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Hirono, Collins to Trump Administration: NOAA Cuts Would Be Devastating for Hawaii, Coastal States

Ahead of next week’s release of the first budget from the Trump Administration, Senators Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) led a bipartisan letter to the Trump Administration urging reconsideration of proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that would disproportionately hurt Hawaii and other coastal states.

The proposed cuts, first reported by the Washington Post, would completely eliminate the Sea Grant College Program at the University of Hawaii and universities in other states. In 2015, the University of Hawaii received more than $2 million in federal funding for the Sea Grant Program. The proposal also drastically cuts NOAA’s satellite program, which provides critical imagery and forecasting information for U.S. military navigation as well as community disaster preparedness, response, and recovery.

The Senators wrote:

“In 1992, Hurricane Iniki struck Kauai, Hawaii, causing 6 deaths and $1.8 billion (1992 USD) in damage. If communities had not been warned about the hurricane in advance, the death toll could have been much higher. Deep cuts to NESDIS’ monitoring equipment and activities will directly increase coastal states’ vulnerability to hurricanes and other natural events that can threaten our communities and run counter to NOAA’s building of a Weather-Ready Nation.”

The letter was also signed by Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Angus King (I-Maine), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii).

Hawaii business leaders and scientists underscored the necessity of adequately funding NOAA’s programs and services for Hawaii:

 “The NOAA IOOS program provides the real-time data that we need to understand and adapt to changing ocean conditions. The system is critically important to our team members and the coastal communities where we operate,” said Ronald K. Lau, Operations Manager of Kona Coast Shellfish, LLC- Pacific Seafood Group.

“The Sea Grant College Program has been serving coastal communities and economies through the provision of science based information, tools and technologies for more than 50 years. Based at Universities in 33 coastal and Great Lakes states as well Puerto Rico and Guam, Sea Grant serves as NOAAs link to University research and the communities they serve,” said Dr. Darren Lerner, Director of the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program.

Click here to download a copy of the letter.