Years – even decades – of experience has proven that sound science is essential for sound coastal management and protection. So any efforts to undercut coastal science, either by cuts in funding or a general dismissive attitude – is cause for concern.
Early calls for drastic budget cuts in federal spending for crucial coastal agencies warrant the attention of coastal communities, both to support essential coastal science services at the federal level and to better understand the vital role some of these otherwise obscure agencies and programs play in protecting our coast.
Take the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which was targeted for a 17% cut in the initial budget blueprint. NOAA not only conducts vital coastal research directly (through its Sea Grant programs as well as other initiatives), but it also funds the work of others in building coastal science efforts.
Oh, and the agency also is home for the National Hurricane Center and its attendant forecasters and satellites… which certainly should get the attention of any coastal residents who’s every spent some time in the storm track bullseye.
In case anyone is unclear why science matters to our coast, let us hit the high points:
It is early in the federal budgeting process, and Congress does have the final say over what an administration proposes in spending. However, when it comes to support for sound science, coastal communities don’t have the luxury of complacency in hopes that Members of Congress will sort all this out to their satisfaction.
When the noise coming out of Washington is more yelling than debating, and when things that we used to take for granted are fast becoming the exception rather than the norm, the folks back home have an obligation to speak out in defense of good coastal science and policy.
After all, when a coastal crisis strikes, it’s the residents and businesses in that coastal community who bear the brunt of how good (or how bad) that science and those policies really are.
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