Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Trump Wants to Cut 355 National Weather Service Jobs Despite Record-Breaking Disasters in 2017

Popular
Astronaut Randy Bresnik took this photo of Tropical Storm Harvey from the International Space Station. Flickr

With weather and climate disasters becoming more destructive and costlier than ever, accurate and reliable weather forecasting is absolutely critical to protect life and property.

However, President Trump's 2019 White House budget proposes to cut National Weather Service (NWS) funding by about 8 percent, a decrease of just over $75 million. It also proposes a reduction of 355 positions, including 248 forecasting jobs.


Last year, the U.S. experienced 16 weather and climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion each, according to a January report from the National Centers for Environmental Information. The total estimated cost was $306 billion—a new U.S. annual record.

The administration justifies the staff reductions based the 2016 Weather Service Operations and Workforce Analysis, which noted a "mismatch ... between workforce and workload" in some areas of the NWS and "that the current distribution of staff across the country can evolve."

But the National Weather Service Employees Organization, the agency's labor union, criticized the cuts.

"It's going to cost lives, it's going to cost the economy. Forecasts are going to be worse," Dan Sobien, union president, told Huntsville, Alabama-based news station WAFF.

Sobien added that NWS is already down more than 600 employees and further budget cuts would stretch the staff even thinner.

"The only way they're going to be able to do this is to close offices or at least close them for parts of the day. Offices like Huntsville might be closed at night," Sobien said. "These are the people that are issuing the tornado warnings, putting out the freeze forecasts and they're just not going to be there. They're not going to be there in offices like Huntsville in the middle of the night or some other key time. The forecasts are going to have to come from somewhere else and it's going to be people who are not familiar with the Huntsville area."

In October, the organization said the agency is "for the first time in its history teetering on the brink of failure."

Sabien told weather.com that inaccurate forecasting will "cost us all a whole lot more than $75 million."

"Literally, this (proposed budget) is risking all of our lives to save a few million dollars," he said.

As detailed by WAFF, here are the additional proposed cuts at the NWS:

  • A $15 million cut in the surface and marine observations program, which includes data points that provide information on ocean cycles such as El Nino.
  • An $11 million cut to the agency's tsunami warning program.
  • A $14 million cut to its science and technology integration activities, which would decrease investments in weather and water modeling and some supporting evaluation.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

By Michael Svoboda

The enduring pandemic will make conventional forms of travel difficult if not impossible this summer. As a result, many will consider virtual alternatives for their vacations, including one of the oldest forms of virtual reality – books.

Read More Show Less
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility on Thursday accused NOAA of ignoring its own scientists' findings about the endangerment of the North Atlantic right whale. Lauren Packard / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Julia Conley

As the North Atlantic right whale was placed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's list of critically endangered species Thursday, environmental protection groups accusing the U.S. government of bowing to fishing and fossil fuel industry pressure to downplay the threat and failing to enact common-sense restrictions to protect the animals.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Beth Ann Mayer

Since even moderate-intensity workouts offer a slew of benefits, walking is a good choice for people looking to stay healthy.

Read More Show Less
Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday. JustTulsa / CC BY 2.0

Much of Eastern Oklahoma, including most of Tulsa, remains an Indian reservation, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday.

Read More Show Less
The Firefly Watch project is among the options for aspiring citizen scientists to join. Mike Lewinski / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Tiffany Means

Summer and fall are great seasons to enjoy the outdoors. But if you're already spending extra time outside because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be out of ideas on how to make fresh-air activities feel special. Here are a few suggestions to keep both adults and children entertained and educated in the months ahead, many of which can be done from the comfort of one's home or backyard.

Read More Show Less
People sit at the bar of a restaurant in Austin, Texas, on June 26, 2020. Texas Governor Greg Abbott ordered bars to be closed by noon on June 26 and for restaurants to be reduced to 50% occupancy. Coronavirus cases in Texas spiked after being one of the first states to begin reopening. SERGIO FLORES / AFP via Getty Images

The coronavirus may linger in the air in crowded indoor spaces, spreading from one person to the next, the World Health Organization acknowledged on Thursday, as The New York Times reported. The announcement came just days after 239 scientists wrote a letter urging the WHO to consider that the novel coronavirus is lingering in indoor spaces and infecting people, as EcoWatch reported.

Read More Show Less

Trending

A never-before-documented frog species has been discovered in the Peruvian highlands and named Phrynopus remotum. Germán Chávez

By Angela Nicoletti

The eastern slopes of the Andes Mountains in central Perú are among the most remote places in the world.

Read More Show Less