President Obama's 2014 USGS Budget Proposal Strengthens Science

by | Apr 16, 2013

Reston, Va., April 10, 2013”President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2014 budget request for the U.S. Geological Survey is $1.167 billion, an increase of $98.8 million above the 2012 enacted level, reflecting the Administration's commitment to scientific research and development as the foundation for innovation, socio-economic well-being, environmental sustainability, and sound decisionmaking. This includes science to support the safe and responsible development of domestic energy, protect critical water resources and ecosystems, respond to natural disasters, and advance our understanding and resilience to the effects of climate change.

The proposed 2014 USGS budget priorities include studying energy resources and environmental issues; advancing water monitoring and availability research; supporting the nationwide streamgage network; improving the capacity to quickly and effectively respond to natural hazards; providing information needed to protect priority ecosystems; and enhancing climate change research that is user-focused to address specific needs of natural resource managers across the landscape.

The USGS prides itself in providing relevant and reliable Earth science, and our range of specialized expertise makes us a leader in supporting the President's focus on research and development, said acting USGS Director Suzette Kimball. Starting with science is the foundation for making decisions that ensure the safety of our Nation and a robust and resilient economy. The proposed budget supports programs that are unique to the USGS, ultimately enhancing understanding of our land, its resources, and potential hazards that face us.

Proposed USGS key increases are summarized below. For more detailed information on the President's proposed 2014 budget, visit the USGS Budget, Planning, and Integration website.

New Energy Frontier

To ensure a robust and secure energy future for the Nation, President Obama emphasizes an all-of-the-above strategy, and the USGS has an important contribution in each component of that strategy. Proposed funding increases totaling $4.0 million will support the exploration of geothermal resources on Federal lands as well as research to support mitigation of the impacts of wind energy on wildlife. A total of $18.6 million, an increase of $13.0 million, will support interagency science collaboration between the USGS, the Department of Energy, and the Environmental Protection Agency to understand and minimize potential adverse environmental, health, and safety impacts of shale gas development through hydraulic fracturing.


As competition for water resources grows, so does the need for better information about water quality and quantity. Funding in the 2014 proposed budget includes an increase of $7.2 million to fund more than 400 streamgages that would enhance the ability to monitor high priority sites sensitive to drought, flooding, and potential climate change effects. The budget also includes $22.5 million for WaterSMART, an initiative focused on a sustainable water strategy to address the Nation's water challenges. WaterSMART includes the combined efforts of the USGS and the Bureau of Reclamation.

Natural Disasters

In 2012, the USGS responded to hurricanes Sandy and Isaac, wildfires ravaging the West, worldwide earthquakes, historical floods, and many other natural disasters. The budget proposes $2.5 million to improve rapid disaster response, allowing the USGS to better provide timely and effective science to minimize hazard risks to populations and infrastructure. Funding support includes improvements in early warning and scenario products for earthquakes, eruptions of volcanic ash, landslides and debris flows. In addition, an increase of $1.2 million is proposed to expand seismic networks along the Central and Eastern United States and improve the suite of USGS products that provide situational awareness for responders to gauge earthquake impacts and plan response activities.

Ecosystem Priorities

USGS scientists conduct research and monitoring to understand how ecosystems are structured and function, helping improve sustainable stewardship of the Nation's natural resources. The 2014 budget request includes increases totaling $16.6 million for priority ecosystem science. This includes research to control and manage invasive species, such as Asian carp in the Great Lakes and the Burmese python in the Everglades. The proposed budget includes strong support for ecosystem restoration in the California Bay Delta, Chesapeake Bay, Columbia River, Everglades, Great Lakes, Klamath River, Puget Sound, and Upper Mississippi River as well as efforts to better understand and account for ecosystem services in decisionmaking.

Climate Change Science

The FY 2014 budget request includes a total of $67.8 million for the Science for Adapting to a Changing Climate initiative that advances understanding and enhances resilience in the face of changing conditions. Funding increases for the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center (NCCWSC) and the eight DOI Climate Science Centers (CSCs) will provide applied science and tools to support adaptive and resilient management of natural resources on public and tribal lands, help facilitate coordination of climate change research across Federal agencies, and improve understanding of nationwide challenges such as sea-level rise and drought. Increases in the Climate Research and Development Program will improve understanding of current and future impacts change and needs specific to regional areas. Funding for the Biological Sequestration program in 2014 will advance methodologies and models needed to complete the national biological carbon sequestration assessment and provide science and tools for land and natural resource management.

Land Imaging Satellites

With Landsat 8 successfully launched in February, the USGS is preparing for the handover of operational responsibility from NASA and will continue to operate Landsat ground systems for receiving, processing, and disseminating the valuable imagery. The USGS will also be working with NASA to analyze user requirements and develop a successor mission to Landsat 8, with timing and configuration designed to minimize the risk of a gap in the unparalleled 41-year historical record of this data. Funding to begin work on the successor mission is provided in the 2014 budget for NASA, which will be responsible for the operation, building, and launching of Landsat-class land imaging satellites going forward, in partnership with the USGS.

Critical Minerals and Rare Earth Elements

Many existing and emerging technologies that are important to our economy and national security are generating unprecedented demand for critical minerals. Ensuring an adequate supply of critical minerals depends on learning how they form and where they are most likely to be found in the Earth's crust. An increase of $1.0 million is proposed specifically for USGS research on rare earth elements, which are a type of critical mineral. An additional $1.1 million is proposed to expand research on other high priority minerals critical to American manufacturing.

Additional Science Priorities

The 2014 budget would expand USGS youth programs and partnerships with a proposed increase for the development of a 21st Century Conservation Service Corps, an element of the Youth Stewardship and America's Great Outdoors Initiatives. The budget request would support studies that address environmental impacts of uranium mining as well as emerging contaminants and pathogens. The USGS component of the Big Earth Data Initiative will support standardizing and optimizing the management of data from Earth observations systems, such as water and wildlife monitoring networks, operated by the Department of the Interior to support decisionmaking, scientific discovery, and technological innovation. Increased funding will be provided to begin implementation of the 3D Elevation program, responding to a growing need for high-quality topographic data and a wide range of other three-dimensional representations of the Nation's natural and constructed features to meet needs such as quantification of flood risk and coastal vulnerability to storms.

Budget Reductions

The proposed USGS budget for 2014 includes reductions based on careful and difficult consideration for balancing national Earth science and technology priorities and needs. Proposed reductions include mineral resources research, the Water Resource Research Institutes, the National Civil Application Program, North American Data Buy, and internal administrative costs.


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