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A Voice for our Ocean

STATEMENT: House Appropriations Bills Out of Touch with Reality to the Needs of our Ocean, Fisheries and Coastal Communities

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WASHINGTON, DC – (July 14, 2023) – This week, the House of Representatives and the Senate released and began marking up several appropriations bills for fiscal year (FY) 2024, including the Commerce, Justice and Science bill and the Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies bill.

Kathy Tsantiris, Director of Government Relations at Ocean Conservancy, which advocates for strong funding for coastal resilience, climate-ready fisheries and a rapid shift towards clean ocean energy, issues the following statement:

“Just days after the hottest day on Earth was recorded, the House of Representatives released an FY24 appropriations bill for our leading ocean and climate agency that is ghastly out of touch with reality, and will severely hamstring the government’s ability to understand, mitigate and adapt to the consequences of climate change that we already feel today.

The House appropriations bill slashes funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) by more than $920 million from current levels, a 14% cut, at a time when we need funding that is robust and attuned to the challenges affecting all people living in the United States.

These deep cuts would hobble the agency’s ability to inform and prepare people and communities of weather patterns that climate change is making more unpredictable and extreme. Further, it would dangerously harm historically marginalized communities who are already disproportionately subject to environmental harms, by prohibiting NOAA and other federal agencies from accounting for communities’ differing risks and readiness.

Equally appalling are the policy riders in the bill, specifically a complete prohibition on studying the impacts of climate on fisheries. A ban on studying an issue does not make the issue disappear. Climate change is here and not addressing it is climate denialism. Our nation’s fisheries support 1.7 million good-paying jobs and $117 billion in value added impacts. As our waters warm, fish species critical to support commercial and recreational fisheries are shifting their ranges and becoming less productive. NOAA has been a leading force in gathering and distributing critical data on these actions. A prohibition on studying climate and fisheries would cripple the industry’s chance at adapting to these impacts.

Beyond the FY24 proposal for NOAA, this same distorted view of reality can be seen across other appropriations bills. The House wants to rescind billions of dollars in funding to respond to climate change that Congress has already passed, dramatically cut funding for the Environmental Protection Agency, mandate offshore oil and gas lease sales in the Gulf of Mexico, removing any discretion from the Department of the Interior, and prohibit the use of federal funding to address environmental justice or advance diversity, equity and inclusion within government agencies.

Simply put, this proposal is delusional and would harm millions of people, our economy, and set the U.S. back on its ability to address and build resilience to the changing climate.

The Senate proposal for NOAA, while far from perfect, is more of a rational attempt at addressing the needs of our ocean and coastal communities while taking into account the bi-partisan deal for funding close to level with FY 2023 that was struck earlier this year. We look forward to working with the Senate to improve their proposal and encourage Congress to reject the egregious and out-of-tune House package.”

Media Contact

Samantha Tausendschoen




Government Relations

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