SPECIAL UPDATE: Geoscience-Related Investments in the Stimulus Package

(Posted 2-17-09)

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


Geoscience-Related Investments in the Stimulus Package

Congress passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Bill of 2009 (H.R. 1) on the evening of February 13, just before they recessed for the President’s Day Holiday. The measure contains $787 billion in supplemental appropriations, tax credits, tax cuts and other items to be implemented over about a one to two year time frame. The House Democrats led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and with the support of the new Administration, listed five primary objectives of the stimulus: 1. Create and save 3.5 million jobs; 2. Give 95 percent of American workers a tax cut; 3. Invest in infrastructure; 4. Restore science and innovation as the keys to solving societal issues and 5. Invest quickly into the economy. No House Republicans voted for the measure and only three Senate Republicans supported it. Republicans called the bill full of wasteful spending that was not focused on creating jobs, dealing with the housing crisis or stimulating the economy.

President Obama plans to sign the massive bill into law on February 17. In his weekly radio address on Saturday, February 14, Obama said the measure was a "major milestone on our road to recovery" and “would lay a new foundation for our lasting economic growth and prosperity".

There is significant funding for science and technology in the stimulus. Below is a summary of some of the supplemental appropriations that may be of specific interest to those working in the geosciences. The table lists the total amount of the one time appropriation that should remain available until September 30, 2010 in most cases and the following paragraphs provide more details for some agencies or programs.

National Science Foundation (NSF): $3 billion
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA): $1 billion
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA): $836 million
National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST): $580 million
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE): $4.6 billion
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): $7.22 billion
Smithsonian: $25 million

Department of the Interior
*U.S. Geological Survey (USGS): $140 million
*Bureau of Land Management (BLM): $320 million
*Bureau of Reclamation (BR): $1 billion

Department of Agriculture
*Agricultural Research Services: $176 million
*Natural Resources Conservation Service: $290 million
*Watershed Rehabilitation Program: $50 million

Department of Energy (DOE)
*Office of Science:  $1.6 billion
*ARPA-E: $400 million
*Office of Fossil Energy: $3.4 billion
*Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: $16.8 billion
*Non-defense Environmental Clean-up: $483 million
*Uranium Enrichment Decontamination and Decommissioning: $390 million

Department of Education
*Education for the Disadvantaged: $13 billion
*School Improvement Programs: $720 million
*Special Education: $12.2 billion
*Teacher Incentive Fund: $200 million
*Student Financial Assistance: $15.84 billion
*Higher Education: $100 million

NSF – NSF will receive $2.5 billion for Research and Related Activities, $400 million for Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction and $100 million for Education and Human Resources. Within the research funds, $300 million are solely for major instrumentation and $200 million is for academic facilities modernization. Within the education funding, $60 million is for the Noyce Scholarships, $25 million is for the Math and Science Partnerships and $15 million is for Professional Science Master’s Program. NSF Director Arden Bement has indicated the research funds would go to grant proposals that have already been reviewed, received a highly qualified rating and are ready to go.

NASA – NASA will receive $400 million for Science, $150 million for Aeronautics, $400 million for Exploration and $50 million for Cross Agency Support. Much of the investment in science is expected to go toward Earth observations related to improving our understanding of climate change.

NOAA – NOAA will receive $230 million for operations, research and facilities, $600 million for procurement, acquisition and construction. The conference report states that $600 million is for “construction and repair of NOAA facilities, ships and equipment, to improve weather forecasting and to support satellite development. Of the amounts provided, $170,000,000 shall address critical gaps in climate modeling and establish climate data records for continuing research into the cause, effects and ways to mitigate climate change.”

NIST - NIST will receive $220 million for scientific and technical research and services and $360 million for construction of research facilities. The National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program (NEHRP) is directed by NIST and also has funding for earthquake engineering research and facilities. It is unknown at this time whether NEHRP will receive any of the supplemental appropriation.

USACE –The USACE will receive $25 million for investigations/surveys and $2 billion for construction: both are related to rivers and harbors, flood and storm damages, shore protection, aquatic ecosystem restoration and related needs;  $375 million for expenses necessary for flood damage protection and related efforts for the Mississippi River and Tributaries; $2.075 billion for operation and maintenance related to rivers and harbors, flood and storm damages, shore protection, aquatic ecosystem restoration and related needs; $25 million for the Regulatory Program related to navigable waters and wetlands; and $100 million for clean-up of sites contaminated in relation to the early atomic energy program.

EPA – EPA will receive $600 million for the Hazardous Substance Superfund, $200 million for the Leaking Underground Storage Tank Trust Fund Program, $4 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, $2 billion for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, $100 million for Brownfields and $300 million for the Diesel Emission Reduction Act grants.

USGS –The USGS will receive $140 million. The Conference Report indicates that “The Survey should consider a wide variety of activities, including repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred-maintenance and improvement projects which can maximize jobs and provide lasting improvement to our Nation's science capacity.”

BLM – The BLM will receive $125 million for management of lands and resources, $180 million for construction and $15 million for wildland fire management. The Conference Report indicates the $125 million should go toward “While maximizing jobs, the Bureau should consider projects on all Bureau managed lands including deferred maintenance, abandoned mine and well site remediation, road and trail maintenance, watershed improvement, and high priority habitat restoration.”

BR – The BR will receive $1 billion for management, development and restoration of water and related natural resources.

DOE- Office of Science – The Office of Science shall receive $1.6 billion for programs.

DOE-ARPA-E - $400 million for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), which will fund transformative and often high risk energy research projects. This will be an independent agency.

DOE- Office of Fossil Energy – Fossil Energy will receive $1 billion for fossil energy research and development; $800 million for the Clean Coal Initiative Round III funding; and $1.52 billion for competitive projects that demonstrate carbon capture and energy efficiency improvements.

DOE- Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy – Of the $16.8 billion for the office, $2.5 billion shall be for applied research and development related to biomass, $400 million shall be for geothermal research and development, $3.2 billion shall be for Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants, $2 billion shall be for grants for the manufacturing of advanced batteries and components and the rest for weatherization, vehicle fuel efficiency and other efficiencies.

Special update prepared by Linda Rowan, Government Affairs Staff.

Sources: Thomas and House Rules Committee

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

Posted February 17, 2009