American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

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

                     Statement by the


                          to the

       Subcommittee on Interior and Related Agencies

                Committee on Appropriations

                   United States Senate

                  FY 1995 Appropriations:

                  U.S. Geological Survey

          Fossil Energy R&D, Department of Energy

                        April 1994

              Prepared by Craig M. Schiffries

Geoscience and Society

The American Geological Institute appreciates this opportunity to
present testimony in support of fiscal year 1995 appropriations
for the U.S. Geological Survey and the Department of Energy's
Fossil Energy Research and Development Program.  AGI is a
nonprofit federation of 25 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. 

The disastrous earthquake that struck Los Angeles on Jan. 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

The magnitude 6.7 Northridge earthquake caused 51 deaths, whereas
an earthquake with a similar magnitude last year in Iran resulted
in 55,000 deaths.  Likewise, the magnitude 7.1 earthquake that
stuck San Francisco on Oct. 17, 1989 caused 62 fatalities, but a
magnitude 7.0 earthquake in Armenia caused 25,000 deaths.  The
relatively low death tolls in recent California quakes are at
least partly attributable to geoscientific and engineering
research supported by the U.S. Geological Survey and other
agencies that participate in the National Earthquake Hazards
Reduction Program.  If recent history is a reliable guide, then
federal investments in R&D on geologic hazards will be repaid
many times over by reduced losses, reduced loss of tax revenues,
and reduced expenditure for federal emergency and disaster relief

Geoscience R&D is a key component of the Domestic Natural Gas and
Oil Initiative that was announced by the Clinton Administration
on Dec. 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 fossil energy R&D extend to
such areas as economic and national security, job creation,
capital investment, and reducing the 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 R&D
continue to pay enormous dividends.  In addition to recognizing
the return on federal investments in earth sciences R&D, it is
important to emphasize the need to maintain the health of the
basic science on which applications and policy decisions must be
ultimately based.  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.  

U.S. Geological Survey

A Transition Team within the USGS 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.  It 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 recent flurry of earthquakes in
California.  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 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.  Although geologic hazards are unevenly distributed by
geologic region and in time, it is in the national interest to
provide strong and stable funding for USGS geologic hazards
reduction programs.

Global Change Research.  The U.S. Geological Survey plays a
critical role in the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  Eleven
federal agencies participate in the program, and only the
Department of the Interior is proposing a decrease in its budget
in FY 1995.  Funding for the USGS Geologic Division's global
change and climate history subactivity would decline by 9.8
percent, and funding for the USGS 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 is 11.5 percent above the FY 1994 current plan. 
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
R&D (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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