The Trump administration released their proposed budget for fiscal year 2018 earlier this week and it isn’t pretty. Numerous programs have been targeted for elimination and others would see steep cuts if the budget were adopted. It is apparent that protecting water quality, coastal communities, ocean health and funding science to better understand our aquatic ecosystems and climate is not a priority.
Among the programs targeted for elimination are Sea Grant, Coastal Zone Management Grants, the BEACH Act, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Competitive Grants under Coastal Science and Assessment, Coastal Resilience Grants, the Flood Hazard Mapping and Risk Analysis Program, the National Wildlife Refuge Fund, the Green Climate Fund and Global Climate Change Initiative, Energy Star and Voluntary Climate Programs, NASA Earth Science Missions, and the Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program Account. Also zeroed out is federal funding for cleaning up the Puget Sound, Chesapeake Bay, San Francisco Bay, the Great Lakes, Long Island Sound, Lake Champlain, and the Gulf of Mexico.
And that long list is limited to programs that disappear. Many others face steep budget cuts, including the National Ocean Service, Ocean and Atmospheric Research, National Marine Sanctuaries, Marine Protected Areas, National Marine Fisheries Service, and Ocean Exploration. Overall, the budgets for NOAA and the EPA would see reductions of 16% and 31% respectively.
What does all of this mean? Our colleagues at Sea Grant who work on ocean acidification, study coastal hazards (including sea level rise), and work with local communities to develop sustainable marine economies would lose their jobs and it would have a cascading effect on our already struggling coastal communities.
Do you like those notices you get when water quality is impacted from stormwater runoff or other issues that make it unsafe to swim or recreate in the water? Those programs would disappear as would a significant number of positions at the Department of Ecology that rely on federal grants.
The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary would need to lay off staff and scale back research efforts, and education. This could potentially include their program that takes local K-12 students to ocean beaches and teaches them about the amazing resources in their backyard. Many of these students are underprivileged and it’s their first opportunity to see anemones, starfish, and if they’re lucky, sea otters or whales.
Basically, this is a very disappointing week for those of us that enjoy clean water, clean air, and healthy ecosystems. However, it’s worth noting that this is simply the first step in a long process. Congress will need to pass their own budget and early reactions to Trump’s budget on Capitol Hill have not been positive.
What can you do to fight this outrageous attack on our precious water and environmental resources? Make your voice heard, get involved with your local Surfrider chapter, and make a donation. Surfrider will not sit idly by during these tough times and we need your help!
And make sure to check back here as we’ll dive deeper into a few of these programs, how they benefit Washington residents, and how you can continue to help ensure the survival of these important programs.