Trump Wants to Cut 355 National Weather Service Jobs Despite Record-Breaking Disasters in 2017
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.
2017 Weather and Climate Disasters Cost U.S. Record $306 Billion https://t.co/akJ9HbM4B4 @globalgreen @OneWorld_News @TheCCoalition— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1515587709.0
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.
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Fractures Among Young Climate Conservatives<p>While young conservatives have united around the urgency of climate change, they remain divided over how to bring their concerns to the ballot box. Some embrace right-wing <a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/biden-attacks-republican-convention/2020/08/24/434e5b46-e66d-11ea-970a-64c73a1c2392_story.html" target="_blank">attacks</a> painting Biden as a "tool of the left" and find his climate agenda "radical." Others can't find a way to justify voting for Trump, even if it means breaking with their party.</p><p>Patrick Mann from Orange County, California, voted for Trump in 2016. But today, he's leading Aggies for Joe at Texas A&M University and is co-founder of Texas Students for Biden. </p><p>Mann grew up watching wildfires ravage his home state, nearly forcing his family to evacuate in 2017. The GOP is failing to "meet the moment" for climate action, Mann said. He's hoping Biden will deliver on a promise to "<a href="https://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/opinion/columnists/caucus/2020/01/06/joe-biden-democrat-president-iowa-caucus-restore-soul-our-nation/2806422001/" target="_blank">restore the soul of our nation</a>." </p><p>Taylor Walker from Pensacola, Florida, is also determined to make her voice heard on climate, including by casting her first-ever vote for president—but not for Biden.</p>
A False Equivalency<p>Young climate conservatives may fear climate denial and delayed climate action, but more than that, they fear the growing political momentum around the Green New Deal, the massive spending it entails and <a href="https://joebiden.com/climate-plan/" target="_blank">Biden's citing of it</a> as a "crucial framing for meeting the climate challenges we face."</p><p>Many don't want to split with their party to support a Democrat whose <a href="https://www.npr.org/2019/09/03/757220130/joe-biden-on-bipartisanship-gun-control-and-regrets-over-inaction-after-a-traged" target="_blank">allegedly bipartisan intentions</a> they doubt. If stymieing what they consider a radical green agenda means re-electing a climate change denying president, so be it. </p><p>"I'm scared of climate change, but I'm also scared of the Green New Deal and what it means for America," said Ben Mutolo, a republicEN spokesperson and junior at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. </p><p>Mutolo felt encouraged by former Ohio Governor John Kasich's <a href="https://www.rollcall.com/2020/08/17/kasich-speech-to-democratic-convention-follows-years-of-building-conservative-credentials/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">appearance</a> at the Democratic National Convention, but he still struggles to see himself voting for Biden. Though the candidate paints himself as a <a href="https://www.latimes.com/politics/story/2020-08-12/harris-biden-different-generation-similar-political-instinct" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">centrist,</a> Mutolo believes he's "cozying up to the ultra-progressive left." </p><p>Mutolo, who wants to see market-based climate solutions like a carbon tax, feels torn between a candidate whose climate plan relies on taking an "<a href="https://joebiden.com/environmental-justice-plan/#" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">All-of-Government approach</a>," and one with no efforts to reign in global warming at all. <span></span></p><p>Leiserowitz said he appreciated how a conservative might feel Biden's climate plan "doesn't jive with their limited government, free-market approach."</p><p>But he sees a strong distinction between voting for a presidential candidate with a <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/14/us/politics/biden-climate-plan.html" target="_blank">$2 trillion climate plan</a> that includes large renewable energy investments, which have <a href="https://climatecommunication.yale.edu/publications/politics-global-warming-april-2020/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">bipartisan support</a>, and a candidate trying "to take the country in the opposite direction, towards more fossil fuels."</p>
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