Importance of Earth Science Recognized in President’s Budget Proposal

Cuts to Planetary Research Remain a Concern, says American Geophysical Union

3 February 2015

WASHINGTON, DC—The following statement is attributable to American Geophysical Union (AGU) executive director/CEO Christine McEntee:

“AGU is very pleased to see the President’s budget proposal recognize the transformative power of science to drive American prosperity and to protect our communities. After years of underfunding for non-defense discretionary science and the destructive impacts of sequestration, the President’s proposed budget would repair the damage done to our capacity for innovation.

Among other initiatives, the proposal outlines a new effort to ‘Invest in American Innovation’ that will increase critical investments in basic research – which serve as the foundation for many of the technological and other types of advancements we rely on today. This includes increased funding for the National Science Foundation, the funding source for nearly a quarter of all federally supported basic research by America’s colleges and universities, by more than five percent.

The President’s proposal also demonstrates a continued recognition of the challenges we face because of climate change, as well as the critical obligation we have to take action. This funding includes efforts such as a $7.4 billion initiative to support clean energy technology programs, $400 million for improved flood risk maps, and programs to help communities and businesses better understand how they can protect themselves against drought, wildfires and coastal storms. It also includes $50 million each for both NOAA and DOI to create offices dedicated to coastal resilience. The NOAA program will provide grants to states, localities, tribes and NGOs to assess vulnerabilities and develop and implement adaptation strategies, and the DOI program will support ecosystem health that protects communities through flood and storm risk reduction.

The proposal also includes a welcome increase for USGS, including for the agency’s efforts to help communities and businesses be prepared for natural hazards such as earthquakes, landslides and volcanoes. In addition, the robust proposed funding for NASA’s Earth Science Division will allow the agency to fulfill its crucial earth monitoring capabilities. However, we are very disappointed to see the cuts to NASA’s Planetary Science programs, which could undermine future missions to explore Jupiter’s moon Europa, and to the Heliophysics division, which could set back research such as how to avoid the impacts of solar storms.

We are excited about the proposal’s $3 billion investment in STEM education. This undertaking clearly demonstrates the President’s commitment to ensuring that the next generation of scientists will be prepared to address the myriad challenges we face, from resources scarcity to the impacts of natural hazards and climate change. This is particularly heartening given that the focus is not solely on K-12 education, but instead also includes funding for programs targeted at the retention of undergraduate students, helping graduate students move into careers in science, and even pushing forward groundbreaking new research on STEM education practices.

We strongly encourage Congress not to lose sight of science’s game changing legacy of driving our economy and improving our quality of life. Investing in science today is an investment in our collective future. American families and businesses deserve nothing less.”

The American Geophysical Union is dedicated to advancing the Earth and space sciences for the benefit of humanity through its scholarly publications, conferences, and outreach programs. AGU is a not-for-profit, professional, scientific organization representing more than 60,000 members in 139 countries. Join the conversation on FacebookTwitter, YouTube, and our other social media channels.

AGU Contact:

Joan Buhrman: 202-777-7509, 571-213-3812 (c), [email protected]