Most Recent Action    President's Request    Appropriations Process 

Update on FY2001 Energy & Water Appropriations (10-30-00)

**For most recent update see the AGI website for the 107th Congress**

The Energy and Water Appropriations bill, H.R. 4733, provides federal funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Department of Energy (other than oil and gas programs), and several independent agencies.  President Clinton requested a total of $23.1 billion for these programs.  Congress, after agreeing to its budget resolution, set the discretionary allocations for this bill at $21.7 billion.  Programs of interest to the geosciences include Department of Energy (DOE) programs for renewable energy and activities within the Office of Science, such as the Basic Energy Science program that has a geoscience division, as well as some activities in the U.S. Army Crops of Engineers.  This bill also funds the Yucca Mountain site characterization activities at DOE.  The Energy & Water bill is a congressional favorite for legislative riders, especially in an election year.

Most Recent Action
President Clinton vetoed H.R. 4733 on October 7th over objectionable anti-environmental riders, primarily the provision regarding the revision of the Army Corps of Engineer's 1960 Missouri River Master Water Control Manual.  The House of Representatives easily overrode the veto in a 315-98 vote on October 11th.  The Senate was well short of the two-thirds majority needed to override the veto, so Senate leaders decided to remove the objectionable language and attach the revised Energy & Water bill to the FY 2001 VA/HUD and Independent Agencies Appropriations bill.  Funding levels for geoscience programs within the Energy & Water bill remained the same in the revised bill as in the original H.R. 4733 Conference Committee Report (H. Rept. 106-907).  On October 19th the House and the Senate passed the combined Energy & Water and VA/HUD bill in 386-24 and 85-8 votes, respectively.  President Clinton signed the joint Energy & Water and VA/HUD bill into law on October 27, 2000 (P.L. 106- ).

In the rush to complete its business before adjourning, Congress has been finding additional funds to be included in the FY 2001 appropriations.  The Energy & Water bill was stuck until the conferees added $1.8 billion to the bill's overall allocation -- the majority of it going to water work projects that often win votes during an election year.  Overall, the Energy & Water bill (H.R. 4733) was allotted $24.066 billion, an increase over the President's budget request by $0.92 billion.   Details of the conference report (H. Rept. 106-907) and press releases are available below.  The House passed the conference report on September 28th in a 301-118 vote.  On October 2nd, the President released a statement threatening to veto the Energy & Water conference bill.  According to the statement, the conference bill "fails to provide sufficient funding for priorities in the national interest -- including environmental restoration of the Florida Everglades and the California Bay-Delta, and our strategy to restore endangered salmon in the Pacific Northwest.  It also fails to fund efforts to research and develop non-polluting sources of energy through solar and renewable technologies that are vital to America's energy security."

  House Action    Senate Action    Conference Action 

House Action
The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development marked up the fiscal year 2001 Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill on June 12th.  According to the subcommittee press release, "The bill provides a total of $21.74 billion in new discretionary spending authority for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Civil, the Department of Interior including the Bureau of Reclamation, the Department of Energy, and several Independent Agencies.  This bill is $546 million above fiscal year 2000 and $951.8 million below the President's budget request."

Despite the tight budget restraints, the subcommittee was able to provide a total of $4.12 billion for the Corps of Engineers "by concentrating resources on those traditional missions such as flood control, shoreline protection, and navigation which yield the greatest economic benefits for the nation."  This amount is $59.9 million above the President's budget request and $2.9 million below last year's allocations.

Within the Department of Energy, the renewable energy programs received $350.5 million.  The Office of Science received $2.83 billion of the $3.2 billion requested.  According to the committee press release, "funding for basic energy sciences is $791 million, an increase of $7.9 million over last year, but $224.8 million less than the budget request. The decrease in basic energy sciences is due primarily to holding the Spallation Neutron Source to last year's funding level of $100 million, a reduction of $161.9 million from the budget request."

On June 20th, the full House Appropriations Committee passed H.R. 4733, the FY 2001 Energy and Water Appropriations Act, which includes the majority of funding for the Department of Energy (DOE).  The committee report (H. Rept. 106-693) gives details on funding levels for programs included in the bill.  According to the full committee press release, the numbers for the key geoscience programs remained the same as reported out of the subcommittee.  An amendment offered by Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick (D-MI) would "amend the Energy Policy and Conservation Act by authorizing appropriations for Fiscal Year 2001 and extending the authorization for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to September 30, 2001."

Within DOE's Office of Science is the Office of Basic Energy Science (BES), which requested a total of $1.0 billion for research in materials sciences, engineering, chemical sciences, geosciences and biosciences. The committee provided only $791.0 million.  The committee report explains that the committee was restricted in their allocations and authorized BES to "reallocate funding among all the operating accounts in basic energy science."  Because of the relatively small allowance for geoscience research in relation to the BES budget, the reprogramming of funds will have a greater effect on the division.

On June 27th, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 4733 in a 407-19 vote.  Several amendments passed during the relatively quick floor debate on the bill, including an amendment offered by Rep. Matt Salmon (R-AZ) that increases DOE's funding for renewable and solar energy technology by $40 million and decrease the Atomic Energy Defense Activities by the same amount.  Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) introduced two amendments, which passed, dealing with conducting studies on the recent gas-price hikes and their relationship to a national energy strategy.  Similar to amendments adopted in the full Appropriations Committee markup to restrict funds for implementing the Kyoto Protocol that has appeared in several other appropriation bills, the Energy & Water bill contains this caveat.  An amendment offered by Rep. Peter Vislosky (D-IN) clarifies the Kyoto language to specify that the limitations shall not apply to activities otherwise authorized by law.  Rep. Don Sherwood (R-PA) introduced an amendment that includes sections of legislative language from H.R. 2884 that would reauthorize the Strategic Petroleum Reserve through 2003 along with several other provisions from this bill.

Senate Action
The Senate Appropriations Committee passed H.R. 4733 in a 28-0 vote on July 18th, three days after the Subcommittee on Energy and Water passed the bill in a voice vote.  According to the committee press release, the entire bill would receive $22.470 billion, a $234 million decrease from the President's request.  A total of $8.986 billion would go to Department of Energy (DOE) non-defense activities, such as the Office of Science and a section of the Office of Environmental Management.  During the budget rollout in February 2000, Energy Secretary Bill Richardson highlighted the importance of science and the department laboratories at DOE.  The committee report (S. Rept. 106-395) responded to this view by stating that "the Committee views laboratory directed research and development (LDRD) as an integral and essential component of the Department's ability to respond to changing needs and requirements.  The LDRD program is necessary to maintain the preeminence of the national laboratories in the areas of science and engineering, and significantly strengthens the laboratories ability attract and retain the best scientific talent."  Despite the glowing support for DOE research, the Office of Science was denied many of the increases requested in the FY 2001 budget.

The Office of Science had requested $3.162 billion, and the committee allocated $2.870 billion, which is $292.5 million less than the budget request for this program.  Report language apologized for the lack of funding for "many worthwhile new initiatives," citing the tight budget restraints and the need to "balance congressional priorities with those of the administration."   Within the Office of Science, the Basic Energy Science program would receive $914.6 million, shy of the $1.0 billion requested but well above the House allocation of only $791.0 million.  The Nanotechnology initiative, of which the Geoscience and Engineering sector of BES is involved, received a cut of $16.0 million from the $36.1 million requested.  According to the report, the Geoscience and Engineering sector would be $1.0 million of the total $16.0 million.

Renewable Energy Resources would received $444.1 million, short of the $434.8 million requested.  According to the report, "The Committee is unable to draw conclusions regarding the full extent or affects of global climate change. However, in the face of uncertainty regarding global climate change and the human health effects of atmospheric pollution, prudence merits consideration be given to energy production technologies that reduce the emission of pollutants that accumulate in the atmosphere. . . . [T]he Committee recommends basic research that will provide significant improvements over existing technologies rather than on the deployment or incremental improvement of commercial or near commercial technologies."  The breakdown of funding for programs within the Renewable Energy Resources: $118.1 million for biomass, $28 million for geothermal energy research, $5.5 million for hydrogen programs, $112.1 million for solar energy, and $43.9 million for wind energy.  Also within DOE, the Office of Environmental Management, which is divided into defense and non-defense activities to manage and clean  up nuclear waste, was funded a total of $606.9 million for non-defense activities and $6.042 billion for defense programs.

The committee provided $139 million, an increase of $1.5 million more than the budget request, for the U.S. Corps of Engineers - Civil Works program to study and plan water resource projects.  Funding for on-going construction totaled $1.361 billion, $15.5 million more than the budget request, and not funding was provided for new construction to start during FY 2001.  The committee allocated $324 million for the works on the Mississippi River and tributaries, $15 million above the budget request.  And a total of $1.867 billion for operation and maintenance of current projects under Corps jurisdiction.

The Senate began floor consideration of the bill before the August recess but began actual debate on September 7th with the introduction of a series of amendments.  A key amendment that drew wide-spread coverage was introduced by Senator Tom Daschle (D-SD). It would have removed language regarding revision of the Missouri River Master Water Control Manual.  During committee consideration, Sen. Kit Bond (R-MO) introduced language that would withhold funds from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revise this1960 manual in response to the threat of increased spring flooding downstream.  After three hours of debate, the amendment failed in a 45-52 vote.  Despite a Presidential veto threat to a bill that includes this Missouri River provision, the Senate passed H.R. 4733 in a 93-1 vote merely to pave the way for the two chambers to meet in Conference Committee to work out differences between the two versions of the bill.

In response to the Congress's proposal to cut funds in the FY 2001 Energy and Water bill for the Department of Energy's non-defense Office of Science programs, several members of the House and Senate are urging their colleagues to sign onto a letter of support for DOE science.  Spearheaded by Sens. Frank Murkowski (R-AK) and Jeff Bingaman, Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, in the Senate and Rep. Judy Biggart (R-IL) in the House, the letter of support will be sent to congressional leadership.  More information on this action, including members that have already signed onto the letter and how you can contact your congressional delegation to ask for their support, is available at the American Geophysical Union's September 13 Science Legislative Alert and the American Physics Society's Update.

Conference Action
Senate Conference Committee members include Senators Pete Domenici (R-NM), Thad Cochran (R-MS), Slade Gorton (R-WA), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Robert Bennett (R-UT), Conrad Burns (R-MT), Larry Craig (R-ID), Ted Stevens (R-AK), Harry Reid (D-NV), Robert Byrd (D-WV), Ernest Hollings (D-SC), Patty Murray (D-WA), Herbert Kohl (D-WI), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), and Daniel Inouye (D-HI).  House Conference Committee members include: C.W. Young (R-FL), Ron Packard (R-CA), Harold Rogers (R-KY), Joseph Knollenberg (R-MI), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Sonny Callahan (R-AL), Tom Latham (R-IA), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Peter Visclosky (D-IN), Chet Edwards (D-TX), Ed Pastor (D-AZ), Michael Forbes (D-NY), and David Obey (D-WI).

After weeks of negotiating and internal squabbling, the Conference Committee filed its report on September 29th, just days before the start of the new fiscal year on October 1st.  In the final days of conference meetings, conferees added $1.8 billion to the previously House-approved $21.7 billion.  According to the Senate Appropriations Committee press release, the entire funding for H.R. 4733 equals $24.066 billion, a $0.92 billion increase over the President's request.  The conference report (H. Rept. 106-907) provides a total of $18.34 billion for the Department of Energy (DOE) programs, excluding its fossil fuel programs that are included in the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill. Funding for the Army Corps of Engineers came to $4.52 billion, an increase of $458.72 million over the budget request.  According to the House Appropriations Committee press release of the conference report, the funding for the Interior Department's Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) is below the president's request primarily because "the conference agreement did not provide funding for the CALFED Bay-Delta project in fiscal year 2001 since the project's authorization expires in 2000," leaving the grant total for USBR at $816.36 million.

Funding for DOE's Energy Supply programs, including renewable energy resources and nuclear energy, received a total of $660.6 million, a compromise between the House figure of $616.5 million and the Senate figure of $691.5 million.  Unlike many conference reports, the Energy and Water report does not include "prescriptive language specifying funding allocations" for pet-projects and targeted funds for specific universities and institutes.  Therefore, the Renewable Energy Resources section of the report, which included several of these targeted allocations in both the House and Senate reports, is relatively "clean."  Funding for the Biomass/biofuels totaled $112.9 million -- $26.74 million for research managed by DOE's Office of Science, $40.0 million for power systems, and $46.16 million for transportation programs.  Geothermal activities received $27.0 million, which includes $2.0 million to complete the Lake County Basin 2000 project in California.  Hydrogen resources was allotted $29.97 million, including targeted funding for such activities as the gasification of Iowa switch grass and a program to develop underground mining equipment fueled by hydrogen in Nevada.  Funding for hydropower activities totaled $5.0 million.  Solar Energy received $110.6 million -- $13.8 million for concentrating solar power, $78.6 million for photovoltaic solar power, and $3.95 million for solar building technology research.  Activities regarding wind energy received $40.3 million.  Electric energy systems and storage received $52.0 million.  Renewable support and implementation received $21.6 million.  Nuclear energy programs received a total of $259.9 million, including $47.5 million for research and development and $53.4 million for uranium programs.

The Office of Science received a boost in its funding to total $3.186 billion, compared to the $2.831 billion in the House and the proposed $2.870 billion in the Senate.  By the numbers : high energy physics received $726.1 million, nuclear physics received $369.9 million, biological and environmental research received $500.3 million, the spallation neutron source received $278.6 million, advanced scientific computing research totaled $170.0 million, energy research analyses was allotted $1.0 million, fusion energy science received $255.0 million, safeguard and security activities totaled $49.8 million, and funding for the program direction received $139.2 million.  Basic Energy Science (BES) received $1.01 billion, including $8.0 million got the Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR).  The engineering and geoscience subdivision within BES received $40.8 million, an increase over the budget request of $40.3 million.  Also within BES, materials sciences received $456.1 million, chemical sciences received $223.2 million, and energy biosciences received $33.7 million.

Nuclear Waste Disposal programs received $191.1 million, which when added to the $200.0 million allocated for defense nuclear waste disposal totals $391.1 million for all nuclear waste disposal programs.  The report stresses Congress's expectation that DOE release its site recommendation report on Yucca Mountain by July 2001.  "In addition, the conferees recommend that $10,000,000 of funds previously appropriated for interim waste storage activities in Public Law 104-46 may be made available upon written certification by the Secretary of Energy to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations that the site recommendation report cannot be completed on time without additional funding."  Nevada will receive $2.5 million as reimbursement from DOE for expenditures.  Also, local governments around the site will receive $6 million for oversight activities.  A large section of the conference report dealt with defining the scope and role of the newly formed National Nuclear Security Administration, which was formed in part as a response to the security problems and DOE laboratories.

On September 28th, the House of Representatives passed the conference report in a 301-118 vote.  Before the bill can be passed on to the White House for ratification (there is a good chance the President Clinton will not sign the bill in the current version), the Senate must pass the report.

Sources:, House Appropriations Committee website, EENews, Senate Appropriations Committee website, Department of Energy website, White House website, the Washington Post, and the Library of Congress.

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

Contributed by Margaret Baker, AGI Government Affairs

Posted July 7, 2000; Last Updated October 30, 2000

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