(Washington, D.C.) – In response to the release of the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Act, Rear Admiral (Ret.) Jonathan White, president and CEO of the Consortium for Ocean Leadership, released the following statement.
“I am extremely pleased that the congressionally-passed omnibus spending plan for FY 2018 is a win for ocean and Earth sciences. For some of these agencies, this is the first real increase they have gotten in several years. Increases to key science agencies and programs, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF; $295 million over FY 2017), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; $234 million above FY 2017), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Science ($457 million above FY 2017), and Department of Defense (DOD) basic and applied research and technology development ($16 billion above FY 2017; Navy – $800 million above FY 2017) will ensure our nation remains prosperous, competitive, and secure. My sincerest thank you to all involved with the science components of this bill – congressional champions who tirelessly advocated for federal science spending, appropriators who drafted this legislation, and those in Congress and the administration who worked on a bipartisan deal that raised the budget caps and made these increases possible.
The benefit of investing in ocean science extend far beyond the coasts, advancing our nation as a whole. The Consortium for Ocean Leadership, on behalf of the ocean science and technology community, has actively pressed for many of these “wins” found in the omnibus that would do just that. In addition to the budgetary increases we requested for key agencies, we have urged Congress to designate funding necessary for the construction, acquisition, and operational support of three regional class research vessels – one for each major coastal region – to carry out the eight ocean science priorities laid out in the National Academy of Sciences’ decadal report, Sea Change: 2015-2025 Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences. The omnibus provides funding for all three, and the bill’s statement includes language reiterating the importance of ensuring NSF-funded vessels with “unique seismic capabilities” are available to the academic community to support this essential and unique undersea research that the ocean science and technology community had also advocated for. COL also pushed for, and was successful in, the inclusion of adequate funds to complete the Service Life Extension Program of the Auxiliary General Oceanographic Research (AGOR)-23 class, which adds 10-15 years to the vessels and ensures the availability of unique platforms capable of performing multidisciplinary, high-endurance missions that support Navy information needs around the globe.
Further, I am pleased to see funding for other community priorities, including unmanned underwater vehicle research, the National Sea Grant College Program, aquaculture research, NOAA’s Office of Education; support for implementation of the seafood monitoring program (which would help prevent illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fishing); and the establishment of the National Ocean and Coastal Security Fund to help us better understand and utilize the ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes. These and other components of this bill will advance the ocean science and technology enterprise, which underpins our national and homeland security, economic prosperity, and food safety and security – making our maritime nation stronger and our people more secure.”