Research Funding in the Current FY 2014 Interior & Environment Bills
Last week, environment and natural resources R&D became a subject of conversation as both the House and Senate Appropriations Committees either introduced or marked up their respective FY14 Interior & Environment appropriations bills before heading into the August recess. In the House, the full Committee began marking up its Interior bill  July 31 following subcommittee approval the week prior, though the full Committee did not finish the task. The Senate Committee unveiled its own bill  August 1, though the relevant subcommittee has yet to take it up; it is the final bill the Senate Committee has on its docket, while the House Committee only has the Labor/HHS/Education bill left.
As in other areas, the bills are notable for their marked divergence, with the House version stirring significant controversy . This divergence was expected, as environmental spending was one of the main areas targeted for cuts by the House majority. The Department of the Interior (DOI), which includes the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), would receive $792 million in R&D in the House and $893 million in the Senate, compared to a request of $963 million. Before inflation, the House figure would represent a 3.3 percent cut below FY 2012 levels, and a 3.0 percent gain above FY13 post-sequester estimates; however, USGS would fall 1.9 percent below even sequester levels, and 17.1 percent short of the request, according to current estimates. While the Senate DOI figure is 7.2 percent below the request, it is nevertheless 9.0 percent above FY 2012 levels and a full 16.2 percent above sequester levels, with USGS gaining 9.7 percent above sequester estimates before inflation (see PDF ).
While DOI’s main research endeavors would face moderate cuts under the House bill, much larger relative cuts would await the other major science agency in the bill, EPA. According to current estimates (PDF), EPA R&D under the House bill would decline by 19.0 percent below FY 2012 levels and 13.5 percent below FY 2013 post-sequester estimates. The Senate bill would essentially match the Administration’s request for EPA R&D, holding roughly steady at FY 2012 levels.
Lastly, R&D at the Forest Service, which is funded through the Interior bill but housed at USDA, would be cut nearly in half in the House bill, while the Senate bill would again match the request and provide a 4.7 percent above FY 2012 levels (PDF ).
As always, it remains to be seen which, if any, of these funding outcomes will hold in the final summation, given the ongoing uncertainty over discretionary spending and sequestration.
Tables: Congressional Action on R&D in the Interior & Environment BillDepartment of the Interior  | EPA Read More:USGS and EPA R&D in the President's Request  | Select Disciplines: Earth Sciences  | Climate Science  | Biological and Ecological Sciences