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Mixed Bag for Geoscience in FY2015 Request

The Obama Administration released its Fiscal Year 2015 (FY15) budget request on March 4. The request follows the framework and overall spending cap set in the Bipartisan Budget Act the last December. In addition to the budget request that adheres to the caps, the Administration proposed a $56 billion “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative” that provides an outline of where additional spending would occur if offsets were made. Science would see large increases from that fund, particularly at NSF, NASA and NOAA, but congressional leaders have said they intend to follow the caps and will not consider this package. Overall, R&D would increase 1.2% to $135.4 billion in the request, but results for various geoscience agencies are mixed.

The National Science Foundation request is $7.26 billion, an increase of 1.4%. The bulk of the increase, however, would go toward construction of a new headquarters building in Alexandria, Virginia. Education and Human Resources would see an increase, but the Research and Related Activities account would decrease by ~1%. Within that account, the geosciences would stay essentially flat, with a 0.1% increase for each division and the directorate as a whole.

The U.S. Geological Survey request would increase $41.3 million to $1.1 billion. The budget requests $149.1 million for Climate and Land Use Change, an increase of $17.1 million, with most of the increase going to the Climate Variability subactivity. The Landsat satellite program would be level funded with 2014 at $53.3 million. The USGS will continue to work with NASA to develop a long-term program to provide for Landsat data continuity. Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health would receive $99.1 million. Within that account, Mineral and Energy Resources would receive $73.2 million, an increase of $1.3 million. Natural Hazards would decline slightly to $128.3 million. Increases are proposed for Earthquake Hazards for induced seismicity studies related to hydraulic fracturing while coastal marine hazards are slated for decreases. The budget request includes $210.4 million for Water Resources, up $3.1 million, and $109.4 million for Core Science Systems, an increase of $593,000.

The Department of Energy would receive $27.9 billion, a 2.6 % increase. DOE’s Office of Science would increase 1% to $5.1 billion. ARPA-E, a relatively new program to fund transformational research, would receive a 16.1%t increase to $325 million. Meanwhile, fossil energy research would see a decline.

NASA would decrease from $5.15 billion to $4.97 billion. NASA Earth science programs would also see a decline to $1.7 billion (down $55.7 million), as would Aeronautics $551 million (down 2.7 %).

The process now is in the hands of Congress, who has started to hold hearings to examine the request.

— Kasey White
GSA Director for Geoscience Policy

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