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DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
OFFICE OF THE SECRETARY,
Washington, D.C., July 6, 1971. Hon. EDMUND S. MUSKIE, Chairman, Subcommittee on Air and Pollution, U.S. Senate, Washington, D.C.
DEAR Senator MUSKIE: The enclosed memorandum with attachments responds to the questions contained in your letter concerning this Department's environmental science and technology research activities.
As requested, we have provided separately detailed accounts for each agency and bureau of the Department, giving information under each question heading in the same order of agencies or bureaus.
As you may know, we have been in touch with the staff of the Subcommittee on Air and Water Pollution concerning these questions and we will be pleased to discuss this subject further should you desire. Sincerely yours,
HOLLIS M. DOLE,
Assistant Secretary of the Interior. Enclosures.
Responses to Questions Submitted by Senator Muskie to Secretary of the Interior Morton by Letter dated May 14, 1971, Relating to Environmental Re. search
Question 1. What is the organizational structure of your environmental research program? How many separate laboratories or installations in your agency are engaged in this research? What is the size and composition of the staff of each?
A. Office of Water Resources Research (OWRR): The OWRR program is administered by a small staff of about 40 persons all headquartered in Washington, D.C.
OWRR performs no in-house research. Under Title I of the Water Resources Research Act, and through annual and matching grants, OWRR supports one State water resources research institute located at a State university in each of the 50 states and in Puerto Rico. Additionally, under Title II, OWRR utilizes contracts and grants to support urgently needed research performed by any competent organization--public, private, academic, and others.
As indicated, the State water resources research institutes supported by the OWRR program are not Federally operated or Federally staffed. A typical State institute is managed by a Director (often part-time) with clerical assistance, and research is performed by persons employed in several of the institute university colleges or departments. An average of about 15–18 part-time professional researchers, and 18-25 student research assistants work on OWRR-supported research projects at each State institute.
B. Office of Coal Research (OCR): The environmental research program of the Office of Coal Research (OCR) includes virtually all of OCR's projects. ACcordingly, there is no separate environmental research program in OCR. In Fiscal Year 1971, OCR has 15 ongoing contract research projects, each in a different location. Each contractor usually has other work, and the number of staff assigned by the contractor to its OCR contract varies essentially with the size of the contract; and the scientific skills of such assigned staff correspond to the subject to the contract. There are three Government-owned contractoroperated pilot plant projects.
C. Office of Saline Water: Environmental research sponsored by the Office of Saline Water is carried out through contracts and grants. The work is conducted through our Research Assistant Directorate and our Engineering and Development Assistant Directorate. Although some of the research is conducted at our five Test Facilities, it is done by contractor personnel. There are no Federal laboratories doing this type of work under our jurisdiction.
D. Geological Survey: The U.S. Geological Survey attempts to investigate all aspects of earth science within the U.S. and its continental shelves. Therefore, approximately 47% of the present effort is classifiable as environmental research and approximately 43% is in the collection of water data and preparation of topographic maps, which are basic foundation materials for most environmental studies and thus broadly classifiable as environmental research. This work is accomplished in three divisions of the Geological Survey-Geologic, Water Resources, and Topographic—and the Earth Resources Observation Systems (EROS) Program. The fourth division, Conservation, has responsibility for the classification and supervision of the public lands, but conducts no environmental research. The work is accomplished in the three main regional centers: Washington, D.C., Denver, Colorado; and Menlo Park, California ; each of which has about 2,000 personnel about equally disrtibuted among the three pertinent divisions. Two regional centers of about 1,000 employees each are in Rolla, Missouri (deals primarily with topographic mapping) and in St. Louis, Missouri (deals primarily with water resources). In addition, there are about 295 field offices in the United States, each with 5 to 100 personnel usually restricted to a single division. Because we are dealing with the environment of the earth, most of these centers and offices can be considered “laboratories" in a broad sense.
E. Bureau of Reclamation: The Bureau of Reclamation environmental research program consists of about 15 research investigations, each with a particular objective which is carried out by Reclamation scientists and engineers or through contracts with qualified research organizations. Although the program is Bureauwide in scope, the majority of these investigations are conducted or monitored at our Engineering and Research Center, Denver, Colorado. Research covering the broad field of concern for the impact of water resources development on ecology and water quality is the responsibility of the Division of General Research at the Engineering and Research Center. Other research investigations, such as those involving planning, are under the auspices of 2 or 3 other divisions at the Denver Center.
In the Division of General Research, employees whose work is devoted in whole or in part to environmental research include approximately 10 engineers and scientists covering the fields of botany, plant physiology, zoology, limnology, aquatic biology, ecology, physics, chemistry, and engineering.
F. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation (BOR): BOR has a research design and coordination capability in its Division of Research and Education, which is presently staffed by 3 professionals and 2 nonprofessionals. The Bureau does not operate any laboratories or installations for research.
G. National Park Service : Environmental studies in the National Park Service are coordinated under the Chief Scientist (Assistant Director level), within the following groups: Terrestrial Ecology, Aquatic Ecology, Water Resources and Geology, Natural History Theme and Natural Landmarks Studies, and Ecological Services. The bulk of the program is carried out by scientists who are stationed in the various parks. Attached is a list of locations, staffing, etc.
H. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife : The organizational structure of the Division of Wildlife Research is such that there are 5 major centers, 42 substations and 19 Cooperative Wildlife Research Units located at universities throughout the nation.
Staff information is as follows:
I. Bureau of Mines: The mission of the Bureau of Mines is to assure the wise and effective development and use of our Nation's minerals, fuels, and the underground domain in order to preserve the security and enhance the welfare of our people. Our research is directed to developing the means by which current and emerging needs may be met, the real cost of such achievements, and the assessment of related social-economic factors. Moreover, we see ways to fulfill our material needs in a manner that minimizes occupational hazards to workers in the industry, that reduces waste, and that ensures mineral raw materials are supplied and mineral-based products are used and disposed of without objectionable social and environmental costs.
Research by the Bureau of Mines is, therefore, grounded in the mineral sciences and no existing research program is devoted entirely to environmental science and technology. Environmental considerations do play an important role in our research planning and in its execution. However, the major thrust of this work is aimed at developing new technologies that will permit more effective and economic exploitation and utilization of our mineral resources. Of course, all of this research is done with due regard to potential social consequences in terms of health and safety, environmental pollution, and land use. We are also concerned with correcting the environmental insults inflicted by some past and present minerals operations. The primary motivation for this work, however, is to develop the necessary technology to ensure that these operations will continue to provide an adequate flow of minerals for the Nation's future growth and, at the same time, cease to transgress upon the environment.
The organization and scope of research on environmental science and technology, conducted incident to this Bureau's basic mission, is indicated in the attached Annual Progress Report of the Bureau of Mines for fiscal year 1970. (See especially "Appalachian Region Mining Area Restoration", pages 147–150, and “Solid Waste Disposal", pages 151–160.) Since this principal focus of the Bureau's research is conservation and development of mineral resources, no further detailing of its activities is set forth herein.
Question 2. What are the fields of specialization of the scientific investigators in your laboratories? What advance degrees do they hold?
A. Office of Water Resources Research : As indicated previously, there are no OWRR managed or operated laboratories. However, at the State water resources research institutes supported by OWRR and at other organizations performing research under OWRR's Title II program, more than 60 disciplines are included among the professional investigators working on OWRR-supported research projects. (See page 61 of the enclosed 1970 Annual Report). Over 80% of the principal project investigators hold doctoral degrees, and 1% hold masters degrees.
B. Office of Coal Research: The scientific investigators in the contractors' laboratories assigned to OCR contracts are usually of the following fields of specialization: 100 engineers (chemical, electrical, mechanical, mining, civil) and physicists, approximately 50% of whom have graduate degrees.
C. Office of Saline Water: Not applicable as the Office of Saline Water has no laboratories.
D. Geological Survey : As of December 1970, the U.S. Geological Survey employed 3,386 professionals, 2,576 technicians, 1,376 clerical administrative personnel, and 600 wage board employees. The fields of specialization and the advanced degrees of the 3,386 professionals are shown in the following table.
Other professionals include: Geophysics, mathematics, physical science, physics, geography, botany, biology, oceanography, soil science, meteorology, health physics, astron. Space science, geodesy, technical writing and editing, computer specialist, librarian, social science, operations research.
E. Bureau of Reclamation : Environmental research investigators in the Division of General Research iinclude one with a Ph. D. degree, three with the M.S. degree, and six with B.S. degrees. Fields of special investigation include zoology, limnology, general ecology, plant physiology, aquatic plant physiology, forestry, botany, micro-biology, reservoir hydrodynamics, chemistry of pesticides, water quality, water cheinistry, aquatic biology, applied physics, and remote sensing. F. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation: The three professionals employed in the Division of Research and Education represent natural science, social science, and behavorial science disciplines with their fields of specialization being forestry, sociology, and law, respectively. All three have masters degrees; one is a Ph. D. candidate in sociology ; and one has been awarded a doctor of juristic science.
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G. National Park Service: Fields of specialization of the scientific investigators in the National Park Service research program include botany, wildlife biology, zoology, plant physiology, fish and wildlife management, plant ecology, vertebrate zoology, forest entomology, aquatic ecology, agronomy, horticulture, and plant pathology. Approximately half have Ph. D. degrees and half have Masters degrees.
II. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife:
Question 3. What is your present level of funding for environmental research? What is your present level of authorization for environmental research! For how many years?
A. Office of Water Resources Research: All research supported by OWRR relates to water and, hence, broadly considered, all OWRR research is concerned with environmental research.
The authorization for fiscal year 1971, pursuant to the Water Resources Research Act, and fiscal year 1971 appropriations are as follows:
B. Office of Coal Research: The present level of funding for OCR (environmental) research totals approximately $17 million for FY-1971. There is no advance budget authorization for future years. In a broad sense all of the research support can be considered devoted to the environment.
C. Office of Saline Water: $775,000 overall funding for fiscal year 1971; again, all of the research done by this office can be considered “environmental" in a broad sense.
D. Geological Survey : Funding for environmental research in FY 1972 is $57 million direct appropriation plus $22 million transferred from other Federal agencies. Our 1972 funding for water data collection and topographic mapping is $51 million direct appropriation plus $25 million transferred from other
Federal, State, county, and municipality agencies. As noted before, this second grouping of activities is also broadly classifiable as research.
E. Bureau of Reclamation : In FY 1971, the funding level for environmental research is $572,000. Appropriations for nearly all of this research are made annually under the General Enginering and Research activity of our General Investigations appropriation.
F. Bureau of Outdoor Recreation : No funds have ever been specifically authorized for environmental research; no funds have been requested for environmental research as such for the last two years.
G. National Park Service: Studies that are conducted within units of the National Park System relating to the environment are directly concerned with, and required for, the management and planning aspects of the Service, and are funded as part of those activities. The current level of funding is approximately $1 million annually.
H. Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife: The FY 1971 funding for the Division of Wildlife Research is $9,298,000, all of which is related to environmental studies. There is no limitation in the amount or period of present authorization. The funding is determined annually through congressional appropriations.
(See also comments below on technology assessments.)
Question 4. What kinds of problems are you addressing under the category "environmental” research? What proportion of this work would you consider "basic" research, defined as research producing fundamental, theoretical knowledge which was not sought for immediate problem-solving purposes? What proportion is devoted to technology development? To technology assessment?
General Reply: Interior in general, considers environmental research to encompass all research activities meant to assay, evaluate, and enhance the quality of the environment. Typical of the problems falling into this category are:
1. Power plant construction in the Four Corners Area. 2. Boosting of the U.S. energy supply with minimal environmental impact. 3. The effect of power plant siting on the ecology of Biscayne Bay. 4. The effect of pesticides on wildlife.
The breakdown between "Basic" and “Applied” research for Interior as a whole, is, of course, often difficult to apply when considering specific projects. The following percentages should therefore be considered approximate: (See also comments below on technology assessments.)
Basic, 45; Applied, 41; Cannot be Classified, 14.
The proportions devoted to technology assessment and development varies widely (from less than 2 percent to 100 percent) from Agency to Agency--and an average figure for the Department would therefore not be meaningful. Detailed Agency descriptions follow :
A. Office of Water Resources Research: All problems addressed by the OWRR research program relate to water. They are concerned with: nature of water; water cycle; water supply augmentation and conservation; water quantity management and control; water quality management and protection; water resources planning; and water resources engineering works.
It is estimated that approximately 15–20% (about $2.0 million in FY 1971) of OWRR-supported research could be considered as "basic” research.
OWRR's program concerns research; funds are not used for development projects or demonstration plants.
A small portion of OWRR's funds (less than 2%) is used for "technology assessment" to assist in identifying priority areas for additional research.
B. Office of Coal Research: Under the category of "environmental" research, OCR problems are (1) coal gasification; (2) clean liquid fuels from coal conversion; (3) improved methods of electric power generation from coal; (4) improved mining and preparation of coal prior to combustion.
Of the total OCR research program ongoing in FY 1972, none are "basic" research, and 100 percent are technology development. Evaluations made under the OCR program are those necessary for the effective pursuit of the research program.
C. Office of Saline Water: Environmental research sponsored by the Office of Saline Water is concerned with the effects on the environment of the effluents of desalting plants. At the present time we are primarily concerned with the effects of the salinity and temperature of brines, with the effects of heavy metals on discharge field ecosystems, and with the disposal of these materials.
D. Geological Survey: Geological Survey investigation of the environment includes practically all earth processes, functions and activities including experimentation in remote-sensing technology. Although about 80% of this would be