Say “No!” to Gutting NOAA

Today we finally saw NOAA’s full, detailed 2018 budget, and it’s bad. Really bad.

The Trump administration finally released its complete proposed 2018 budget for NOAA. We can now see the full budget in all its details, it doesn’t look good for the ocean or coastal communities.

Let us be clear: this isn’t a budget that trims the fat. It cuts bone deep into our greatest needs. And some of the proposed cuts are just staggering.

The Trump Administration Wants Deep Cuts for NOAA

This proposed budget would cut nearly $1 billion from NOAA. Those cuts would impact everyone from a fisherman on the docks to an oyster researcher in the lab.

For example, this budget would provide ZERO funding for a long list of key ocean programs, essentially canceling them indefinitely, including:

  • Coastal Zone Management grants, which empower coastal states as they manage their coastal ocean waters to ensure communities are safe from ocean and weather hazards and coastal economies are thriving.
  • Grants that go directly to marine mammal first responders, who save and rehabilitate stranded whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. And as if that wasn’t bad enough for ocean wildlife, this budget would also eliminate the Marine Mammal Commission, which provides independent, science-based oversight on whales and other species.
  • Regional Coastal Resilience grants, which have supported vital resilience-building efforts in every coastal region of the U.S.
  • The Sea Grant program, which works like a U.S. Department of Agriculture extension program, putting the scientific advancements made by NOAA experts in the hands of fishermen and coastal businesses that can use them.
  • The estuary research reserve program, which provides real-world laboratories where everyone from scientists to students learn about our watersheds.
  • The Arctic research program that is working to understand Arctic fisheries and wildlife, and is currently modeling changes in arctic sea ice to ensure the safety of all who travel through the Arctic, from fishermen to commercial ships.

Drastic cuts would also impact other key NOAA services:

  • Fisheries management would be cut by $22 million, leaving less money for critical work like stock assessments that support rebuilding fisheries under the Magnuson Stevens Act.
  • NOAA’s ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes research programs would be cut in HALF, leaving coastal and Great Lakes communities to fend for themselves against harmful algal blooms and invasive species.
  • And the Okeanos Explorer—the ship that uses cutting edge technology to explore the 95% that is unexplored, unknown, and unseen by human eyes—would only be able to do half as much exploring next year with a 46% cut to ocean exploration.

Who Gets Hurt

You get hurt. I get hurt. The ocean gets hurt. Our communities get hurt.

America relies on the team of world-class professionals and scientists at NOAA to do essential work from the bottom of the ocean all the way up to the far reaches of space. It’s NOAA who is responsible for exploring and protecting the depths of our ocean. It’s NOAA who manages America’s fisheries. It’s NOAA who protects endangered marine mammals and other ocean wildlife. It’s NOAA who gives your local meteorologist the data they need to do their jobs and give you your local nightly weather forecast. It’s NOAA who forecasts and tracks hurricanes. And it’s NOAA who even predicts “space weather” to forecast solar storms that could disrupt our nation’s critical satellites, including GPS services that we all rely on every day. That’s right—NOAA even has a role in keeping the GPS on your phone up and running.

The services that NOAA provides aren’t theoretical. They’re very, very real. And they’re in your hands, on your television, and on your dinner-plate virtually every day. You don’t see a NOAA logo pop up each time NOAA touches your life, but NOAA is there—whether you’re aware of it or not.

Since NOAA touches all of us, cuts to NOAA will hurt all of us in ways both seen and unseen.

What Comes Next

This is the silver lining: the Trump administration’s budget proposal is just that—a proposal.
It’s a starting point, and it’s not destined to become reality. President Trump doesn’t get to decide government funding single-handedly. Congress has a say, and so do the rest of us. So right now, today, you and I need to make sure Congress hears “NO!” on President Trump’s attempts to gut the programs we care about.

For several months, many people have already been doing just that. As I’ve previously shared, people across the America are making their voices heard and standing up in defense of clean air, clean water, strong science, a healthy ocean and thriving communities. There are some initial signs that this is beginning to work. For example, we’ve seen bipartisan groups of prominent senators from Alaska, Hawaii and Maine publicly push back against the proposed NOAA cuts.

We are off to a great start and we need to do more.

If there is one thing you can do today, please call and email your member of Congress and tell them that you strongly oppose attempts to gut NOAA’s ability to serve the American people. Let them know you oppose the Trump administration’s cuts to NOAA.

In the coming days and weeks, please come back to Ocean Conservancy’s blog. We are going to share stories about the people, places and faces that NOAA serves in a series called “The More You NOAA.” We hope you will be inspired by these stories to help increase the chorus of support for NOAA’s irreplaceable services to each of us.

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