President’s FY 2009 climate science budget proposal remains below the 2001 level


While President Bush has requested an increase in funding for the Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Year 2009, the inflation-adjusted program budget still remains below what it was in 2001, and significantly below the mid-1990s level. This despite growing observed signs of global climatic disruption, and the President’s recurrent insistence that scientific uncertainties needed to be resolved as a precondition to backing a requirement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

This is the first in a series of posts on the FY2009 climate and global change research budget.

See our September 26, 2007 post: “U.S. Climate Change Science Program has been undermined by budget cutbacks”

For the President’s FY 2009 Budget Request:
Analytical Perspectives: Budget of the United States Government, Fiscal Year 2009

For the FY 2009 request for the Climate Change Science Program, see the Analytical Perspectives volume, p.55, Table 5-3. Agency Detail of Selected Interagency R&D Efforts.

USGCRP-CCSP budget for FY 2007 – FY 2009

On February 4, the President submitted his budget request to Congress for Fiscal Year 2009. The request included $2.015 billion for the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP, also known as the Climate Change Science Program, or CCSP, under this Administration). The request is an estimated 7% increase (in real, inflation-adjusted terms) above the FY 2008 appropriated level. 

However, in real terms, the budget is still 18% less than its level in FY 1995, the USGCRP’s peak funding year. It remains lower than in FY 2001, the last budget year under the Clinton-Gore Administration — as it has throughout almost the entire Bush Administration. See USGCRP-CCSP Budget History Table.
And as a graph: Climate change funding by agency FY 1989 – FY 2008, in constant dollars

Moreover, in 2007 certain activities at NASA that previously were not considered part of the USGCRP-CCSP were redesignated into the program budget, thus inflating the overall program budget total from FY 2007 onward when compared directly with previous years. The inflated total served to mask even greater cutbacks in existing research activities. See our September 26, 2007 post.

FY 2009 Budget Request by Agency

Four of the USGCRP-CCSP participating agencies are responsible for roughly 90% of the total program budget. These four agencies — NASA, NOAA, the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Department of Energy (DOE) — have requested budget increases of 12%, 8%, 8%, and 14%, respectively.

The FY2009 climate science budget request does appear to represent a shift away from an overall downward trend since Bush took office; the last such increase occurred in FY 2003, when Congress appropriated nearly 12% more funding than in 2002. The bulk of the FY 2009 increase is slated to go toward much-needed restoration of funding for some essential space-based observation hardware in the NASA and NOAA budgets. This positive trend needs to be accelerated to help restore the harmful budget cuts made in satellite remote-sensing climate observing systems in recent years. 

The Bush Administration has reversed its multi-year run of budget cuts for NASA Earth observing satellites by proposing a $126 million increase (12%) above the FY 2008 estimated level, to $1.204 billion. This includes more than $900 million, to be spent over the next five years, for five new satellites to monitor changes in forests, soil, the oceans, ice, and the atmosphere, all indicators of global change.  Only the first two, listed as top priorities by the National Academy of Sciences, are specified – one to map soil moisture and the other to replace a satellite that monitors ice coverage. 

The White House is asking for $74 million to add back climate sensors and instruments cut from the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) during a 2006 budget review. (We will discuss the new developments with the NPOESS climate sensors in a follow-up post.)

The FY 2009 request for NOAA’s climate programs under the CCSP is $260 million, $20 million above the FY 2008 level, an 8% increase. 
NSF climate and global change programs go up $16 million (8%), from $205 million in FY 2008 to $221 million in FY 2009. 
The DOE climate research budget would go from $128 million to $146 million, a 14% increase.
The Department of Agriculture, the Interior Department’s US Geological Survey, and the US Environmental Protection Agency are all slated for budget cuts in this request:  5%, 9%, and a full 20% respectively. The EPA global change research budget is substantially below what it was during the earlier years of the program in the 1990s. The Administration has made it clear that it does not support a strong climate and global change research role at EPA, even as the need for research on the consequences of climate change — the main focus of EPA’s research program — is generally recognized as having an ever-greater priority.

When the FY 2009 edition of Our Changing Planet, the USGCRP-CCSP annual report to Congress, is published later this year, more information on the program budget will be included.  However, much of the seemingly detailed budget information in the program’s report to Congress has increasingly tended to be presented in such a way as to make it difficult to understand what is happening with specific components of the program, and the shuffling of line items into and out of the program budget crosscut makes it difficult for Congressional staff to exercise responsible budget oversight and for outside groups to understand what is truly happening in the program. Greater budget transparency is one of many aspects in need of reform in this program.

This entry was posted in U.S. Global Change Research Program. Bookmark the permalink.