Here is additional information pertaining to present funding for the Green Bank Observatory:
The NSF sent a press release to clarify the current and future funding for the GBO and the process leading up to the public comment meetings.
The President’s Request Budget for “Other Astronomical Facilities” in FY 2017 asked for $11.5 million total for the Green Bank Observatory (GBO) and the Long Baseline Observatory (LBO, which operates the Very Long Baseline Array), with the exact division between the two pending the review of a proposal from Associated Universities Inc. (AUI) that covered FY 2017 and FY 2018. Based on that review, NSF has allocated $8.2 million to GBO and $3.3 million to LBO in FY 2017, should the President’s Request Budget be appropriated. The $8.2 million level represents approximately 75% of the base budget for GBO that was part of previous appropriations to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. The FY 2017 President’s Request Budget shows an increase to $11.85 million in FY 2018, for planning purposes, for “Other Astronomical Facilities.” This is in direct contrast to published reports that NSF has stated plans to reduce the GBO budget substantially in FY 2018.
Additionally, here’s some information about the overall divestment process:
· The National Academy of Sciences 2010 decadal survey in astronomy and astrophysics recommended NSF’s astronomy division do a senior review in a constrained funding scenario that has come to pass, and NSF responded to that with its community-based Portfolio Review. Those recommendations were reported in 2012 and included divesting some facilities given lower priority to support new capabilities recent decadal surveys recommended and to maintain robust programs for individual investigators.
· The recommendation of the NSF Portfolio Review Committee solely referred to removal of the funding of telescopes from the NSF/AST budget.
· Telescopes recommended for divestment are still important, and in some cases are unique assets for astronomical research or other related uses.
· Hence the preferred divestment alternative, pursued vigorously by NSF since 2012, has been to find funding collaborations that enable continued availability of NSF telescope assets for some fraction of their time, for some portion of the research community.
Lastly, just to make clear what the EIS process is about, I thought you might appreciate the following:
The reason for doing the environmental impact statements now is to prepare for worst-case scenarios and also have a realistic, formal assessment of environmental considerations when it comes time to make final decisions. As stated above in our discussion of divestment, the community has recommended, and we agree with, a goal that these telescopes can continue to provide research and educational opportunities in some manner, even if NSF is no longer funding them or is not the major funder of their work.