Like the House bill, over $2 million in additional
funds account for several congressional research projects and biological
studies. Partially offsetting these increases are major reductions
from the President's request of $750,000 for expansion of activities
at the Glen Canyon Dam and $450,000 for Interior Department Science
The Senate Committee recommended $66 million for Science Support,
which includes a reduction of $6 million below the President's request
and the House bill. The $6 million amount was proposed to reimburse
programs that may have been offset by increased operating costs for
the Landsat 7 mission.
Like the House bill, the Senate bill includes $47,087,000 for enterprise
information, $680,000 below the budget request, and $2,714,000 above
the fiscal year 2005 enacted level. The change to the budget request
is a decrease of $680,000 for the `disaster.gov' initiative.
Bureau of Land Management
The Senate bill includes $109.8 million for BLM Minerals Management
programs, which is a $3 million increase from the President's request
and roughly $1 million more than the amount proposed by the House.
Similar to the increase proposed by the House, the extra $3 million
would go towards BLM's oil and gas management program. Of the additional
funds, $250,000 would be provided for the Utah Oil and Gas Leasing
Internet Pilot program. The remaining $750,000 would fund a new Oil
Shale Leasing Program and help expedite the processing of "applications
for permits to drill" (APDs)
In addition to the $109 million, the Senate bill includes another
$3 million for the Alaska Minerals Program, which comes in roughly
$1 million below the FY 2005 enacted level, but represents an increase
of $703,000 above the President's request.
Minerals Management Service
Within the $149 million for Outer Continental Shelf Lands, the Senate
Committee recommended an increase of $900,000 above the budget request
for the resource evaluation program in the outer continental shelf.
This increase would be directed to the Center for Marine Resources
and Environmental Technology for "exploration and sustainable
development of seabed minerals including gas hydrates." The committee
recommends $78.5 million for royalty management and $47.5 million
for general administration, leading to a total of $275 million that
would be offset by $122.7 million in collections for a total budget
for royalty and offshore minerals management of $152.5 million
Like the House bill, the Senate bill denies the administration's
request of $9.8 million to cover costs associated with filling the
Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Instead, the bill provides permanent
authority for the Royalty-In-Kind program, allowing the MMS to regulate
their own operational costs.
National Park Service
The committee increased the overall budget for the National Park
Service to $1.75 billion, a slight $14 million increase from the President's
request, and $6 million below the level proposed in the House bill.
For Resource Stewardship, the Senate committee proposed $355 million
overall, including increases from the budget request of $225,000 for
the International Center for Science and Learning at Mammoth Cave
National Park and $500,000 for vanishing treasures. For natural resources
inventory and monitoring activities, including inventory and monitoring
within the agency's geology division, $1 million was cut and re-allocated
for the agency's air tour management account.
The Senate committee replicated only some of the funding changes
made in the House Appropriations bill. These include an additional
$20 million to increase the Park Service's base budget, and $3 million
to partially restore the cuts proposed for restoration of historic
buildings. The Senate bill would also restore the $30 million in cuts
to the Land Water Conservation Fund stateside grants, which the Administration
proposed to terminate. The $86 million proposed under the Senate bill
for land acquisition and state assistance would be $60 million below
the FY 2005 level, but $31 million above the president's request and
$76 million above the House recommendation.
The Senate bill meets the President's requested 7% increase for Smithsonian
salaries and expenses, but falls $246,000 below the House bill appropriation
(The House had added $300,000 for the Tropical Research Institute's
work in microorganisms in tropical soil). Overall, the Senate committee
recommended $624 million, which gives an extra $9 million to fund
facilities maintenance, compared to the Administration and House proposals.
U.S. Forest Service
Under the Senate bill, the U.S. Forest Service would receive a total
of $4.122 billion, which restores over half of the cuts proposed by
the administration, but remains $100 million below the amount proposed
in the House bill. Minerals and Geology Management programs, however,
would see a slight increase under the Senate bill, to $73.8 million.
The United States Senate will be considering funding for the Department
of Interior in the Interior
Subcommittee of the Senate
Appropriations Committee. Chaired by Senator Burns
(R-MT), other members include Senators Stevens
(R-AK), Cochran (R-MS),
Domenici (R-NM), Bennett
(R-UT), Gregg (R-NH), Brownback
(R-KS), Dorgan (D-ND),
Byrd (D-WV), Leahy
(D-VT), Reid (D-NV), Feinstein
(D-CA) and Mikulski (D-MD).
The Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies
Appropriations Bill became law on August 2, 2005 (Public Law 109-54).
The conference report, (108-188), which cleared both houses on August
26th, includes increases over the President's proposed budget for
the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA), and several compromises between earlier versions of
the bill passed in the House and Senate. The final bill also includes
$1.5 billion in funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs to
compensate for an FY 2005 funding shortfall within last year's omnibus
appropriations bill. Due in part to an urgency to pass this Veterans
Affairs spending, the Interior and Environment bill was only one of
two appropriations bills that made it to the President before the
month-long summer break. The act was overwhelmingly approved 410-10
in the House and 99-1 in the Senate, with Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK)
casting the single dissenting vote.
Overall, the Interior Department will receive $9.88 billion, including
cuts to federal land acquisition programs and modest increases for
the USGS, the National Park Service, and Fish and Wildlife Service.
There were significant increases for wildfire suppression, wildfire
preparedness and hazardous fuel reduction as the Administration and
Congress continue to support accelerated efforts to mitigate disastrous
fires and ensure a cycle of contained fires to promote biodiversity,
healthy forests and supplies for the timber industry.
The following dollar amounts appropriated for each program (and those
listed in the table above) do not include an additional 0.476% rescission
that will be imposed across the board to relieve part of the federal
U.S. Geological Survey
The bill sets fiscal year (FY) 2006 spending for the USGS at $976
million, $40.6 million, or 4.3%, more than the $936.3 million allocated
for FY2005. In contrast, President Bush had requested only $933.6
million, with significant cuts to mineral and water programs. The
final figure tops both the House ($974.6 million) and the Senate ($963.1
Geologic Programs, including assessments of natural hazards, resources
and geologic processes, received a total of $237.5 million, about
$8.2 million more than FY 2005 levels, including a $3.4 million increase
for earthquake hazards, and modest increases for other hazards assessments.
While Congress stayed close to the President's request for many geologic
assessment programs; the final bill puts back $28 million for the
Minerals Resources Program, restoring the program to its enacted level.
The conference report gave the following explanation for rejecting
the president's $28 million cut: "The managers strongly disagree
with the Administration's proposed reductions to the minerals assessment
program and believe it is irresponsible for the Administration to
decrease or eliminate funding for what is clearly an inherently Federal
Compared to the House recommendation for geologic programs, which
was a more generous $239.3 million, the final bill did not include
$600,000 that the House had proposed for Florida continental shelf
research, $400,000 for Puget Sound studies, and $1.1 million for Alaska
Mineral Assessments. The final bill also does not include the Senate's
extra $2 million to restore the minerals information data collection
program and $1 million for the Alaska Volcano Observatory. The bill
does, however, include the Senate's $500,000 gas hydrate research
program in Alaska.
Water programs at the Survey received $215.0 million, $3.8 million
over FY 2005 levels and $10.8 million above the President's request.
Much of the increase above last year's funding level include additional
resources for regionally specific groundwater and hydrologic studies,
including $900,000 for coalbed methane research on the Tongue River,
WY, and $295,000 to restore funding for Lake Champlain monitoring
efforts. The final bill also retains the President's $400,000 proposal
to administer a national water availability assessment. This proposal
had been agreed to in the House bill, but cut in the Senate bill.
Funding for the Water Resource Research Institutes was maintained
at $6.5 million, despite the President's proposal to end the program.
However, the Survey was cautioned about competing with private industry
and asked to submit an evaluation by the end of the year. The conference
report language reads, "The managers are concerned by continuing
reports that suggest the Survey's water resources program is providing
or seeking to provide a variety of commercial services to Federal
and non-Federal entities in direct competition with the private sector.
The managers have previously encouraged the Survey to use the services
of the private sector in the conduct of its activities wherever feasible,
cost effective, and consistent with the quality standards and principles
pertaining to the effective performance of governmental functions.
The managers expect that the Survey should strive to implement such
a policy to the best of its ability in the performance of its work."
Within the USGS, the National Mapping programs received $131.2 million,
$13 million above FY 2005 funding levels, but over $2 million under
the president's request. This reduction resulted from a compromise
between the House and Senate over funding for the Landsat program,
which was given $8 million in the final bill, $2 million below what
the House and the Bush Administration had both recommended. The Senate
asked for a steep $6 million reduction to the program.
The final conference agreement included an additional $3 million for
Biological research over both the House and Senate recommendations,
who had each added their own array of earmarked wildlife monitoring
projects. $2.4 million worth of such projects, including a $400,000
to monitor the Ivory-billed woodpecker, were added to the House bill,
and another $55,000 was added to restore the base budget for Cooperative
The final bill includes $47 million for enterprise information.
Both the House and the Senate failed to endorse the Administration's
propsal to transfer $680,000 from other USGS programs in order to
support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's 'disaster.gov' initiative.
The final bill provides $70.3 million for Science Support, which
is roughly $4 million above last year's funding level, but $2 million
below the amount proposed by both the Administration and the House.
These funds were added to support the Landsat Program.
Bureau of Land Management
The committee chose to adopt the Senate figure of $1.79 billion for
BLM, which is about $30 million above the budget request and $56 million
above FY 2005 appropriations. Within BLM's wildland fire management
program, hazardous fuels received an increase of $9.8 million above
the FY 2005 enacted level. This increase in wildfire management is
part of a $33 million increase in hazardous fuel reduction efforts
shared by the Forest Service, according to a Senate Appropriations
release. Compared to the President's request, the final budget
includes an additional $10 million for Land and Resource Management,
$10 million for Wildfire Management, and a restoration of $5 million
for the agency's construction account.
Energy and Minerals Management received an additional $1 million
over the House recommendation of $108.8 million for oil and gas management.
The total $109.8 million is nearly $3.2 million over FY 2005 levels.
Minerals Management Service
The conferees agreed to fund the Minerals Management Service at a
level less than all three recommended figures. The final bill appropriates
$263 million, which is $14 million below FY 2005 and $27 million less
than the budget request.
The final bill includes the Senate recommendation of $26.9 million
for Outer Continental Shelf Resource Evaluation. This appropriation
restores, to FY 2005 levels, the $900,000 cut proposed by the President,
which funds the Center for Marine Resources at the University of Mississippi.
National Park Service
The National Park Service will receive $2.3 billion. This is $50
million above the President's request and $66 million below the previous
year funding. The stateside grant program, which assists state and
local government in open space conservation, will be kept running
with $30 million as recommended by the Senate. The House and the Bush
administration had tried to cut funding entirely for this program.
The final bill also provides $354 million, slightly above the House
recommendation and roughly $700,000 below the Senate recommendation.
The final amount includes a reduction of $1,000,000 for inventory
and monitoring, consistent with the Senate bill. The conference agreement
did not specify how this reduction would be applied distributed among
the Park Service's various stewardship divisions, one of which oversees
geologic resources in the Parks.
The Smithsonian Institute will receive $624.1 million, surpassing
the budget request and the previous year appropriation by $19 million.
U.S. Forest Service
The U.S. Forest Service will receive $4.265 billion. This is $198
million above the budget request, but remains $507 million below FY05
funding. The Forest Service hazardous fuels reduction program, like
the BLM equivalent, received an increase of $30 million above current
levels. The final bill also adopted the substantial, $30 million increase
to Forest Service Minerals and Geology Management proposed by the
House. While much of this increase accounts for the transfer of environmental
compliance and restoration activities from vegetation and watershed
management, the final bill also includes an additional $7.8 million
for mineral operations, $1 million for processing mineral applications,
and $3.2 million for the management of geologic resources and hazards.
- March 2, 2005: House Interior Appropriations
Subcommittee Hearing on Department of the Interior Budget
- March 1, 2005: Senate Energy and Natural Resources
Full Committee Hearing on the Department of the Interior Budget
Interior Appropriations Subcommittee
Hearing on the Department of the Interior Budget
March 2, 2005
Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
Lynn Scarlet, Assistant Secretary of the Interior
John Trezise, Department of the Interior Budget Chief
Members of the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee discussed
with Interior Secretary Gale Norton a wide variety of issues regarding
the Department of Interior's (DOI) plans for Fiscal Year (FY) 2006,
including the proposed 56% cut to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)
Minerals Resources Program, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge, restoration of Abandoned Mine Land, use of National Park Service
funding, and several regional restoration issues.
Before addressing the budget, Secretary Norton began her opening
statement describing the agency's predicament after a recent ruling
in Cobell v. Norton, a major Indian Trust Fund law suit. A U.S. district
court judge recently ordered DOI to build an accurate accounting record
of all trust fund transactions since 1887, which would cost the department
an estimated $10-12 billion, roughly five times the budget of the
Bureau of Indian Affairs. Subcommittee Chairman Charles Taylor (R-NC)
and ranking member Norm Dicks (D-WA) said they may consider adding
a rider to this year's supplemental spending bill to delay the order
for the second year in a row.
The Administration's budget proposes a $28 million cut for the USGS
Earth Science and Biological Research in the Mineral Resources Program.
Rep. James Moran (D-VA) sharply criticized the plan, suggesting it
would cause substantial job losses within the department. Secretary
Norton explained the aim of the cut would be to focus USGS operations
on "government needs and core goals," adding that minerals
research on privately-owned land represents duplicative activities
with the private sector. Upon being pressed by Moran, Norton confirmed
the cut would terminate roughly 220 jobs.
The budget assumes revenues from bonus bids on the first ANWR lease
sale could reach $2.4 billion in 2007, if approved by Congress. Questioning
whether the assumption of such revenues was justified, Rep. Maurice
Hinchey (D-NY) invoked a recent New York Times article (Feb. 21) that
reported a lack of major interest among oil companies to seek drilling
permits. Norton responded that the department expects interest to
increase after the USGS completes seismic work that must be done before
the bidding process. She also stated that moves to open ANWR are primarily
in the interest of national security, not the oil business.
For onshore and offshore resources already open to oil and gas drilling,
the Bureau of Land Management would receive a 7% increase in its energy
and minerals program to $117.6 million to "accelerate the processing
time for applications-for-permits-to-drill." Rep. Peterson (R-PA)
questioned whether splitting Oil and Gas leasing into two separate
processes would accelerate the production of natural gas and save
funds, since the resource is easier and less costly to drill compared
Another Interior funding concern to surface this year is the expiration
of the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) Reclamation Fund, which will stop
collecting fees for abandoned mine clean-up in June. Rep. Don Sherwood
(R-PA) declared a reauthorization of the AML program under the 1977
Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act is needed, and asked whether
the department has a plan to continue fee collection. The administration
supports reauthorization, Norton said, and would have some power to
collect fees, but "prefers congressional action before June."
As it stands, the budget would provide $147.5 million in AML grants
for high-priority sites, plus an additional $58 million to repay fees
collected from States and Tribes that have already completed mine
Energy and Natural Resources Full Committee
Hearing on the Department of the Interior Budget
March 1, 2005
Gale Norton, Secretary of the Interior
Lynn Scarlet, Assistant Secretary of the Interior
John Trezise, Department of the Interior Budget Chief
The Department of the Interior (DOI) requests a total of $10.8 billion
for FY 2006, 1% down from Fiscal Year (FY) 2005. At the hearing, Secretary
of the Interior Gale Norton outlined DOI's budget priorities, including
increases for energy programs, oil and gas permitting, cooperative
conservation programs, seismic monitoring to support the tsunami mitigation
program, and Nation Park recreation.
Before launching into the budget discussion, however, Norton read
a statement explaining a recent ruling by the judge in the Cobell
v. Norton Indian Trust Fund lawsuit, which could force the department
to spend $10-12 billion to build an accurate accounting record of
all trust fund transactions since 1887. Committee Chairman Pete Domenici
(R-NM) was sympathetic to the challenge facing the department, and
suggested the department turn to emergency funding.
During the hearing, Committee Members, many of whom represented western
states, discussed several specific regional issues with Secretary
Norton, including cuts to the Rio Grand Project, drought crisis in
the Klamath River Basin, border security in National Parks, and Indian
Water Rights Settlements. Much of the criticism voiced in the hearing,
however, focused on decisions to cut funding in two major programs
that help states manage and benefit from public lands.
The FY 2006 budget proposes a 13% reduction in funds for payments
in lieu of taxes (PILT), which local governments collect to replace
federal land taxes and to supplement other receipts shared by federal
and state governments. Senators Dominici, Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Ken
Salazar (D-CO), Larry Craig (R-ID), and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) asked
Norton to justify the reduction, concerned that the payments would
not keep up with the cost of doing business. Gale responded that counties
should see new revenues from other programs, such as increases to
support recreation opportunities.
There was also bipartisan dismay over the termination of state grants
under the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), a 50-50 cost-share
program to help states manage conservation efforts on public lands.
Norton stated that the budget includes a total of $380 million for
cost-sharing conservation programs. But Chairman Dominici noted that
out of the $172 million dollars saved by DOI's total budget reductions,
75% of these savings ($90 million) would come from terminating the
LWCF state grants. Senator Salazar said that the proposal betrayed
important partnerships between the federal government, states, businesses,
and environmentalists. Gale Norton and Assistant Secretary Lynn Scarlett
tried to explain that the LWCF would not be as effective as other
programs, and that, during its analysis, the Office of Management
and Budget failed to identify "clear goals" and "demonstrable
benefits" of the LWCF. Several senators, including Richard Burr
(R-NC), disagreed and demanded to review OMB's report. Senator Mary
Landrieu (D-LA) declared, "I have come across fewer programs
that are more widely and deeply supported than the state side of the
Land and Water Conservation Fund."
Sources: Department of Interior budget documents; USGS budget
documents; National Park Service budget documents; U.S. Forest Service
budget documents; White House Office of Management and Budget; CQ
Budget Tracker; Library of Congress Congressional Record website;
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government
Affairs Program at email@example.com.
Contributed by Emily Lehr Wallace and Katie Ackerly, AGI Government
Affairs Program, Anne Smart, AGI/AIPG 2005 Summer Intern.
Last Update August 15, 2005