The Blog Aquatic » ocean funding http://blog.oceanconservancy.org News, opinions, photos and facts from Ocean Conservancy Thu, 28 Aug 2014 17:32:30 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.4.2 Straight A’s for the Senate on NOAA Funding http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/24/straight-as-for-the-senate-on-noaa-funding/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/24/straight-as-for-the-senate-on-noaa-funding/#comments Wed, 24 Jul 2013 14:30:26 +0000 Emily Woglom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6393 cut up $100 bill

Photo: Tax Credits via Flickr

The House of Representatives did not do very well when I gave them grades last week on their answers to three key questions about funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

The Senate has released their funding proposal—let’s see if they did any better:

1. NOAA’s topline budget: does it cover the costs?         GRADE: A

The Senate’s proposal would fund NOAA at $5.6 billion, $150 million above the President’s request for next year. That extra $150 million would go to mitigating the effects of fishery disasters declared around the country. The rest of the $5.4 billion closely aligns with the President’s request, targeting important programs like ocean acidification for long overdue funding increases.

Adequate funding for NOAA is critically important to the health of our nation’s ocean and coasts, and the economies and communities that depend on them. The truth is we need to be investing in these vital programs at significantly higher levels. However, in this fiscal climate, providing funding above the level requested by the President’s budget is a significant step.

2. Is there balance between NOAA’s wet and dry missions?       GRADE A

Here, the Senate gets it right again. Unlike the House bill, the Senate doesn’t cut tens of millions of dollars from the National Marine Fisheries Service or more than $100 million from the National Ocean Service. Instead, the Senate version makes it clear that programs that support a healthy ocean and healthy ocean economies are not going to bear the brunt of automatic spending cuts.

The Senate also acknowledges that NOAA has a dual mission for an important reason: NOAA’s “wet side” programs contribute to disaster preparedness and mitigation, and support severe storm tracking and weather forecasting systems. Without support for both its wet and dry missions, NOAA can’t do either.

3. Does the bill attack the National Ocean Policy?            GRADE A

So far, so good. While it is possible that we may still see attacks on the National Ocean Policy as this appropriations process moves forward, the Senate bill is free of such attacks for now.

Ultimately, unless some broader deal is worked out in the meantime, the Senate will have to go to conference with the House and decide what a final funding bill for the next year at NOAA will look like. Hopefully the Senate can maintain its A average.

 

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NOAA Funding Bill Gets Poor Grades When It Comes to Supporting a Healthy Ocean http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/16/noaa-funding-bill-gets-poor-grades-when-it-comes-to-supporting-a-healthy-ocean/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/16/noaa-funding-bill-gets-poor-grades-when-it-comes-to-supporting-a-healthy-ocean/#comments Tue, 16 Jul 2013 19:49:46 +0000 Emily Woglom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6315

Credit: Architect of the Capitol

Last week, I wrote about what to look for in the about-to-be released bills for funding the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), including three questions to ask to determine whether the bill will support a healthy ocean. Now the House of Representatives has released its funding bill for NOAA.

As a former high school math and physics teacher, I thought grades were in order.

1. NOAA’s topline budget: does it cover the costs?     GRADE: C

We have written before about bigger problems within the federal budget and how those problems impact ocean funding. In the House, the overall amount of money allocated for NOAA is too low. But the reality is that only a solution at a much higher level, including the president and Congress working together, can fix the problem. So we’re cutting the House Committee some slack because we know that their hands are tied.

But the dysfunction of Washington is no excuse for NOAA’s budget to be $524 million below the president’s request. NOAA is facing a unique set of needs—like satellite acquisition—that mean flat-funding is not acceptable. NOAA needs increases or else people, services and the ocean environment are going to get left behind.

By essentially keeping the funding the same for the agency, the House is guaranteeing that something will have to be cut. It’s simple math.

2. Is there balance between NOAA’s wet and dry missions?     GRADE: D

Here, the House avoided an “F” by the skin of its teeth. In many ways, the House bill is atrocious when it comes to balancing NOAA’s portfolio. The National Ocean Service is funded at $128 million below the president’s request and the National Marine Fisheries Service at $83 million below. The ocean and coasts get left behind as members of Congress have tried to use what little funding there is to help the National Weather Service.

For example, Coastal Zone Management Grants, which fund state and regional priorities for the ocean, are cut by $31 million, nearly half the president’s request. Climate research is cut by a shocking $92 million. The only saving grace is a few examples of small but important programs that were preserved or increased—like a small increase in funding for ocean acidification research and monitoring.

3. Does the bill attack the National Ocean Policy?     GRADE: D

On the National Ocean Policy, the House bill again just ekes by. While the bill doesn’t attack the policy outright, it does not provide funding for this important initiative, and it takes the issue a step further with language making it clear that the House doesn’t support it. But the National Ocean Policy is bipartisan, spanning both Republican and Democratic administrations.

The National Ocean Policy is about balance, good governance and ensuring long-term sustainability for our ocean economy, ocean jobs and ocean environment. It calls for agencies to coordinate on their ocean activities and leverage limited resources, and for priorities to be set at the local and regional level instead of in Washington, D.C.

A handful of Congressmen that live nowhere near the ocean—namely Rep. Flores from Houston and Rep. Hastings from inland Washington state—have made a major push to get rid of the National Ocean Policy. These attacks on the policy are simply political gamesmanship—and it’s only fun and games until our coastal communities get hurt.

We expect these attacks to continue as this bill moves through full committee and then on to the House floor.

We will need to rely on the Senate to help restore these numbers. With over half of the members on the Senate Appropriations Committee representing coastal or Great Lakes states, there is hope that they will better understand the value of these programs. Stay tuned as the Senate begins its work on this bill this week.

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Three Questions to Ask About NOAA’s Funding http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/09/three-questions-to-ask-about-noaas-funding/ http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/2013/07/09/three-questions-to-ask-about-noaas-funding/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 16:23:46 +0000 Emily Woglom http://blog.oceanconservancy.org/?p=6246 This week in Congress, the House of Representatives will put forth a bill to fund the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for the 2014 fiscal year. We saw earlier this year that President Obama’s 2014 budget for NOAA would provide a bright future for our ocean, but the funding bill in the House paints a much grimmer picture.

How will you know whether the bill will support a healthy ocean? Here are three questions to ask:

1. NOAA’s topline budget: does it cover the costs?

Despite being one of the most important agencies to our ocean, NOAA has faced significant funding cuts in recent years, and it is likely that the House will attempt to steeply cut NOAA’s budget again this year. With the sequestration, NOAA’s budget is already hovering at 13 percent below the current request for $5.4 billion. This bill could demand even lower numbers.

NOAA’s mission of protecting, restoring and managing our ocean and coasts is vitally important to our ocean and coastal economies, which contribute more than $258 billion annually to the nation’s gross domestic product and support 2.7 million jobs through fisheries and seafood production, tourism, recreation, transportation and construction.

Adequate funding for NOAA is critically important to the health of our nation’s ocean and coasts, and the economies and communities that depend on them. Cutting resources will cost us—now and in the future.

2. Is there balance between NOAA’s wet and dry missions?

NOAA has been tasked with a broad range of duties, from the National Weather Service and weather satellite programs (dry side) to the National Ocean Service and ocean and coastal programs (wet side).

Congress must maintain balanced investments across NOAA’s missions. Americans shouldn’t have to choose between weather satellites and ocean and coastal resources that support and protect our coastal economies and communities. We simply need both.

One example of the importance of NOAA’s “wet side” programs is the role they play in disaster preparedness and mitigation. Coastal wetland buffer zones in the United States are estimated to provide $23.2 billion per year in storm protection, and a single acre of wetland can store 1 to 1.5 million gallons of floodwaters or storm surge.

In addition, ocean and coastal observations and monitoring supports severe storm tracking and weather forecasting systems, which greatly reduce the cost of natural disaster preparation, evacuation and mitigation. We know that disasters, both natural and man-made, will strike our shores again. Let’s ensure we’re better prepared.

3. Does the bill attack the National Ocean Policy?

In past years, attempts have been made to use NOAA’s funding bill to attack the National Ocean Policy. The policy is about balance, good governance and ensuring long-term sustainability for our ocean economy and ocean environment.

Without creating new regulations, the National Ocean Policy calls for federal agencies to coordinate their ocean activities and leverage limited resources to more efficiently carry out activities like mapping and monitoring. Attacks on the National Ocean Policy risk ongoing conflict and uncertainty for our nation’s ocean and coasts.

In addition, because the National Ocean Policy focuses on coordinating existing laws and services, there is a risk that attacks on it could affect programs that communities currently rely on. This could even harm plans critical to Superstorm Sandy recovery and restoration efforts in places like the Gulf of Mexico and the Chesapeake Bay.

Investing in our ocean will benefit coastal ecosystems and the economies they support. If we shortchange NOAA, we shortchange the communities that rely on the ocean. Congress must ensure that the funding levels match the importance of NOAA’s tasks at hand.

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