Federal Budget Cuts:Putting our Coast Last
While the President has promised to keep “America First”, his recommended federal budget released on May 23, 2017 puts coastal communities last. The President’s “Budget of the U.S. Government – A New Foundation for American Greatness,” recommends federal spending that eliminates investments in science and eliminates programs upon which our coastal communities depend. The U.S. federal budget is intended to reflect the values and priorities of the American people, but this budget hamstrings scientific investigations and increases risks to the security of coastal homes, coastal jobs, and coastal communities.
The President’s budget is only one step of a complicated process during which the administration will work with members of Congress and federal agencies to negotiate where U.S. funds will be allocated. As the process progresses, we will keep everyone informed via our website and encourage specific actions to protect coastal Georgia communities.
For a fact sheet with more information, click here.
Specifically, the budget:
Endangers the health and safety of visitors and residents who explore our coastal beaches and communities.
- Eliminates the US Environmental Protection (US EPA) beach monitoring program, threatening the safety of Georgia’s coastal visitors and our $2 billion coastal tourism industry.
- Eliminates National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funds to assist local coastal readiness and response to rising seas.
- Eliminates the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)’s flood insurance subsidy program and coastal flooding map effort that helps protect citizens from severe weather events.
Decimates local jobs and businesses upon which coastal Georgia economies are built
and eliminates federal support for producing knowledge and understanding of our coast.
- Eliminates NOAA funds critical for coastal and marine management, research and education. These funds matched by state and local dollars resulting in hundreds of direct and indirect jobs throughout Georgia’s coast.
- This broad elimination includes loss of federal funds for the Georgia Sea Grant and Marine Extension (MAREX), Georgia’s Coastal Management Program, and Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve.
Forces state and local governments to shoulder regulatory enforcement that safeguard our citizens from environmental hazards and disasters.
- Reduces by 23% enforcement of the US Clean Water Act and the US Clean Air Acts that safeguard against toxic chemicals actively and passively released into our environment.
- Cuts up to 30% funds for programs to clean up superfund sites (abandoned areas that are still polluted with toxic material) affecting 22 areas in Chatham County and 9 in Glynn County.
Endangers our wildlife and fisheries.
- Cuts funding for state agencies to lead a robust sea turtle stranding network, conduct aerial surveys of birthing North Atlantic right whales, and identify endangered loggerhead sea turtles who continue to use the same Georgia beaches generation after generation.
- Eliminates funds for regional coordination of conservation and management of nearshore fish species, as well as funds for sport fish restoration efforts, increased boating access and boater education and outreach.
What does this mean:
Federal funds, when matched with state and local funds support many people and businesses throughout the Georgia coast. Without federal funding…
- … Georgia’s beach monitoring program will be discontinued, risking the safety of all who recreate on our beaches and the $2 billion coastal tourism industry built around the safe access.
- … Georgia’s shellfish industry will suffer. NOAA funds have helped develop appropriate methods to raise and harvest shellfish, clams and oysters. Without this research, many businesses will not have the tools needed to sell our signature oysters and other coastal delicacies to restaurants and others.
- … Citizens will be forced to pay more for necessary flood insurance and will not have access to important information regarding increased flooding and extreme weather events.
- … People will lose jobs. Because the federal funding matches local and state funding for important programs, in some instances up to 75%, the loss of the federal funding will result in job loss. Many areas of our coast cannot afford to lose the important economic driver many of these program offer the communities in which they operate.
What can be done:
The complicated process to finalize our federal budget will involve a lot of negotiations before a budget is adopted by Congress in the fall. Those of us who love our Georgia coast must express our outrage with the President’s budget and demand support for our communities. At the least, we should get a congressional hearing to discuss the risks the budget posed for coastal Georgia communities.
PLEASE ACT TODAY: Contact Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Chair Senate Appropriations Committee and Representative Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ), Chair House Appropriations Committee. Make sure to copy our Georgia Senators and Congressmen. Review our sample letter with email addresses.
Call Georgia Senators Isakson and Perdue and coastal Georgia Congressman Carter to:
- Tell them of the value the federal funds bring to supporting our coast;
- Ask each of them to request a Congressional hearing to discuss the impact the President’s budget will have on our coastal communities.
- Share a personal experience or your involvement in a federally funded program;
- Express how important it is that our D.C. representatives champion Georgia’s coastal communities by fighting of continued federal funding for:
– Coastal and marine management, research and education through NOAA
– Beach monitoring and enforcement through EPA, and
– Flood insurance assistance and flood mapping through FEMA.
- Call Senator Isakson at 202.224.3643
- Call Senator Perdue at 202.224.3521
- Call Congressman Buddy Carter at 202.225.5831