FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: May 25, 2017

Contact: Leigh Habegger, (703) 524-0248 or lhabegger@estuaries.org

President’s Budget Threatens Our Nation’s Coastal Communities

WASHINGTON, DC – On Tuesday, May 23rd, President Trump released his budget proposal for funding the federal government for fiscal year 2018 (FY18). Included in this proposal were deep cuts and program eliminations that would severely undermine the safety of coastal communities, local jobs, and quality of life.

In particular, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) would see a 16 percent decrease in funding from the FY17 enacted levels – that’s a nearly $1 billion cut to NOAA’s top-line budget. Many programs that directly enhance our Nation’s coastline and coastal resiliency are slated for elimination in this budget proposal:

  • National Estuarine Research Reserves (NOS), designed to provide scientists and managers the opportunity to study and understand estuary systems to better tailor management practices, enabling those communities to use estuarine habitat as a tool for resilience and adaptation.
  • Coastal Resilience Grants (NOS), which fund proactive, collaborative, community-based projects that improve ecosystem and community resilience to extreme weather, sea level rise, flooding, and other coastal hazards through science-based solutions.
  • Coastal Zone Management Grants (NOS), which provide critical funding for states to effectively manage their coastal waters to enhance coastal communities' safety, resiliency, and economies.
  • National Sea Grant College Program (OAR), which funds thousands of coastal researchers nationwide to collaborate with a variety of local stakeholders and businesses to tackle coastal challenges and develop tailored solutions, like addressing sediment and nutrient pollution in the Great Lakes, improving oyster aquaculture in the Gulf of Mexico, and reducing at-sea injuries in the West Coast crab fishery.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed budget sees more than a 30 percent reduction in funds, and elimination of two critical programs addressing coastal and estuary challenges:

  • National Estuary Program, designed as a network of voluntary community-based programs that seek to safeguard the health of important coastal ecosystems across the country through a collaborative process that reflects local and regional environmental and economic priorities
  • Geographic Programs, which work to improve water quality, protect and restore native habitats, and enhance commercial and recreational fisheries in iconic bodies of water across the nation including the Long Island Sound, Chesapeake Bay, Puget Sound, San Francisco Bay, and Great Lakes.

Additionally, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Coastal Program is slated for an 11 percent cut from the enacted FY17 level. This program is a voluntary, incentive-based program that provides technical and financial assistance to coastal communities and landowners to protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat on public and private lands across the U.S. in 24 priority coastal ecosystems.

Jeff Benoit, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries, responded to the President’s FY18 proposed budget:

“The President’s proposed budget is an insult to our coastal communities. The proposed cuts and elimination of programs severely undermine our ability to protect, restore, and enhance our coastlines and coastal habitats and people. This short-sighted budget takes aim at the core of our coastal communities, their economies, and their quality of life.

Healthy coastal communities depend on healthy habitats and fisheries, storm protection, and clean water. By failing to invest in these programs, which leverage anywhere between 3 and 8 times the federal investment through private matching funds, the President leaves our coasts susceptible to extreme weather events and other coastal hazards, declines in economically important fisheries, poor water quality, reduced public access, lost jobs, and failing tourism businesses.

I strongly urge Congress to reject the President’s proposed cuts and fully invest in these critical coastal programs. The health of our coastal communities and the strength of their economies depend on robust funding.”

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Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization established in 1995. RAE leads a national alliance of ten coastal conservation organizations across the country committed to protecting and restoring the lands and waters essential to the richness and diversity of coastal life. www.estuaries.org.  

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