In March, President Donald Trump sent his budget proposal to Capitol Hill. The proposal included cuts that would significantly impact Louisiana’s coastal protection and restoration efforts, if approved. Federal cuts have been suggested to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (17% cut) and the Environmental Protection Agency (25% cut) – both have local programs in Louisiana that would be severely impacted by the budget proposal.
Read LWF’s resolutions with official position statements:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) – 17% Cut Proposed
Louisiana Program Affected: Louisiana Sea Grant
NOAA is home to the National Sea Grant College Program, which has helped 31 states (including Louisiana) conserve, protect, and enhance coastal communities and economies for over 50 years. This program receives a significant return on investment with an annual economic impact of $575 million (in 2015) from a federal investment of $67.3 million.
Louisiana Sea Grant assists the state by providing research that helps set oyster and shrimp seasons and has offered expertise during the state’s development of wetlands restoration projects for Louisiana’s Coastal Master Plan. It has also supported response and recovery efforts after numerous disaster events including 5 hurricanes, 2 floods, and the nation’s largest oil spill.
Over 20,000 jobs and 2,900 businesses are created or sustained annually through the National Sea Grant College Program. Thousands of undergraduate and graduate students across the nation are supported by grants from this program to fund research that is used to improve coastal communities and economies.
The proposed budget cuts would completely eliminate funding for the National Sea Grant College Program. This would likely mean the end of Louisiana’s Sea Grant program since federal funding makes up about a third of its budget. “I don’t think Sea Grant can exist without federal dollars,” says Dr. Robert Twilley, Executive Director of Louisiana Sea Grant.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – 25% Cut Proposed
Louisiana Program Affected: Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program
EPA oversees the National Estuary Program, which contains 28 estuaries of national significance, including Louisiana’s Barataria-Terrebonne National Estuary Program (BTNEP). The BTNEP encompasses all or parts of 16 Louisiana parishes, many of which are in the coastal zone.
The BTNEP program addresses many of Louisiana’s environmental issues including non-point source pollution of waterways and coastal land loss. BTNEP has sponsored over 10,000 acres of restoration activities including placement of dredged material, debris removal, planting, erosion control, and invasive species control.
Preservation of this national estuary is important to many species of fish and wildlife, including migratory birds that traverse the Mississippi Flyway. With over 200 spices of birds common to the estuary, it may very well become one of the premiere birding destinations in the state.
BTNEP has assisted the state in its coastal protection and restoration efforts, by partnering on projects and helping studying the effects of projects on wildlife. The program also offers educational resources to teachers and partners with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries for a coastal awareness workshop.
Healthy estuaries benefit the entire nation. The National Estuary Program works to ensure that federal agencies work with local partners to improve management of natural resources. Reducing funding for this program would impact the benefits that these nationally significant estuaries provide.
Approximately 42% of the United States population lives or works in a coastal area, contributing over $7.6 trillion to the nation economy annually. Nearly half of Louisiana’s population lives in coastal parishes. Cutting funding to these important coastal programs would not only significantly impact the State of Louisiana, but the entire nation. Louisiana Wildlife Federation strongly opposes any action that would eliminate or reduce funding for the National Sea Grant College Program and the National Estuary Program which would, by default, eliminate or reduce funding for local programs as well.