In its version of the FY 2006 Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations bill (H.R. 2361), the Senate Appropriations Committee rejected the Administration's proposal to reduce funding for the U..S. Geological Survey, as did the House last month.
Senate appropriators recommended $963.1 million for USGS in FY 2006. Based on the numbers provided in the Administration's FY 2006 budget documents, the Senate's recommendation would be an increase of 2.8 percent increase over current funding of $936.5 million and a 3.2 percent increase over the request. The House bill recommended $974.6 million (see http://www.aip.org/fyi/2005/074.html). Below are the Senate bill's recommendations for various USGS programs, and selected language from the committee's report (S. Rept. 109-080). The comparisons below do not take into account supplemental FY 2005 funding provided in emergency appropriations.
Conrad Burns (R-MT) is the Chairman of the Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee, and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is the Ranking Minority Member. The bill and committee report are available at http://thomas.loc.gov/home/approp/app06.html.
MAPPING, REMOTE SENSING, AND GEOGRAPHIC INVESTIGATIONS: The Committee recommends $127.2 million, an increase of $8.4 million, or 7.1 percent, from FY 2005 funding of $118.8 million. The Administration requested $139.5 million; the House recommended $133.2 million.
According to the report, this represents "a decrease of $6,250,000 from the budget request. Changes to the budget request include reductions of $250,000 for a new science impact proposal and $6,000,000 for additional support of Landsat 7 satellite operations."
"In agreement with the budget request, the Committee has included $7,450,000 for development of the Landsat Data Continuity Mission and commends the Department of the Interior and the Survey for working with their Federal partners to develop a plan for future operations. The Committee is less enthusiastic, however, about the Department's proposal for the continuation of Landsat 7 operations in the foreseeable future.... In last year's Senate report, this Committee directed the Survey to provide quarterly reports for the Landsat program that would display operational costs, revenue and any required supplemental funding. To date, none has been received."
GEOLOGY: The Committee recommends $237.2 million, an increase of $7.9 million or 3.5 percent from FY 2005 funding of $229.3 million. The Administration requested $208.1 million; the House recommended $239.3 million.
This represents "an increase of $29,066,000 above the budget request. Changes to the budget request include increases of $1,000,000 above projected base funding for the Alaska Volcano Observatory to purchase, install and operate volcano monitoring equipment in Shemya, Alaska; $26,478,000 to restore the mineral resources research and assessment program; $2,000,000 to restore the minerals information data collection and analysis program; and $500,000 for the gas hydrates research program in Alaska. A decrease of $912,000 from the budget request has been assumed for the proposed expansion of Puget Sound ecosystem studies."
"The Committee is dismayed that the proposal to discontinue much of the mineral resources activity has again resurfaced in the fiscal 2006 budget request. The Survey has made this recommendation during previous budget cycles and each time it has been rejected by both the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations. No factual evidence has been supplied to indicate that the private sector could or should absorb this program's domestic and international responsibilities.... With no other agency providing the data and analysis in this area of critical importance to our national security, it would seem irresponsible to decrease or eliminate funding for what clearly would appear to be an inherently Federal responsibility."
WATER RESOURCES INVESTIGATIONS: The Committee recommends $214.8 million, an increase of $3.6 million or 1.7 percent from FY 2005 funding of $211.2 million. The Administration requested $204.2 million; the House recommended $211.8 million.
This represents "an increase of $10,580,000 above the budget request. Changes to the budget request include increases of $500,000 to support development of a Memphis aquifer study [MATRAS]; $230,000 to support an Ozark aquifer study; $1,500,000 to continue the Roubidoux acquifer study in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma; $450,000 to continue support for a well monitoring project in Hawaii; $900,000 to continue the Tongue River coalbed methane study; $900,000 for the San Francisco South Bay Salt Ponds restoration project; and $6,500,000 to restore the water resources research institutes program, which was proposed to be eliminated. A reduction of $400,000 from the budget request has been made for a proposed multi-state water availability study. With respect to the increase provided for San Francisco South Bay Salt Ponds water monitoring, the Committee has been made aware recently that these additional funds are critical in the coming fiscal year to replace a loss of financial support from non-Federal partners that would cripple ongoing multi-agency cooperative efforts in the area."
BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH: The Committee recommends $174.3 million, an increase of $2.6 million or 1.5 percent from FY 2005 funding of $171.7 million. The Administration requested $173.0 million; the House recommended $174.8 million.
This represents "an increase of $1,355,000 above the budget request. Changes to the budget request include increases of $400,000 to complete a bear DNA sampling study; $500,000 to continue research on the pallid sturgeon; $1,000,000 to continue molecular biology and water studies at the Leetown Science Center; $400,000 to continue studies on the impact of lead mining in the Mark Twain National Forest; $200,000 to continue diamondback terrapin research in the Chesapeake Bay; and $55,000 to restore base funding for the cooperative research units that was proposed to be redirected to other activities. Decreases from the budget request include $750,000 for expansion of activities at the Glen Canyon Dam and $450,000 for additional DOI science programs. Within the amounts provided for biological monitoring, the Committee expects collaborative invasive species work with Mississippi State University to be continued at a level of $1,000,000."
"The Committee remains concerned that despite the significant amount of time and effort that has been dedicated to producing a report on future direction for the National Biological Information Infrastructure, no clearly coordinated budgetary and programmatic plan has emerged for its expansion. The Committee expects that any additional future funding for the program will be requested by the Survey in some sort of priority order that allows the Committee to consider these proposals within the overall context of the Survey's other programs."
ENTERPRISE INFORMATION: The Committee recommends $47.1 million, an increase of $2.7 million or 6.1 percent from FY 2005 funding of $44.4 million. The Administration requested $47.8 million; the House recommended $47.1 million.
This represents "a reduction of $680,000 from the budget request. The Committee does not agree to the transfer of $680,000 from the Survey's programs to support the Federal Emergency Management Agency's disaster management e-gov initiative as proposed in the budget request. In agreement with the budget request, the Committee has included $1,059,000 for a continuing program of certification and accreditation to ensure the security and integrity of USGS information systems."
SCIENCE SUPPORT: The Committee recommends $66.3 million, an increase of $0.7 million or 1.1 percent from FY 2005 funding of $65.6 million. The Administration requested $66.3 million; the House recommended $72.3 million.
This represents "a decrease of $6,000,000 from the budget request. The Committee does not agree to the proposed $6,000,000 increase to reimburse programs that potentially may be reduced in the current fiscal year in order to provide additional operating funds for Landsat 7. This issue is discussed in greater length within the context of the mapping program section above. The Committee notes that it has not yet received a reprogramming request for the funds that are proposed to be redirected in fiscal year 2005."
FACILITIES: The Committee recommends $96.2 million, an increase of $1.6 million or 1.7 percent from FY 2005 funding of $94.6 million. The Administration requested $94.7 million; the House recommended $96.2 million.
This represents "an increase of $1,471,000 above the budget request. This increase restores funds for a number of facilities through the Nation that were slated for closure in conjunction with proposed reductions to the mineral resources program. That program proposal has been rejected by the Committee for the reasons articulated in the geology section above."
Differences between the House and Senate recommendations will ultimately have to be reconciled by a House-Senate conference committee, and the final bill approved by both chambers.