Fiscal Year 2007 Appropriations Hearings (4-14-06)
- April 5, 2006: House Committee on Appropriations,
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, hearing on "DOE
Energy Supply and Conservation, Fossil Energy"
- March 2, 2006: House Science Committee,
hearing on "NASA's Science Mission Directorate: Impacts
of the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal"
Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development
Hearing on "DOE Energy Supply and Conservation, Fossil
April 5, 2006
David K. Garman, Undersecretary of Energy, U.S. Department of Energy
Kevin Kolevar, Director of the Office of Electricity Delivery and
Alexander Karsner, Assistant Secretary of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Dennis Spurgeon, Assistant Secretary of Nuclear Energy
George Rudins, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal
On April 5, 2006, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy
and Water Development held a hearing to discuss the proposed fiscal
year (FY) 2007 budget for energy supply, energy conservation, and
fossil energy programs at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Nearly
every subcommittee member attended the three-hour hearing, peppering
DOE officials with questions about coal, the Yucca Mountain nuclear
waste repository, and the proposed Global Nuclear Energy Partnership
(GNEP). "The budget request for FY 2007 appears very aggressive
for renewables," said Subcommittee Chair David Hobson (R-OH),
adding that the increase has come at the expense of other DOE programs.
"I don't think that's going to hold," he said.
Undersecretary of Energy David Garman stressed that the DOE budget
had been crafted to reflect the priorities of the President's American
Competitiveness Initiative and Advanced Energy Initiative. "This
is a budget that begins to put the 'energy' back in the Department
of Energy," Garman said, adding that a key focus of the budget
is to "strengthen connections between basic and applied"
Appropriators remained skeptical about the budgetary priorities in
the DOE request. Ranking Member Pete Visclosky (D-IN) and Representative
Dennis Rehberg (R-MT) questioned the logic of a twelve percent cut
in the Clean Coal Power Initiative. Garman justified the reduction
by pointing out that clean coal plants have been very successful in
the market. He added DOE is emphasizing diversifying the country's
primary energy sources rather than focusing on any one technology.
Rehberg also expressed his displeasure at the elimination of funds
for oil and gas research and development.
Members also touched on conservation and efficiency issues. Representative
Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ) noted that the DOE budget placed little
emphasis on conservation. "Conservation is fundamental and implicit
if not explicit," Garman responded. "Energy efficiency is
the most affordable and quickest energy resource we as a nation can
tap." Nonetheless, Representative Ed Pastor (D-AZ) pointed out
that the efficiency-increasing State Weatherization Assistance Program
is slated for a 78 percent cut. Garman agreed that the program was
"very dependable" and "low risk," but explained
that the administration has chosen to invest in programs that are
higher-risk but could carry a higher payoff.
Several representatives expressed significant interest in the progress
of biofuels, including bio-diesel and cellulosic ethanol. In response
to questioning from Representatives Tom Latham (R-IA) and Jo Ann Emerson
(R-MO), Garman told appropriators that the U.S. currently produces
about four billion gallons of ethanol from corn each year, and that
DOE is looking to cellulosic ethanol to raise that number to sixty
billion gallons per year. To be competitive in the market, however,
ethanol prices would have to decrease from current levels of roughly
two dollars per gallon to around one dollar per gallon. Garman added
that funding for cellulosic ethanol research and development increased
by 65 percent in the President's FY 2007 request.
The hearing concluded with a heated discussion of GNEP and the Yucca
Mountain project. Hobson grilled Garman and Assistant Secretary of
Nuclear Energy Dennis Spurgeon about interim storage facilities for
nuclear waste. He cited information that despite guidelines requiring
all nuclear waste recycling sites to include interim storage facilities,
DOE is considering awarding a recycling project to a site that refuses
to store waste. Furthermore, GNEP lacks provisions for interim storage.
Hobson and Visclosky also criticized the administration's treatment
of the Yucca Mountain project. Visclosky accused DOE of "legislating
away" Yucca's problems without solving the nuclear waste issue.
Hobson remained unconvinced by Garman's assertions that the administration
is continuing to emphasize Yucca. He noted that the Yucca project
has been flat-funded for the past five years, and that by the time
Yucca opens there will already be enough nuclear waste to fill the
repository. DOE has no plan to "open the other seven Yuccas that
you need," he added. Hobson stressed that "the committee
is united" in dealing with the issue of interim waste. "I
would propose allowing interim storage in any state that wants to
take it except Nevada," he said.
To read Undersecretary Garman's written testimony, click
Hearing on "NASA's Science Mission Directorate: Impacts
of the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget Proposal"
March 2, 2006
Dr. Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator, NASA Science Mission Directorate
Dr. Fran Bagenal, Decadal Survey for Sun-Earth Connections and Professor,
University of Colorado
Dr. Wesley Huntress, Jr., Decadal Survey for Solar System Exploration
and Director, Carnegie Institute of Washington Geophysical Laboratory
Dr. Berrien Moore III, Co-Chairman, Decadal Survey for Earth Sciences
and Professor, University of New Hampshire
Dr. Joseph H. Taylor, Jr. NL., Co-Chairman, Decadal Survey for Astrophysics
and Professor, Princeton University
The House Science Committee held a hearing on March 2, 2006 to discuss
the administration's funding request for the National Aeronautics
and Space Administration (NASA) Science Mission Directorate. Committee
Chair Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY) opened the hearing by calling funding
for the directorate "the most controversial and problematic aspect
of NASA's proposed fiscal 2007 budget." Committee leadership
from both parties emphasized the importance of NASA's science programs,
with Boehlert calling science "the most successful aspect of
NASA, one that
helps make the U.S. a world leader." Ranking
Member Bart Gordon (D-TN) added that "NASA's science programs
have amply demonstrated the wisdom of the nation's investment in them"
and that the administration's proposed cuts "run directly counter
to the spirit and intent of the President's own American Competitiveness
Dr. Mary Cleave, Associate Administrator for NASA's Science Mission
Directorate began her testimony with details of the agency's fiscal
year (FY) 2007 budget request. The $5.33 billion science budget, which
includes $1.53 billion for Earth science programs, is an increase
of 1.5 percent over the FY 2006 allocation. Cleave also touched on
one of the most controversial aspects of the request: cuts to the
directorate's research and analysis (R&A) funds. "The 15
percent reduction in R&A funding is directly related to
our desire to maintain a balance in the science and engineering workforces
and an adequate number of missions to support them," Cleave stated.
She added that the agency is willing to "work with the community
to solicit their input on these programmatic issues."
The remaining witnesses represented the four decadal surveys conducted
by the National Academies to determine the scientific priorities in
NASA-funded fields. All four witnesses agreed that cutting R&A
funding is a mistake. Dr. Joseph Taylor, Co-chair of the Decadal Survey
for Astrophysics expressed disappointment that the request terminates
funding for the nearly-completed Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared
Astronomy (SOFIA), defers
indefinitely the high-priority "Beyond
Einstein" program, and drastically cuts funding to small,
low-cost Explorer Missions. Taylor also noted that the cuts will primarily
affect younger researchers, post-doctoral scholars, and graduate students,
increasing the likelihood that young scientists will leave the field.
"I believe that the field of astronomy can sustain itself through
lean budgetary times if there is opportunity on the horizon, but this
does not provide the positive view of the future
that will keep members of the community engaged and attract bright
young people to the field," Taylor said.
Dr. Fran Bagenal, a member of the Decadal Survey for Sun-Earth Connections
echoed Taylor's concerns. She noted that it "doesn't make sense"
to cut NASA's "smallest and most productive" missions. In
particular, she voiced concerns that delays in the Explorer program
will lead to a gap of at least 6 years without any launches. In the
past, Explorer's launch rate was roughly one mission per year.
Dr. Wesley Huntress, a member of the Decadal Survey for Solar System
Exploration, stated that cuts in the FY 2007 budget would defer the
Europa Orbiter mission, a flagship mission that has the highest science
priority in this decade. He also noted significant delays and cancellations
in the Mars program. Huntress expressed disappointment that the "solar
system exploration enterprise has been mortgaged" in order to
fund human exploration. "Instead of drawing on the strengths
of both [robots and humans], this budget pits one versus the other
and undermines the Vision [for Space Exploration] rather than promoting
it," Huntress said.
The final witness to testify was Dr. Berrien Moore, Co-chair of the
Decadal Survey for Earth Sciences that will be released later this
year. Moore emphasized the effects the budget reductions will have
on the scientific community. "I am equally concerned about the
impact of program delays on the morale of scientists within and outside
of NASA and the health of the specialized workforce that is necessary
to maintain core competencies," he said. "The prior deterioration
of the NASA Earth Science program
has already had an adverse
impact on our ability to attract scientists or engineers. This situation
will only grow worse unless there are significant improvements to
the FY '07 budget proposal."
Boehlert's questions for the panel focused on determining the appropriate
balance of funds within the budget proposal. He asked the witnesses
if, given the current proposed funding level, they would be willing
to delay or scale-back their flagships missions in order to provide
additional funds for R&A accounts and smaller missions. Taylor,
Bagenal, and Huntress all responded that they would do so as long
as the scientific community agreed. Moore called cuts to Earth science
R&A "disastrous" but also noted that the flagship mission
for the Earth sciences, the Global
Precipitation Measurement, has already been delayed by two and
a half years. He expressed the need to find another way to fund R&A
activities, possibly by reassessing funding for the Landsat
Representatives Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Al Green (D-TX) voiced concerns
about the decision to eliminate SOFIA. Hall quoted SOFIA as being
90 percent complete and over-budget by $200-$300 million, which he
compared to the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST).
JWST is funded in the FY 2007 budget despite being over-budget by
roughly $1 billion while still in the formulation phase. Cleave explained
that SOFIA is not necessarily being eliminated. Rather, the project
is being reviewed in order to determine whether it will result in
adequate science return. Taylor emphasized that SOFIA is still a science
priority within the astrophysics community.
Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) asked witnesses whether funding
NASA's science program is as important as funding the energy research
necessary for the U.S. to achieve energy self-sufficiency. Bagenal
noted that NASA technology has led to a number of energy spin-offs,
particularly in terms of increased energy efficiency. Moore added
that NASA scientists are more concerned with the allocation of funds
within NASA, and in particular the diversion of money from NASA's
science programs to the shuttle. Rohrabacher also questioned whether
NASA's efforts to catalog near-Earth asteroids receive adequate funding
in the budget proposal. Cleave stated that this is an ongoing program
that is funded in the science and exploration directorates.
Boehlert asked each scientist to comment on the most significant
science question that the scientific community won't be able to answer
in a timely fashion if the FY 2007 budget request is implemented.
Huntress responded that the budget would hinder progress in the planetary
science community on determining whether "we're alone."
In the field of astrophysics, Taylor described delays in the detection
of gravitational waves and the exploration of "dark energy"
in the universe. Bagenal noted that delays to Explorer will cause
NASA to "continue losing innovative methods" used to study
heliophysics. Moore described a more general trend, reiterating that
NASA is "at a tipping point," and that if the science budget
continues to decrease, undergraduate and graduate students are going
to stop choosing careers in Earth and space sciences.
Gordon ended the hearing by calling it "the most depressing
hearing I have sat through." He added that the committee is "going
to have difficulty putting NASA back together."
To access the witness testimony, the opening remarks of majority
Representatives Boehlert and Calvert, and an archived webcast of the
To access the opening statements of minority Representatives
Gordon and Udall, click
Sources: Hearing testimony, Environment & Energy Daily.
Contributed by Jenny Fisher, 2006 AGI/AAPG Spring Semester Intern.
Please send any comments or requests for information to AGI
Government Affairs Program.
Last updated on April 14, 2006