SPECIAL UPDATE: The President's FY06 Budget Request

(Posted 3-14-05)

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

The President's proposed budget for fiscal year 2006 (FY2006) was unveiled on February 7, 2005. Highlights of the spending proposals that are particularly relevant to the geoscience community are summarized in the budget summaries provided for each major department. The House and Senate have reduced the number of appropriations committees and shuffled the programs within these committees. The AGI web pages have been re-organized to accommodate these changes.

In the House, the number of committees was reduced from 13 to 10, eliminating the District of Columbia; Legislative; and Veterans, Housing and Independent Agencies (VA-HUD) committees. The new Science, State, Justice and Commerce committee chaired by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) will gain NASA, the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The updated Energy and Water committee chaired by Rep. David Hobson (R-OH) will add all Department of Energy programs from the Interior subcommittee. Consideration of the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) budget will now be the domain of the Interior and Environment subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Charles Taylor (R-NC).

In the Senate, the number of committees was reduced from 13 to 12, eliminating the VA-HUD committee. The Commerce, Justice, and Science committee chaired by Senator Richard Shelby (R-AL) will gain NASA, NSF, and OSTP and lose Judiciary and State. The Energy and Water committee chaired by Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) will gain all energy related accounts from Interior while the Interior and Related Agencies committee chaired by Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT) will gain the EPA and related accounts.

The Department of the Interior (DOI) received a proposed total budget of $10.8 billion. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) would receive $933.5 million, a decrease of $1.9 million from last year. Within USGS, the proposal would fully fund all fixed costs, provide increases for hazards, mapping and seismic monitoring programs and decreases for mineral and water programs. The Mineral Resources Program would receive a 53% cut, leaving the program with only $25 million in FY06. Please see the special action alert about the importance of this program and what effects the proposed halving would have on the program.

The President proposes a $23.4 billion Fiscal Year (FY) 2006 budget for the Department of Energy (DOE). The proposed budget would eliminate funds for oil and gas research and hydropower research while boosting funds for nuclear power and hydrogen fuel cell research. Nuclear cleanup programs and funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository would also be trimmed.

The NSF is requesting $5.605 billion, a 2.4 % increase over FY 2005 funding. Part of this increase will be for the transfer of $48 million from the Coast Guard to NSF to operate and maintain three polar icebreakers used in Antarctic and Arctic research. Research and Related Agencies will receive small increases while Education and Human Resources would be cut. Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction would see a 44% increase from $173.7 million to $250.0 million. The Geosciences Directorate would increase by 2.2% from $694.2 million to $709.1 million, with some of this increase to support EarthScope.

Within the Department of Commerce, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be reduced by 8.5% to $3.6 billion with increases for satellite services and decreases for marine fisheries, ocean and atmospheric programs. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) was authorized to be the lead agency for the National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP), however, no funds were proposed for FY 2006 to support NEHRP within NIST.

The National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA) received a proposed increase of 2.4% for a total of $16.5 billion for FY06. Among Earth science programs, the Earth Systematic Missions program is slated for a $118 million (40%) cut, stalling the Glory Mission, which was planned to address climate change. Earth System Science Pathfinder Projects would increase by $27 million (25%), resulting in a total $92 million reduction within the Earth-Sun System division.

The total budget request for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in FY 2006 is $7.6 billion, a 5.6% decrease from last year. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) budget would also be reduced by 3.4% to $129.3 billion with decreases in the Research, Education, and Economics division (12.9%) and Natural Resources and Environment (15%).

Please see the following summaries by departments or agencies for more details about the proposed budget:

Department of Agriculture

Department of Commerce (NIST, NOAA)

Department of Education (Math and Science Partnerships)

Department of Energy

Department of the Interior

Environmental Protection Agency


National Science Foundation

Special update prepared by Linda Rowan, Director of Government Affairs and Emily Lehr Wallace, AGI Government Affairs Program

Sources: White House Office of Management and Budget; National Science Foundation; Department of Commerce; NOAA; NIST; EPA; Greenwire; Energy and Environment Daily; Department of Energy; Department of the Interior; U.S. House of Representatives; United States Senate

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

Posted March 14, 2005