American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

U.S. Geological Survey and Dept. of Energy -- House Testimony (FY 1995)

			Statement by the


			    to the

	Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies

		Committee on Appropriations

		U.S. House of Representatives

		   FY 1995 Appropriations:

		   U.S. Geological Survey

	   Fossil Energy R&D, Department of Energy

			March 1994

		Prepared by Craig M. Schiffries

Geoscience and Society

The disastrous earthquake that struck Los Angeles on January 17,
1994 and the devastating floods that inundated the Midwest in
1993 provide powerful reminders of the vital role the geosciences
play in an ever growing range of national goals.  Recent
earthquakes and floods have resulted in more than $10 billion in
emergency supplemental appropriations and even larger private
losses.  The societal benefits of geoscience R&D on earthquakes
and other geologic hazards extend to such areas as housing,
transportation, commerce, agriculture, and human health and

Geoscience R&D is a key component of the Domestic Natural Gas and
Oil Initiative that was released by the Clinton Administration on
December 9, 1993.  The plan states that natural gas and oil will
remain critical components of energy supply in every nation for
the foreseeable future, and it notes that oil imports account for
more than 60 percent of the U.S. trade deficit.  While research
on renewable resources and energy efficiency is critical to
America's future, continued research on fossil energy is no less
important.  The societal benefits of oil and gas R&D extend to
such areas as economic and national security, job creation,
capital investment, and reducing the U.S. trade deficit.  

Geoscience research and information enhance society's ability to
make wise policy decisions on resource development, environmental
protection, natural hazards reduction, waste disposal, and
land-use planning.  Federal investments in geoscience research
and development continue to pay enormous dividends.  In addition
to recognizing the return on federal investments in earth
sciences R&D, the Clinton administration has reaffirmed its
commitment to fundamental science, the foundation upon which all
technical progress is built.  When it comes to appropriations for
geoscience research and development, nothing less than the
survival of our way of life and our planet are at stake.  

The American Geological Institute is a nonprofit federation of 24
geoscientific and professional associations that represent more
than 80,000 geologists, geophysicists, and other earth
scientists.  In addition, 115 colleges and universities are AGI
Academic Associates, and 30 private companies are AGI Corporate
Members.  Founded in 1948, AGI provides information services to
geoscientists, serves as a voice for shared interests in our
profession, plays a major role in strengthening geoscience
education, and strives to increase public awareness of the vital
role the geosciences play in mankind's use of resources and
interaction with the environment. 

U.S. Geological Survey

A Transition Team within the USGS recently presented a vision for
the 21st century and formulated policy options for the future. 
According to the Transition Team's report, "The mission is
evolving rapidly to include a greater emphasis on integrated
analyses of the Earth's environment, hazards, and resources to
assure sustained global health, welfare, and prosperity."  The
USGS needs the resources and flexibility to address an evolving
mission and adapt to changing national priorities.  

The FY 1995 budget request for the USGS is $583.7 million, an
increase of 1.0 percent relative to the FY 1994 current plan. 
Based on the Office of Management and Budget's estimated deflator
for FY 1995, the USGS budget would decline by about 1.8 percent
in constant dollars.  The USGS budget would fail to keep pace
with inflation at a time when the nation has recognized its
increasing vulnerability to geologic hazards, global
environmental change, water pollution, improper waste disposal,
and reliance on unstable sources of foreign oil and minerals. 
AGI urges Congress to support a resumption of real growth for the
entire USGS, and to begin redressing the long-term negative
growth of the Geologic Division.  After adjusting for inflation,
the Geologic Division's budget would decline by 4.7 percent
relative to FY 1994 and by 9.4 percent relative to FY 1993.  

Funding for many USGS programs that are directly relevant to
national priorities would fail to keep pace with inflation.  For
example, funding for geologic hazards surveys would decline in
constant dollars despite the devastating earthquake that stuck
the Los Angeles area on January 17, 1994.  Likewise, the budget
for marine and coastal geologic surveys would be level-funded
despite the coastal damage inflicted by recent hurricanes and
winter storms.  Moreover, the budget for energy resource surveys
would also fail to keep pace with inflation despite its relevance
to the Administration's Domestic Natural Gas and Oil Initiative. 

National Geologic Mapping Act.  Geologic maps are essential for
making informed, cost- effective decisions about environmental
protection and remediation, waste disposal, resource assessment
and development, land-use planning, geologic hazards reduction,
and rebuilding the nation's infrastructure.  Detailed geologic
maps have been produced for less than 20 percent of the United
States, and the rate of new geologic mapping is inadequate to
meet growing public needs.  The National Geological Mapping Act
of 1992 was enacted to increase the production of detailed
geologic maps.  Although the National Geologic Mapping Act
authorizes appropriations of $48.5 million in FY 1995, including
$21.0 million in matching grants to states, the FY 1995 budget
request would decrease funding by 4.4 percent to $22.0 million,
less than half the authorized level.  AGI urges Congress to
appropriate new, incremental funds for the National Geologic
Mapping Act.  

Geologic Hazards.  The reduction of geologic hazards provides a
clear example of linking science and technology to societal
goals.  If recent history is a reliable guide, then funds spent
on geologic hazards reduction programs will be repaid many times
over by reduced losses, reduced loss of tax revenues, and reduced
expenditure for federal emergency and disaster relief funds. 
USGS funding for geologic hazards surveys would fail to keep pace
with inflation despite the devastating earthquakes that stuck Los
Angeles on January 17, 1994, and San Francisco on October 17,
1989.  The magnitude 7.1 San Francisco earthquake caused only 62
fatalities, whereas a magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Armenia caused
25,000 deaths.  The relatively low death tolls in the recent
California earthquakes are at least partially attributable to
geoscientific and engineering R&D that was supported by the
National Earthquake Hazards Reduction Program.  Although large
earthquakes and volcanic eruptions are rare phenomena, it is in
the national interest to fund geologic hazards reduction programs
on a sustained basis.  Strong and stable funding is needed for
the USGS's geologic hazards program.  

Global Change Research.  The U.S. Geological Survey plays a
critical role in the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  For
example, USGS paleoclimate studies are establishing the rates,
frequencies, and magnitudes of natural climate variability as
well as the effects of past climate changes on ecosystems. 
Eleven federal agencies participate in the program, and only the
Department of the Interior would decrease its budget in FY 1995. 
Funding for the Geologic Division's global change and climate
history subactivity would decline by 9.8 percent, and funding for
the Water Resources global change hydrology program would decline
by 7.9 percent.  Those declines stand in sharp contrast to the 24
percent increase in the total budget for the U.S. Global Change
Research program in FY 1995.  A failure to provide adequate
funding for baseline studies being conducted by the USGS could
undermine the effectiveness of the entire program, which has a
total budget of $1.8 billion.  

National Water Quality Assessment.  The National Water Quality
Assessment (NAWQA) program is another clear example of earth
science in the public service.  The FY 1995 budget request for
the NAWQA program would increase by 11.5 percent relative to the
FY 1994 current plan.  The NAWQA program describes the status and
trends in the quality of a large, representative part of the
nation's surface water and ground water resources.   The data
provide an understanding of the primary natural and human factors
affecting the quality of those resources.  The program provides
information that supports development and evaluation of
management, regulatory, and monitoring decisions by federal,
state, and local agencies.  In contrast to the federal NAWQA
program, the budget request for the USGS Federal-State
Cooperative program in water resources research would decrease by
1.7 percent relative to the FY 1994 current plan.  

DOE Fossil Energy Research and Development

The budget request for the Department of Energy's fossil energy
R&D programs reflects priorities articulated in the
Administration's Domestic Natural Gas and Oil Initiative. The FY
1995 budget request for fossil energy R&D is $469.4 million, an
increase of $38.7 million or 9.0 percent relative to FY 1994
appropriations.  Substantial increases in funding for natural gas
(59.7 percent) and petroleum R&D (42.1 percent) would be
partially offset by decreases in coal R&D (23.5 percent) and
other programs (12.1 percent).  

Premature abandonment of productive domestic oil fields is one of
America's most serious energy problems.  The development and
application of advanced technologies could add an estimated 10 to
30 billion barrels of crude oil to current domestic reserves. 
This incremental domestic supply would be from existing fields,
rather than from new fields opened in environmentally sensitive
regions.  Two-thirds of the oil found in the United States will
remain unrecovered if only conventional production methods are

Reservoir Class Demonstration Program.  The near-term strategies
of DOE's petroleum program focus on identifying and maintaining
economic access to geologic classes of U.S. reservoirs that are
in danger of being prematurely abandoned despite containing large
amounts of potentially recoverable crude oil.  Given the
increasing concern about the rate of oil field abandonments in
the U.S., we support DOE's decision to accelerate this program. 
The program has already attracted more than $100 million in
matching funds from the private sector.  Rather than continuing
to concentrate on one class of endangered reservoirs each year,
as has been done in the past, AGI supports DOE's recommendation
to Congress that two classes be targeted in FY 1995.  

Gas Research Program.  Increased utilization of natural gas is a
central theme of the Domestic Natural Gas and Oil Initiative.  If
we are to be successful in a transition to greater use of natural
gas, we must conduct geoscience and engineering research to
characterize our known gas resources in order to encourage
increased exploration and development of the massive undiscovered
gas resource base.  AGI supports balanced support for development
of technologies and advances in geoscientific understanding to
improve recovery from both unconventional and conventional gas
resources.  AGI also supports continuation of joint efforts to
compile gas atlases that will provide greater certainty as to the
location, characteristics, and volumes of U.S. gas resources and

Geoscience Data Repository System.  Domestic geological and
geophysical data are critical to the energy security and economic
prosperity of the United States.  A consequence of the ongoing
downsizing of the U.S. oil and gas industry is that billions of
dollars worth of domestic geological and geophysical data are in
jeopardy of being irrevocably lost or destroyed.  The data truly
represent a national treasure, and many professional societies,
industry organizations, and research universities are deeply
concerned about the accelerating loss of information.  The
geoscience community is working with DOE to assess the
feasibility of establishing a national geoscience data repository
system for the use of industry, government, and the scientific
research community.  According to many independent oil producers,
a national geoscience data repository system would enable them to
expand their search for and development of domestic oil and gas
resources.  We strongly encourage Congress to closely review this
critical national need and to work with the Department of Energy
to ensure that valuable geoscience information is not lost

Technology Transfer.  Traditionally, major oil companies operated
research laboratories that developed more efficient methods of
petroleum exploration and production.  Advances in petroleum
technology, first utilized by major companies, ultimately were
transferred to small companies and independent producers.  The
historic symbiotic relationship between major oil companies and
independent producers has largely disappeared, and independent
producers do not have access to existing and emerging advanced
exploration, reservoir management, and production technologies. 
AGI supports DOE's efforts to accelerate the dissemination of
these technologies so that more domestic petroleum may be
produced, and fewer producing fields are abandoned.  The Natural
Gas and Oil Technology Transfer Network and Assistance Program,
which was initially funded in FY 1994, will help stimulate the
discovery and production of domestic oil and gas and reduce U.S.
vulnerability to price shocks and interruptions in supply.  

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

Last updated December 1, 1995

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