(Washington, D.C.) – The following statement was issued by Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, President and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, in response to cuts to federal Earth and ocean science, as well as grant programs, in President Trump’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget request, “A New Foundation for American Greatness.”
“Greatness isn’t achieved instantaneously – it is built piece by piece. From the first trans-Atlantic cable to today’s Internet, each step of progress builds upon the one before that. But it’s far too easy to miss a step – through funding cuts or quashed creativity – and send that greatness headlong into obscurity. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, and the ocean science and technology community we represent, is increasingly troubled by proposed cuts to ocean and Earth sciences, as well as to grant programs, in the president’s budget released today. If enacted, these cuts would have catastrophic consequences that would ultimately send our nation away from greatness toward oblivion.
“Our nation is, and always has been, a maritime nation. We depend on the ocean for security, energy, food, jobs, and transportation. Drastic cuts to agencies that help us understand, utilize, and preserve this critical resource undermine our security and prosperity. The proposed 16 percent cut to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would be felt in areas as diverse as homeland security (our coastline is our largest boarder) to weather forecasting (ocean observations provide critical input that improve predictions of extreme weather events, such as hurricanes). A 32 percent cut to NOAA’s office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would cripple its ability to understand the systems that support our planet.
“Not just our ocean sciences but geosciences as a whole would see cuts in the proposed budget. These programs help us understand our changing world, making our nation’s citizens safer, more prepared, and more secure. The National Science Foundation’s Geosciences Directorate’s request of $783 million is a drop from the comparable total of $876 million enacted just two years ago, while the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Earth Sciences would drop nearly nine percent. From ensuring good water quality to understanding natural hazards to monitoring soil quality for agriculture and construction, geosciences play a role in nearly every aspect of our lives.
“In the constrained fiscal environment that is today’s reality, it is critical that we leverage resources to take advantage of limited federal dollars. Now is not the time to be cutting extramural partnership programs. The proposed elimination of grant programs, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, the Sea Grant College Program, Coastal Zone Management Grants, and the Office of Education will stifle creativity and throw out critical partnerships between communities and governments, bringing the wheels of innovation to a halt.
“Federal investment in the ocean and Earth is critical. I am counting on those drafting the FY 2018 appropriations bills to remember their importance and to continue to support the federal funding that maintains U.S. primacy – funding that will keep our nation’s economy competitive, keep our food source secure, protect human health, and build a competitive workforce.”