June 17, 2016
Welcome back to our series on the federal funding process for science in FY2017! In this edition, we’ll be focusing on both the House and Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations bills. The House approved its version of the bill on Wednesday 15 June, and the Senate approved its version the following day. The Interior and Environment bill funds several environmental programs and agencies, such as the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Park Service, and the Environmental Protection Agency. For the purposes of this blog, we’ll be discussing how each of the bills stack up for the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
USGS in the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill
The Good News
- USGS topline funding in the House bill saw an increase of almost 2% over FY16. However, after several years of cuts, restoring the agency to full funding will require more robust increases.
- The Climate Change and Land Use programs within USGS saw a 4% increase in funding over FY16. The bill report further supports existing Landsat operations and the accelerated launch schedule for Landsat-9.
- The bill highlights the need for emergency preparedness and risk management with regards to the Cascadia subduction zone as well as the nation’s west coast, and seeks to support these initiatives with a 3% increase in funding for the Natural Hazards program.
The Bad News
- The bill provides flat funding for USGS’s Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health program, which is concerning since this program works on top national priorities such as locating critical minerals, oil and gas research, and understanding toxic substances.
USGS in the Senate Interior and Environment Appropriations Bill
The Good News
- The Natural Hazards program saw an increase of 2% over FY16 in the Senate Bill. Like the House Bill, this increase supports earthquake early warning infrastructure in order to avoid casualties, damages, and economic loss.
- The Senate Bill provides a 4% funding increase over FY16 to the Core Science Systems program in support of USGS’s 3D Elevation Mapping program, in addition to other mapping cabilities.
The Bad News
- Topline funding for the agency is nearly flat, with an increase of 1%. In order for USGS to maintain, and expand upon its critical programs and missions, predictable and strong funding is vital.
- The bill flat funds nearly every program within USGS. Each of these programs support a variety of issues from coastal resilience, to water management, to agricultural efficiency. Without strong support for all programs across the agency, our nation’s economy, national security, and public health may be impacted.
Each of the Interior and Environment bills will now head to the House and Senate floor for consideration. Following the floor votes, both bills will be combined through the conferencing process. There is still time to weigh in with your legislator about voicing their support for strong geoscience funding. AGU’s Policy Action Center can help you craft a letter in just a couple of minutes about why Congress needs to support science funding.