The funding slash would hamper NOAA’s research funding and satellite programs while eliminating altogether funding for smaller programs on coastal management and estuary reserve efforts, among others, according to a memo obtained by the Washington Post Friday. The Commerce Department, which NOAA is a part of, is facing an 18 percent funding cut under the proposal by the Trump administration.
Among the satellite programs facing the largest cuts is the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which houses climate and environmental information through the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers in that program have studied the continuing rate of global climate change. Another would be the Sea Grant program, which currently supports university research programs at 33 institutions nationwide.
The proposal highlights the Trump White House’s continued effort to undermine environmental research funding and regulations.
Since taking office President Donald Trump and his administration have moved swiftly to push back against the environmental agenda, repealing Clean Water Act protections for wetlands, proposing signifcant cuts to the Environmental Protection Agency and considering roll backs for President Barack Obama’s signature climate change regulations.
The cuts will not hamper the NOAA’s important mission of predicting and tracking severe weather like hurricanes and tornadoes. But there are several satellites dedicated almost exclusively to measuring temperatures in the atmosphere as well as the amount of CO2 pumped into the stratosphere on an annual basis. This information is used to “predict” the rise in temperatures, although lately, those predictions have been wrong.
The cuts would also affect satellite programs that track air pollution, including the amount of particulates spewed into the atmosphere. The cuts would also affect the study of the world’s oceans at a critical moment in history, when over-fishing and rising ocean temperatures have drastically affected the major source of food for a majority of the people on the planet.
This is a case where applying a scalpel to the NOAA budget would be better than eviscerating it with an ax. There are programs that cannot be turned over to private industry, although a decent case can be made that most weather forecasting – except the severe weather center – can be done as well by private contractors.