FY2007 Department of the Interior Appropriations (3-21-07)
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.
*Numbers are approximate and may change.
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 Revenue Management.
Established in 1916, the National
Park Service (NPS) has stewardship responsibilities for the protection
and preservation of the national park system. The system, consisting
of 388 separate and distinct units, is recognized globally as a leader
in park management and resource preservation. The national park system
represents much of the finest the Nation has to offer in terms of
scenery, historical and archeological relics, and cultural heritage.
Through its varied sites, the National Park Service attempts to explain
America's history, interpret its culture, preserve examples of its
natural ecosystems, and provide recreational and educational opportunities
for U.S. citizens and visitors from all over the world, according
to the NPS website.
The Smithsonian Institution is unique in the Federal establishment. Established by the Congress in 1846 to carry out the trust included in James Smithson's will, it has been engaged for over 150 years in the "increase and diffusion of knowledge among men" in accordance with the donor's instructions. With the expenditure of both private and Federal funds over the years, it has grown into one of the world's great scientific, cultural, and intellectual organizations. It operates magnificent museums, outstanding art galleries, and important research centers. Its collections are among the best in the world, attracting approximately 25,000,000 visitors in 2002 to its museums, galleries, and zoological park, according to the Smithsonian webiste. As custodian of the National Collections, the Smithsonian is responsible for more than 140 million art objects, natural history specimens, and artifacts. These collections are displayed for the enjoyment and education of visitors and are available for research by the staff of the Institution and by hundreds of visiting students, scientists, and historians each year. Other significant study efforts draw their data and results directly from terrestrial, marine, and astrophysical observations at various Smithsonian installations.
Congress established the Forest Service within the Department of Agriculture in 1905 to provide quality water and timber for the Nations benefit. Their website indicates that over the years, the public expanded the list of what they want from national forests and grasslands. Congress responded by directing the Forest Service to manage national forests for additional multiple uses and benefits and for the sustained yield of renewable resources such as water, forage, wildlife, wood, and recreation. Multiple use means managing resources under the best combination of uses to benefit the American people while ensuring the productivity of the land and protecting the quality of the environment. National forests encompass 191 million acres (77.3 million hectares) of land, which is an area equivalent to the size of Texas. The Forest Service is also the largest forestry research organization in the world, and provides technical and financial assistance to state and private forestry agencies. Gifford Pinchot, the first Chief of the Forest Service, summed up the purpose of the Forest Service"to provide the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people in the long run."
On February 6, 2006, Department of the Interior Secretary Gale Norton presented the fiscal year (FY) 2007 presidential budget request. The DOI request totals $10.5 billion, a decrease of nearly 3% from the enacted level for last year. According to Norton, "Within the context of the President's plan to reduce the deficit, this budget will enable Interior to fulfill its key responsibilities through collaborative approaches and partnerships, facilitate energy production, and continue Indian trust reform." Overall, the funding for the DOI bureaus is mixed, with most of the small budget increases going to programs related to the implementation of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
DOI Energy Initiative
The energy initiative also includes a section focused on new initiatives to investigate the use of oil shale and gas hydrates as future energy sources. Funding for the oil shale program will be split between BLM and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS). BLM would receive $4.3 million to continue a research, development, and demonstration leasing program as well as to work on a programmatic environmental impact statement on oil shale leasing. USGS would receive $0.5 million to assess the size, quality, and quantity of the domestic oil shales. The gas hydrates initiative includes $0.5 million for USGS, $1 million for MMS, and $0.4 million for BLM for "a coordinated effort in the Gulf of Mexico and the North Slope of Alaska to accelerate research, resource modeling, assessment, and characterization of hydrates as a commercially viable source of energy."
The funding request for MMS is $157 million, a 3% increase from last year's funding. These funds will be used primarily to facilitate outer continental shelf oil and natural gas development and deepwater activities. Most of the increase for MMS is related to the bureau's activities that support the goals of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.
The National Parks Service (NPS) budget request totals $2.2 billion, a 4% decrease from last year's funding. This reduction is related primarily to the completion of several major maintenance projects and a proposal to eliminate the State Conversation Grants program.
Water Resources Programs
The House Appropriations Committee passed the fiscal year (FY) 2007 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 5386) on May 10th. During the committee debate, Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) introduced an amendment that would remove the moratorium on offshore natural gas drilling that has been renewed by Congress every year since 1982. The moratorium bans drilling off the east and west coasts of the U.S. as well as the eastern part of the Gulf of Mexico. The amendment was later removed from the bill during floor debate in the House when the full chamber considered H.R. 5386. Several other amendments were proffered during floor debate regarding offshore oil and natural gas leases, however, none of these amendments were accepted. One accepted amendment (H.Amnd.838) introduced by Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) would redirect $1 million from the Mineral Management Service for state and tribal audits. Also accepted during floor debate was Rep. Louise McIntosh Slaughter's (D-NY) amendment (H.Amnd.834) that would provide an additional $5 million each for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities by transferring $3 million from the Department of the Interior Management account, $5 million from the U.S. Geological Survey Landsat program, and $2 million from the U.S. Forest Service.The House passed the bill in a 293-128 vote on May 18th with the accompanying report (H. Rept. 109-465). Below are highlights from the report for geoscience-related programs.
U.S. Geological Survey
The Committee has restored fully the mineral resources program, including $18,443,000 for research and assessments and $4,500,000 for minerals information. 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. The Committee does not agree that objective data on mineral commodities can be generated in the private sector and the Committee importunes the Administration to not propose this elimination again.
The House bill would fully support the multi-hazards demonstration initiative as well as would provide an additional $1.5 million for the Coastal and Marine Geology program that would be used for Florida shelf research and hurricane science research in the USGS Florida's office.
Funding for water programs at the USGS would also be restored under the House bill. The State Water Research Institutes, which are threatened with elimination in the budget request almost every year, would receive $6.4 million, and the Cooperative Water Program would receive a $2 million increase to total $64.2 million.
Funding for the Geographic Research, Investigations and Remote Sensing programs received a $5 million reduction due to Congresswoman Slaughter's amendment. With this amendment, the total funding for Geographic Research, Investigations and Remote Sensing programs would be $73.6 million. The report language notes that a $2 million increase should be used for the AmericaView cooperative geographic program. Within the Enterprise Information activity, the committee agreed with the proposed transfer of the cooperative topographic mapping program into this account from the Mapping and Remote Sensing account. The Enterprise Information programs would receive $113.7 million, which is a $2.5 million over the President's request. This increase would be targeted primarily to expand and integrate the geospatial one-stop program.
Other Interior Bureaus
The recommendation includes the full increase requested for energy programs and projects, including increases, above the enacted of $9,244,000 for energy permitting at non-pilot offices, $3,300,00 for oil shale leasing, $425,000 for gas hydrates, and $739,000 for National Petroleum Reserve Alaska well capping. The Committee recommendation reduces the request for Alaska north slope oil and gas energy by $2,500,000; this reduction should be taken from the remediation of oil wells. The Committee notes that this recommendation therefore includes $9,900,000 above the enacted funding level for exploration and development of energy located on Alaska's north slope, including the National Petroleum Reserve and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, if authorized. The other minerals subactivity includes an increase of $800,000 above the request to facilitate development of policy and operations for potash and oil and gas development in New Mexico. As requested, funds are not provided for the Alaska minerals subactivity.
The U.S. Forest Service would receive a total of $4.2 billion, which would include $84 million for the Minerals and Geology Management programs. The Smithsonian Institution would receive a total of $624 million, a decrease of $20 million below the President's request. There was one amendment proffered by Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) and accepted by the full House. The amendment would stipulate that "None of the funds made available in this Act may be used to limit outreach programs administered by the Smithsonian Institution". Congresswoman Jackson Lee is particularly interested in Houston's African American History Museum and the valuable public outreach provided for this project.
The House of Representatives will be considering funding for the Department of the Interior within the Interior, Environment and Related Agencies 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 (D-WV).
The Senate did not complete action on the Science, State, Justice, Commerce, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2007 before the 109th Congress adjourned on December 15, 2006. Instead Congress passed four continuing resolutions to keep the agencies affected by this bill running on either fiscal year 2006 or the House-approved funding levels, whichever was the lower amount of the two. See the continuing resolution action below for more details on how the fiscal year 2007 budget was eventually finished by the 110th Congress.
The Senate Appropriations Committee did complete its work and placed its appropriations report (Rpt. 109-275) on the Senate legislative calendar on June 26, 2006. Based on this report, the Department of the Interior would receive $16.628 billion.
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 110th Congress Finishes the Fiscal Year 2007 Budget
The Senate passed a year-long continuing resolution for the 9 unfinished appropriations bills for fiscal year 2007 (H.J. Res. 20) on February 14, 2007 without any significant changes to the House version of this continuing resolution (see below). The President signed the bill into law (Public Law 110-5) on February 15, 2007. All federal agencies, except the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security, will have their budgets defined by this continuing resolution through September 30, 2007. Departments with potential unstipulated funds have 30 days to inform Congress how they will distribute these funds.
House Passes Fourth Continuing Resolution with Some Increases for Science and Education
Even though the President released his fiscal year 2008 budget request on February 5th, Congress still has to finish work on the budget for fiscal year 2007. The nascent 110th Congress decided in January to consider passing another continuing resolution for the full year rather than try to pass 9 separate appropriation bills leftover from the 109th Congress.
On January 30th, the House passed a new continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 20) that would fund most of the government at the lowest of two possible levels either the fiscal year 2006 or the House-approved levels. The resolution worked out jointly by House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-WI) and Senate Appropriations Chairman, Robert Byrd (D-WV) added some adjustments that would increase funding for some research and education. The resolution explicitly eliminates earmarks and hopes to put a moratorium on earmarking until a reformed process is put in place.
The adjustments would include a proposed 6 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2006 funding for the National Science Foundation, so the agency would receive an increase of $335 million for a total budget of $5,916.2 million and $4,665.95 million would be allocated for Research and Related Activities, a 7.7 percent increase for that account. The Office of Science in the Department of Energy would receive a 5.6 percent increase compared to fiscal year 2006 funding for a total budget of $3,796.4 million. The Office would see a $200 million increase plus $130 million of previously earmarked funds that can be re-allocated for other purposes. Also within the Department of Energy, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Resources program would receive $1.5 billion, an increase of $300 million to accelerate research and development activities for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
No adjustments for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were included in the joint resolution, so NOAA and NASA would have flat budgets. However, some funds for research and development would be available because earmarks would be eliminated. In addition, the resolution specifies funding levels for NASA's science mission as follows: Science, Aeronautics and Exploration would receive $10 billion, of which $5.2 billion would be for science, $890 million would be for aeronautics research and $3.4 billion would be for exploration systems.
The U. S. Geological Survey would receive $982 million, which includes a restoration of the President's requested cut to the Mineral Resources Program (about a $22 million increase), about $5 million for fixed costs and a small increase over the fiscal year 2006 budget. The Smithsonian Institution would receive $533 million, a decrease compared to a budget of $618 million for fiscal year 2006. Congress did specify, however, that the Smithsonian would not be required to fund a specific grant for the Council of American Overseas Research Centers or the reopening of the Patent Office Building. This may free up some funds for research, infrastructure and fixed costs.
The resolution also would include increases for Pell Grants for undergraduate education, the Clean Water State Revolving Fund for water and wastewater infrastructure projects in every state, for parks and other lands to cover budget shortfalls and for the Forest Service/Wildland fire management account to meet shortfalls caused by the intense 2006 wildfire season.
The legislation now must be considered by the Senate and then if necessary voted on again by both chambers. If the legislation passes, it would then need to be signed by the President. The current continuing resolution expires on February 15th, so Congress does not have much time left. If Congress is unable to pass this legislation or some amended resolution, the government will shut down the day after Valentine's Day.
More information about the federal research and development budget for fiscal year 2007 is available at the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
New 110th Congress Considers Fiscal Year 2007 Budget
The 110th Congress, which started their first session on January 4, 2007, has indicated that they plan to extend the continuing resolution (CR) passed by the 109th Congress for the full year, rather than trying to work out a new budget for the 9 unfinished bills. This means that the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Department of Energy's Office of Science and the National Institute of Standards and Technology have started FY 2007 without the potential budget increases proposed by the President and the previous Congress. The 109th Congress had supported the President's American Competitiveness Initiative by increasing funding for the Department of Energy's Office of Science by 15 percent, the National Science Foundation by almost 8 percent and the National Institute of Standards and Technology laboratories by 21 percent in appropriations work.
These proposed increases will be lost if the CR is extended for a full year. The 110th Congress has indicated that it might consider "limited adjustments" to some appropriations when they bring forward a new CR that will be extended until September 30, 2007. Adjustments might include bringing all programs to at least their FY 2006 funding levels to avoid some of the steep cuts proposed by the House or Senate or providing specific funding increases for some specific programs.
If the CR is extended for a full year without any adjustments, here is how federal agencies that support Earth science research and development would be affected. The National Science Foundation would see a reduction in funding of about $439 million and this reduction would translate into a loss of about 800 new research grants for FY 2007. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be funded at the House-proposed level of $3.4 billion, which is $288 million below the President's request, almost $1 billion below the Senate-proposed level and more than $500 million below the FY 2006 budget. Such a significant reduction for NOAA would impede progress for core programs, such as the National Weather Service functions and stifle the development of new programs, such as the National Water Quality Monitoring Network, a national Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) and the implementation of the recently updated Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would receive almost the same funding as they received in FY 2006 with no significant increases or decreases to research and development funding.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science has a useful summary of the affect of the CR on the FY 2007 budget for research and development (R&D) that is available online. The AAAS analysis concludes that the federal investment in basic and applied research funding will decrease for the third straight year, that the federal investment for development is increasing, and that the increases for research and development will go primarily to the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense research and development budget for FY 2007 is a record-breaking $76.8 billion, thanks to a 4.8 percent increase (about $3.5 billion). The Department of Homeland Security research and development funding will be slashed by 22 percent, giving them a FY 2007 budget of about $1.0 billion.
Please see the American Association for the Advancement of Science, R&D Budget and Policy Program for more details on the federal budget for R&D.
Third Continuing Resolution: December 8, 2006 to February 15, 2007
The 109th Congress returned from the mid-term election recess and was unable to complete any of the unfinished appropriation bills. Only the appropriations for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security were finished in September and only these large departments started fiscal year 2007 on October 1, 2006 with new budgets. Before turning out the lights, Congress did pass another continuing resolution (H.J. Res. 102) through February 15, 2007. The continuing resolution (CR) means that all of the other federal agencies will be funded at the lowest funding level of three options, the fiscal year 2006 budget, the House approved FY 2007 budget or the Senate committee approved FY 2007 budget.
One quirk of the current CR is that congressionally-designated FY 2007 funding for specific projects (earmarks) are not specified, allowing the funds designated for these earmarks to be used for other projects. This gives federal agencies with earmarks some flexibility in transferring funds to alleviate shortfalls in core programs.
H.J. Res. 102 is available from Thomas, thomas.loc.gov
Second Continuing Resolution: November 17, 2006 to December 8, 2006
The 109th Congress was unable to reach any agreements or compromises on the 9 unfinished appropriations bills and passed a second continuing resolution to keep the government funded at some level before adjourning for the Thanksgiving holiday.
H.J. Res.100 is available from Thomas, thomas.loc.gov
First Continuing Resolution: October 1, 2006 to November 17, 2006
The 109th Congress adjourned on September 29th with lots of work left to complete when they return after the mid-term elections for at least one lame duck session from November 13-17. The biggest task to complete is the fiscal year 2007 budget for much of the federal government. Congress is likely to try to combine many separate bills into one large appropriation bill called an omnibus and if this happens, then policymakers are also likely to try to balance budget priorities for such an omnibus by applying a small rescission (probably about 1%) across all programs. It is also possible that Congress will not be able complete their budget work in November and may return for an additional lame duck session in December.
Congress passed only two of 12 fiscal year 2007 appropriation bills - one for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and one for the Department of Defense. The DHS appropriations bill contains a continuing resolution for the other appropriation bills that have not been completed. The resolution extends to November 17 and maintains the funding of all government agencies, except DHS and DOD, at the lower value of three possible levels: the fiscal year 2006 budget, the House-approved funding or the Senate committee approved funding. The House completed work on all 11 of their appropriation bills, however, the 12 Senate bills have not been considered by the full chamber and thus remain with their respective committees.
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; hearing testimony.
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contributed by Margaret Anne Baker and Linda Rowan, AGI Government Affairs Staff.
Last Update March 21, 2007