Back in February, we brought you some alarming news: the Trump administration had proposed a shocking $1 billion cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for next year that would severely impact our ocean. Since then, people who care about the ocean have been urging Congress to reject this proposal and instead make sure that critical ocean programs are fully funded next year.
Today, the House of Representatives responded to that outcry, releasing a bill to fund NOAA that addresses all but one of the major threats we identified in the Trump budget. The House’s proposal provides strong support for innovation in coastal economies, action based on solid ocean science, and resources to support sustainable fisheries.
It is clear that the House heard the outcry from coastal communities and ocean lovers alike. It is also clear that they agreed with our concerns that undercutting our nation’s premier ocean agency would hurt the economy, the environment and the way of life on our coasts. For example, the House proposal makes key investments in ocean acidification research and in marine protected areas and estuaries, ignoring the administration’s proposed cuts to these programs.
However, the House failed to address all threats from Trump’s budget, and the one that remains is perhaps the most menacing of them all. In February, we warned that the Trump budget cuts “will impact the ability of coastal regions to seek and determine the best solutions to make them resilient in the face of a rapidly changing climate.” With steep cuts to NOAA climate research and the complete elimination of the Ocean and Coastal Security Fund, this House proposal fails to address climate and resilience effectively and leaves places like Maine and Florida in the lurch.
In Maine, Senator Collins (R-ME) and the entire Congressional delegation are calling for more funds to research climate, not less. Down in Florida, Senator Nelson (D-FL) is seeking financial help for municipalities and individuals facing sea level rise. With coastal delegations leading the way, Congress should address this final threat to NOAA funding and fully fund climate and resilience programs next year.
Next month we expect to hear from the Senate on what they think next year’s NOAA budget should be. We will be watching closely to see how they fund climate and resilience programs.
The good news is we still have time to ensure full funding for NOAA’s ocean budget next year. Every voice makes a difference. You can help by weighing in now with your Members of Congress!