HALL COMMENTS ON PRESIDENT'S FY09 BUDGET PROPOSAL FOR SCIENCE
Science and Technology Committee Ranking Member Ralph Hall (R-TX) today made the following statement regarding the President's Fiscal Year 2009 (FY09) budget request:
"Overall, I am very pleased with the President's proposals for science research and development spending for FY09. President Bush has remained committed to the goals of his American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI), which he announced in 2006. His FY09 budget keeps key science agencies such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the DOE Office Science, and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) on a path to double within ten years. In a very tight budget environment, considerable increases for these agencies shows a real commitment to the sciences.
"I also share the President's disappointment that Congressional appropriators failed to make it a priority this fiscal year to keep us on that doubling path by adequately funding the critical basic research portions of the America COMPETES Act at the authorized levels or, for that matter, at the levels requested by the President. These investments are imperative if we are to continue to lead the world in innovation. We must go beyond talk and show a commitment to sustained investment in science and technology.
"On the energy front, the President followed up on his call for clean energy solutions from his State of the Union address last week. The budget proposes a ten percent increase to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, anticipating a surge in applications for new nuclear reactors. Similarly, DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy requested a research and development increase of $371 million. Nuclear energy is a safe and clean source of electricity, and I think it should be a larger part of the nation's energy portfolio.
"The President has also supported clean energy by significantly increasing activities in the area of carbon capture and storage. The FY09 budget request for coal is the highest in 25 years. Coal is our nation's most abundant energy resource, and the President has demonstrated a commitment to utilizing clean coal technologies. My hope is that the restructuring of FutureGen does not create unnecessary delay in achieving the integration of clean coal technology into our Nation's power plants. Advanced clean coal technologies, including those for the capture and storage of carbon, have the potential to benefit the environment while reducing our dependence on foreign sources of energy.
"Unfortunately, as was the case last year, the Administration proposed to eliminate the Oil and Natural Gas programs, and the Ultra-Deepwater and Unconventional Natural Gas and Other Petroleum Research Fund that I worked to get signed into law. I have disagreed with the President in previous years about the great value of these programs and continue to disagree with this decision for FY09.
"As I've said before, I think the Administration has got it wrong in trying to repeal the Ultra-deepwater Program. This program is not a handout to the major oil companies, as has been suggested, but a research and development program aimed to help independent producers, who lack research capabilities or infrastructure of their own, recover more domestic oil and natural gas. The program also provides engineering graduate studies grants at numerous universities, and has the potential to uncover 55 years of natural gas and 850 billion barrels of oil from the lower 48 states alone. The best part is that this program pays for itself in the form of increased royalties, making it a win-win for the government and for all Americans.
"As for our nation's space agency, the budget proposal for NASA reflects some very difficult decisions. It has been said many times in the past few years that NASA simply has too much on its plate, without adequate funding to complete all of its missions. While I, for one, would love to see NASA get the funding to complete all of its missions, this simply isn't the reality of the budget environment. Because of this, the President and NASA Administrator Michael Griffin have had to make some difficult choices.
"President Bush initiated this re-prioritizing in 2004 when he laid out his Vision for Space Exploration. I support his vision, and the tough choices he has had to make. In 2005, Congress endorsed the President's plan to retire the Shuttle, develop a replacement launch system, and send astronauts back to the Moon. It was the right thing to do then; it's the right thing to do now. NASA will be refocusing on transitioning from the Space Shuttle to the new Crew Exploration Vehicle so that America can maintain its preeminence in space. Unfortunately, with the transition comes many costs. This year's NASA budget is likely to provoke sharp debate in Congress as we must determine what the agency's priorities should be. I look forward to working with Administrator Griffin, as we look to reauthorize NASA this year."