State Rep. David Gomberg (D-Otis) expressed anger today to news that the Trump Administration is considering a 14 percent cut to the US Coast Guard’s budget, a 17 percent cut in funding for the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, and elimination of the Oregon Sea Grant program.
“These proposed cuts will have dire effects on coastal communities around the country – but especially in Lincoln and Tillamook Counties where their search and rescue services save lives all the time. The US Coast Guard plays a vital role in keeping our fishing community, coastal residents, and beach visitors safe. I am afraid Air Station Newport will almost certainly be on the chopping block again if these cuts go through. This is truly the intersection of shortsighted policy and narrow-minded politics,” said Gomberg.
Air Station Newport is the only USCG rescue helicopter facility on the central coast. Helicopter crews there have saved hundreds of lives since the facility came on-line in 1986. In late 2014 Coast Guard administration announced the facility’s planned closure. Faced with strong community pressure, the coast guard ultimately withdrew the closure order in 2015. But the Trump budget for the Department of Homeland Security again puts the facility at risk. (See https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/gomberg/Pages/video.aspx for Gomberg’s response to the previous closure announcement.)
In addition, the Department of Commerce budget contains steep cuts to NOAA. The Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research is slated for a $126 million reduction — or 26 percent of its current funding level. The National Marine Fisheries Service and National Weather Service would each be slashed by 5 percent. Programs for helping states with coastal zone management, estuary reserves, and the popular “Sea Grant” program are slated for elimination altogether.
“NOAA conducts crucial research on ocean conditions, weather, and fishery health. I’m concerned that if either element is significantly reduced, it could have terrible consequences for the economies, jobs, and people of Oregon’s central coast,” said Gomberg.
“Already we have seen the impacts of ocean acidification in our oyster industry, and the effect of warming water on our salmon runs. These changes aren’t scientific theory, they affect my constituents’ livelihoods right now. Eliminating research leaves us vulnerable to whatever comes next with no warning which could have dire consequences for residents who live near or make their living from the ocean,” Gomberg added.
“Oregonians need to be aware and informed of what’s going on.” Gomberg concluded. “We look to our national Congressional delegation to fight these b budget cut backs. Oregon’s congressional delegation needs to know they have our strong support to fight this issue through the Congress and the White House.”