Trump’s ‘An American Budget’ is not good for Maine

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President Donald Trump’s “An American Budget” proposes significant cuts to the FY 2019 budgets of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The data and information generated by these agencies are used extensively by Maine decision makers, scientists and communities to better understand the rapidly changing ocean and coastal zone.

Sponsored by the Union of Concerned Scientists, we recently visited the offices of all four members of the Maine U.S. congressional delegation in Washington, D.C., to explain the impacts of such cuts on Maine. We are thankful that Sens. Susan Collins and Angus King and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Bruce Poliquin have a shared interest in protecting coastal resources and the state economies they represent. Maine depends on their continued support.

Effective management of Maine’s offshore and coastal fisheries relies, in part, on continued collection of marine environmental data, such as ocean temperature and water clarity. Much of this is done through satellite systems operated by NOAA through the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service.

In fact, NESDIS data have recently been used by Maine scientists to determine that the Gulf of Maine is one of the fastest warming water bodies on the planet and is experiencing longer summers. Those temperature shifts are associated with changes in both the number and location of key species such as lobster, cod, herring and haddock.

Such a rapidly changing ecosystem makes it challenging to manage these resources; doing so without critical monitoring data would be even harder.

NESDIS satellite systems provide rescue information to first responders and critical input to weather forecasters. Trump’s proposed cuts to NOAA include a 21.9 percent reduction in funding for the NESDIS.

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“An American Budget” proposes to terminate four NASA missions that are essential for initiating and enabling long-term global observations of the oceans, ice, land surface and biosphere.

The PACE mission, for example, will provide unprecedented new data for measuring toxic algal blooms (think Red Tide). In addition, the PACE mission will measure atmospheric pollutants such as those generated from sources in the Midwest. These pollutants contribute to decreased air quality and increased public health issues for Mainers.

Trump’s budget proposes to eliminate the national Sea Grant program, a joint federal-state investment that supports the health and resilience of coastal communities.

In 2016-2017 alone, Maine Sea Grant activities generated an estimated $3.6 million in direct economic impacts. Sea Grant programs created or sustained 33 businesses and more than 30 jobs and provided 66 communities with technical assistance on sustainable development practices, including working waterfront preservation, coastal infrastructure and fishing industry diversification.

Maine Sea Grant worked with hundreds of industry, local, state and regional partners, and supported the education and training of 77 undergraduate and graduate students. The program achieved this with a congressional appropriation in FY 2016 of $1.2 million, which was used to generate $4 million in matching funds.

We are grateful for the support of the Sea Grant program by our congressional leaders in the FY 2018 budget, and hope they will support it again in FY 2019.

While in Washington, D.C., we asked our senators and representatives to further their support of the Digital Coast Act, which is a program intended to help local and state governments by providing coastal communities with up-to-date maps for better predicting and managing coastal hazards, restoring critical coastal ecosystems and planning smarter coastal development.

Storm damage is expensive. For example, prolonged storm energy and high tides in early March of this year due to a stalled nor’easter incurred costs of at least $2.75 million in York County alone. The Digital Coast Act will help our communities prepare for and adapt to sea level rise and increased storm activity.

We thank the Senate for unanimously approving this legislation in 2017, and urge the House to do the same, thereby making the Digital Coast Act law.

The Gulf of Maine is one of the most rapidly warming places in the global ocean. Scientists are still learning about the impacts of this warming on marine and coastal systems. Cutting funding to the programs that monitor and study these systems will not make these impacts go away. Indeed, such actions cloud our vision and place Maine in a highly vulnerable position.

President Trump’s “An American Budget” is not good for the citizens of Maine and we urge our congressional leaders to work together to oppose cuts to NOAA, NASA, and Sea Grant, and support passing the Digital Coast Act.

Beverly Johnson is a resident of Auburn and a professor of geology at Bates College. Andrew Thomas is a resident of Bangor and a professor of oceanography in the School of Maine Sciences at the University of Maine. Amanda Moeser is the owner of Lanes Island Oyster Company in Yarmouth and a PhD student at Antioch University New England.

“An American Budget” proposes to terminate four NASA missions that are essential for initiating and enabling long-term global observations of the oceans, ice, land surface and biosphere.

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