In addition to the NAWQA and Toxics cuts, the president's proposed budget
would cut the National Streamflow Information Program (NSIP) by $2.1 million,
while increasing the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's
budget by $4.5 million, specifically for improved flood and river forecast
services in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast. But the information
NOAA relies on for these services is stream gaging information from NSIP.
The budget also suggests eliminating all federal support for the State
Water Resources Institute Program. The current funding for the program
is $6 million. The proposed cuts would eliminate federal grants, which
use the federal funding along with state matching funds for the education
of future hydrologists.
The USGS Toxics program is not the only one the proposed budget slates
for a transfer to NSF. The budget would also transfer the National Oceanic
and Atmospheric Administration's $57 million Sea Grant program and the
Environmental Protection Agency's $9 million Environmental Education program.
Early budget leaks had discussed these transfers along with a move of
three Smithsonian Institution research facilities. The Smithsonian transfer
generated the most controversy, including a masthead editorial in the
New York Times. That transfer was not included in the final budget
Overall, NSF would receive a 5 percent increase in its budget. In the
geosciences, the NSF budget would increase 13.4 percent to a total of
$691.1 million. Without the three program transfers, however, the increase
in geosciences is a more modest 1.2 percent.
NSF reports that it will try to facilitate smooth transitions for existing
research projects within Toxics, Sea Grant and the Environmental Education
The Office of Management and Budget is citing NSF as a model organization,
largely because it sends out nearly all of its money as grants in a peer-reviewed,
openly competitive process. "And that's proven to give good results
year after year," says John Marburger, director of the Office of
Science and Technology Policy.
Lisa M. Pinsker