As President Trump moves to rein in federal efforts to slow warming, his administration is also mulling cost-saving measures that would leave coastal Americans more vulnerable to rising seas, heavier deluges, acidifying waters, and other effects of climate change.
A four-page budget memo obtained by the Washington Post showed the Trump administration may seek to eliminate the National Sea Grant College Program, which provides grant funds and other support for university-based efforts to strengthen coastal economies and communities.
The proposal is part of a broad effort to reduce funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, a leading climate science agency. Experts have warned that the proposed cuts would hamstring NOAA’s weather forecasting and climate modeling, jeopardizing public safety.
“I’m deeply concerned about what I’m seeing,” Jonathan Pennock, the director of the Sea Grant program, told an advisory board meeting in Washington on Monday.
Sea Grant is a federal partnership program established by Congress in 1966 to “foster economic competitiveness” and “provide for the understanding and wise use of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resources.” Until this month, it had rarely stirred controversy.
With programs based at 33 locations nationwide, from Oregon State University to the University of Illinois to the University of Florida, it supports research that has helped coastal Americans weather the impacts of changing and sometimes treacherous environments.
“Sea grants are and would be critical even if there was no climate change,” said Derek Brockbank, executive director of the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association, which advocates in Washington for coastal cities and communities. “They only become more critical with climate change.”
The potential elimination of Sea Grant may be the clearest indication yet that deregulation and cost-cutting proposed by Trump could do more than accelerate global warming — it could also stymie efforts underway in America to adapt to changes underway.
The Obama Administration had been working to help farmers, residents of fire-prone regions, and fishing communities cope with the effects of climate change. Under Trump, whose cabinet is brimming with officials who downplay the climate crisis, such efforts may be jeopardized.
“This increases the need and urgency for local and state governments to figure out how to fund adaptation research and planning on their own,” said Laura Tam, sustainable development policy director at the San Francisco-based urban think tank SPUR. “It’s not something that can wait for the federal government to get back to in a few years.”
Read more at NOAA Sea Grant Cut Could Slow Climate Adaptation