Federal Budget Tracker

ESA’s Federal Budget Tracker monitors the federal appropriations process and provides information on budgets relevant to ecological sciences. It is updated as new appropriations information becomes available. 

Click on the buttons below to jump to funding information, including budget tables, for a specific federal department or agency.

 

USDA AFRI USDA ARS USDA Forest Service Department of Energy

 

Bureau of Land Management US Fish and Wildlife Service US Geological Survey

 

National Park Service EPA NOAA NASA National Science Foundation

Current Status

This budget tracker covers the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY 2021) budget. The federal government runs on a fiscal year from Oct.1-Sept. 30.

Appropriations Overview

The federal budget is composed of discretionary spending and mandatory spending. Discretionary spending accounts for 27% of the total budget and funds the military and federal agencies. Congress determines the discretionary spending limits. Mandatory spending accounts for 73% of the total budget that primarily funds Medicare, Social Security and payment on the national debt and is set by law.

Through the federal appropriations process, Congress sets discretionary spending and allocates money to federal agencies and programs. The appropriations process is a multi-step process that involves agency budget requests, the President’s Budget, House and Senate Appropriations Committees and Subcommittees, hearings, annual budget resolutions bills, and twelve spending bills. These appropriations bills must be enacted prior to the start of the government’s fiscal year (Oct. 1-Sept.30). However, Congress often has often been unable to complete appropriations before the new fiscal year begins and used Continuing Resolutions to extend funding for agencies at current-year levels to avoid a government shutdown.

FY 2021 Appropriations:

President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2021,  “A Budget for America’s Future.” Similar to previous budget requests, the administration calls for sharp cuts to nondefense discretionary programs across the federal government. The president’s budget request marks the beginning of the fiscal year (FY) 2021 appropriations process. As in previous years, Members of Congress are expected to largely disregard the president’s budget request.

Agency President’s Budget Request ESA Request for FY21
USGS $971.2 million (a 23.59% cut) $1.35 billion for USGS overall

$180 million program-wide for the USGS Ecosystems mission area

$26 million for the Invasive Species program

EPA $6.658 billion (a 26.49% cut)

 

$484,733 for Science and Technology (a 32.34% cut)

$9.4 billion for EPA overall

$750 million for Science and Technology

$300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative

USDA/USFS $5.345 billion overall (a 28% cut)

$78 million for Forest Inventory and Analysis (a 1% increase)

$3 million for the Joint Fire Science Program (from the Interior Department) (flat funding)

$249 million for Research and Development (a 17% cut)

$33.757 million for Forest Health Management on Cooperative Lands Program

$83 million for Forest Inventory and Analysis

$16 million for the Joint Fire Science Program

$315 million for Research and Development

$51 million for the Forest Health Management on Cooperative Lands Program

$59 million for Forest Health Management on National Forests

USDA/ARS $1.4 billion (an 11.77% cut) $1.789 billion
USDA/NIFA $1.6 billion for NIFA overall

$600 million for AFRI (a 41% increase)

$1.6 billion for NIFA overall

$480 million for AFRI

USDA/APHIS $2.015 billion (a 2.3% increase) $7 million for EAB

$20 million for Wildlife Services – Methods Development

$28 million for Pest Detection

DOE Office of Science $517 million (a 31% cut) $7.4 billion for the Office of Science overall
NOAA $4.1 billion (a 23.4% cut)

$327 billion for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research ( a 44.58% cut)

$0 for the National Sea Grant College Program (a 100% cut)

$5.7 billion for NOAA overall

$592 million for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research

$83 million for the National Sea Grant College Program

NSF $7.7 million (a 6.5% cut) $9 billion
USFWS/NWRS $249.5 million $249.5 million

On Dec. 12, 2019, House and Senate leaders announced that they reached a deal to keep the government open and complete FY 2020 appropriations. Both chambers of Congress passed final spending bills the week of Dec. 16.FY 2020 Appropriations:

President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2020 budget, “A Budget for a Better America,” on March 11, 2019.

FY 2019 Appropriations:

President Trump released his Fiscal Year 2019 budget, “Efficient, Effective, Accountable: An American Budget,” on Feb. 12. The budget includes an addendum that modifies the president’s budget to account for new cap levels that were set in the budget agreement Congress passed a few days earlier. This spending plan would lead to $3 trillion in deficit reductions over the next decade, largely through cuts to social programs and other domestic spending, while simultaneously increasing military spending and spending on other programs that would add $7 trillion to the national debt over the next ten years. Similar to the president’s FY 2018 budget, this document calls for considerable cuts to non-defense discretionary spending, with significant cuts proposed for science, research, and environmental agencies and programs.

This budget reflects the administration’s priorities across the federal government for the next fiscal year and serves as a starting point for Congress. However, it is largely an aspirational document, and it is Congress that ultimately passes the twelve appropriations bills that fund the government. The president’s proposal mainly serves as a messaging tool for the administration.

The week of September 10, the House and Senate both agreed to a conference committee report for minibus of bills passed during the summer, including appropriations for the Department of Energy. The president signed this bill September 21. Congress has also approved another spending package covering appropriations for the Departments of Defense, Health and Human Services, Labor and Education and the president signed this bill.

Congress passed a bill funding for the remaining federal agencies, including NSF, the EPA and the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture on Feb. 15, 2019.

FY 2018 Appropriations:

The FY2018 omnibus spending bill, which funds the government through September 30 2018, provides $1.21 trillion in base discretionary budget authority and $78 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. Defense spending gets a 14 percent increase over FY 2017, while the other eleven appropriations bills get a combined 12 percent increase. The bill largely rejects the deep cuts to science and research that had been proposed in the president’s budget. In fact, it provides the largest increase to research spending since the 2009 economic stimulus package. It also does not include several harmful policy riders that would have rolled back environmental protections and Endangered Species Act requirements and paved the way for repeal of the Clean Water Rule.


Appropriations by Federal Agency

Discretionary spending for relevant federal agencies and programs.


Department of Agriculture

 The Department of Agriculture (USDA) is the federal department in charge of farming, agriculture, forestry, and food. It aims to help farmers and ranchers, promote agricultural production, work to address hunger worldwide, and preserve the nation’s natural resources through conservation, restored forests, improved watersheds, and healthy private working lands. USDA is composed of 29 agencies, including the Forest Service and the Agricultural Research Service.

FY 2021: The president’s budget proposes $21.8 billion for the USDA, an 8% decrease.

FY 2020: The president’s budget proposes $20.8 billion for the USDA, a 15% decrease.

FY 2019: The FY 2019 budget allocated $19.2 billion to the Department of Agriculture, $3.5 billion less than fiscal year 2017 (a 15% decrease).  Among other cuts, it proposed cutting $136 million in funding for conservation programs.

FY 2018: The president’s budget proposed a 21% cut (decrease of $4.7 billion) to USDA’s budget for FY 2018.

Agriculture and Food Research Initiative

The Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI), housed within USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), is the nation’s leading competitive grants program for agricultural sciences. AFRI grants are awarded for research, education, and extension to address challenges facing agricultural producers and systems.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over AFRI: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

The 2018 Farm Bill reauthorized AFRI and continues the authorized full funding level of $700 million through FY 2023.

FY 2021:The USDA FY 2021 budget request calls for $600 million in funding, a 41.18% increase.

ESA request:

The AFRI Coalition, which ESA participates in, requested that Congress appropriates at least $480 million for AFRI. This funding would support cutting-edge research necessary in order to meet U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Perdue’s goal of increasing the nation’s agriculture production by 40 percent and cutting the environmental footprint of U.S. agriculture in half by 2050. Robust investment in USDA-supported research is needed not only to support agriculture and food systems, but to attract, retain, and develop the next generation of scientists to address increasing pressures on our natural resources and advance innovations benefiting all Americans.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total NIFA (discretionary) 1471.341 1527.421 3.81% 1596.017 4.49%
Research and Education Programs 927.649 962.864 3.80% 1067.986 10.92%
Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) 415 425 2.41% 600 41.18%
Sustainable Agriculture Research, Education and Extension 37 37 0.00% 37 0.00%

Source: USDA FY2021 Budget Summary

FY 2020:

Appropriators provided $425 million for AFRI in the FY2020 budget, a 2.4% increase over FY2019 levels.

FY 2019:
The president’s budget keeps AFRI funding flat compared to FY 2017 levels, at $375 million.

The House and Senate appropriations bills increase funding for AFRI. The House funds AFRI at $415 million and the Senate funds AFRI at $405 million.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed to cut AFRI’s budget by 7 percent to $349 million, down from $375 million. Funding for AFRI’s parent agency, the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), would be reduced to $1.2 billion, an 8 percent cut. ESA asked Congress to fund AFRI at $420 million in FY 2018.

The final omnibus bill funded NIFA at 1.4 billion, an increase of 45 million over FY2017 enacted levels. The omnibus also increases funding for AFRI to 400 million.

FY 2017:
USDA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) received a 7.1 percent increase over FY 2016 levels for a total of $375 million in FY 2017.

Agricultural Research Service

The Agricultural Research Service within USDA is the department’s principal research agency devoted to agricultural research and information.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over ARS: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

ARS receives $1.417 billion in the President’s Budget Request, an 11.77% cut.

ESA request:

ESA urged appropriators to fund ARS at a level of $1.789 billion for Fiscal Year 2021. The Agricultural Research Service is USDA’s chief scientific in-house research agency, and as a result of the multidisciplinary research conducted by ARS, America’s agricultural sector is better able to address pests and diseases, drought and water availability, agricultural byproducts, food safety, and agricultural sustainability. In addition to countless research contributions, across the country ARS research projects provide more than 8,000 jobs, directly contributing to local economies. It is of the utmost importance to ensure robust funding for ARS to guarantee that American agricultural innovation continues to remain at the helm of the global research community.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total ARS (discretionary) 1684.466 1607.066 -4.59% 1418 -11.77%
Salaries and Expenses 1303 1414.366 8.55% 1368 -3.28%

Source: USDA FY2021 Budget Summary

FY 2020:

The Agricultural Research Service receives $1.607 billion, a 4.59% cut. The agency’s salaries and expenses account receives a 8.55% increase.

The committee report notes that the bill provides funding increases for the Center for Pollinator Health, harmful algal blooms, pollinator recovery, long-term agroecosystem research, among other priorities. Appropriators instruct the ARS to provide equal funding to all Long-Term Agroecosystem Research network sites and to fill vacant positions.

FY 2019:
The president’s budget cuts total ARS discretionary funding by 5% compared to FY 2017. While the original proposal canceled $192 million for ARS Buildings & Facilities, the addendum restores this amount.

The House bill funds ARS at $1.395 billion and the Senate bill provides $1.301 billion.

FY 2018:

The president’s budget decreases the ARS budget by 22 percent, cutting it from $1.3 billion to $993 million.

ESA asked Congress to fund ARS at $1.3 billion in FY 2018.

The omnibus bill funds ARS at $1.202 billion, a $32 million increase from FY 2017. The omnibus also rejects the president’s budget proposal to close 17 ARS research facilities.

FY 2017:
ARS received a total budget of $1.27 billion, a decrease of $86 million from FY 2016. However, the Salaries and Expenses account within ARS, which funds research programs, received $1.17 billion, which is a 2.3 percent increase over last year’s funding.

US Forest Service

 The US Forest Service, an agency within USDA, manages 154 national forests and 20 grasslands across the country and in Puerto Rico. The Forest Service has a dual-use mandate of ensuring the health, diversity, and productivity of the lands it manages as well as sustaining their productivity. Research is a significant component of the agency’s operations, with the research and development division working in a range of biological, physical, and social science fields to promote the sustainable management of national forests. Key areas of USFS work include managing invasive species, combatting pests and disease, and ensuring healthy fish and wildlife habitats.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over USFS: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

The Forest Service’s 2021 budget request proposes closing the International Institute for Tropical Forestry in Puerto Rico and the Pacific Southwest Research Station, headquartered in California with r

esearch facilities in Hawaii and the U.S. affiliated Pacific Islands. The agency also proposes eliminating ‘lower priority’ research — including fish and wildlife research and recreation research.

ESA request:

ESA requested that the House and Senate appropriations committee include report language supporting the continuation of the wildlife and fish research program and report language prohibiting the Forest Service from closing any research facilities or reducing the number of research-grade scientists and research staff. ESA cited the importance of Forest Service facilities such as the Luquillo Long-Term Ecological Research site in Puerto Rico and the Pacific Islands Institute of Tropical Forestry.  Forest Service fish and wildlife researchers are leading scientists in their fields and specialize in providing applied research to natural resource managers and decision-makers in state and federal government and the private sector.

ESA also requested $16 million for the Joint Fires Science Program, which is funded by both the Forest Service and the Interior Department. Scientific research funded by the Joint Fire Science Program is critical to understanding and properly responding to increasingly severe wildfires in the most productive and cost-effective manner possible.

A coalition of scientific and forestry groups, including ESA, asked for $83 million for Forest Inventory and Analysis, which make up the backbone of scientific knowledge on the current state of the nation’s forests. This critical information is needed to support sound policy and forest management decisions, both public and private, and is
increasingly important for decisions regarding new and expanding market

(numbers in millions) FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY 20
19 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total USFS 6087.132 22.12% 5345 -28%
Forest and Rangeland Research 305 1.67% 249.3 -16.9%
Wildland Fire Management 4300.62 43.12% 2409 -43.98%

Source: Forest Service FY2021 Budget Justification

FY 2020:

The Forest Service as a whole receives 7.433 billion, or a 22% increase, with the agency’s non-fire programs receiving $3.313 billion, a $50 million increase. Forest Service Research and Development receives a $5 million increase and Forest Inventory and Analysis receives $77 million.

FY 2019: The president’s budget for FY19 would reduce the USFS budget by 10 percent. It would provide $2.5 billion to mitigate wildland fire risk, a decrease of over $300 million from FY 2017 but nearly equal to what has been proposed for FY18. It also proposes a legislative solution to establish an annual cap adjustment for wildlife suppression, similar to how other natural disasters are funded.

Other key proposals include:

  • Decreasing funding to Wildlife and Fisheries Habitat Management by $20.7 million
  • A decrease of $20,762,000 for watershed improvements to sustain or restore watershed function and resilience.
  • A decrease of $17,782,000 to Vegetation and Watershed Management

In the House FY2019 appropriations bill, USFS receives $6.1 billion, an increase of $100 million above FY 2018 levels. This budget includes $3 billion for wildland fire prevention and suppression, $297 million for Forest Service Research and Development – a $1 million decrease from FY 2018 – and $19.5 million in new funding to combat pests, diseases and invasive species in forests.

In the Senate bill, USFS receives $6.29 billion, including $349 million in increased funding for wildland fire management. Without the wildland fire management account, the agency receives a $14.48 million increase. The Forest Service’s Research and Development program receives $300 million, a $3 million increase over FY 2018 levels.

FY 2018:

The president’s budget would cut USFS’s budget by 10 percent, decreasing it to $4.7 billion in discretionary spending for FY 2018. Within USFS, Forest and Rangeland Research funding would be reduced 10 percent, and Wildland Fire Management funding would be cut 12 percent. It would also reduce funding for National Forest System land acquisition. As laid out in the president’s skinny budget for FY 2018, the proposal would fully fund wildfire activities at $2.4 billion, 100 percent of the 10-year average for suppression operations.

The FY2018 omnibus bill provides $6 billion for the Forest Service, with $2.8 billion directed to wildland fire prevention and suppression. This includes a $4 million decrease in funding for wildlife and fish habitat management from FY2017 levels and a $4.7 million decrease for watershed and vegetation management. The Forest and Rangeland Research program received an eight million dollar increase and is funded at $298 million.

The spending bill also includes a deal to fix the way that wildland firefighting and forest management are funded by creating an emergency pot of money for  the Forest Service to use when it exceeds its fire-suppression budget. Currently, USFS must borrow from other agency accounts and use funds intended for forest management, research, and other purposes when the cost of fighting wildfire exceeds the amount budgeted for the fiscal year. The omnibus creates a $2.19 billion disaster fund for wildfires in order to end this practice. The deal includes a provision to reverse some of the effects of the Cottonwood Environmental Law Center v. Forest Service case which required additional Endangered Species Act consultation for some forest management projects and another provision to create categorical exclusions from the National Environmental Policy Act for hazardous fuel reduction projects in national forests in areas of up to 3,000 acres.

FY 2017:
The omnibus bill includes $5.6 billion for the Forest Service. More than half of this funding $3.2 billion is targeted to wildland fire prevention and suppression.  In total and across agency budgets, the bill funds wildland firefighting and prevention programs at $4.2 billion, including $407 million in emergency funding. It fully funds the 10-year average for wildland fire suppression costs for both the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service.

USFS FY 2017 funding without wildland fire management funds is $2.42 billion, which is a $27.8 million cut from FY 2016.

The Forest and Rangeland Research program is funded at $288.5 million, which is a decrease of $2.486 million. Additionally, $3 million of this funding must now be used for the USFS contribution to the Joint Fire Science Program.

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Department of Energy

Office of Science: The Office of Science within the Department of Energy is the leading federal agency supporting scientific research for energy and the country’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. The Office of Science supports research in all 50 states and the District of Columbia by providing direct support both of scientific research and of the development, construction, and operation of open-access scientific user facilities. The Office of Science consists of six scientific program offices, of which Biological and Environmental Research is one.

Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE): This office serves to support the development of clean, affordable, and secure energy. Its mission is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over DOE’s Office of Science and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy: Energy and Water Development (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

The Department of Energy’s Office of Science receives $5.76 billion, a nearly 18% cut. The budget again proposes eliminating Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

ESA request:

The Energy Sciences Coalition, which ESA participates in, urged Congress to appropriate at least $7.4 billion in FY 2021 for DOE Office of Science, an increase of four percent real growth above FY 2020. Office of Science plays a vital role in the American scientific ecosystem – a proven model for success in discovery and innovation. DOE Office of Science sponsors research programs vital to American prosperity and security at research universities and national laboratories; helps maintain the U.S. pipeline of science and engineering talent; builds world-class scientific tools and facilities, and supports the network of 17 DOE National Laboratories. The Office of Science’s Biological and Environmental Research supports ecological research.

(numbers in millions) FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Office of Science 7000 6.30% 5800 -17.14%
Biological and Environmental and Research 391 -45.31% 517 -31%
Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy 2790 17.28% 720 -74.19%

FY 2020:

The Office of Science received a 6.3% increase in FY 2020.

Within the Office of Science, Biological and Environmental and Research (BER) receives 750 million, a 6.38% increase. Appropriators direct the Department of Energy to allocate $100 million for the Bioenergy Research Centers. Terrestrial Ecosystems is given $38.2 million, with $10 million going to the Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments Arctic, $8.3 million to the SPRUCE field site, $7 million to Next Generation Ecosystem Experiments Tropics, $5.1 million to AmeriFLUX Long-Term Earth System Observations, and $5 million for pilot studies for new Terrestrial Ecosystem Science manipulation experiments.

Other BER funding levels include $31.8 for Subsurface Biogeochemical Research, $30 million for land-water interfaces research and $15 million for cloud-aerosol research and computing.

FY 2019:
The president’s FY19 budget provides nearly flat funding to DOE’s Office of Science compared to FY17. Within the Office of Science, however, the budget would cut Biological and Environmental Research from $612 million to $500 million, an 18 percent reduction. The budget would cut the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by two thirds, reducing it from $2.1 billion to $696 million. It simultaneously increases funding for Fossil Energy R&D.

As it did in FY18, the president’s budget proposes to eliminate DOE’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E).

On September 21, 2018, the President signed a minibus bill (H.R. 5895) including appropriations for the Department of Energy and the Office of Science. The final bill includes $6.585 for the Office of Science – a 5.2 percent increase – and $705 million for Biological and Environmental Research, a 4.8 percent increase. The bill also increases funding for the Bioenergy Research Centers by 11 percent to $100 million. Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) also retains funding — it receives $366 million — a 3.6% increase.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed a 17 percent cut to DOE’s Office of Science $4.5 billion  The budget also proposed slashing funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 70% and eliminating the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy.

DOE and DOE research programs fared well in the 2018 omnibus bill. DOE Science research programs are funded at $6.26 billion, $868 million above FY 2017. The Biological and Environmental Research program is increased by $61 million for a total of $673 million. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy gets $2.3 billion, about $200 million above current funding. The Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), targeted for elimination in the president’s budget, received record funding of $353.3 million, a $47 million increase above FY 2017.

FY 2017:
For FY 2017, the Office of Science received $5.4 billion for science research – an increase of $42 million above the FY 2016 enacted level.  This funding supports basic energy research, the development of high-performance computing systems, and research into the next generation of energy sources. For the Biological and Environmental Research (BER) program, the omnibus bill provides $75 million for the three BioEnergy Research Centers and $10 million for exascale computing. DOE is urged to give priority to optimizing the operation of BER user facilities.

DOE’s EERE Office FY 2017 funding provides $20 million to support the development of the Synthetic Biology Foundry and $30 million for algal biofuels. DOE is also directed to sustain the investment in development of algal biofuels.

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Department of the Interior

The Department of the Interior (DOI) is the federal department in charge of protecting and managing the majority of the country’s natural and cultural resources. It also provides scientific and other information about these resources. DOI is responsible for most federal land.

FY 2021:
The administration proposes cutting the Interior Department’s budget by 16% to $12.7 billion. This includes cuts to discretionary funding for all of the Department’s major agencies.

FY 2020: 
The president’s budget requests $12.5 billion for DOI, a 14 percent decrease. The budget also requests $28 million to continue work on Interior’s reorganization.

The House appropriations bill does not include funding for reorganization efforts. It also includes a provision blocking offshore drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts and the eastern Gulf of New Mexico. Another amendment increased funding for the Joint Fire Science Program by $1 million to $7 million total.

The House passed a bill funding the Interior Department for FY2020 in June 2019.

FY 2019:
Similar to last year, the president’s budget reduces DOI funding to $11.7 billion, cutting it from $13.5 billion in FY17. It also provides authority for and prioritizes a DOI-wide reorganization, proposing $17.5 million to reorganize the department into 13 regions. Another proposed change is a reduction of funding to the Land and Water Conservation Fund by 92% ($33 million).

FY 2018:
In the president’s FY18 proposal, DOI faced an 11 percent cut to its overall budget, decreasing it to $11.7 billion.

Bureau of Land Management

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) within DOI manages over 247 million acres of public lands. The agency manages for multiple use, including energy development, livestock grazing, recreation, and timber harvesting, as well as for the enjoyment of present and future generations. The BLM administers a 700-million acre subsurface mineral estate and also manages the National Landscape Conservation System.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over BLM: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total BLM 1346.197 1369.838 1.76% 1240 9.50%

Source: Fiscal Year 2021 – Interior Budget in Brief

FY 2020:

The BLM receives $1.37 billion, a less than two percent increase.

In the appropriations report, lawmakers criticize the agency’s plan to relocate its headquarters away from Washington, DC to Grand Junction, CO with many headquarters positions going to locations around the western U.S. Appropriators express concern that the loss of senior staff will lead to decreased agency efficiency and require the Interior Department to brief the Appropriations Committee monthly on its reorganization efforts.

Appropriators direct the BLM to not conduct any oil or gas leasing activities with a ten-mile radius of New Mexico’s Chaco Canyon National Historical Park.

The BLM receives budget increases in both the House and Senate bills. The House bill provides 1.4 million and the Senate provides $1.34 billion. The House bill includes $60 million for sage grouse conservation.

FY 2019:
The BLM budget for FY19 is cut by 17 percent in the president’s budget, reducing it to $1.04 billion. The budget prioritizes the administration’s commitment to American energy dominance.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed $1.1 billion for BLM in FY 2018, a decrease of $165 million, or 13 percent, from FY 2017 enacted funding. The FY2018 omnibus bill funds the BLM at 1.3 billion, an increase of 80 million above FY2017.

FY 2017:
The omnibus appropriations bill for FY 2017 funded BLM at $1.25 billion, an increase of $15.7 from FY 2016. It also provides an increase of almost $8.9 million for greater sage-grouse conservation. The bill funds wildlife and fisheries management at $115.8 million, nearly $14 million above FY 2016, and it provides flat funding of $21.6 million for management of threatened and endangered species.

US Fish and Wildlife Service

The US Fish and Wildlife Service, an agency within DOI, provides important work in habitat conservation and endangered species protection throughout the National Wildlife Refuges, National Fish Hatcheries, fishery resource offices, and ecological services field stations under its jurisdiction. FWS also plays a vital role in interagency efforts to monitor and control the spread of invasive plant and animal species.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over USFWS: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

(numbers in millions) FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total USFWS 1643.52 4.16% 1378 -16.16%
Ecological Services 266.012 5.63% 244.147 -8.22%
Habitat Conservation 70.326 8.18% 70.20 -0.18%
National Wildlife Refuge System 502.404 2.90% 525.32 4.56%
Conservation and Enforcement 148.336 4.99% 145.360 -2.00%
Fish and Aquatic Conservation 205.477 22.87% 156.1 -24.03%
Science Support 17.267 1.12% 0 -100%

Source: Fiscal Year 2021 – Interior Budget in Brief

FY 2020:

Overall, USFWS received a 4% increase, with all major programs receiving increases.

Lawmakers question USFWS’ use of money allocated for the Landscape Scale Cooperatives (LCCs) and require a report detailing how USFWS will engage previous stakeholders and ensure collaborative conservation efforts on a landscape scale. The report should include how USFWS will engage in areas where LCCs have been diminished or dismantled.

FY 2019:
The proposed FY19 budget for USFWS would reduce funding by nearly twenty percent, cutting it from $1.5 billion to $1.2 billion. The budget eliminates funding for the Science Support line item, which includes Adaptive Science and Service Science categories.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed to reduce funding for USFWS by 14 percent to $1.3 billion, down from $1.5 billion.

The FY 2018 omnibus bill funds FWS at $1.6 billion, an increase of $75 million above FY 2017. The bill directs the agency to prioritize funding to reduce the endangered species delisting backlog and refuge maintenance backlog, to fight invasive species, to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking, and to prevent the closure of fish hatcheries. It continues a one-year delay on Endangered Species Act reviews, determinations, and rulemakings for the greater sage-grouse.

FY 2017:
The FWS is funded at $1.5 billion in FY 2017, an $11 million increase above the FY2016 enacted level. Within this amount, the legislation prioritizes funding to reduce the endangered species delisting backlog and maintenance backlog, to fight invasives species, to prevent illegal wildlife trafficking, and to prevent the closure of fish hatcheries.

The ecological services account receives a slight increase for a total of $240 million. Funding is flat for multinational species conservation, while migratory bird management received a slight increase. Adaptive and service science support is flat-funded at $16.9 million.

The omnibus bill also continues a one-year delay on any further Endangered Species Act status reviews, determinations, and rulemakings for the greater sage-grouse. The BLM budget, which is a separate agency within DOI with its own budget, provides a total of $68.9 million for greater sage-grouse conservation activities, including the implementation of the National Seed Strategy, which is an increase of $8.9 million above the FY 2016 enacted level.

US Geological Survey

The US Geological Survey, a branch of DOI, plays a critical role in monitoring and assessing environmental challenges that threaten public safety and the health of our ecosystems. USGS conducts the science necessary to manage our nation’s biological, mineral, and energy resources, including research and monitoring of fish, wildlife, and vegetation.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over USGS: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

ESA Request:

The USGS Coalition, which ESA participates in, requested that Congress fund the USGS at $1.35 billion in FY 2020. The amount would allow the agency to sustain current efforts in scientific discovery and innovation and to make strategic investments that will produce the impartial knowledge and decision support tools needed by decision-makers across the country.

The USGS is uniquely positioned to provide information and inform responses to many of the nation’s greatest challenges. The USGS is an agency that has a distinctive capacity to deploy truly interdisciplinary teams of experts to gather data, conduct research, and develop integrated decision support tools that improve ecosystem management, ensure accurate assessments of our water quality and quantity, reduce risks from natural and human-induced hazards, deliver timely assessments of mineral and energy resources, and provide emergency responders with accurate geospatial data and maps.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total USGS 1180.596 1270.957 9.51% 971.20 -23.59%
Ecosystems 156.882 170.544 8.71% 127.3 -25.34%
Land Resources 158.299 166.274 5.04%
Energy, Minerals, and Environmental Health 111.738 113.536 1.61% 91.2 -19.67%
Natural Hazards 166.258 170.87 2.77% 138 -19.24%
Water Resources 226.308 234.12 3.45% 180.8 -22.77%
Core Science Systems 117.902 137.902 16.96% 212 53.73%
Science Support 102.828 96.828 -5.83% 94.2 -2.71%

Source: Fiscal Year 2021 – Interior Budget in Brief

FY 2020:

USGS receives a 9.5% increase, with the Ecosystems Mission Area receiving an 8.71% increase.

Appropriators reject a proposal from the agency to restructure its mission areas.

Funding for the ecosystem mission areas include $22 million for the fisheries program, $45.9 million for wildlife programs, $38 million for the environmental program and $23.3 million for invasive species. The USGS Cooperative Units receive $24 million, a nearly $6 million dollar increase.  The Trump administration proposed eliminating these units in previous budget requests.

The National and Regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers receive $38.33 million and lawmakers direct USGS to establish a Midwest Climate Adaptation Science Center.

FY 2019:
The FY19 president’s budget would cut USGS funding by 21 percent, from $1.1 billion in FY17 to $860 million. Within USGS, the Ecosystems line item faces a 40 percent cut, Land Resources a 31 percent cut, and Water Resources a 23 percent cut. The USGS budget highlight document explains that the budget “prioritizes funding for critical responsibilities and core mission activities and does not request funding for programs more appropriately funded by USGS partners and those having reached milestones allowing research to continue without further USGS support.

The House bill includes $1.2 billion for the U.S. Geological Survey, $19 million more than in FY 2018. The bill includes funding for the Landsat-9 satellite program.  The Senate bill keeps USGS’ budget flat, relative to FY2018 levels.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed cutting funding for the USGS by $163 million, or 15 percent, to $922 million.

ESA asked Congress to fund USGS at $1.2 billion for FY 2018.

The FY2017 omnibus funding bill provides $1.1 billion for USGS, $63 million above FY 2017. It directs USGS to target critical infrastructure investments in natural hazards programs, stream gages, the groundwater monitoring network, and mapping activities

FY 2017:
The omnibus bill includes $1.1 billion for the USGS, $23 million above the FY 2016 enacted level. Funding is targeted to programs dealing with natural hazards, stream gages, the groundwater monitoring network, and mapping activities. Also, within the total, the bill includes $10 million and fully funds “Landsat 9” – a satellite program that provides land use measurements that are important to local communities for agriculture, forestry, energy, and water resource decisions.

The USGS Ecosystems account is funded for FY 2017 at $159.7 million, which is a $500,000 cut from FY 2016.

The Climate and Land Use Change account is funded at $149.27 million, which is a $9.3 million increase over FY 2016, mainly for land remote sensing. However, the climate variability account within this program is cut by $3.7 million down to $53.58 million in FY 2017.

National Park Service

The National Park Service (NPS) within DOI is responsible for the management of the National Park System. NPS preserves the natural and cultural resources and values of 417 sites covering more than 84 million acres.

FY 2021:

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total NPS 3222 3377.284 4.80% 2793 -17.3%

Source: Fiscal Year 2021 – Interior Budget in Brief

FY 2020:
The National Park Service receives $3.37 billion, a 4.8% increase.

FY 2019:
The FY19 president’s budget proposes a less severe reduction to NPS funding than it did in FY18, cutting it 7 percent to $2.7 billion.

The House bill increases NPS’ budget by $53 million to $3.25 billion. The Senate funds NPS at $3.21 billion.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed reducing the NPS budget by 13 percent to $2.55 billion.

The FY2018 omnibus funds the National Park Service at 3.2 billion, an increase of $255 million above FY 2017.

FY 2017:
The legislation provides $2.9 billion for NPS, an increase of $81 million above the FY 2016 level. This funding provides targeted increases for park operations and maintenance to help reduce the maintenance backlog and addresses other priorities related to the Park Service’s centennial anniversary.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NPS: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

 

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Environmental Protection Agency

The Environmental Protection Agency is a federal agency that exists to protect human health and the environment. The EPA writes regulations that implement environmental laws, sets and enforces environmental standards, educates the public about the environment, and works through partnerships to address environmental issues. In addition, nearly half of the agency’s budget goes to grants that support studies and projects at state environmental programs, non-profits, and educational institutions. The EPA’s Office of Research and Development conducts critical scientific research, studying environmental issues at laboratories across the country and developing ways to address environmental problems.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over EPA: Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021:

ESA Request:

ESA urged appropriators to support  $9.4 billion for the EPA and at least $750 million for Science and Technology. The EPA is vital to protecting both the environment and human health, and the agency’s Science and Technology programs are critically important to its ability to successfully address environmental problems. Without adequate funding, the EPA cannot fulfill its core mission and responsibilities. Strong investments in the EPA are thus essential to ensuring the health of our nation’s citizens and environment.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total EPA 8058.488 9057 12.40% 6658.01 -26.49%
Science and Technology 717.723 716.449 1.41% 485 -32.34%
Clean Air* 116.541 116.064 -0.41% 90 -22.13%
Research: Air and Energy** 94.906 94.296 -0.12% 34 -64.43%
Research: Safe and Sustainable Water Resources 106.257 110.89 4.36% 79 -28.81%
Research: Sustainable and Healthy Communities 134.327 132.477 -1.38% 59 -55.77%
Environmental Programs & Management 2658.2 2663.356 0.19% 2236 -16.04%
Clean Air*** 273.108 273.108 0.00% 164 -40.02%
Geographic Programs 456.958 510.276 11.67% 330.51 -35.23%
Great Lakes Restoration 300 320 6.67% 320 0
Water: Ecosystems 47.788 49.064 2.67% 23 -53.93%

FY 2020:

Overall, the agency receives a 12.4% increase, with a more modest 1.4% increase for Science and Technology programs. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative receives a $20 million dollar increase. The Trump administration has proposed eliminating the program in its President’s Budget Requests.

ESA submitted testimony supporting $746 million for Science and Technology programs with the EPA.

According to agency documents, this budget “provides the direction and resources to return the EPA to its core mission of protecting human health and the environment.” It establishes three new strategic goals related to the core mission, cooperative federalism, and the rule of law and process.

FY 2019:
The president’s FY19 budget, as in FY18, proposes considerable reductions to EPA funding, in many cases similar in magnitude to those in the president’s FY18 proposal. Overall EPA funding would be cut 24 percent to $6.1 billion, and EPA Science & Technology would be cut by 36 percent. Geographic programs, such as Great Lakes Restoration, that were eliminated in the FY18 president’s budget are reduced by 91 percent in this year’s.

The Senate bill keeps EPA funding flat at $8.058 billion. The House bill cuts the EPA budget by $100 million $7.958 billion. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative also retains funding.

FY 2018:
The president’s budget proposed cutting the agency’s funding by 31.4 percent, the largest reduction for any cabinet-level agency. These cuts would have reduced the agency’s overall budget from $8.1 billion to $5.7 billion, and it would have cut EPA Science & Technology funding by 36 percent compared to net FY 2017 appropriations.

The agency received flat funding in FY2018 with a total budget of $8.1 billion. While the operational budget remains about the same, EPA regulatory programs would be reduced, and grant programs would be increased.

FY 2017:
EPA’s overall funding saw a small increase of 1 percent, to $8.06 billion for FY 2017. Congress stipulated in the bill that within one month the EPA must provide in detail its operating plan of how the agency plans to allocate funds at the program project level. The bill also notes that workforce levels are below the FY 2016 level; therefore, the agreement includes rescissions in the Science and Technology and Environmental Programs and Management accounts that capture expected savings associated with such changes. A rescission allows Congress to revoke budget authority previously enacted by law.

Even with the rescission, the Science and Technology Program (S&T) is cut by just under 3.8 percent to $706 million for FY 2017. The $28.2 million in cuts are primarily to research accounts for national priorities, water resources, and sustainable and healthy communities.  The S&T Clean Air and Climate program is flat-funded at $116.5 million.

The Environmental Programs and Management account receives $2.597 billion in FY 2017, which is a $15.68 million cut from FY 2016 funding, primarily from rescission. FY 2017 spending includes $435.8 million for Geographic Programs, which is an $8.1 million increase over FY 2016 for the Gulf of Mexico and the Long Island Sound. It also flat funds the Brownfields program at $25.59. This program’s Clean Air and Climate account receives $273.1 million, flat funded when compared with FY 2016 funding. The Water Ecosystems: Estuary and Wetlands account receives $47.78 million, equal to FY 2016 funding.

 

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National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce, is a scientific agency that focuses on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA conducts research that helps understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts. The agency also works to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources. Research conducted by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration promotes habitat restoration efforts for our nation’s coasts and wetlands while simultaneously preserving biodiversity and conserving the scenic beauty for some of our nation’s most treasured areas. In addition, NOAA supports and coordinated educational activities to enhance public awareness and understanding of ocean-related issues.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NOAA: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (Senate and House)

FY 2021: The NOAA’s FY 2021 budget request calls for $4.1 billion in funding, a 23.4% cut.

ESA request:

The ESA urged Congress to appropriate $5.7 billion in funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for Fiscal Year 2021, including at least $592 million for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and at least $83 million for the National Sea Grant College Program. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) contributes to accurate weather forecasts, enables communities to plan for and respond to climate events such as drought, wildfires and sea-level rise, enhances the protection and management of the nation’s coastal and ocean resources, and supports laboratories and programs across the Unites States. OAR also collaborates with external partners, including 42 universities and research institutions across 23 states and the District of Columbia and 34 University-based Sea Grant College programs. In 2018, the Sea Grant program supported nearly 2,000 graduate and undergraduate students and provided $624 million in economic benefits.

Some numbers are available in supplementary appendices posted by the White House.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY 2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total NOAA 5424.695 5352.178 -1.34% 4100 -23.40%
National Ocean Service 581.567 606.486 4.28% 381 -37.18%
Navigation, Observations and Positioning 226.967 230.456 1.54% 207.7 -9.87%
Coastal Science and Assessment 95.5 101 5.76% 46 -54.46%
Ocean and Coastal Management and Services 259.1 267.5 3.24% 126 -52.9%
National Marine Fisheries Service 908.832 947.657 4.27% 842 -11.15%
Protected Resources Science and Management 196.848 200.664 1.94% 192 -4.32%
Fisheries Science and Management 585.8 615.845 5.13% 54.49 -9.96%
Habitat Conservation and Restoration 56.384 57.125 1.31% 39.048 -31.64%
Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research 525.06 651.328 24.05% 327 -44.58%
Climate Research 159 169.5 6.60% 83.9 -50.5%
Weather & Air Chemistry Research 135.38 133.634 -1.29% 67.66 -49.3%
Ocean, Coastal, Great Lakes Research 218.5 228.5 4.58% 117.25 -48.69%
National Sea Grant College Program 68 74 8.82% 0 -100.00%
Ocean Exploration and Research 42 42 0.00% 32 -23.3%
Sustained Ocean Observations and Monitoring 43 45 4.65% 27.3 -39.33%
National Weather Service 1020.719 1168.645 14.49% 1035 -11.44%
National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service 1700 1513.445 -10.97%
Office of Marine and Aviation Operations 226.42 244 7.76% 238 -2.46%

 

FY 2020:

Overall, NOAA receives $5.35 billion, a 1.34% cut. The National Sea Grant College Program, which the Trump administration proposed eliminating in its FY2020 budget receives an 8.8% increase. Major divisions of NOAA, including the National Marine Fisheries Service, the National Weather Service and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research received significant increases.

Funding for the National Marine Fisheries Service includes $2 million for North Atlantic Right Whale-related research, development and conservation.

FY 2019:

The proposed NOAA budget for FY19 reflects many of the cuts proposed in the president’s FY18 budget. The overall budget is cut by 20 percent, while the National Ocean Service would face a 27 percent cut, National Marine Fisheries Service a 5 percent cut, and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research a 38 percent reduction.

The funding cuts also reduce a number of NOAA programs, including external grant programs, arctic research, and marine observations. The National Sea Grant College Program would be eliminated, a cut that was also proposed in FY18.

In FY2019 House bill, NOAA is funded at $5.2 billion, $751 million less than FY 2018 levels. NOAA cuts largely come from a decrease in spending for weather satellite procurement and the completion of the acquisition of a Hurricane Hunter aircraft. The National Ocean Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service are both receive one percent cut and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric research is cut by 8 percent. The bill cuts funding for NOAA’s climate research program by 38 percent, from $158 million in FY 2018 to $99 million.

In the Senate bill, NOAA receives $5.48 billion, a $426 billion decrease from FY 2018.

FY 2018:

The president’s budget proposed a 16 percent reduction in NOAA’s funding, cutting its budget to $4.8 billion. The National Ocean Service budget would have been  cut by 26 percent, National Marine Fisheries Service by 4 percent, and the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research by 32 percent.

ESA asked Congress to fund NOAA at $6.1 billion for FY 2018.

In the FY2018 omnibus bill, NOAA is funded at $5.9 billion, $234 million above FY 2017 levels. Funding targets priorities included the National Weather Service, fisheries management, weather research, and ocean exploration. Climate research remains flat funded at $158 million, while ocean, coastal, and great lakes is increased by $12 million for a total of $206 million.

FY 2017:
The FY 2017 $5.675 billion appropriation is a slight decrease in overall spending. Most of the decrease is within the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. Programs of particular importance to the ecological community are NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the National Ocean Service (NOS), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS). These offices support intramural and extramural research critical to NOAA’s mission of managing marine and coastal resources to meet the nation’s environmental, economic, and social needs.

Funding for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which supports critical climate change research across the country, was increased by 3.5 percent, from $462 million to $478 million. This office supports laboratories and programs across the U.S. and collaborates with external partners, including 16 NOAA-funded Cooperative Institutes and 33 Sea Grant Institutions, which is funded at $63 million for FY 2017. OAR climate research for FY 2017 is funded at $158 million, which is exactly the same as FY 2016 funding. Ocean, Coastal, and Great Lakes Research is funded at $192.8 million, which is a 2.2 percent increase over FY 2016.

NOS is funded at $517.4 million for FY 2017. The NOS account for Coastal Science and Assessment is funded at $82.6 million. NMFS is funded at $851.5 million, which includes funds for protected resources science and management such as marine mammals and salmon populations.

 

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National Aeronautics and Space Administration

NASA’s Earth Science Division provides satellite data used to view and study the Earth and its dynamic
system of diverse components: the oceans, atmosphere, continents, ice sheets, and life. Ecologists and other scientists use NASA data to observe and track regional and global-scale changes, connecting causes to effects.
Through its partnerships with other agencies that maintain forecasting and decision support systems, NASA helps to advance national capabilities to predict climate, weather, and natural hazards; manage resources, and inform the development of environmental policy.

FY 2021:

NASA receives a 12% increase, with $4.3 billion going toward the administration’s goal to return American astronauts to the moon by 2024 and building “sustainable presence on the lunar surface as the first step on a journey that will take America to Mars.” As in previous years, the administration proposes cutting the Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder and the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE) missions and the agency’s Office of STEM Engagement.

(numbers in millions) 2019 Appropriations FY 2020 Enacted Change from FY 2019 President’s Budget Request 2021 Change from FY 2020 Enacted
NASA 21500 22629 5.25% 25.2 12.00%
Science 6905.7 7138.9 3.38% 6306 -12%
Earth Science 1931 1971.8 2.11% 1768 -10%

Source: NASA budget documents

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National Science Foundation

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the primary federal funding source for the ecological research community. NSF allocates 90 percent of its research funding through a merit review process as grants or cooperative agreements to individual researchers and groups at colleges, universities, academic consortia, nonprofit institutions, and small business. It is the only federal agency that supports research in all scientific fields.

NSF awards reach over 2,000 colleges, universities, and other public and private institutions across the country, and the agency provides critical funding for Science, Technology, Mathematics, and Engineering (STEM) education programs.

NSF’s Biological Sciences Directorate is the primary federal funding sources for basic biological research at US colleges and universities. Its research disciplines include botany, zoology, microbiology, ecology, basic molecular and cellular biology, and other fields that enhance understanding of the natural world and contribute to the development of sustainable solutions to environmental challenges.

Appropriations Subcommittee with jurisdiction over NSF appropriations: Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies (House and Senate)

FY 2021:

In its FY 2021 budget request, NSF proposes $705 million for the Biological Science Directorate, a 10 percent cut from FY 2019 levels. Congress does not set funding levels for individual NSF directorates.

ESA request

The Coalition for National Science Funding, which ESA participates in, urged Congress to appropriate at least $9 billion dollars for NSF. Robust funding allows the United States to address unmet needs represented by the more than $3 billion in high-quality proposals that are submitted each year but cannot be funded, support STEM education research, strengthen broadening participation efforts that connect underrepresented groups to STEM, address massive unmet needs for mid-scale infrastructure project, grow training and early career programs that enable future STEM innovators, and protect major research facilities that enable groundbreaking discoveries.

(numbers in millions) FY 2019 Enacted FY 2020 Final Bill Change from FY2019 Enacted FY 2021 President’s Budget Change from FY 2020
Total NSF 8075 8278 2.51% 7700 -6.50%
Research and Related Activities 6651.5 6737 3.33% 6213 -7.78%
Education and Human Resources 910 940 3.3 930.93 -0.96%
Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction 295.74 243.23 -17.76% 229.75 -5.54%
Agency Operations and Award Management 329.54 336.9 2.23% 345.64 2.59
Office of the National Science Board 4.37 4.5 2.97% 4.21 -6.44%
Office of Inspector General 15.35 16.5 7.49% 17.85 8.18

FY 2020:

NSF receives a 2.5% increase.

Senate appropriators note that that this increase will allow NSF will to support approximately 350 additional research and education grants and 7,800 more scientists, technicians, teachers, and students compared FY 2019

FY 2019:
Compared to other science agencies and programs, the president’s proposed FY19 budget for NSF is not nearly as severe. While the original budget would have reduced NSF funding by 29 percent, cutting it $2.2 billion from $7.5 to $5.3 billion, the addendum accounting for increased budget caps restored this reduction. As a result, NSF would receive flat funding in FY19 when compared to FY17 enacted levels. NSF Research & Related Activities would in fact receive a 2 percent increase. The FY19 budget for Major Research Equipment & Facilities Construction, on the other hand, would be cut 55 percent, from $209 million in FY17 to $95 million. However, this decrease for this account is largely due to the support for two new Regional Class Research Vessels. The decrease for the Agency Operations & Award Management is largely due to the completion of the construction of and relocation to the new NSF headquarters.

In the House bill, NSF receives $8.175 billion in total, including $6.85 billion for research and related activities, a five percent increase over FY 2018. NSF’s major research and research construction account receives a 47 percent increase, including $127 million for three new research vessels. The appropriations report notes that NSF should not allocate less than FY 2018 levels to support existing research infrastructure such as academic research vessels and observational networks.

The Senate bill includes $8.1 billion for NSF. This includes $6.485 for NSF’s research and related activities account – a 4 percent increase, this include the Biological Science Directorate. The bill also provides $95 million to update research facilities at McMurdo Station in Antarctica and and $89.2 million for three Regional Class Research Vessels.

FY 2018:
The president’s FY18 budget proposed an 11 percent cut to the NSF budget, reducing funding to $6.65 billion.

ESA asked Congress to fund NSF at $8 billion for FY 2018, which would represent a 4% increase, adjusted for inflation, over FY 2016 enacted levels. ESA  also urged Congress not to fund the agency by directorate, but rather to continue funding NSF research and related activities overall and allowing the agency to direct resources as necessary.

The omnibus funds NSF at $7.77 billion, $295 million above FY 2017.

  • Research and Related Activities: $6.33 billion, $301 million above FY 2017. Details on how funding will be allocated among directorates are not yet available.
  • Major Research Equipment and Construction: $182.8 million
  • Education and Human Resources: $902 million
  • Agency Operations and Award Management: $328.5 million
  • National Science Board: $4.370 million
  • Office of Inspector General: $15.2 million

FY 2017:
Funding for NSF saw a minute increase of $9 million for its Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction (MREFC) account to begin construction of three regional-class research vessels. Otherwise, the overall funding for the remainder of FY 2017 is flat when compared with FY 2016 levels at $7.47 billion. This includes the research account, which is funded for a total of $5.97 billion.

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Sources: An American Budget – President’s Budget FY 2019, Addendum to the President’s FY19 Budget to Account for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, 2017 Omnibus Appropriations Bill, An Ecologist’s Guidebook to Policy Engagement, AAAS Guide to the President’s Budget, AIP Federal Science Budget Tracker, USGS Coalition Testimony Regarding FY2017 Budget, “America First: A Budget Blueprint to Make America Great Again,” Washington Post, Politico, websites and budget justifications of the following agencies: Environmental Protection Agency, National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Agricultural Research Service, USDA, US Forest Service, USFWS, DOI, USGS, DOE Office of Science  


ESA’s policy activities work to infuse ecological knowledge into national policy decisions through activities such as policy statements, Capitol Hill briefings, Congressional Visits Days and coalition involvement. Policy News Updates are bi-monthly summaries of major environmental and science policy news. They are produced by the Public Affairs Office of the Ecological Society of America.

Send questions or comments to Alison Mize, director of public affairs, Alison@esa.org, or Nicole Zimmerman, Nicole@esa.org.

Visit the ESA website to learn more about our activities and membership.