There’s likely going to be no more withering nor efficient criticism of the Trump administration’s coastal economic and environmental policy goals than U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman launched into at the outset of a U.S. House subcommittee meeting Tuesday.
The House Subcommittee on Water, Oceans and Wildlife met to discuss the administration’s fiscal year 2020 budgets for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The California Democrat said the Trump administration’s proposed budget shows the president “does not value oceans, wildlife or the communities that depend on healthy ecosystems.”
Huffman cited a $250 million cut to USFWS and a nearly $1 billion cut to NOAA. He said some Republican members of the subcommittee may find these cuts wise, though he did not.
“But reducing funding for science, wildlife and communities working to increase resiliency in the face of climate change is not wise,” Huffman said. “It’s just passing the buck to our kids and grandkids, who will pay the price for these short-sighted, irresponsible decisions down the road.
“From climate change denial to a national debt that’s ballooning thanks to huge tax cuts to billionaires, to budgets like this that abrogate any notion of stewardship for future generations, young people today could be forgiven for thinking that the generation currently in power is reckless and hedonistic.”
U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Calif., indeed did say the proposed cuts in the budget were not only the proper way to go, but should go further in consolidating perceived overlaps between NOAA and USFWS and cutting away more spending programs.
“These savings are largely affected by prioritizing the core missions of protecting life and property, while reducing unproductive grants to outside groups, duplicative climate research, and reflecting the end of the Deepwater Horizon settlement,” McClintock said. “Frankly, I wish the president had gone farther, and consolidated the Fish and Wildlife Service with the National Marine Fisheries Service in efficiency reform long advocated by reformers on both sides of the aisle.
“In fact, in his State of the Union address in 2011, no less than a far-right-wing icon than Barack Obama himself cited these two agencies as his favorite example of counterproductive and wasteful overlap among federal agencies.”
Responding to U.S. Del. Gregorio Sablan, D-Northern Mariana Islands, NOAA Deputy Administrator Tim Gallaudet said he absolutely backs the proposed budget.
“I support the cuts, congressman,” Gallaudet said. “We cut — our strategy was to cut grants to states and territories and external partners while we preserved core functions and missions. So, for example, we are not eliminating, we are continuing great work, funded on the order of tens of millions of dollars, of the Coastal Zone Management Program as well as the (Integrated Ocean Observing System) program.”
In his prepared statement to the subcommittee Gallaudet said the budget includes an additional $4 million for regional ocean data portals, “building on innovative tools being developed by NOAA’s National Ocean Service to improve siting for offshore activities such as aquaculture, fishing and energy development.”
He later continued, “The budget includes an investment for regional fishery management councils to analyze and remove outdated, unnecessary or ineffective regulations. To further help level the playing field for U.S. commercial fishermen in the global seafood marketplace, the budget includes an additional $1.6 million to enforce the Seafood Import Monitoring Program and prevent the importation of seafood caught using fishing practices that are illegal in the United States.
“Finally, the budget includes an investment to support aquaculture production by assisting industry with regulatory compliance and conducting priority research to ensure that American farmed seafood is healthy, safe and sustainable.”