of Concerned Scientists
February 22, 2005
Bush Administration FY06 Budget—Highlights
President George W. Bush recently released his
comprehensive budget request for fiscal year 2006 (FY06). The
administration has slightly reduced funding for the missile defense
system and did provide significant cuts in new nuclear weapons
requests while allowing for an increase in nuclear nonproliferation
programs. And while the administration’s budget for renewable
energy resources, clean vehicle tax credits, hydrogen energy research,
and cleaner school buses address some of the nation’s energy
and transportation needs, it fails to provide the long-term size
and scope required to ensure a cleaner, more secure energy future.
The Bush budget is also replete with a number of anti-environmental
requests. Funding cuts for forest fire protections and endangered
species, and a backdoor attempt to open the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge to oil and gas drilling, are just a few examples of regressive
policy initiatives within this budget. UCS will oppose cuts to
many of these programs and will seek to support policies for a
safer, more sustainable world.
Clean Air and Climate
Food and Environment
Clean Air and Climate
The proposed budget includes $354 million for the Department of
Energy's (DOE) renewable energy programs—a 5.6 percent reduction
from the proposed 2005 budget. Under the administration’s
proposal, hydrogen and wind would receive a boost, with five and
seven percent funding increases, respectively. The overall decrease
in DOE renewable energy funding, however, reflects a reduction
in spending on other renewable technologies such as solar, geothermal,
and bioenergy. Unfortunately, the mature, polluting fossil fuel
industry continues to receive more than 30 percent additional
DOE funding than the struggling renewables industry, despite the
fact that investing more in renewable energy would improve our
energy security, save consumers money, boost rural economies,
and cut global warming pollution. UCS calls for a doubling of
the DOE renewable energy budget to help our country shift to a
smarter, cleaner energy future.
The budget also proposes cutting more than half
of the $23 million in renewable energy and energy efficiency funding
that Congress included in the 2002 Farm Bill (HR 2646, sec. 9006).
The proposed cut would hurt farmers, ranchers, and small rural
businesses by minimizing a grant and loan program that supports
energy efficiency improvements and the purchase of renewable energy
systems such as wind turbines, solar electric panels, and biomass
production equipment. At a time when many people in rural communities
face economic challenges, funding these projects would help establish
an additional income source for landowners, create jobs, and lower
energy costs for rural consumers. When the Bush administration
made similar attempts to slash this program last year and in 2003,
UCS worked with coalition partners to successfully restore the
full $23 million during the congressional appropriations process.
We will push for full funding of the program again this year.
The proposed funding for all energy efficiency programs is $847
million, 2.3 percent lower than the administration’s 2005
proposed funding. The budget proposes funding cuts for important
energy efficiency programs such as low-income weatherization,
building and industrial technologies, and federal energy management.
As our nation faces soaring natural gas prices and over-reliance
on unstable and polluting energy sources, UCS believes that now
is the time for across-the-board increases in efficiency funding
that will save consumers money, create jobs, and cut pollution.
Several programs supporting climate change research are slated
for cuts in the administration's budget. Among the cuts is the
Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), which coordinates federal
research on climate change across 13 federal agencies. The CCSP
funding is set at to $1.9 billion, down from the $2 billion it
has received for the last several years. For NASA's Earth Systematic
Missions to study climate change, the administration proposes
a 40 percent ($118 million) reduction in funding. UCS will work
hard to restore this funding.
The enormous budget deficit has finally caught up to the ballistic
missile defense program, as the Bush administration cut its budget
by $1 billion from last year’s level. Still, at $9.6 billion,
it remains the single largest program in the $438.8 billion defense
budget.* Despite that huge budget, the Bush administration missed
its own goal of deploying a national anti-missile system in 2004.
Now apparently it will not declare the system "operational"
at all but instead further develop an undefined "emergency
alert" capability. Given two recent test failures, we will
call on Congress to stop funding for the system, at least until
it is proved to work in realistic testing.
* Note that overall figure does not include costs
of the war in Iraq, for which the administration will request
$80 billion more.
Late last year, in an enormous victory, Congress eliminated funding
for the administration’s most controversial programs to
develop new nuclear weapons capabilities, specifically a planned
new nuclear bunker buster and other "advanced concepts"
research. Congress also increased the amount of money for dismantling
excess existing nuclear warheads. This year, the Bush administration
again requested funds for the bunker buster, but only $8.5 million,
down from a $27 million request last year. We expect to successfully
challenge this request this year.
Preventing Nuclear Terrorism
In the budgetary arena, UCS has focused its nuclear terrorism
work on efforts to increase funding for programs to prevent the
spread of highly enriched uranium, the material most vulnerable
to theft and easiest to turn into a nuclear bomb. Congress and
the Bush administration are beginning to agree. Last year the
administration created the Global Threat Reduction Initiative
to focus efforts in this area, and Congress increased funding
for it by $30 million. This year, the administration increased
its request slightly over last year's final level, to $98 million.
Still, funding for all programs designed to halt the spread of
nuclear weapons, which now totals around $2 billion for a range
of activities (some of which UCS does not support), is dwarfed
by funding for missile defense.
Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicles and Infrastructure
The administration in proposing $322 million in spending for research
and development of hydrogen power and fuel cell vehicles, an increase
of $20.1 million over what Congress enacted last year. What is
missing is a coherent policy vision to ensure the money, if approved
by Congress, is spent wisely. Fuel cells and hydrogen hold significant
long-term promise, but this promise will only be realized if the
nation pursues renewable sources of hydrogen. The administration's
budget is heading in the wrong direction in that it provides significant
increases in federal dollars for hydrogen production from fossil
fuels and nuclear power while proposing further cuts in renewable
energy and efficiency programs. The UCS Clean Vehicles and Clean
Energy programs will continue to work with Congress to ensure
that federal dollars go toward the development of the cleanest
fuel cell technology, renewable sources of hydrogen, and other
vehicle technology improvements that will realize environmental
benefits in the near term—not just 25 years from now.
Clean Vehicle Tax Incentives
The administration again calls for performance-based tax credits
of up to $4,000 for certain hybrid vehicles and $8,000 for fuel
cell vehicles. Unfortunately, the budget does not clarify how
clean a vehicle has to be to be eligible for the credits, a key
provision to ensure that vehicles that are "clean" in
name only are not federally subsidized. UCS has been working over
the last several years to advance a comprehensive package of vehicle
tax credits that ensure strong fuel economy and emissions performance
of eligible vehicles. Congress did not pass this package as part
of energy legislation last year but did extend for one year the
existing tax deduction for hybrid vehicles. We will be working
this year to ensure that any consumer tax credits will be pegged
to environmental performance and in support of tax benefits encouraging
auto companies to retool existing factories to produce advanced
technology vehicles in the United States.
Clean School Bus & Diesel Cleanup
One of the many casualties of the constrained budget situation
is the Clean School Bus USA Program at the Environmental Protection
Agency (EPA). Last year, the administration requested $65 million
in funding for the EPA to administer a national clean school bus
program. This year, the request is a modest $10 million. This
follows on the $7.4 million that was actually appropriated by
Congress last year. UCS has been working with partners across
the country to promote the passage of a multi-year grant program
in Congress and to ensure that the EPA spends its school bus funding
in a balanced way—helping school districts both to replace
their oldest, dirtiest buses and to retrofit newer buses built
after 1990. The administration has also requested $15 million
for work on retrofitting older heavy diesel vehicles with pollution
control technologies. This may give the opportunity for UCS to
work with the EPA to more aggressively tackle diesel pollution
from existing vehicles on a nationwide level.
Food and Environment
The Bush administration wants to slash vital conservation
and sustainable agriculture programs of the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) in FY06, as it has done in prior years. Overall,
the budget calls for a 28 percent cut to USDA conservation programs,
with some programs taking an even bigger hit. For example, the
Conservation Security Program, which provides financial rewards
to farmers and ranchers who implement soil, water, and other conservation
practices on working lands, is cut by 58 percent compared with
full funding. The budget whittles 22 percent from Sustainable
Agriculture Research and Education, a program that funds nationwide
research and education on environmentally sound farming systems.
The budget completely eliminates two programs that support organic
agriculture, the Sustainable and Organic Farming Outreach and
Information Program and organic farming transition research. We
will work diligently to restore funding for these vital programs.
Arctic Wildlife Refuge
The Bush administration has included revenues from leasing the
coastal plains of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil
drilling. This approach is an attempt to block a full debate on
the merits of drilling for oil in the pristine Arctic Refuge.
In accordance with Senate rules, the budget bills can not be filibustered.
Thus, it can pass with a simple majority, instead of the 60 votes
required to overcome a filibuster. If a budget resolution including
proposed revenues from the Arctic is passed, then language that
will remove the Arctic Refuge's protection from drilling will
be included in an overall budget reconciliation bill.
The Forest Service is set to have its funding significantly reduced.
The cuts include a 26 percent reduction in funding for wildland
fire management activities such as fire assistance grants. Forest
health programs are also facing cuts. While regular wildfire funding
would see a very small total increase, funding for other fire
operation is to be reduced by 40 percent.
The proposed budget decreases overall funding for endangered species
programs by $3 million. Among the cuts are funds for candidate
species conservation, which are cut by 11 percent, and funds for
recovery programs, which are cut by eight percent. The budget
does propose a small increase in funding for listing and consultation.
However, the listing budget of $18.1 million is still well short
of the $153 million wildlife officials have said is needed to
study the more than 250 species on the Fish & Wildlife Services'
candidate list for endangered species.
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