Healthy Oceans Blog

Can a rising grassroots tide lift all the NOAA boats?

The “skinny budget” outlined by President Trump last week is surely light on one thing: full funding for the nation’s premiere ocean management and protection agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Are the proposed cuts a directed target given NOAA’s work on climate change impacts or just a casualty of a war against a federal government perceived as inflated by the current administration? We might never know exactly why the President’s skinny budget wants to shave off close to one billion dollars of NOAA’s budget, but what we do know is there is already a concerted resistance coming from ocean conservationists, ocean-friendly businesses, ocean users, ocean lovers, ocean scientists and even members of Congress.

Today Congress received a letter signed by 363 organizations and leaders opposing these drastic proposed NOAA budget cuts. As detailed by our partner Ocean Conservancy:

  • Organizations and individuals from 29 states coastal and inland states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands have added their voices to this letter.
  • It includes signatures from more than 100 prominent researchers and scientists.
  • More than 50 national and regional organizations joined the letter, ranging from environmental groups to business and industry interests.
  • 22 members of the Maine’s State Legislature signed on, ensuring an especially strong shout-out of support for the importance of NOAA for the state of Maine and its coastal economy.

This letter is an incredible statement by so many that NOAA’s work is OUR work and we will not let that funding go without a fight. For instance, one program slated for elimination is the National Sea Grant program. Dollar for dollar, Sea Grant, which partners with state universities on research and outreach, is an incredibly efficient and valuable program:

The elimination of Sea Grant serves as one example of several poor choices made in seeking to tighten NOAA’s budget. But if this reaction by those who depend on a healthy ocean for their livelihoods, is any indication, Congress will have a battle on its hands. I have always been struck by the saying “a rising tide lifts all the boats” made popular by President John F. Kennedy. I would like to pose the idea that this rising tide of grassroots support for NOAA’s important work just might be what is necessary to lift all the boats NOAA needs to function.