Policy News from ESA’s Public Affairs Office

Policy News from ESA’s Public Affairs Office

  • APPROPRIATIONS UPDATES: Omnibus spending bill sent to President for signature
  • ENERGY POLICY: Bush signs major energy plan into law

APPROPRIATIONS UPDATES: Omnibus spending bill sent to President for signatureCasting the final vote of the year, the House easily approved a $555 billion omnibus spending bill on December 19 and wrapped up the first session of the Democratic-controlled 110th Congress. After a brief debate, the House approved, 272-141, a spending bill that is identical to the version passed by the Senate a day earlier and it is expected to receive President Bush’s signature in the next few days.

The omnibus bill contains fiscal 2008 spending for all the domestic agencies — including the Departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture, Commerce and Transportation, along with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) FY 2008 budget would increase by $156 million over FY 2007, which is a 2.5 percent overall increase. This increase is but a fraction of the 8.7 percent increase requested by the Administration, the initial 10.0 percent increase approved by the House, and the initial 10.8 percent increase approved by the Senate.

Research and Related Activities:

The FY 2007 budget for NSF Research and Related Activities was $4,666.0 million.

The Bush Administration requested $5,131.7 million, an increase of 10.0 percent or $465.7 million.

The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended $5,156.1 million, an increase of 10.5 percent or $490.1 million. (The Committee agreed to the Administration’s request to transfer EPSCoR from Education and Human Resources to this account; the Administration request was $107.0 million.) The House Appropriations Committee recommended $5,139.7 million (which also includes EPSCoR funding), an increase of 10.2 percent or $473.7 million.

The final bill provides an additional $8.0 million for EPSCoR. This transfer must be included when determining year-to-year changes.

The final bill provides $4,821.5 million. However, when the EPSCoR “apples-to-apples” adjustment is made, the Research and Related Expenses figure is an adjusted $4,714.5 million, an increase of $48.5 million or 1.0 percent (figures approximate).

U.S. Geological Survey

Funding for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) would increase to $1.022 billion before an expected across-the-board recision of 1.56 percent. After the expected recision, FY 2008 funding for the USGS would be $1 billion, an increase of $18 million or 1.9 percent above the FY 2007 enacted level and an increase of $32 million or 3.2 percent above the President’s FY 2008 budget request.

The bill would also provide $6.3 million for the water resources research institutes, an increase of nearly $1 million over the FY 2007 funding level.

The National Biological Information Infrastructure would receive an increase of $0.5 million above the budget request for a total of $6.8 million in FY 2008. Also in the biological research account, funding for cooperative research units would be $16.4 million in FY 2008, an increase of $1 million over the budget request.

The omnibus appropriations bill includes a general program increase of $7.5 million for global climate change research, and up to $2.5 million is designated for the USGS to establish the National Global Warming and Wildlife Science Center.

Department of Energy and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

At the Energy Department, the bill would provide $24.4 billion, a $218 million boost above current spending and $316 million below the White House request.

The bill also authorizes $38.5 billion worth of loan guarantees over two years for building nuclear reactors, coal projects that capture carbon dioxide, renewable energy projects and other technologies.

EPA would receive $7.5 billion under the bill, a $264 million drop from fiscal 2007. The House had requested an $8.1 billion budget for EPA, while the Senate had proposed $7.8 billion in funding. The Clean Water State Revolving Fund is set to lose nearly $400 million.

ENERGY POLICY: Bush signs major energy plan into law

The House easily approved energy legislation on December 18 that would boost auto-efficiency standards and use of biofuels, and President Bush signed the measure December 19.

The bill passed 314-100, with 95 Republicans joining 219 Democrats in support. It cleared the Senate 86-8 the week prior.

The measure raises corporate average fuel economy standards for cars and light trucks — including SUVs — to an average of 35 miles per gallon by 2020, a roughly 40 percent increase that should reduce oil use by an estimated 1.1 million barrels per day once implemented. The measure provides grants and loan guarantees for manufacture of efficient vehicles and their parts.

The bill also requires use of 36 billion gallons annually of ethanol and other biofuels by 2022, a roughly five-fold increase above current production. Twenty-one billion of these gallons would come from sources other than traditional corn ethanol.

In addition, the bill includes a host of major conservation measures — including the phase-out of the most inefficient incandescent light bulbs over the next four to six years, and stronger appliance and federal building efficiency.

Sources: Energy and Environment Daily, Greenwire, and Land LetterSend questions or comments to Nadine Lymn, ESA Director of Public Affairs, Nadine@nullesa.org or Colleen Fahey, Policy Analyst, Colleen@nullesa.org

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