Yesterday, President Trump released his proposed budget to fund the federal government for fiscal year 2019. His second budget proposal again seeks deep cuts to many ocean programs. Many of these programs fall under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which would be slashed 19 percent from current funding levels.
The president also released his infrastructure proposal, which is based to a significant degree on the false premise that environmental laws are the reason our nation’s infrastructure is aging and outdated.
Lara Levison, Oceana’s senior director for federal policy, released the following statement in response to the proposed budget:
“It is disappointing that President Trump’s second budget proposal again seeks deep cuts in ocean-related funding that would undermine decades of progress in ocean conservation. It threatens healthy fishery economies, and could be the death knell for many species of endangered whales, sea turtles and other marine animals.
Just last week, Congress passed a budget deal to increase funding for federal government programs for two years, but the deal did not set specific funding levels for most programs. Oceana urges Congress to reject the president’s recommendations, which would slash funding for ocean and coastal stewardship.
The president’s proposal would cripple NOAA, the nation’s premier agency for ocean management and research, cutting its funding by more than 19 percent. Major NOAA programs would suffer massive cuts; the National Ocean Service would be cut by 33 percent and Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would be slashed by 37 percent. Without adequate funding, NOAA would be unable to carry out its mission to understand and predict changes in oceans, coasts, weather and climate; share that knowledge with policymakers and the public; and conserve and manage coastal and marine resources.
Oceana urges Congress to reject the president’s misguided proposal to eliminate the Marine Mammal Commission, an independent federal agency that provides science-based oversight of U.S. and international policies regarding human impacts on marine mammals and their ocean environment. This small, but influential, agency works with ocean industries and government agencies to ensure that protections for marine mammals are as effective and efficient as possible. Americans pay only one penny per year to support the Marine Mammal Commission.
The president’s budget would cut the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) by nearly 14 percent, impairing the agency’s ability to manage living marine resources, including fish, marine mammals and endangered species. The agency’s enforcement budget would be cut by an astonishing 25 percent, including eliminating the Cooperative Enforcement Program which works with state and other law enforcement agencies to help enforce federal laws. This cut would significantly reduce the capacity of NOAA’s enforcement program, putting at risk protections for sharks, sea turtles, whales and other marine species as well as activities to keep illegally caught and fraudulently labeled seafood out of our markets.
Congress should stand up for the oceans and reject these devastating cuts that threaten coastal businesses and jobs that depend on healthy oceans.
The president’s infrastructure proposal is based on the false argument that environmental protections are holding back improvements to our nation’s infrastructure, rather than many years of failure to invest. The proposal uses the incontestable need for infrastructure investment as cover for attacking bedrock conservation laws like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act. The proposal especially targets the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the crucial law that requires the government to assess the environmental effects of major federal actions and consider alternatives, while at the same time, giving the public – citizens and businesses alike – the opportunity to review and comment on federal projects that impact our communities.