Another Action Alert: Tell Congress to support science and education in Federal Agencies

Since it seems to be Action Alert Friday, let me share another one that just arrived in my inbox from the Ecological Society of America – this one is about urging congress to act responsibly towards science and education funding as they draft their alternative to the Bush administrations 2008 fiscal year federal budget proposal. I’m pasting the entire message from ESA below the fold.

Dear ESA Member:

The Bush Administration unveiled its budget proposal for fiscal year 2008 in February and Congress is in the process of reacting to that proposal and developing its own plans for the federal budget. That means that now is an excellent time to contact Congress and encourage support of science and education at federal agencies. By clicking on the links under each agency listed below, you may access the template letters on the ESA website.

ESA encourages you to use the template letters to contact your Representative and Senators. We recommend sending either by fax or email with ‘Constituent Letter’ on the subject line. Use the following link to determine your congressional delegation and their contact information

If you would like further information on the budget proposed by the Administration for the coming fiscal year, please see the AAAS Report at . Chapter 17 of that report provides an analysis of the biological and ecological sciences in the proposed budget.

ESA’s Public Affairs Office would appreciate a copy of your comments. Please e-mail comments or any questions to Nadine Lymn, Director of Public Affairs at [email protected].

The Savannah River Ecology Laboratory’s funding from DOE will be exhausted at the end of May 2007 and as a result will likely be forced to close. SREL has worked with Savannah River Site to implement a new 5-year cooperative agreement with task-based funding, similar to what has been used for the past 20-plus years. The funds have been budgeted and are actually at the SRS to complete these tasks, however DOE has not released these funds to SREL. SREL programs are more important than ever, performing environmental evaluation for SRS programs that will process new nuclear materials.

The Administration is proposing a $8.8 million cut to the Human Health & Ecosystems Program that would nearly completely eliminate the extramural ecosystem program. Also, a $5.75 million cut is proposed to the Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) of which some $800,000 that has funded long-term surface water monitoring in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic for 20 years would be cancelled. Funding for EPA’s Science to Achieve Results (STAR) fellowship would be cut by $1.8 million under the President’s budget plan.

A $17 million decrease is proposed for the Forest and Rangeland Research budget. Fire suppression costs have been increasing and have contributed to the erosion of the agency’s R&D portfolio. The budget request does support the agency’s long-range goal of increasing extramural research.

NOAA supports intramural and extramural research related to its mission to “understand and predict changes in Earth’s environment and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources to meet our Nation’s economic, social, and environmental needs.” The majority of the agency’s research is supported through the agency’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, which would stay essentially flat funded. The National Ocean Service, a mission-driven unit, would continue its decrease in funding since fiscal year 2005 while the National Marine Fisheries Service would reflect no marked change since fiscal year 2003.

NSF is the primary federal funding source for basic, non-medical biological research, funding about 68 percent of this research at universities and other non-profit research institutions. Under the Administration’s budget proposal, the Biological Sciences Directorate would receive a 4.1 percent increase, in contrast to the proposed 7.7 percent agency-wide increase. The budget would provide $24 million for the National Ecological Observatory Network, $15.9 million of it coming from the Research and Related Activity funds.

The Administration proposes that the agency’s core education portfolio grow by 7.5 percent in fiscal year 2008 after remaining flat in 2007. But the Education and Human Resources budget would still lag 19 percent behind its 2004 funding levels. In a turn-around from its previous proposals, the Administration would keep the Math and Science Partnerships program as a multi-agency program. (Previously President Bush sought to transfer it under the sole jurisdiction of the Department of Education). However, the program is slated for flat funding.

As the science agency for the Department of the Interior, USGS provides the expertise informing conservation and management of biological species and ecosystem management. Biological Resource Discipline programs would see an increase of $8.5 million. The budget would also include funds to pay for fixed cost increases, an expense that has not been fully funded in recent years.

The Administration proposes a $10 million cut to the National Research Initiative, the nation’s premier competitive research program for fundamental and applied agriculture research.

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