The FY 2008 budget requested by President Bush for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is $3.82 billion, roughly $96 million less than Congress appropriated for NOAA in FY 2006 and maintained for FY 2007 in the recently passed continuing resolution.
The administration asserts that the FY 2008 NOAA budget reflects an increased commitment to the Ocean Action Plan (OAP) and the recently released Ocean Research Priorities Plan (ORPP), improved severe weather forecasting, and expanded climate monitoring and research. In fact, as promised at a White House briefing on oceans on 26 January 2007, the FY 2008 NOAA budget includes $123 million in “new funding” to support three major areas outlined in the OAP: (1) Enhanced ocean science and research; (2) Protection and restoration of sensitive marine and coastal areas; and (3) Ensuring sustainable use of ocean resources. Despite its enthusiasm for the OAP and ORPP, however, the FY 2008 NOAA budget falls short in its overall commitment to research and development, as evidenced by a $44 million decrease, or 8 percent, in R&D funding compared to FY 2006 and 2007 levels.
The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), and the National Ocean Service (NOS) represent 60, 9, and 7 percent, respectively, of NOAA’s total R&D budget. The White House has touted a $60 million investment of “new money” specifically for ocean science research, but these increases appear to be counterbalanced by large decreases from FY 2006 and 2007 funding levels in other parts of NOAA’s R&D portfolio. For example, within OAR, the Climate Research Program budget would increase $23.2 million (14 percent) from FY 2006 enacted levels; however, Weather and Air Quality Research would receive a $20.4 million cut (30 percent) and Ocean, Coastal and Great Lakes Research funding would decrease by $21.2 million (17 percent) compared to FY 2006 funding levels. NMFS would receive a $37.4 million (6 percent) increase from FY 2006, with increases in Fisheries Research and Management programs, in support of OAP and ORPP-related activities. To implement a different part of the ORPP, the National Ocean Service (NOS) would receive $10 million for ocean biological sensors and hurricane decision-support tools. However, other programs in NOS would experience significant declines in FY 2008. For example, Ocean Resources Conservation and Assessment, which include a number of coral reef programs, would lose $54.6 million (26 percent) in FY 2008 compared to FY 2006 and 2007. Navigation Services, a program that is responsible for coastal mapping, would experience a budget cut of $5.5 million (4 percent) compared to FY 2006 and 2007 enacted levels.
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