The President’s proposed fiscal year (FY) 2013 budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is $5.1 billion. Under the President’s budget request, NOAA’s proposed 3.1 percent budget increase in FY 2013 would largely be applied to the escalating costs of the agency’s acquisition of weather and climate satellites. Funding for the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research would also increase by 7.6 percent. The budget for NOAA’s environmental and fisheries programs would decrease by roughly two percent; this would be the third straight year of cuts for these programs if the budget request is enacted by Congress.

The budget does not address two major policy changes previously sought by the Obama Administration. First, there is no mention of the creation of a National Climate Service, which NOAA sought to establish in FY 2012. The proposed reorganization would have shifted management of three data centers, two labs, and several programs into the new National Climate Service. The FY 2013 budget is also silent regarding the President’s January 2012 proposal to move NOAA into the Department of the Interior.

Some new funding is proposed for the development of marine sensors to detect changes in the oceans, coastal waters, and Great Lakes (+$6.6 million), competitively awarded research on harmful algal blooms, hypoxia, and coastal ecosystems (+$2.0 million), and development of integrated ecosystem assessments (+$5.0 million). With respect to climate change, $28.2 million in new funding is being requested to support modeling of sea level rise and Arctic climate change, national and regional climate assessments, and other activities.

If appropriated by Congress as proposed by the President, the agency budget would achieve program efficiencies of $83.5 million in FY 2013. Several programs and activities are slated for termination or consolidation. Two fisheries research facilities would be closed—one in New Jersey and one in California, and aspects of the work at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory would be ceased. NOAA’s education program would be cut by $13.8 million (-55.1 percent). Other education activities would be eliminated, such as graduate research fellowships at the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, and the Bay-Watershed Education and Training Regional Program. Other terminations include the National Undersea Research Program (-$4.0 million), national competitions for solutions to aquatic invasive species (-$1.0 million), and marine mammal rescue assistance grants (-$3.8 million). Habitat conservation and restoration programs would be consolidated, resulting in $11.3 million in savings.

NOAA would invest $651 million in R&D in FY 2013, a 12.0 percent increase. Most of NOAA’s R&D funding is spent internally, but about 27 percent would be directed extramurally.


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