This week, President Trump released “A New Foundation for American Greatness,” $4.1 trillion budget request for fiscal year 2018 (FY18) to Congress which largely mirrors the Administration’s Budget Blueprint released earlier this year. The proposal calls for sharp cuts to several agencies that would significantly impact fisheries conservation, research, and management in exchange for increased defense spending.
Last month, Congress passed a bipartisan omnibus budget deal to fund the government through the end of September, when the current fiscal year ends. The sharp departure from the President’s budget priorities in the Omnibus suggests that Congress is not likely to embrace the FY18 proposal.
Congress typically makes changes to a President’s proposed budget and has, at times, ignored it altogether. Even if the House adopts the President’s FY18 proposal as written, Senate Republicans will have to compromise to win over Democrats to get the 60 votes necessary to pass budget bills.
Now is the time for action! Contact your member of Congress in support of the programs that are critical to your work. An excellent way to make your point is with a letter explaining the consequences of a proposed cut on fisheries conservation, research and management.
- Here’s a quick reference to help you in writing your letter: www.aallnet.org/Documents/Government-Relations/writingMOC.pdf.
- Here’s a useful link to locate your member of Congress: www.house.gov/representatives/find/#linktowyr or www.senate.gov/states/.
- If you need help drafting a letter, please contact Drue Winters at 301-897-8616 x202 or [email protected].
Environmental Protection Agency
- Total agency funding slashed 31.4% or $2.6 billion with at least 3,200 jobs and 50 programs eliminated.
- Funding for the Office of Research and Development would be cut in half from $483 million to $249 million, with most of the remaining funds going to projects conducted in-house.
- Prioritizes grants and low-cost financing to states and municipalities for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure projects, but reduces categorical grants to state and local agencies by 45% from $1.07 billion to $597 million. These grants are issued to states and Native American tribes to implement and enforce the Clean Water Act and Safe Drinking Water Act.
- Completely eliminates funding for a dozen geographic programs including the Chesapeake Bay, the Great Lakes, Lake Champlain, Lake Ponchartrain, the Gulf of Mexico, South Florida, San Francisco Bay, and Puget Sound, a cut of $427 million.
- Discontinues funding for international climate-change programs.
Department of Commerce
- Total budget reduced by 16%, or $1.5 billion and includes cuts for NOAA to climate change and ocean research and $250 million in cuts to coastal research and grant programs that prepare communities for rising seas and worsening storms.
- Elimination of the Sea Grant program, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, Coastal Zone Management Grants, the Office of Education, and the Pacific Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund.
- The National Marine Fisheries Service would lose $27 million in funding.
Department of Interior
- Total agency budget cut $1.4 billion, an 11% reduction.
- Decreases funding for the agency’s Land and Water Conservation fund by $129 million (84%) to focus on investments in existing federal lands and addressing the roughly $11 billion maintenance backlog within the national park system rather than new land acquisition.
- USGS faces a $138 million budget reduction (15%) that proposes to eliminate 4 of the 8 Climate Science Centers, cuts to place-based research and monitoring including Chesapeake Bay and the Everglades, cuts to water quality research and assessment to maintain long-term monitoring data sets, and cuts to species-specific research in favor of landscape-scale needs and species of concern for which there is very little research.
- The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would see a $14.8 million reduction in Ecological Services Programs which funds Endangered Species Act programs, a $10.2 million reduction in Aquatic Habitat and Species Conservation funds, and a $1 million reduction to the National Fish Habitat Partnership.
- Bureau of Land Management resource protection programs would be cut by $31 million impacting habitat restoration efforts.
- The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act revenue sharing provisions would be repealed, which fund long-term coastal restoration projects and serves as the cost-share for important conservation projects in GOMESA states.
Department of Agriculture
- 21% cut to the department’s discretionary spending budget
- The U.S. Forest Service’s Land and Water Conservation Fund would be cut by $55 million, leaving the program with an $8 million budget.
- Eliminates the Rural Water and Waste Disposal Program due to duplicates in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) State Revolving Funds (SRFs).
- The Natural Resource Conservation Service’s (NRCS) budget would be reduced by $83 million and the Watershed Operations account would be zeroed out, reducing technical and financial assistance for watershed protection and erosion reduction to states, local governments, and tribes.