The “skinny budget” outlined by President Trump last week is clearly light on one thing: full funding for the nation’s premiere ocean management and protection agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The 2018 budget proposal slashes funding for NOAA by 17 percent and includes a $126 million reduction for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research and a $513 million cut in its satellite data division. Both are crucial to gathering data for global warming research.
Do the proposed cuts specifically target NOAA’s work on climate change impacts or are they just a casualty of the war against what the current administration insists is a bloated federal government? We might never know exactly why the President wants to shave close to a billion dollars off NOAA’s budget, but what we do know is there is already a concerted resistance coming from ocean conservationists, ocean-friendly businesses, ocean users, ocean lovers, ocean scientists and even members of Congress.
On Tuesday, Congress received a letter signed by 371 organizations and leaders opposing the drastic cuts that have been proposed for NOAA's budget. According to our partner, Ocean Conservancy, the signatories include:
The American Littoral Society, in keeping with our mission to protect the coast from harm and empower others to do the same, is proud to be included on that list of signatories.
This letter is an incredible statement by so many that NOAA’s work is OUR work and we will not let that funding go without a fight.
Moreover, we believe that money spent on NOAA programs provides significant benefits to the US economy. For instance, one item slated for elimination in the proposed 2018 federal budget is the National Sea Grant program. Dollar for dollar, Sea Grant, which partners with state universities on research and outreach, is an incredibly efficient and valuable program:
The elimination of Sea Grant is just one example of several poor choices made with NOAA’s budget. But if the response from organizations, leaders and private citizens is any indication, Congress will have a battle on its hands.
I have always been struck by the saying made popular by President John F. Kennedy: “A rising tide lifts all the boats.” This rising tide of grassroots support for NOAA’s important work might be what is necessary to lift all the boats NOAA needs to continue its important work for the United States and its people.
~ by Sarah Winter Whelan, Ocean Policy Program Director, American Littoral Society