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Appropriations Update: Climate and Environmental Research Bolstered in House

The U.S. Geological Survey, EPA and NOAA were shielded from the Administration’s proposed cuts, and would see moderate funding increases in House appropriations.

On Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee approved its FY 2020 Interior and Environment bill, rejecting the Administration’s proposed cuts to climate and environmental R&D programs. The bill was approved on a partisan 30-21 vote.

Below is a summary of funding outcomes for the U.S. Geological Survey and EPA, the two main science agencies covered in the Interior bill. This update also includes analysis of NOAA funding within the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) bill that was approved by the House Committee on the same day (for separate coverage on physical science and space R&D within the CJS measure see here).

Complete details and funding comparisons are presented in the AAAS Appropriations Dashboard. Both the Interior and CJS bills are headed to the House floor, likely sometime in June.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

EPA’s Science and Technology account would receive a moderate 3 percent overall increase, versus the drastic 34.5 percent reduction slated by the Administration (see table below). House appropriators rejected the Administration’s attempt to eliminate climate change and air quality research within the Air and Energy program, which received an essentially flat appropriation overall. The Committee report that accompanied the Interior bill includes supporting language for ongoing efforts of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Elsewhere, the Committee would preserve funding for both the endocrine disruptors and computational toxicology programs at FY 2019 enacted levels.

20hc_EPA ST

 

Notably, House appropriators rejected the Administration’s continued attempts to fund a "workforce reshaping" program that would reduce the number of EPA scientists through organizational restructuring. Additionally, the Committee directs EPA to engage in formal consultation on the proposed rule, Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science, with the agency’s Science Advisory Board; EPA would also be required to enter into a contract with the National Academy of Sciences to review this rule, which has been scrutinized within the science community.

In historical terms, EPA S&T funding has dropped by 36.8 percent between FY 2005 and FY 2019, according to AAAS estimates (see chart below).

20hc_EPA S&T Hist

U.S. GEOLOGICAL SURVEY

The USGS budget would increase $75.8 million or 6.5 percent above FY 2019 enacted levels, compared to the 15.3 percent cut proposed by the Administration (see chart below). To briefly recap:

  • 20hc_USGS

    Climate Adaptation Science Centers (CASC) funding was protected from the Administration’s proposed cuts and received a $13 million increase to a total $38.4 million for the current eight CASCs and to establish a new Center in the Midwest region.

  • $10.6 million was granted for the Earth Mapping Resources Initiative (Earth MRI) to identify areas that have the potential to contain undiscovered critical mineral resources.
  • The Cooperative Research Units program was shielded from proposed elimination by the Administration and received a $5 million increase to a total $24 million.
  • The Earthquake Early Warning System and the Volcano Hazards Program were protected from the Administration’s requested cuts, and were both funded at levels slightly above FY 2019 enacted.
  • Landsat 9 development funding is maintained in the House bill.

For additional details, see USGS in the AAAS Appropriations Dashboard.

NATIONAL OCEANIC AND ATMOSPHERIC ADMINISTRATION

NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) was recommended a total $29 million or 5.2 percent boost, as opposed to the Administration’s requested 40 percent cut (see table below). The Committee dismissed the Administration’s continued attempt to terminate funding for climate competitive research, which would otherwise increase by $11 million to a total $71 million under the House bill. House appropriators also scrapped the requested elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program. Funding for the U.S. Weather Research Program would more than double. NOAA’s high performance computing budget would also increase, with the Committee directing NOAA to develop a long-term cloud computing strategy for its future research needs. For a complete picture of OAR funding, see NOAA in the AAAS Appropriations Dashboard.

20hc_NOAA Table

 

Within the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS) account, funding for both the GOES-R and Polar Weather Satellites matches the request amounts. Meanwhile, House appropriators would grant an increase of $11.6 million to a total $38.6 million for the Space Weather Follow On, whereas the Administration had proposed a slight decrease.

Cover image credit: Alan Cressler

Author

David Parkes

Program Associate