The Senate Appropriations Committee has sent its FY 2004 Interior Appropriations Bill to the floor. Under this bill, S. 1391, the U.S. Geological Survey's budget would increase 1.1% to $928.9 million. As reported in FYI #91, the House version of this bill would provide $935.7 million, an increase of 1.8%. Expect the final budget increase to be between these two figures.
There is considerable language in Senate Report 108-89 detailing funding for specific projects. The committee's report language for each of the six accounts follows, annotated with the comparable overall House figure.
NATIONAL MAPPING PROGRAM: "The Committee recommends $128,889,000 for the national mapping program, a decrease of $4,317,000 below the current year enacted level. [House Appropriations: $130.2 million]
"The Committee does not agree to the proposed budget decreases of $4,444,000 for data collection or $2,770,000 for geographic analysis and has included these sums in its recommendation. Further, the Committee notes that the proposed IT reduction for the mapping program is $6,640,000, an amount that exceeds the IT savings proposed for much larger agencies and bureaus, such as the Forest Service or the National Park Service, which have budgets of approximately $4,000,000,000 and $2,000,000,000 respectively. The Committee has not been given information that would substantiate such a large reduction and, therefore, has restored all but $1,050,000 to the program. Other changes to the enacted level include an increase of $1,133,000 to partially fund uncontrollable costs, and decreases of $3,000,000 for the AmericaView program and $1,400,000 for closure of the Center for Integration and Natural Disaster Information [CINDI] program. Functions performed within the CINDI program have been transferred to other areas within USGS. Included in base funding is an amount of $1,000,000 to continue the Alaska digital data mapping program, which was initiated in fiscal year 2003."
GEOLOGICAL HAZARDS, RESOURCES, AND PROCESSES: "The Committee recommends $236,872,000 for the geological hazards, resources and processes program, an increase of $3,705,000 above the current year enacted level. [House Appropriations: $231.4 million]
"The Committee does not agree with the proposed budget reduction of $11,172,000 to the Minerals Resources base program and has restored these funds in full. Similarly, the Committee has not accepted the proposed decrease of $1,900,000 to the Advanced National Seismic System program. These funds are maintained in the base and an increase of $500,000 is provided to expand the earthquake program's capabilities. Other increases to the enacted level include $2,141,000 to partially fund fixed costs; $300,000 for INSAR data acquisition; $200,000 for Mauna Loa volcano monitoring; $500,000 for a Clark County, Nevada mineral inventory; $300,000 for a Kansas well log inventory; an additional $1,000,000 for Shemya volcano monitoring equipment, which brings the total program amount to $2,000,000; an additional $500,000 for the National Cooperative Geologic Mapping program; and $1,225,000 for a coalbed methane study of the Tongue River watershed. Other projects that are continued within base funds include $500,000 for the North Carolina erosion study; $1,500,000 to complete funding for the Alaska Minerals at Risk program; $1,250,000 for South Carolina/Georgia Coastal erosion and coastal monitoring studies, of which $250,000 is intended for the South Carolina coastal erosion monitoring program; $250,000 to continue the cooperative program with the University of Hawaii-Hilo; and $500,000 for land subsidence studies in Louisiana. Decreases to the enacted level include $500,000 for the global dust program; $500,000 for the Central Great Lakes Geologic Mapping Coalition; $499,000 for the LIDAR consortium; $950,000 for IT savings; and $2,000,000 for the Tampa Bay pilot project."
WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS: "The Committee recommends $209,547,000 for the water resources investigations, an amount of $2,396,000 above the current year enacted level. [House Appropriation: $215.2 million]
"Increases include $2,190,000 to partially meet mandatory pay and benefits; $500,000 for a United States-Mexico border environmental health initiative; $500,000 for a Rathdrum Prairie aquifer study, an amount that will be matched in part by Washington and Idaho; $2,000,000 for collaborative studies with the University of Oklahoma, of which $1,000,000 is for the evaluation of current and potential groundwater contamination of the Roubidoux Aquifer from abandoned mine waste and $1,000,000 is for subsurface geologic research to identify areas at high risk of subsidence; $50,000 for a study on the efficiency of mercury methylation in South Carolina rivers; $414,000 for the NAWQA program; and $37,000 to restore the fiscal year 2003 across-the-board reduction to the Water Resources Research Institutes [WRRI] program for a total of $6,000,000. The budget request assumed the elimination of the WRRI program. Projects that are continued within base funds include $450,000 for groundwater monitoring work in Hawaii, an additional amount of $299,000 for investigations of mercury in Lake Champlain to bring that program total to $485,000; $500,000 for the Potomac River basin groundwater study; and $200,000 for a study of extremophilic life at Berkeley Pit Lake. Within appropriated funds, an amount of up to $1,000,000 may be expended for the Survey's participation in the work of the Long-Term Estuary Assessment program. Decreases include IT savings of $1,580,000, a $300,000 technical adjustment to transfer large vessel maintenance funds to the facilities activity, $1,000,000 to initiate a Lake Ponchartrain study, $195,000 for a hydrologic study of Noyes Slough and $220,000 for a cladophora blooms study."
BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH: "The Committee recommends $169,580,000 for biological research, an amount of $235,000 below the enacted level. [House Appropriation: $173.4 million]
"Changes include increases of $1,544,000 for fixed costs; $2,000,000 for invasive species work; $500,000 for the addition of a Mid-Atlantic NBII node; an additional $100,000 for Diamondback Terrapin research for a total of $200,000; and an additional $400,000 for molecular biology research at the Leetown facility for a total of $800,000. Of the $2,000,000 provided for invasive species research, $1,000,000 is intended for the GeoResources Institute at Mississippi State University. The Committee encourages the Institute to work collaboratively with the Survey, to the extent possible, on issues of shared interest. Decreases include $650,000 for IT savings; a $600,000 technical adjustment to transfer vessel maintenance funds to the facilities activity; $500,000 for a Wellsboro genetics study; $300,000 for inventory and monitoring on the Cherokee National Forest; $50,000 for a Tunison salmon study; $499,000 for ballast water research; $180,000 for Yukon River Chum Salmon research; and $2,000,000 for fire science research. The Committee is supportive of the USGS contribution to the Department's overall fire science program but suggests that funding for its work should be derived from the larger program. Projects that are continued within base funds include $750,000 for a mining study on the Mark Twain National Forest in cooperation with the Water Resources activity; $500,000 for a Pallid Sturgeon study, $1,000,000 for the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem genetic survey; $300,000 for multidisciplinary water studies at the Leetown Science Center; $400,000 to continue support for the newly established co-op unit at the University of Nebraska; and $500,000 for a decision support system for Lake Tahoe.
"Last year, the Committee requested a report from the Survey that would provide information regarding current and future goals of the NBII program, as well as a prioritized list for its expansion. The Committee understands that this report is now in draft form. In the meantime, the Committee is continuing to receive numerous inquiries regarding the establishment of additional nodes or expansion of existing ones. Proposals such as the one to expand the Northeast Information Node appear to have strong merit and enjoy considerable strong support. As the Committee will be required to make decisions in the next few months that will impact the growth of the NBII program, it is imperative that the Survey complete and submit its report as quickly as possible in order to provide the Committee with what it hopes will be a useful tool in making those decisions."
SCIENCE SUPPORT: "The Committee recommends $91,422,000 for science support activities, an amount of $6,245,000 above the current year enacted level. [House Appropriation: $91.3 million]
"Changes include increases of $1,605,000 for uncontrollable cost adjustments; $1,000,000 for critical IT security needs; and $3,990,000 for the conversion of existing wideband radios to digital narrowband land mobile radios as mandated by Federal law. A decrease of $350,000 in IT savings has been assumed in agreement with the budget request.
FACILITIES: "The Committee recommends $92,554,000 for facilities, an amount of $1,798,000 above the current year enacted level. [House Appropriations: $94.0 million]
"Changes include increases of $3,073,000 for fixed cost adjustments and $200,000 for unanticipated construction costs at the Leetown facility, and decreases of $1,200,000 for equipment at the Tampa Bay facility, $800,000 for repairs at the Tunison Lab and $375,000 for completed design work at the Leetown facility. As proposed in the budget request, a total of $900,000 has been transferred from the water investigations program and the biological research program into the facilities activity. These funds are used for the maintenance of large vessels and are more appropriately considered as part of the Survey's facilities budget."