Climate change and ocean research would suffer sharp cuts in the Trump budget proposal for the Commerce Department, which aims for a reduction of 16 percent, or $1.5 billion, much of that targeted at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The Commerce cuts would eliminate $250 million in coastal research programs that prepare communities for rising seas and worsening storms, including the popular $73 million Sea Grant program, which works with universities in 33 states.
The Trump budget document asserts that these programs “primarily benefit industry and State and local stakeholders,” making them a “lower priority.”
But scientists, including a former NOAA administrator, Jane Lubchenco, strongly criticized the proposed cuts when they were reported on previously, saying that they would harm coastal readiness in the face of rising seas and damage states that rely on these funds to manage their shorelines.
“The federal dollars leverage a lot of additional financial resources,” Lubchenco said in an earlier interview. She said that cutting Sea Grant funding would “hurt states big-time.” Many of the affected states went for Trump in the 2016 election.
The Trump budget proposal does not specify the extent of cuts to NOAA’s satellite programs, but those also appear likely to be substantial, based on a prior, more detailed document obtained by The Washington Post. The budget would cut some funding to the Polar Follow On satellite program, a planned launch of two polar-orbiting satellites in 2024 and 2026.
Two other key NOAA divisions — the National Marine Fisheries Service and the National Weather Service — appeared to escape with more minor cuts.
Beyond NOAA, the Commerce cuts would eliminate the Economic Development Administration, a $221 million program that makes local investments to stimulate economic growth, and the Minority Business Development Agency.
The budget would zero out the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s $124 million Manufacturing Extension Partnership program, which is intended to support the manufacturing industry. But it would increase funding for the Bureau of the Census as it prepares for the 2020 Census.