The Senate Appropriations Committee has released a draft funding bill for the Department of the Interior and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2015. In general, the Senate would be more generous than the House. For instance, many Interior bureaus would see an increase in funding from the Senate bill and a flat budget from the House bill. The most drastic difference is for EPA, where the House recommended $700 million in reductions, which is 40 times larger than the cuts in the Senate plan.

The bill would provide $1.05 billion for the United States Geological Survey, a 1.4 percent increase. The Ecosystems activity would receive $155.1 million (+$2.3 million). Increased funding would be directed to development of a national ecosystems services framework, support activities for preserving environmental capital, Asian carp monitoring in the Great Lakes region, and research on white nose syndrome in bats. Water Resources would receive $4.1 million in new funding for streamgage research, streamflow information, and groundwater studies.

Other Interior bureaus would benefit under the draft bill. The Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget would increase by 1.6 percent to $1.5 billion. The National Park Service would see an increase of $71.2 million for a total of $2.6 billion in funding.

The EPA would not be so fortunate. Funding for science and technology would decline by 0.8 percent. Overall funding for the agency would decline by 0.2 percent to $8.2 billion.

The Forest and Rangeland Research program at the Forest Service would remain at the 2014 funding level.

The Smithsonian Institution, which is largely supported by federal funding, would receive a $20.4 million increase. About half of that increase would be distributed among individual museums and centers.

The bill is largely a blueprint and is not expected to progress. It is generally anticipated that Congress will pursue a stopgap funding measure when it returns from its summer recess. Lawmakers will likely be in session for only a few weeks in September before adjourning in advance of the November mid-term elections. Passing a continuing resolution would buy some time before Congress has to pass a catchall funding bill to fund the entire federal government for fiscal year 2015.

 


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