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ALERT: Support Increased Funding for DOE's Office of Fossil Energy

(Posted 5-05-05)


This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.

In A Nutshell: Each year during the appropriations process, members of Congress may circulate "Dear Colleague" letters, obtain signatures and submit these letters to an appropriations subcommittee in support of a specific program or project. These letters allow members of Congress to demonstrate their support for a program. A large number of signatures indicate strong support for the program discussed in the letter. Currently, Representative Ralph Hall (R-TX) and Senator Craig Thomas (R-WY) are collecting signatures for a Dear Colleague letter circulating in the House and the Senate respectively that request increased funding for Fossil Energy Research and Development within DOE. The letters will be sent to the respective Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittees.

Rep. Hall's and Senator Thomas' Dear Colleague letters request that Congress provide $78 million for Oil and Gas Technology within DOE in fiscal year 2006. The President's requested that this program be terminated and given $10 million to shut down the program in FY06.

Please contact your Representative and Senators and ask them to sign the Dear Colleague letter and to support increased funding for Fossil Energy in DOE. The deadline for signing Rep. Hall's letter is May 9, 2005 and the deadline for signing Senator Thomas' letter is May 10, 2005, so the most efficient way to reach your representative is by phone, fax or email. Copies of the letters are copied below and are addressed to the co-chairs of the House and Senate Appropriations Subcommittees.

Instructions for contacting your Representative are given below. You can use the same instructions for contacting your Senators, but refer to Senator Thomas' letter, not Rep. Hall's.

To determine who your Representative is, go to www.house.gov and enter your zip code. The link will also provide the contact information for your Representative, so you can call, fax or email them.

1. Call your Representative's Washington, DC office.

You may obtain the phone number from their official website (via www.house.gov) or you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to Representative [name] office. NOTE: You must know the name of your Representative prior to calling the switchboard; they will not be able to tell you who your member of Congress is.

Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for DOE. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Representative [name] sign Rep. Hall's Fossil Energy DOE Dear Colleague letter. Be prepared to mention how important DOE funding is to your research, academic department/institution, industry and/or your community. Legislative staff are busy, so you may be asked if you would like to leave a voice mail -you do. Simply convey the same information you would have if you spoke to the staffer in person, but be sure to leave your contact information.

2. E-Mail or Fax your Representative

Your Representative's e-mail addresses and fax numbers are available on their website at www.house.gov.

Tips for an effective e-mail or fax message:

-Be sure that the subject line in your e-mail is clear: Please sign Rep. Hall's Fossil Energy DOE Dear Colleague, or Request Rep. [name] support increased funding for Fossil Energy in DOE.

-Be sure that you include your contact information at the top of the e-mail/letter; this must include your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. NOTE: many offices will discard correspondence that does not include contact information, or that comes from outside of their district.

-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you are writing to ask that your Representative sign Rep. Hall's Fossil Energy DOE Dear Colleague letter. Tell them that the letter requests that Congress provide the Oil and Gas Technology with $78 million in FY 2006 funding.

-Briefly explain why DOE funding for basic research is important to you and/or your institution/company.

You can also find more information on the NSF budget at the Government Affairs website (http://www.agiweb.org/gap/legis109/appropsfy2006_doe.html).

DEADLINE:
The deadline for signing the letter in the House is May 9 and the deadline for signing the letter in the Senate is May 10, so please contact your Representative as soon as possible.
Please fax or e-mail a copy of your letter to AGI at Government Affairs Program, 422King Street, Alexandria VA 22302-1502; fax 703-379-7563; email govt@agiweb.org.


Many thanks for taking the time to be an active citizen-scientist!

********************************************************************************************
Copy of Letter Being Circulated by Representative Hall

The Honorable David Hobson The Honorable Peter Visclosky
Chairman Ranking Minority Member
Subcommittee on Energy & Water Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy & Water Appropriations
U.S. House of Representatives U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515 Washington, DC 20515


Dear Chairman Hobson and Ranking Member Visclosky:

As the Subcommittee begins to formulate and mark-up its Energy and Water Appropriations bill in the next few weeks, we strongly urge the Subcommittee to fund the Department of Energy's oil and gas technologies programs at last year's funding level of $78 million. As you know, the Administration included in its Fiscal Year 2006 Budget Request for the DOE a proposal to eliminate those programs and provide $10 million to close out the oil technology program and $10 million to close out the natural gas technology program. Both of these technology programs develop vital research to enhance and sustain domestic oil and natural gas production. This research is particularly significant to the independent operating companies that produce most domestic oil and gas and to the universities that educate the petroleum engineers and petroleum geologists that are essential to meet the workforce needs of this industry.

The elimination of DOE funding for oil and gas research will severely impact the ability of our nation's universities to educate engineers to advance new technologies and supply the workforce needed to develop our domestic oil and gas resources. The DOE oil and natural gas technologies programs provide vital support to petroleum engineering departments across the country. According to an April 4, 2005 letter from petroleum engineering department heads from leading universities across the country, "Our ability to retain the best faculty who are needed to train Petroleum Engineers for the coming decades depends entirely on our being able to provide research funding to the faculty." If this funding source falls through, there will not be many viable petroleum engineering programs left in the U.S., and our leadership in the worldwide energy industry will decline.

Federally funded R&D is also essential for smaller companies to continue to acquire better production technologies. Funds for the oil and gas technologies programs are used to create new technologies that help American independent producers increase recovery from existing fields and pinpoint promising new oil and natural gas reserves with the utmost environmental protection. Information concerning these new technologies is made available to small producers in the field through organizations such as the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC), the Stripper Well Consortium (SWC), and university research centers such as the Center for Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering at the University of Texas. Since independent companies drill 90% of the nation's oil wells and produce 85% of its natural gas, these vital DOE programs help secure domestic oil and natural gas jobs, generate tax and royalty revenues to state and federal treasuries, and ultimately translate into less reliance on foreign energy sources.

America's energy independence rests on the effectiveness and viability of these DOE programs, and we believe that funding at last year's level will continue to move America forward. Thank you for your consideration of our request.


Copy of Letter Being Circulated in the Senate

The Honorable Pete V. Domenici The Honorable Harry M. Reid
Chairman Ranking Minority Member
Committee on Appropriations Committee on Appropriations
Subcommittee on Energy Subcommittee on Energy
and Water Appropriations and Water Appropriations
Washington DC 20510 Washington DC 20510

Dear Chairman Domenici and Senator Reid:

As you move forward within the next few weeks to formulate the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for FY06, we strongly urge you to fund the oil and gas technologies programs, housed within Fossil Energy, the U.S. Department of Energy. Specifically, we urge you to fund these important programs at last year's level of $78 million.

Full utilization of these oil and gas technologies programs at DOE is essential if, as a nation, we are to achieve national energy independence. In the past, these programs have provided a variety of functions, primarily focusing on domestic exploration and production research and development activities, resulting in sustaining and in most instances increasing domestic oil and gas production.

Research and development activities conducted by the Department of Energy laboratories, universities and the private sector have culminated in the development of E&P techniques resulting in increased production, with fewer wells, but in a more environmentally sensitive manner. 85% of the programs' focus is associated with activities of the independent producer. Smaller companies drill 90% of the nation's oil wells and produce 85% of its natural gas and 50% of U.S. oil. Typically, these companies do not have access to the in-house technology capabilities of the larger, integrated, multi-national oil companies. Federally funded R&D is essential if for smaller companies to continue to produce.

Federal research funds for the oil and gas technologies programs are used to create new technologies that help American independent producers increase recovery from existing fields and pinpoint promising, new oil and natural gas reserves with the utmost environmental protection. Information concerning these new technologies is made available to the producer in the field, through conduits such as the Petroleum Technology Transfer Council (PTTC), an organization that since the mid-1990's has made new techniques information available to the producer through regional workshops. The Stripper Well Consortium (SWC) conducts both workshops and R&D activities, making available the latest in technology applications for oil and gas drilling to the smallest of producers. Production of more domestic oil and natural gas means more jobs, more tax and royalty revenues to state and federal treasuries, ultimately translating into less reliance on foreign energy sources.

Similarly important is the role that DOE's funding plays in the training and development of qualified people for the oil and gas sector, the lack of which continues to grow at an alarming rate. The DOE oil and natural gas programs provide vital support to petroleum engineering departments across the country. According to a letter dated April 4, 2005 from the University of Texas's Department of Petroleum and Geosystems Engineering to the Subcommittee on Energy and Water Appropriations, "our ability to retain the best faculty who are needed to train Petroleum Engineers for the coming decades depends entirely on our being able to provide research funding to the faculty." The letter goes on to say, "Lacking this opportunity, there will not be many viable petroleum engineering programs left in the U.S."

We again thank you for your interest in this matter and urge your consideration of these most necessary and worthy of programs. America's energy independence rests on the effectiveness and viability of these programs, and we believe that funding at last year's level will continue to move America, certainly from an energy independence perspective, in the right direction


Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.

Posted May 5, 2005


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