Late last week, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 2361, the FY 2006 Department of the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill. The House action rejects the Bush Administration's proposal to reduce funding for the U.S. Geological Survey, voting to increase the survey's funding by 4.1% or $38.1 million over this year. Under this legislation, which has been sent to the Senate, funding would increase from this year's budget of $936.5 million to $974.6 million. The Administration had requested that the survey's budget be cut to $933.6 million.
The Interior appropriations subcommittee is chaired by Charles Taylor (R-NC); the Ranking Member is Norman Dicks (D-WA). The subcommittee's report, House Report 109-080, (see http://thomas.loc.gov) sets forth funding levels for various USGS programs. Selections from the report language follow:
MAPPING, REMOTE SENSING, & GEOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATIONS:
Funding would increase 12.1% or $14.4 million, from $118.8 million to $133.2 million. The Administration requested $139.5 million. The report states: "The change to the request is a reduction of $250,000 for the science impact proposal. The Committee commends the Survey and the Administration for finally providing a detailed proposal to continue existing Landsat satellite operations and implement the Landsat Data Continuity Mission, which will place the next generation Landsat sensor in orbit. Long-term remote sensing data are vital to many aspects of the government and private sector and are strongly supported by this Committee."
GEOLOGIC HAZARDS, RESOURCES AND PROCESSES:
Funding would increase 4.4% or $10.0 million from $229.3 million to $239.3 million. The Administration requested $208.1 million. The report states: "Changes from the request include increases of $250,000 for the global dust study, $1,248,000 for Florida shelf research, $28,478,000 for mineral research and assessments and $1,134,000 for Alaska mineral resource assessments. The Committee strongly disagrees with the proposed reduction in the Survey's mineral resources program. Minerals and mineral products are important to the U.S. economy, with processed minerals adding billions of dollars to the economy. Mineral commodities are essential to both national security and infrastructure development. Mineral resources research and assessments are a core responsibility of the Survey. The Committee does not agree that objective data on mineral commodities can be generated in the private sector."
WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS:
Funding would increase 0.3% or $0.6 million from $211.2 million to $211.8 million. The Administration had requested $204.2 million. The report states: "Changes from the request include $230,000 for the base toxic hydrology program, $100,000 for the Hood Canal dissolved oxygen study, $750,000 for the San Pedro partnership, and $6,500,000 for the water resource research institutes.
"The Committee is concerned with reports that suggest that the Water Resource Division (WRD) of the Survey is providing or seeking to provide a variety of commercial services to Federal and non-Federal entities in direct competition with the private sector. The Committee strongly discourages WRD from providing commercially available services to Federal and non-Federal entities through its cooperative water program unless these services are performed by a private sector firm under contract with the Survey or the entity with which the Survey has entered into a cooperative agreement. The Committee encourages the Survey to focus its efforts on carrying out its important mission of serving as a national database for hydrologic data, theory, and research. The Survey should submit a report to the House Committee on Appropriations by December 31, 2005, regarding its past, present and future efforts to avoid competing with the private sector.
"The committee agrees with the proposed increase for the water availability project. The Committee expects the Survey to continue with this important program and establish a second pilot project, as outlined in the Survey's November 2003 implementation plan. The Committee urges the Administration to request funding in future budgets to expand this program for other areas of the Country."
Funding would increase 1.8% or $3.1 million from $171.7 million to $174.8 million. The administration requested $173.0 million. The report states: "Changes to the request include increases of $1,430,000 for the Great Lakes Science Center for safety needs associated with the docking of the research vessel Kiyi, $150,000 for invasive species database coordination with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $500,000 for manatee research, $335,000 for equipment at the anadromous fish lab, $250,000 for the Tunison lab, $175,000 for the Potomac snakehead program, $200,000 for the Upper Midwest Environmental Science Center, $400,000 to restore funding for the Nebraska Fish and Wildlife Cooperative Unit, and decreases of $550,000 for the science on the DOI landscape initiative, $750,000 for Glen Canyon adaptive management, and $300,000 for invasive species."
Funding would increase 6.1% or $2.7 million from $44.4 million to $47.1 million. The administration requested $47.8 million. The report states: "The change to the budget request is a decrease of $680,000 for the ‘disaster.gov' initiative."
Funding would increase 10.2% or $6.7 million from $65.6 million to $72.3 million. The Administration requested $66.3 million. There was no explanatory report language.
Funding would increase 1.7% or $1.6 million from $94.6 million to $96.2 million. The Administration requested $94.7 million. The report stated: "The change to the request is an increase of $1,471,000 to restore rental payments associated with the mineral assessments program."