WASHINGTON — President Trump’s administration is seeking to slash one of the government’s premier climate science agencies by 17 percent, delivering steep cuts to research funding and satellite programs, according to a four-page budget memo obtained by The Washington Post.
The proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would also eliminate funding for a variety of smaller programs including external research, coastal management, estuary reserves and “coastal resilience,” which seeks to bolster the ability of coastal areas to withstand major storms and rising seas.
NOAA is part of the Commerce Department budget, which would be hit by an overall 18 percent reduction from its current funding level.
OMB also asked the Commerce Department to provide information about how much it would cost to lay off employees, while saying those employees who do remain with the department should get a 1.9 percent pay increase in January 2018. It asked for estimates for terminating leases and “property disposal.”
The Office of Management and Budget outline for Commerce for fiscal year 2018 proposed sharp reductions in specific areas within NOAA, such as spending on education, grants, and research. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would lose $126 million, or 26 percent, of the funds it has under the current budget. Its satellite data division would lose $513 million, or 22 percent, of its current funding under the proposal.
The National Marine Fisheries Service and National Weather Service would be fortunate by comparison, suffering only 5 percent cuts.
The figures are part of OMB’s “passback” document, a key part of the annual budget process in which the White House instructs agencies to draw up detailed budgets for submission to Congress. The numbers often change during the course of negotiations between the agency and the White House as well as lawmakers and the administration. The 2018 fiscal year starts Oct. 1.
A White House official who spoke on condition of anonymity said that the process was “evolving” and cautioned against specific numbers. The official would not respond to questions about the four-page passback document.
The biggest single cut comes from NOAA’s satellite division, known as the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, which includes a key repository of climate and environmental information, the National Centers for Environmental Information. Researchers there were behind a recent study suggesting that there has been no recent slowdown in the rate of climate change – research that drew the ire of Republicans in Congress.
The Trump administration would also slash programs aimed at slowing climate change and improving water safety and air quality, while eliminating thousands of jobs, according to a draft of the Environmental Protection Agency budget proposal obtained by The Associated Press.
Under the tentative plan from the Office of Management and Budget, the agency’s funding would be cut by roughly 25 percent and about 3,000 jobs would be cut, about 19 percent of the agency’s staff.