Biden “Skinny” Budget: Insights for Environment, Science, and Oceans

The President’s “skinny” budget was released today. If enacted, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would get $6.9 billion, or an increase of more than $1.4 billion from the 2021 enacted level. This would include $800 million to expand investments in climate research, support regional and local decision-making with climate data and tools, and improve community resilience to climate change.


The budget proposal also includes major new climate investments reflecting an increase of $14 billion more than 2021 levels across nearly every agency, and includes the creation of an Advanced Research Projects Agency for Climate (ARPA-C), which was forecasted in the American Jobs Plan.

The Biden administration unveiled its first budget proposal to Congress today. This “skinny budget” offers a glimpse into President Biden's policy agenda for the 2022 fiscal year and is by no means detailed, only providing top-line agency funding numbers and broad policy priorities. Not surprisingly, most of the details included are around climate change, clean energy, and research, development, and innovation. The full President’s Budget is expected in the coming months (we’ve been hearing early-May, but the timeline is likely to slip).


The $1.52 trillion budget proposal outlines top-line figures for Biden's major priorities, although at the end of the day, Congress controls the purse strings, and it will be up to them how to allocate funding to federal agencies and whether to increase budget caps.


In total, the administration asked for $769 billion in non-defense spending, a 16% increase from the budget adopted for fiscal year 2021, and $753 billion in national defense programs — almost a 2% increase. The administration is asking Congress for $715 billion for the Department of Defense in part to "counter the threat from China," which the proposal names as the Pentagon's "top challenge."


While overall spending is higher across the board, funding requested for the Department of Homeland Security is basically flat, with an increase of 0.2%. The United States Coast Guard sits within DHS and has been chronically underfunded for years.


Biden’s skinny budget and policy priorities outlined within it follow the infrastructure plan the Biden administration outlined last week (our summary of ocean-related impacts can be found here).


Read below for a breakdown of relevant funding proposals by Department/Agency:


Department of Commerce: $11.4 billion, up 28% from 2021

  • $6.9 billion for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), an increase of more than $1.4 billion from the FY2021 enacted level.

  • An additional $800 million over FY2021 enacted for expanding observations, research, and climate services in order to expand climate observation and forecasting work, providing better data and information to decision makers, supporting coastal resilience programs, and investing in modern infrastructure.

  • This would support an expanded and improved drought early warning system and competitive grants to build coastal resilience.

  • $2 billion total for satellites, with an approximately $500 million increase over the FY2021 enacted level in the next generation of satellites.

  • $442 million for programs supporting domestic manufacturing, more than double FY2021 levels.


Department of the Interior: $17.4 billion, up 16% from 2021

  • $4 billion to fund tribal programs, an additional $600 million over FY2021 enacted level.

  • $340 million to address wildfires.

  • An additional $550 million over FY2021 enacted for decreasing climate pollution, accelerating clean energy deployment, and expanding efforts around climate adaptation and ecosystem resilience among all the Department’s land management agencies.

  • An additional $200 million over FY2021 enacted for the U.S. Geological Survey and other bureaus to provide information about the impacts of climate change mitigation, adaptation, and resilience efforts.

  • An additional $200 million over FY2021 enacted for science-driven conservation, including:

  • Supporting the goal of conserving 30 percent of land and water by 2030, including enhancing conservation programs at the USDA.

  • Creation of a Civilian Climate Corps.

  • Funding for programs to improve water conservation and energy efficiency and manage risk in 17 Western States.


Department of Agriculture: $27.8 billion, up 16% from 2021

  • $1.7 billion to address the threat of wildfires, up $476 million from 2021.

  • $6.7 billion for nutrition programs like food stamps, an additional $1 billion over FY2021 enacted level.

  • $40 million for USDA’s climate hubs to expand climate science tools and increase landowner awareness of—and engagement in—efforts to combat climate change.

  • $1.2 billion for the Food Safety and Inspection Service to increase the capacity of small and regional meat processing establishments and ensure safe food production.

  • $15 million for the local agriculture marketing program to support local supply chains.

  • Invests within the Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service to support the health and resilience of public and private lands to support 30x30.


Department of Defense: $715 billion, up 1.5% from 2021

  • Goals include deterring China and Russia, modernizing nuclear deterrent, promoting climate resilience, and countering emerging biological threats.

  • Prioritizes defense research, development, test, and evaluation funding.

  • Supports efforts to plan for and mitigate impacts of climate change by improving the resilience of DOD facilities and operations and investing in power and energy research and development.

  • Funds programs that support biological threat reduction in cooperation with global partners, emerging infectious disease surveillance, biosafety and biosecurity, and medical countermeasure research and development.


Department of Energy: $46.1 billion, up 10.2% from 2021

  • $1.9 billion for clean energy projects.

  • $8 billion in clean energy technologies innovation to put the country on a path to net zero by 2050.

  • $1 billion for a new ARPA-C and ARPA-E ($700 million from DOE) to support transformative solutions for carbon-pollution free energy, adaptation, and resilience against the climate crisis and lay the foundation for future improvements in research and development.

  • $7.4 billion to the Office of Science for climate and clean energy research.

  • Increase in funding to the Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management over FY2021 enacted for advancing carbon reduction and mitigation with technologies and methods such as carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, and direct air capture.

  • No type of allocation to specific types of renewable energy.


Department of Homeland Security: $52 billion, about equal to 2021

  • $1.2 billion for border infrastructure.

  • $2.1 billion for cyber agency, up $110 million from 2021.

  • $131 million to address domestic terrorism, complementing DOJ.

  • An additional $540 million over FY2021 enacted for incorporating climate impacts into pre-disaster planning and resilience efforts.

  • Supports a resilient infrastructure community grant program, which prioritizes climate resilience projects for vulnerable and historically underserved communities.


Department of State and other international programs: $63.5 billion, up 12% from 2021

  • $4 billion toward climate, including $2.5 billion for international climate programs, over four times the FY2021 enacted level.

  • $861 million to renew U.S. leadership in Central America by investing in the region as part of a four-year commitment of $4 billion to allow the United States to sustain effective regional partnerships and strengthen host government accountability.


Department of Transportation: $25.6 billion, up 14% from 2021

  • $625 million for new passenger rail.

  • Provides funding to purchase the fifth and final State maritime academy training vessel within the Maritime Administration to train the next generation of U.S.-credentialed mariners.


National Science Foundation, up 20% from 2021

  • Requests $1.2 billion for climate and clean energy related research, an increase of $500 million over the FY2021 enacted level, for climate science and clean energy research.

  • Establishes a new Directorate within NSF to help translate research into practical applications to expedite technology innovation.


National Aeronautics and Space Administration - $24.7 billion for NASA, up 6.3% from 2021

  • $2.3 billion for Earth Science programs, an increase of $250 million over the FY2021 enacted level, to study climate science questions.


US Army Corps of Engineers - $6.8 billion

  • Invests in projects that would help commercial navigation, reduce the risk of damages from floods and storms, and restore aquatic ecosystems.

  • Improve Corps infrastructure resilience.

  • Makes investments for safe, reliable, and sustainable commercial navigation at coastal ports.

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