Last month, the Trump Administration released the details of the President’s budget request to Congress for fiscal year (FY) 2018. As you know, this budget includes severe cuts to research and development (R&D) across the majority of federal agencies. White House budget data indicates both basic and applied research would be reduced ~17% from estimated R&D in the FY 2017 omnibus appropriation bill. According to the AAAS, this would drop inflation-adjusted funding to levels not seen since 2001 and push research funding to 0.31 percent of GDP, its lowest point in at least 50 years.
These cuts would have a major impact on funding for both the geosciences and seismology. The National Science Foundation would see an 11.2% cut, with the Geosciences Directorate reduced 10.4% below FY2016 levels. The proposed FY2018 budget for SAGE (Seismological Facilities for the Advancement of Geoscience and EarthScope), from which IRIS receives most of its support, is down 6%. The SAGE budget has been flat for the past 4 years; a 6% reduction on top of that will have a significant impact on IRIS’ core programs. The U.S. Geological Survey is slated for a 13% reduction, with the Natural Hazards Program down over $22M from FY2016 (and even more relative to the FY2017 omnibus appropriation bill). Efforts to implement an earthquake early warning system on the U.S. west coast would be ended and plans to improve earthquake monitoring in lower risk areas like the central and eastern U.S. would be impacted. Although core operational funding for the Global Seismic Network (GSN) would be preserved, funding for installation of new DOE-purchased borehole seismometers at some 40 GSN sites would be eliminated. The USGS Geomagnetism Program would be eliminated.
The Congress will have the final say on the FY18 budget. Appropriations subcommittees in both the House and Senate will begin working on appropriation bills this week and are receiving input and feedback. Now is the time to make your voice heard. Reach out to your representatives in Congress about the critical importance of these programs and the devastating consequences that would occur should the President’s proposed FY2018 budget be enacted.