Page 2–The GeoRecord Vol 9.2

Spring 2003

From the Director

by Lee Allison,

Director and State Geologist


Over the past decade, the budget of the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the federal counterpart to the Kansas Geological Survey, has fallen far behind that of other federal science and research agencies. That shortfall affects not only the USGS, but the ability of the larger earth sciences community to meet the challenges before us. The budget for the National Institutes of Health has more than doubled in recent years, and the budget for the National Science Foundation is approved to double in the next five years. So while more extensive and sophisticated data and analyses are gathered in other fields to address critical issues such as water quality, climate change, and hazards, the earth sciences are not keeping pace.

USGS funding affects the Kansas Geological Survey directly. The KGS annually submits proposals to the USGS to carry out cost-shared geologic mapping of the state under the National Cooperative Geological Mapping Program. However, almost since the program’s inception a decade ago, the President’s annual budget has cut or eliminated funding for this program and other popular cooperative programs. While these cuts eventually have been restored, the Mapping Program is still not close to being funded at its authorized levels.

To address these issues, professional and academic organizations, industry, and leading scientists have formed the “Coalition for the USGS” to work with Congress, the Office of Management and Budget, and the White House to stabilize the budgetary environment for the USGS and look at long-term needs in the earth sciences.

Our concern is not only with funding for the USGS. Other federal earth science programs are just as important to Kansas and other states. About two-thirds of the federal contracts and grants the KGS received in recent years came from the Fossil Energy program of the U.S. Department of Energy. These federal dollars are leveraged with state and industry dollars to make Kansas a leader in applied research aimed at extending the life of the state’s oil and gas fields. But funding for the Fossil Energy program is budgeted to drop almost by half in the next fiscal year.

Federal funds help fill the gaps in the KGS budget resulting from state funding reductions. KGS has joined the “Coalition for the USGS,” but we are urging the group to broaden its agenda to look at funding needs for all earth science activities in the federal government.

The time for the next step, a “Coalition for the Earth Sciences,” may have arrived.

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