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Presidentís 2015 Budget Proposes $1.1 Billion for the USGS

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Wednesday, March 5th 2014
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Targeted investments advance research on climate change and earth sciences to support community safety, health, and economic growth

March 4, 2014, Reston, VA - The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2015 budget request for the U.S. Geological Survey is $1.1 billion, an increase of $41.3 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. The FY 2015 Budget reflects the President’s ongoing commitment to scientific discovery and innovation to support decision making in addressing critical societal needs and to support a robust economy, while protecting the health and environment of the Nation.

The Budget includes increases totaling $76.4 million to advance key research and development priorities in the sustainable stewardship of natural resources, as identified in the USGS Science Strategy and Department of the Interior and Administration initiatives.  This includes robust funding for science to support the sustainable development of energy and mineral resources, water resources management; ecosystem restoration and management; wildlife and environmental health; and climate resilience.

“The USGS has a strong 135-year legacy of providing reliable and relevant scientific information to decision-makers,” said Suzette Kimball, Acting USGS Director. “The President’s proposed budget recognizes the USGS is uniquely positioned to support our Nation’s needs through multi-disciplinary earth science research. This is key for understanding our land, its resources, and our changing climate.”

Key increases in the FY 2015 Budget are summarized below. For more detailed information on the President’s 2015 budget, visit the USGS Budget, Planning, and Integration website.

Science Research, Monitoring, and Tools to Support Climate Preparedness and Resilience

The FY 2015 Budget includes $67.6 million for Climate Change Science for a Changing world, a program increase of $18.2 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. The budget provides funding to the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center/DOI Climate Science Centers Program, the Climate Research and Development Program, and the Biologic Carbon Sequestration Project for research and the development of information and tools to help communities, States, Tribes, and the Federal government understand, plan for, and respond to the impacts of global change.  Resilience in the face of a changing climate requires that the Nation prepare for an increasingly wide range in temperature and precipitation patterns, which could impact all sectors of society, infrastructure, and natural systems.  Natural resource managers and infrastructure planners face complex challenges under changing conditions such as drought, wildfire, flooding, and sea level rise. The USGS provides science necessary to inform planning and resource management strategies to help mitigate and adapt to changing conditions.

Restoring, Protecting, and Sustainably Managing Ecosystems

The FY 2015 Budget request includes a total of $52.9 million for Ecosystem Priorities, an increase of $12.4 million above the FY 2014 enacted level. Increases in FY 2015 provide support for research and development to advance ecosystem restoration in key landscapes, such as the California Bay-Delta and the Chesapeake Bay ($1.5 million each), the Puget Sound ($1.1 million), the Columbia River ($850,000) and the Upper Mississippi River ($200,000).  These multi-disciplinary projects are designed to serve local ecosystem management needs and develop knowledge and approaches that are transferable to similar ecosystems across the nation.

Invasive plants and animals cause significant costs to society and impacts to the health of human and natural systems, including transmitting diseases, threatening fisheries, clogging waterways, increasing fire vulnerability, and adversely effecting ranchers and farmers.  Increases of $4.5 million for invasive species research focus on brown treesnakes in Guam, invasive species in the Everglades, Asian carp in the Great Lakes and Upper Mississippi, and new and emerging invasive species of national concern. 

The Budget provides a number of other increases to understand and manage ecological resources in priority areas, including $500,000 for managing and restoring landscapes after wildfires and $300,000 for research on pollinators critical to ecosystem health.  The Budget provides $2.8 million for the development of critical ecosystem services tools to enable agencies to manage multiple sources of information into assessment products for land and resource management.  Efforts to engage the next generation are illustrated with a requested increase of $2.7 million for the USGS’ Earth Scientists for Tomorrow initiative, which will be carried out in partnership with the Cooperative Research Units.

Sustainable Development of Energy Resources

The 2015 Budget provides $40.7 million for USGS research on conventional and renewable energy.  The Budget supports the responsible development of renewable and conventional energy resources, with increases of $1.3 million for geothermal energy resource assessments on Federal lands, $8.3 million for studies on hydraulic fracturing, and $500,000 on research on energy development in the Outer Continental Shelf.  The Budget supports the safe and responsible production of natural gas and cleaner energy from fossil fuels, including research and development to enable safe and responsible natural gas production.  A total of $18.6 million is provided for the USGS as part of a $48 million interagency R&D initiative aimed at understanding and minimizing potential environmental, health, and safety impacts of unconventional gas resource development and production through hydraulic fracturing.  This research is being coordinated between the USGS, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency and focuses on timely, policy-relevant science to enable prudent development while protecting human health and the environment. The development of unconventional oil and gas resources through hydraulic fracturing plays an important and rapidly growing role in the domestic energy portfolio of the Nation, and the USGS has unique capability to provide critically needed science to inform decisions.

Water Challenges

The FY 2015 Budget provides $210.4 million for the USGS Water Mission Area, $3.1million above 2014 enacted.  The request includes $14.5 million for the WaterSMART program, which is an increase of $6.4 million above the 2014 enacted level.  As competition for water resources grows for activities like farming and energy production, so does the need for information and tools to aid water and natural resource managers.  The 2015 Budget includes an increase of $2.4 million for the groundwater-monitoring network and $2.0 million for grants to State water resource agencies to improve the availability and quality of water-use data they collect and to integrate those data with the USGS Water Census.  The Budget also proposes increases of $1.2 million to fund more than 50 streamgages in the National Streamflow Information Program, $1.0 million to expand work related to water availability issues on tribal lands, $750,000 for national hydrologic modeling for groundwater sustainability, and $700,000 to develop and improve the next generation of streamflow measurement techniques.

Earth Observations and Data to Support Global and Landscape Scale Understanding

The 2015 Budget invests in Earth observation systems, data, and tools to support understanding and management of lands and resources on a global and landscape scale.  This includes continued funding for the operation of the Landsat satellite program, which is celebrating the anniversary of the successful launch of Landsat 8, continuing the program’s 41 year history of imaging the Earth’s surface.  In 2015, the USGS will continue to work with NASA to analyze user requirements and implement a 20-year sustained land imaging program to provide for Landsat data continuity.  Funding for the land imaging program is provided in the 2015 budget for NASA, which will be responsible for development of a sustained, space-based, global land imaging capability.  Increases in FY 2015 for the USGS will support improving the accessibility and usability of Landsat data and products, particularly in resource decision making. 

The Budget invests in numerous landscape scale earth observation and data efforts including the Federal Geospatial Platform, which provides the Nation with access to science, information, and geospatial frameworks for use in planning, natural resource management, and a myriad of other societal uses.  Reflecting the multitude of societal benefits derived from Lidar elevation data, the Budget requests a $5.2 million increase for the 3D Elevation Program (3DEP) initiative as well as increased funding for collecting data and updating elevation maps in Alaska.  A $2.0 million increase will support the Big Earth Data Initiative, which is working to make scientific data collected by the Federal government easier to find and use.

Environmental Health

The 2015 budget request proposes funding for research on the impacts of human activities that introduce chemical and pathogenic contaminants into the environment and threaten human, animal, and ecological health.  Increases proposed include $3.2 million to study the environmental impacts of uranium mining on public lands in the area of the Grand Canyon and $1.5 million to support a national assessment of 800 common and emerging contaminants in stream systems.

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