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February 13, 2012
Americans today face challenging economic times. Families are sitting down at their kitchen tables and making tough choices with tighter budgets. Businesses are weighing whether to hire new employees or expand operations. Communities are challenged to determine which essential services to provide to their citizens and businesses. Across the country, we are forced to balance between immediate needs and future investments.
Everyone has to share in the collective effort to reduce the deficit. At NOAA, we too are facing the tough choices of how best to balance the national priorities in science, service and stewardship entrusted to NOAA, while at the same time living within our means. We will still strive to deliver on core missions that Americans have come to depend on each and every day by providing the best information for life and safety, ensuring healthy and productive ecosystems in our oceans and coastal areas, and continuing important research and development. And we will redouble our efforts to make disciplined choices and smart investments, and to seek out new partnerships whenever possible.
This year’s budget request of approximately $5.1 billion aims to (1) provide immediate life-saving and job-supporting services needed to prepare and protect American communities and infrastructure and (2) invest in science and research that will enhance America’s competitiveness. It reflects a continued commitment to stewardship of coastal and ocean resources, which in turn benefits coastal economies. It includes tough choices and sacrifices made in the face of tightening budgets, with valuable programs reduced or terminated to accommodate critical investments that could not be delayed to ensure we can meet national priorities.
Services that save lives and help businesses succeed
NOAA’s services save lives and protect livelihoods. Last year (2011) rewrote the record books on extreme events. From crippling snowstorms to the second deadliest tornado year on record, to epic floods, drought and heat and the third busiest hurricane season on record, we’ve witnessed the extreme of nearly every weather category. These events provided a sobering reminder about our vulnerability to the impacts of extreme weather and climate. This budget allows NOAA to improve severe weather warnings by producing and delivering forecasts that Americans have come to trust, provide services in a cost-effective manner, and continue to reduce weather-related fatalities. This budget also provides for continued timely advancement of the nation’s next-generation weather satellites.
Healthy environment and a healthy economy
NOAA’s stewardship responsibilities support coastal economies and provide tourism opportunities, storm protection, safe energy, and recreational and commercial fishing – integral facets of our economy at large. This budget allows us to maintain some of the core stewardship programs that our nation’s coastal communities have come to rely on, such as sustainable fisheries, marine sanctuaries and coastal management. We will work tirelessly to enhance our partnerships and find innovative solutions to conserve and protect our ocean and coastal resources.
Investing in science today for a better tomorrow
Science is at the heart of NOAA’s services and stewardship. A more accurate hurricane track forecast today is the result of smart research investments of the past. Putting America’s fishing industry on a sustainable and profitable path depends on investments in the best fisheries science. NOAA’s science enhances our understanding of and ability to predict changes in the Earth’s environment, an increasingly crucial role given the economic and environmental challenges we face. NOAA is making key investments in the next generation of research and informational products to protect our environment, enhance our security, and spur economic recovery. This budget provides necessary investments to improve our understanding of climate processes and support research that will help fuel a clean energy economy.
We must remember the significant contribution NOAA makes to growing a strong economy that is built to last. Just as every citizen depends on NOAA for his or her weather information, from the five-day forecast to life-saving weather alerts, so too do businesses rely on NOAA. Fishermen trust NOAA’s nautical charts and check tides and currents information before heading to sea. Farmers depend on our long-range forecasts to determine what crops to plant and when. Using NOAA services, airlines save millions of dollars by keeping planes and personnel from being stranded in bad weather. Marine shipping companies, which transport 90 percent of the goods into and out of the United States, rely on NOAA to keep our ports operating safely. For coastal communities, NOAA’s stewardship of our fisheries, coasts and oceans is vital to their prosperity. And the list goes on and on. It is hard to imagine a sector of the economy that does not depend on NOAA in some way or another.
NOAA is in our communities. Our employees are your colleagues, neighbors and friends. As individuals and as an agency, we are partners in the success of families, businesses and communities. This budget keeps our commitment to deliver the services, the stewardship, and the smart investment in the science that America needs.
Dr. Jane Lubchenco
Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere
and NOAA Administrator