White House seeks 17% budget cut for climate agency

Indo Asian News Service

Washington, March 4 (IANS) The White House is proposing to cut the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a leading government agency on climate science, by 17 per cent, a media report said.

According to a memo obtained by The Washington Post on Friday, the funding slash would hamper NOAA's research funding and satellite programmes while eliminating altogether funding for smaller programmes on coastal management and estuary reserve efforts, among others.

NOAA is part of the Commerce Department, which would be hit by an overall 18 per cent budget reduction from its current funding level.

Among the satellite programmes facing the largest cuts is the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service, which houses climate and environmental information through the National Centers for Environmental Information.

Researchers in that programme have studied the continuing rate of global climate change. Another would be the Sea Grant programme, which currently supports university research programmes at 33 institutions nationwide, the newspaper reported.

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) passback said that the administration wanted to "prioritise rebuilding the military" and would seek "savings and efficiencies to keep the nation on a responsible fiscal path".

It said that its proposed funding cut for the Commerce Department "highlights the tradeoffs and choices inherent in pursuing these goals".

Many scientists warned that the deep cuts at NOAA could hurt safety as well as academic programs.

Jane Lubchenco, NOAA administrator under President Barack Obama, said that 90 per cent of the information for weather forecasts comes from satellites.

"Cutting NOAA's satellite budget will compromise NOAA's mission of keeping Americans safe from extreme weather and providing forecasts that allow businesses and citizens to make smart plans," she said.