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Press Releases :: March 10, 2010

Funding R&D Programs at EPA and NOAA is Vital to Combating Economic and Public Health Threats, Committee Agrees

(Washington, DC) – Today, the House Committee on Science and Technology held a hearing to examine the Administration’s FY 2011 budget requests for the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Science and Technology (S&T) Programs and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Committee Members stressed their appreciation for continued support and increased funding for the research programs and S&T budgets overall, but also were concerned with the levels of funding for programs researching climate change and air quality.
 
“When air and water pollution become a threat to our public and economic health, we need strong science and research programs at NOAA and EPA to help us understand the problem and respond. It is time to move these agencies, their missions, and our country forward by giving them the resources they need to fulfill their responsibilities,” stated Chairman Bart Gordon (D-TN).
 
EPA leads the nation's environmental science, research, education and assessment efforts. Since the 1970s, these investments have been critical to protecting the environment and the health of humans and animals around the world. EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD), the agency’s primary research arm, supports and funds several of the agency’s key research program areas: clean air, drinking water, water quality, human health risk assessment, global change, health and human ecosystems, pesticides and toxics. ORD also funds the Science to Achieve Results (STAR) grant program, which invests in the next generation of environmental scientists by awarding contracts and supporting fellowships and research at colleges and universities.
 
EPA’s FY 2011 budget request is $10 billion – a 2.7 percent decrease from the FY 2010 enacted levels; of that, $847 million is requested for the agency’s S&T programs. EPA’s ORD will receive roughly 68 percent of the S&T funding – $605 million. Within the ORD’s budget proposal, $88 million is requested for the STAR program, a $26 million increase from the FY 2010 enacted levels.  
 
“We applaud the Administration for the substantial increase in funding for the STAR Grant and Fellowship Program. As this Committee prepares to reauthorize the America COMPETES Act, it is equally important for our federal agencies to recognize the value in investing in our future scientists and engineers,” said Gordon. “However, the budget request appears to lack funding in certain areas that are key to protecting our environment, both now and in the future. For example, research on global change and ecological services is important to improving the quality of life for every American. I don’t see this reflected in EPA’s research budget.”
 
NOAA is the agency responsible for weather forecasting, climate prediction, and the management of fisheries, coastal, and oceanic sciences. NOAA is also responsible for mapping and charting coastal areas, operating a constellation of satellites, and providing other navigation support services. NOAA’s Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the agency’s primary research arm, supports and funds more than half of the agency’s research programs in areas such as ocean acidification, tornado and severe storms, and weather and air quality. The National Weather Service (NWS), which provides weather, hydrologic, and climate forecasts and warnings for the U.S., is also under NOAA.  

NOAA’s FY 2011 budget request is $5.5 billion, a 17 percent increase from the FY 2010 enacted levels. OAR will receive $16 million, approximately a four percent increase from FY 2010 enacted levels. Within OAR’s budget proposal, $11.6 million is requested for the Integrated Ocean Acidification Research Program. NOAA’s NWS will receive roughly $1 billion, a less than one percent increase from the FY 2010 enacted levels. The budget proposal continues support and funding in several areas, such as strengthening the U.S. Tsunami Warning Network ($23 million) and the Next Generation Weather Radar ($46 million). 
 
"I am very pleased to see a significant increase in funding for NOAA's Integrated Ocean Acidification Research Program authorized by my Federal Ocean Acidification and Monitoring Act of 2009. Ocean acidification is a deeply troubling problem impacting all levels of the marine food web, and NOAA's research is critical to understanding this problem," said Energy and Environment Subcommittee Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).
 
“NOAA’s dedicated scientists use cutting-edge research and tools to provide the public, city planners, emergency managers and other decision makers with reliable information. NOAA’s missions are large and diverse. Sound investments are needed in the agency’s workforce, equipment, and research and education programs,” added Gordon. “For the first time in a long time, the budget request for NOAA has been increased. This is a step in the right direction.”
 
For more information on the Committee’s work on the budget, EPA, or NOAA, please visit the Committee’s website.
 
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