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The future of federal funding in the earth and ocean sciences may be entwined in the details of current planning of the ocean deep drilling program for the next decade. Right now, important decisions are being considered by presidential advisor Frank Press that will influence the route by which funding, science, and the search for petroleum along passive continental margins will proceed.

Part of the dangers that lie ahead are that the large costs of a program of this magnitude can easily encroach upon lesser, but important, programs. In jeopardy, for example, is a portion of the NSF (National Science Foundation) budget for research in the earth sciences. Cost overruns, inflation, and other priorities are the risks. The science, too, could be easily compromised if the decisions to be made within the next week or two are not the right ones.