February 19, 2015

In This Issue


On Feb. 2, the president released the proposed Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget. It functions as a wish list of administration federal policy priorities in the government’s budget. However, Congress, holding the “power of the purse,” has the final say on how these priorities are rolled into the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.

While the Budget Control Act of 2011 limits FY 2016 discretionary spending to $1.016 trillion, the president’s proposed budget would provide $1.091 trillion. This spending increase is paid for through various proposals in the president’s budget to raise revenue by closing loopholes in the tax code and also increasing taxes for wealthier Americans and other entities. Legislation to increase tax revenue is not expected to move in the Republican-controlled Congress. Consequently, the president’s budget spending increases are unlikely to be included in the 12 appropriations bills Congress passes later this year.

Overall, the president’s budget request would provide $146 billion for federal climate research and development (R&D), a 5.5 percent increase over the FY 2015 enacted level.  While the overall R&D figure is good, basic research that funds most US academics only increases by 2.6 percent, to $32 billion. Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education programs would receive $3 billion in FY 2016, a 3.6 increase over FY 2015.

The 13-agency US Global Change Research Program that coordinates federal research is funded at $2.7 billion across the various agency budgets in support of the president’s Climate Action Plan.

Highlights of spending increases for federal research agencies relative to FY 2015 enacted spending:

National Science Foundation: $7.72 billion; a 5.2 percent increase.

Research and Related Activities: $6.186 billion; a $252.66 million increase.

NSF Accounts

Biological Sciences: $747.92 million; a $16.89 million increase.

  • BioMAPS: $16.81 million; a $2.5 million increase.
  • Science Engineering and Education for Sustainability: $17.50 million; a $3.5 million decrease.
  • National Ecological Observatory Network: $80.64 million; a $6.4 million increase.

Geosciences: $1.365 billion; a $61.02 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the NSF budget:


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: $5.982 billion; a $533.72 million increase.

National Ocean Service: $573.96 million; a $38.22 million increase.

National Marine Fisheries Service: $990.1 million; a $31.93 million increase.

National Weather Service: $1.098 billion; an $11.43 million increase.

Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research: $507.04 million; $60.76 million increase.

  • Climate Research: $188.76 million; a $30.76 million increase.
  • National Sea Grant College Program: $68.45 million, a $1.15 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the NOAA budget:


US Department of Agriculture: $207.855 billion; a $6.2 billion increase.

  • Agricultural Research Service: $1.43 billion; a $221 million increase.
  • Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service: $1.16 billion; a $27 million increase.
  • National Institute of Food and Agriculture: $1.5 million; a $213 million increase.
  • Forest Service: $4.94 billion; a $130 million decrease.
    • Forest and Rangeland Research: $292 million; a $4 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the FY 2016 USDA budget request:


Department of Energy (DOE): $29.9 billion; a $2.5 billion increase.

Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy:  $325 million; a $45 million increase.
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: $2.72 billion; a $808.79 million increase.
Office of Science: $5.34 billion; a $272 million increase.

  • Biological and Environmental Research: $612 million; a $20 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the FY 2016 DOE budget request:


United States Geological Survey (USGS): $1.2 billion; a $149.8 million increase.

  • Climate and Land Use Change: $191.8 million; a $55.9 million increase.
  • Core Science Systems: $127 million; a $19.7 million increase.
  • Ecosystems: $176.3 million; a $19.3 million increase.
  • Energy Minerals and Environmental Health: $103.3 million; a $11 million increase.
  • Natural Hazards: $146.4 million; a $11.2 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the FY 2016 USGS budget request:


Click here for additional information on the White House’s R&D investments.



For the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the president’s FY 2016 request provides $8.6 billion, $452 million above the FY 2015 enacted level. This includes a $120 million increase towards agency-wide programs that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and address climate change. Programs that would be eliminated in the president’s budget include the Beaches Protection categorical grants and the Water Quality Research and Support grants.

Below are FY 2016 funding levels for specific EPA programs compared to FY 2015 enacted levels:

Environmental Program and Management: $2.84 billion; a $228.03 million increase.

  • Environmental Education: $11 million; a $2.3 million increase.
  • Water Quality Protection: $254.3 million; a $43.88 million increase.

Hazardous Substance Superfund: $1.088 billion; a $65.07 million increase.

  • Environmental Justice: $14.6 million; a $7.3 million increase.

EPA Science and Technology: $759.2 million; a $34.4 million increase.

  • Climate Protection Program: $117.7 million; a $14.3 million increase.

Click here for additional information on the FY 2016 EPA budget.

Click here for a fact sheet on climate priorities in the president’s budget.


The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) released a report concluding that droughts in the Central Plains and Southwest US in the latter part of the 21st century could be longer than any experienced in the last 1000 years.

The study is based on several climate models, including one from NASA. The study was published in the journal Science Advances.

Click here for additional information on the study:



A two-volume report from the National Research Council (NRC) concluded that dramatic reductions in carbon dioxide emissions is the most effective way to negate the consequences of climate change while calling for more research on “geoengineering” techniques: carbon dioxide removal and albedo-modification techniques.

Carbon dioxide removal is relatively low-risk, but would be very costly and take a long time to implement. Albedo modification would only temporarily mask CO2 warming effects and is considered high-risk. The report calls for separate evaluations and companion reports of the two types of approaches.

“That scientists are even considering technological interventions should be a wake-up call that we need to do more now to reduce emissions, which is the most effective, least risky way to combat climate change,” said committee chair Marcia McNutt, editor-in-chief of Science and former director of the US Geological Survey.  “But the longer we wait, the more likely it will become that we will need to deploy some forms of carbon dioxide removal to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.”

The NRC committee stated “These approaches are more accurately described as ‘climate intervention’ strategies — purposeful actions intended to curb the negative impacts of climate change — rather than engineering strategies that imply precise control over the climate.”

Click here for additional information:



On Feb. 11, the Ecological Society of America (ESA) participated in Climate Science Days, an annual event sponsored by the Climate Science Working Group (CSWG) to advance understanding of climate change research to lawmakers on Capitol Hill.  ESA is a CSWG member as are other scientific associations.

Teams met with over 90 House and Senate offices and committee staff. Meetings with freshman Senate and House members were given priority along with lawmakers who serve on committees with jurisdiction over climate science issues. President David Inouye and Public Affairs Committee members Alexis Erwin and Bruce Beyers represented the ESA scientific community.

Other participating CSWG organizations included the American Chemical Society, American Geophysical Union, American Meteorological Society, American Society of Agronomy, American Society of Plant Biologists, American Statistical Association, Consortium for Ocean Leadership,  Crop Science Society of America, Geological Society of America,  Society for Conservation Biology, Soil Society of America, and the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research.


National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

Proposed rule: Public comment closes March 16, 2015

Taking Marine Mammals Incidental to Southwest Fisheries Science Center Fisheries Research


National Science Foundation

Notice: Public comment closes April 7, 2015

National Science Foundation Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide


Ocean Energy Management Bureau

Notice: public comment closes March 30, 2015

Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Oil and Gas Leasing Program for 2017-2022


US Fish and Wildlife Service

Proposed rule: Public comment closes April 6, 2015

90-day finding on a petition to list the Island Marble Butterfly as endangered



Introduced in House

H.R. 884, to direct the Secretary of the Interior to reissue final rules relating to listing of the gray wolf in the Western Great Lakes and Wyoming under the Endangered Species Act of 1973 – Introduced Feb. 11 by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), the bill would remove Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections from gray wolves found in Wyoming, Minnesota, Michigan and Wisconsin. The bill has 15 bipartisan cosponsors, including Democratic Reps. Ron Kind (WI), Colin Peterson (MN) and Tim Walz (MN).

Approved by House Committee

H.R. 212, the Drinking Water Protection Act – Introduced by Rep. Robert Latta (R-OH), the bill would require the US Environmental Protection Agency, within 90 days of the bill’s enactment, to submit a strategic plan to Congress for assessing and managing risks associated with cyanotoxins (algae) in public drinking water. The House Energy and Commerce Committee approved the bill Feb. 12 by voice vote. Companion legislation (S. 462) has been introduced by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH).

Passed House

H.R. 810, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Authorization Act of 2015 – Introduced by Rep. Steven Palazzo (R-MS), the bill reauthorizes $18 billion in programs for NASA through Fiscal Year 2015. The bill passed the House Feb. 10 by voice vote and has been referred to the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee.

Cleared for the White House

  1. 1, the Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act – Introduced by Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), the bill would authorize construction of the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline. The House passed the Senate bill on Feb. 11 by a vote of 270–152. The Senate passed the bill Jan. 29 by a vote of 62–36. Neither chamber secured the two-thirds vote necessary to override a presidential veto.

Sources: American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Science Foundation, US Department of Agriculture, US Department of Interior, US Environmental Protection Agency, the White House, Energy and Environment Daily, E&E News PM, Greenwire