These days, it’s hard to keep track of the Trump administration’s many attacks on our coasts and ocean. From efforts to expand offshore oil drilling, weaken the Clean Water Act, and shrink our marine sanctuaries and monuments, the administration is waging an all-out assault on our coastal environment.
With all these numerous threats, one could easily overlook the implications of the President’s budget proposal for the coming year. But, in fact, the White House’s plans to slash funding for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are among the most serious threats to our coastal ecosystems and the communities that depend on them.
Under the President's Budget, funding for both Washington's Coastal Management Program and Puget Sound restoration would be eliminated.
On March 11th, the White House released the President’s Budget for fiscal year 2020 which includes roughly $1 billion in budget cuts for NOAA. These budget cuts would do more than reduce agency capacity; they would effectively cripple our nation’s ability to steward coastal resources that support an ocean recreation and tourism economy valued at over $115 billion annually.
Here is a breakdown of some of the NOAA programs that would be completely eliminated under the White House proposal:
- The Coastal Zone Management program which provides grants to states and territories to manage coastlines and address pressing issues such as development and pollution.
- The Coastal Resilience Program which helps coastal communities and ecosystems prepare for and recover from extreme weather events, climate hazards, and changing ocean conditions.
- The National Estuarine Research Reserves which include a network of 29 estuarine areas (places where freshwater from the land mixes with saltwater from the sea) for long-term research, education, and coastal stewardship.
- The Sea Grant program which conducts research to improve our understanding of the marine environment and adjacent communities in every U.S. coastal state, Puerto Rico and Guam.
The President’s budget proposal also includes a 31% cut to the EPA that would be devastating for anyone who cares about clean water and a healthy environment. EPA programs on the chopping block include:
- The BEACH Grants program which provides funding for states to monitor water quality at over 4,000 of our nation’s most popular beaches.
- Regional programs to restore the Great Lakes, Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay and elsewhere would be eliminated or reduced by 90%.
- Climate change programs including climate research, greenhouse gas tracking, and emissions reduction activities would be eliminated, except for minimal funding for those required by law.
Fortunately, any budget cuts to NOAA and EPA will need to be approved by Congress as part of the federal budget for 2020. The past two years, Congress wisely rejected these recommendations and instead chose to fund core programs that support our nation’s coasts and ocean. Nevertheless, it’s critical that our leaders in Congress hear from constituents before they submit input to the appropriations process this spring.
All of us who enjoy and benefit from our nation’s coastlines can play an important role in defending these programs!
To send an email to your federal representatives click here.