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Item #d95jul136

In late June, the House and Senate reached agreement on a budget resolution intended to balance the U.S. federal budget by fiscal year 2002. The resolution, which does not require President Clinton's signature but sets limits on spending bills Congress can subsequently pass, hits hard on climate and energy research and the Clinton Administration's Climate Change Action Plan. The discussion in the House and Senate leading up to the resolution included proposals to eliminate the Department of Energy and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and drastically cut funding for the NASA Earth Observing System and research on global warming and renewable energy. These proposals are reflected to varying degree in the resolution.

An indication of the attitude driving these cuts are recent comments by Representative Dana Rohrabacher, chair of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Environment, who said the 1996 budget assumes global warming to be "at best unproven and at worst to be liberal claptrap" (Science, p. 1695, June 23, 1995). Countering this sentiment, Robert Watson of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy presented scientific arguments against the Congressional attack on environmental science, at the spring meeting of the American Geophysical Union in Baltimore. His points are summarized on p. 21 of Chem. Eng. News, June 19, 1995.

A summary of the seven-year budget plan appears in ibid., pp. 4-5, July 3. For other discussion of budget proposals see (all 1995): Global Environ. Change Rep., pp. 1-3, June 9; Chem. Eng. News, p. 20, June 19; Intl. Environ. Rptr., pp. 499-500, June 28 (on a proposal to eliminate the U.S. contribution to the Global Environment Fund); Nature, p. 618, June 22 (focuses on potential impacts on NOAA and DOE laboratories in the Boulder, Colorado, area); ibid., p. 347, June 1 (on a proposal to dismantle NOAA); ibid., p. 266, May 25 (on NASA restructuring and cuts to the EOS program).

Two different plans for drastically shrinking the Department of Energy budget have been proposed by House Republicans, one of which would dismantle the agency and lead to the closing, consolidation or sale of many of its 30 national laboratories. (See Science, p. 1559, June 16, 1995; Nature, pp. 523-524, June 15, 1995.) Aside from such budget threats, an independent task force has proposed new energy R&D goals at the Department of Energy, and an impending General Accounting Office report finds that DOE is "at a critical juncture in its history." (See Chem. Eng. News, pp. 22-23, June 26, 1995.)

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