In This Issue
On Feb. 13, President Obama released his budget proposal for Fiscal Year 2013, which begins Oct. 1, 2012. While the $3.8 trillion budget continues the president’s focus on fiscal discipline with significant cuts to environmental initiatives, it also contains a wish list of proposed boosts for science and research programs intended to foster job creation.
In his message to Congress, the president maintained that investment in innovation is needed to help the economy recover. “To succeed and thrive in the global, high-tech economy, we need America to be a place with the highest-skilled, highest-educated workers; the most advanced transportation and communication networks; and the strongest commitment to research and technology in the world,” he stated. “This budget makes investments that can help America win this race, create good jobs, and lead in the world economy.” Revenue provisions of the proposed budget that would pay for increased funding by ending certain tax breaks for oil companies raising taxes on wealthy individuals are expected to be blocked by Congressional Republicans.
The budget highlights investments in clean energy as well as research and development (R&D) increases for most agencies. “In this Budget, we are sustaining our level of investment in non-defense research and development (R&D) even as overall spending declines, thereby keeping us on track to double R&D funding in the key R&D agencies,” stated President Obama. Overall, the president’s budget proposes $140.8 billion for federal R&D, an increase of $2 billion (or 1.2 percent) over the current FY 2012 enacted level. The budget also proposes $3 billion for Science Technology Education and Mathematics programs across federal agencies, a 2.6 percent increase over FY 2012 enacted levels.
According to the White House, the proposed budget’s overall FY 2013 numbers are fully in line with the proposed cuts outlined in the Budget Control Act (P.L. 112-25). At the same time, there appears very little accounting or adjustment for the $1.2 trillion “trigger” in discretionary spending cuts, 50 percent out of defense and 50 percent in non-defense discretionary spending, which are currently scheduled to be implemented on January 2, 2013 in lieu of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s failure to reach a trillion dollar spending cut deal. The “trigger” was mandated under the aforementioned Budget Control Act.
The fact that agency budgets do not take into account the mandated Jan. 2013 $1.2 trillion cut seems to indicate that the White House is in alignment with some in Congress who are seeking to bypass the trigger. Whether this happens through a future deficit reduction agreement later this year or legislation that postpones or even nullifies the trigger remains to be seen.
Additional information on the president’s FY 2013 budget request can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget
As in past budget proposals submitted by the current White House, the president has continued to make science a top priority, proposing significant increases for agencies and programs that support research and innovation.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the only federal agency that provides funding for basic research across all fields of science and engineering. Accordingly, the president’s FY 2013 budget request includes $7.4 billion for NSF, a 4.8 percent increase over the current enacted level for FY 2012. This includes a request for $5.98 billion for Research and Related Activities, an increase from $5.69 billion in FY 2012. NSF funding currently supports research at 1,875 colleges, universities and institutions and supports the research of an estimated 276,000 people.
The Directorate for Biological Sciences would receive $733.86 million dollars in FY 2013 under the president’s budget, an increase from $712.38 million in FY 2012. This includes $220.52 million for Integrative Organismal Systems (3.9 percent increase), $143.73 million for Environmental Biology (0.8 percent increase) and $129.68 million (2.8 percent increase) for Biological Infrastructure. Additional programs funded by NSF include:
U.S. Global Change Research Program: $2.6 billion, a 5.6 percent increase over FY 2012.
Research at the Interface of the Biological, Mathematical and Physical Sciences (BioMAPS): $30.17 million, an increase from $20 million in FY 2012.
Integrated NSF Support Promoting Interdisciplinary Research and Education (INSPIRE): $4 million, an increase over $2 million in FY 2012.
National Ecological Observatory Network: $91 million, an increase from $60.3 million in FY 2012.
Overall, President Obama’s FY 2013 budget request seeks to balance continued investment in natural resource conservation efforts with a political climate that continues to prioritize fiscal restraint.
Environmental programs would receive a mixture of cuts and increases with those that deal specifically with scientific research more likely to receive level or improved funding. Environmental initiatives that have previously garnered bipartisan support from Congress, such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund garner significant funding increases. Regional efforts such as restoration of the Great Lakes and Chesapeake Bay are also spared from the chopping block. The administration also continues to propose increased investment in federal efforts to mitigate the impacts climate change.
The president’s proposed FY 2013 budget recommends $8.3 billion for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a decrease of $105 million (1.2 percent) compared with FY 2012. The decrease marks the third consecutive year in which the administration has proposed cutting the agency’s funding.
The administration rationalizes the decrease as prioritizing funds that specifically help enforce environmental and public health protections. Savings are achieved largely through cuts to the Drinking Water and Clean Water State Revolving Funds as well as the elimination of “outdated, underperforming and overlapping programs,” according to EPA. In total $50 million in EPA programs would be terminated, including a state grant program for the removal of radon and a beach grant program. The administration contends that efforts will be made to ensure the most deserving projects currently slated for cuts receive the necessary funding.
Brownfields Assessment and Cleanup: $93 million, a decrease from $95 million in FY 2012.
Clean Water State Revolving Fund: $1,175 million, a decrease from $1,466 million in FY 2012.
Climate Protection Program: $108 million, an increase from $99.5 million in FY 2012.
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund: $850 million, a decrease from $918 million in FY 2012.
EPA R&D: $580 million, a 2.1 percent increase from $568 million in FY 2012.
Great Lakes Restoration Initiative: $300 million, level with the amount enacted in FY 2012.
Chesapeake Bay restoration: $72.6 million, a $15 million increase from FY 2012.
State and tribal environmental programs: $1.2 billion, an increase over $1.089 billion in FY 2012.
Wetland protection: $27.7 million, an increase from $21.2 million in FY 2012.
Department of Interior
Overall, the Department of Interior’s discretionary funding would receive a one percent increase to $11.4 billion for FY 2013 under the president’s budget request.
Key Obama administration initiatives and programs would see increases. The administration’s America’s Great Outdoors initiative would receive $5.1 billion under the proposed budget, a $146 million increase from the FY 2012 enacted level. This includes $450 million for the Land and Water Conservation Fund, a $105 million (30 percent) increase from current FY 2012 levels. The Cooperative Endangered Species Conservation Fund would receive $60 million, a $12.3 million increase over the current FY 2012 enacted level of $47.7 million.
Renewable energy programs would receive $86 million for FY 2013 under the proposed budget, an increase of $15 million (21 percent) over FY 2012. According to Interior, the increase would allow Interior to permit 11,000 megawatts of wind, solar and geothermal projects by the end of 2013. Conventional onshore and offshore energy programs would receive $662 million, up $60 million (10 percent) from FY 2012. Investments in key Interior bureaus include:
Bureau of Indian Affairs: $2.527 billion, a decrease from $2.531 billion in FY 2012.
Bureau of Land Management: $1.146 billion, an increase from $1.098 billion in FY 2012.
Bureau of Ocean Energy Management: $164 million, an increase from $161 million in FY 2012.
Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement: $222 million, an increase from $197 million in FY 2012.
Bureau of Reclamation: $994 million, a decrease from $1.02 billion in FY 2012.
Fish and Wildlife Service: $1.548 billion, an increase from $1.476 billion in FY 2012.
U.S. Geological Survey: $1.1 billion, an increase from $1.068 billion in FY 2012.
National Park Service: $2.609, a decrease from $2.61 billion in FY 2012.
WaterSMART: $54 million, an increase from $47 million in FY 2012.
Wildland Fire Management: $818.5 million, an increase from $575 in FY 2012.
The National Aeronautic Space Administration’s (NASA) overall budget would receive $17.7 billion in FY 2013, a $59 million decrease from FY 2012. However, environmental science programs would receive funding increases under the FY 2013 proposed budget. NASA’s earth science account would receive $1.78 billion in FY 2013, an increase from $1.76 billion in FY 2012. Construction and Environmental Compliance and Restoration would receive $619.2 million for FY 2013, an increase from $487 million in FY 2012.
The president’s FY 2013 budget request for the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) includes $5.1 billion, an increase from the $4.9 billion appropriated for FY 2012. Contentious initiatives such as the plan to reorganize NOAA under the Department of Interior as well as NOAA’s Climate Service, opposed by Congressional Republicans, are not included in the budget proposal. NOAA programs funded in the president’s FY 2013 budget include:
Climate Research: $212.7 million, an increase from $183 million in FY 2012
Fisheries: $880 million, a decrease from $895 million in FY 2012.
Joint Polar Satellite System: $916.4 million, a decrease from $924 million in FY 2012.
National Weather Service: $972.2 million, down from $992 million in FY 2012.
Office of Oceanic & Atmospheric Research: $413.8 million, an increase from $384.7 million in FY 2012.
The discretionary spending request for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for FY 2013 is $24 billion, roughly the same as the president’s FY 2012 request. It would provide $23 billion in discretionary funding, a decrease of nearly three percent or almost $700 million, below the FY 2012 enacted level. When mandatory programs are included, the overall FY 2013 budget request for USDA rounds out at $154.5 billion, an increase from the $136.6 billion received for FY 2012.
The president’s budget request includes $6.1 billion for renewable energy investments. The FY 2013 budget also proposes $325 million, a $60 million increase above the FY 2012 enacted level, for competitive research grants made through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. The budget also proposes increases in-house research in select areas such as crop protection, sustainable agriculture, and food safety by $75 million while decreasing other areas that deal with research and the environment. USDA’s FY 2013 budget request includes:
Agricultural Research Service: $1.13 billion, an increase over the $1.126 billion enacted in FY 2012.
National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $1.27 billion, a decrease from $1.353 billion in FY 2012.
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: $1.04 billion, a decrease from $1.1 billion in FY 2012.
Forest Service: $4.86 billion, an increase over the nearly $4.85 billion enacted in FY 2012.
Natural Resources Conservation Service: $3.9 billion, a decrease from the $4.5 billion enacted in FY 2012.
For the Department of Energy (DOE), the president’s budget includes $27.2 billion for FY 2013, a 3.2 percent increase over current FY 2012 levels.
The president’s budget for FY 2013 invests heavily in energy research with significant funding boosts for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) and for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). DOE’s Environmental Management program would see a funding drop, however, from $5.71 billion in FY 2012 to $5.65 billion in FY 2013. Hydrogen and fuel cell programs would also be slashed by 23 percent. The budget also includes $12 million to fund a multi-year research initiative that would go towards the development of technology and methods that reduce the health and safety risks of gas and oil production from hydraulic fracturing. Proposed energy investments include:
DOE Office of Science: $4.99 billion, an increase from $4.87 billion in FY 2012.
DOE R&D: $11.9 billion, an increase of $884 million (eight percent) over FY 2012.
Biological and Environmental Research: $625,347, an increase from $609,557 in FY 2012.
Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy: $350 million, a $57 million increase over FY 2012.
Renewable Energy Research and Development: $2.3 billion, an 80 percent increase including $310 for solar energy, $65 million for geothermal energy and $95 million for wind energy off-shore wind technologies.
DOE Office of Nuclear Energy: $770 million, an increase from $766 million in FY 2012.
Sources: the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Interior, Environment and Energy Daily, E&E News PM, Environmental Protection Agency, Greenwire, the National Aeronautic Space Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, The Washington Post, The White House