The Whitehouse released their budget proposal for FY 2018 on Tuesday, May 23rd. Tagged - A New Foundation for American Greatness - it is every bit as damaging to the environment, public health, clean water and resilient coasts as we feared it would be. The Environmental Protection Agency received the biggest hit with a proposed 31% budget cut that would eliminate over 50 environmental programs and reduce its staff by 20%. Funding for the BEACH Grants Program that provides federal assistance to coastal states to help monitor water quality at the beach and to provide warning to the public when bacteria levels are high has been completely axed, as have the National Estuaries Program, Non-Point Source Pollution Control grants and regional restoration programs that support habitat and water quality improvement in nationally significant waterways, such as the Puget Sound, Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay. President Trump’s administration with Scott Pruitt at the helm of the EPA has also proposed to eliminate nearly every program that supports climate change research or control at the EPA- including the Clean Power Plan which is our country's action plan to meet carbon reductions agreed to in the Paris Climate Agreement.
The President’s Budget for FY 2018 is posted on whitehouse.gov or go to the EPA’s website for specific details on which programs will be most affected by these devastating cuts. NRDC also has an excellent post that describes how these budget cuts affect efforts across the country to limit water pollution and protect public health.
The President’s Budget is also proposing major cuts to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the lead federal agency responsible for managing our nation's ocean and coasts, as well as monitoring weather and climate. The proposed cuts run deep and would strike at numerous programs that benefit all Americans.The proposed cuts represent a 16% decrease to the agency's overall operating budget, and would completely eliminate funding for coastal management, estuary reserves, Sea Grant and coastal resilience programs that go to the heart of Surfrider's mission. The proposal also targets the agency's satellite programs and research that help provide your daily weather (and surf) forecast and monitor the effects of climate change.
A detailed budget is available on NOAA’s website and the Ocean Conservancy provides a great overview of how the budget cuts to NOAA will affect management of our ocean and coastal resources on their website.
What can we do?
The good news is that the executive branch doesn't set the budget on its own. The President’s Budget is really just an opening bid to Congress for them to consider as they go through their formal appropriation process over the course of the year to determine spending levels for each agency. The Surfrider Foundation intends to take every opportunity to make sure that our representatives in Congress understand well what is important to our members and the everyday lives of people across this country - clean water and safe and healthy beaches and coasts.
In fact, just last week 25 Senators lead by Senator Menendez from New Jersey, Senator Nelson from Florida, and Senator Merkley from Oregon submitted a letter to the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee for the Interior and Environment requesting at least level funding levels of $9.549 million for the EPA Beach Grants Program, and throughout Congress members are rallying in support of the programs of most concern to their constituents. Now is the time to let your elected officials in DC know what is most important to you!
- Make Your Voice Heard. Pick up the phone and call your Congressional Representatives in DC. Let them know that clean water, public health, healthy coasts and action on climate change are important to you. Remind them that its their responsibility to ensure that the EPA and NOAA are empowered, through adequate funding, staffing and authority, to continue to meet each mission. Find your member's phone numbers here: Senate and House. Or send an email direct to their inbox to make a specific request to protect the budget for both EPA and NOAA. Just click here.
- Get Involved. Attend a Surfrider chapter meeting. You’ll learn how you can work side by side our Surfrider network of volunteers to ensure clean water and safe, accessible beaches in coastal communities across the country. We are fighting campaigns at the local, state & federal level to protect our coasts and to ensure safe and healthy beaches for everyone. Find the closest chapter to you here.
- Donate. The urgency of the work on the ground has never been more important. Opening up your wallet and becoming a member, renew or give an additional donation will help fuel our network of volunteer coastal defenders with the resources we need to win at this most critical time. Please join us at: Surfrider.org/support-surfrider.