House Budget Panel Wants to Cut Oceans Agency by $103 Million

The draft of the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee's 2012 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) calls for a $103 million cut below current spending of $4.59 billion. The panel's figure is a billion dollars below the amount requested by the Obama Administration.

Only a few details have been released about the proposal. Within the suggested $4.49 billion total, the committee would give $430 million to the Joint Polar Satellite System, a reorganized satellite system that represents a new program for the agency. By comparison, Obama had requested $688 million for the system. In a press release, House appropriators said that the budget would fund the National Weather Service at the requested level of $1.0 billion. But the budget would cut NOAA's Operations, Research and Facilities budget, which supports its ocean science, by $250 million below the 2011 level of $3.19 billion. The Administration had requested $3.49 billion.

"I am very concerned about the proposed cuts to NOAA's budget," wrote Tony Haymet, director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography at the University of California, San Diego, in a statement to ScienceInsider.

He added:

Access to timely and accurate information saves lives and property and provides great benefits to our economy. The research and critical, on-going observations needed to support these efforts will be severely impacted by the budget cuts to NOAA proposed by the U.S House of Representatives. In contrast, other countries, such as China, are building and expanding their ocean and environmental observing and monitoring capabilities.