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

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

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.
Show Comments ()

Trump Administration Offers 77 Million Acres in Gulf of Mexico to Oil Industry

The Trump administration is holding the biggest offshore oil and gas lease auction in U.S. history Wednesday, offering all 77 million acres of unleased, available federal waters in the Gulf of Mexico.

The sale comes as administration officials seek to rescind drilling safety rules approved after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, reduce royalties paid by oil companies, and expand offshore drilling into every ocean in the country.

Keep reading... Show less
Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency Scott Pruitt. Mitchell Resnick

Pruitt to Restrict Use of Scientific Data in EPA Policymaking

In the coming weeks, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt is expected to announce a proposal that would limit the type of scientific studies and data the agency can use in crafting public health and environmental regulations.

The planned policy shift, first reported by E&E News, would require the EPA to only use scientific findings whose data and methodologies are made public and can be replicated.

Keep reading... Show less
Mity / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

20% of U.S. Diets Responsible for Almost Half of Country’s Food-Related Emissions, Study Finds

If you've been deliberating about going vegetarian, a study published Tuesday in Environmental Letters might give you the final push.

Keep reading... Show less
Sea Shepherd small boat assists the Liberian Coast Guard to chase down the F/V Hai Lung. Sea Shepherd

Notorious Toothfish Poacher Arrested by Liberian Coast Guard, Assisted by Sea Shepherd

A notorious Antarctic and Patagonian toothfish poaching vessel, famous for plundering the Antarctic, was arrested on March 13 in waters belonging to the West African state of Liberia by the Liberian Coast Guard, with assistance from the marine conservation group Sea Shepherd.

The F/V Hai Lung, known to the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) by its previous name "Kily," was transiting through Liberian waters when it was boarded and inspected by a Liberian Coast Guard team working alongside Sea Shepherd crew on board Sea Shepherd's patrol vessel M/Y Sam Simon.

Keep reading... Show less

7 Must-See Films at the 42nd Cleveland International Film Fest

It's that time, again!

EcoWatch is proud to be a media partner of the Cleveland International Film Festival (CIFF), now celebrating its 42nd year. This year, EcoWatch is honored to be sponsoring Anote's Ark. This documentary spotlights Kiribati, a small remote island facing devastating effects due to climate change.

Keep reading... Show less
Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said: 'We have approved Bayer's plans to take over Monsanto because the parties' remedies, worth well over €6 billion, meet our competition concerns in full.' EU Commission Twitter

EU Approves Controversial Bayer-Monsanto Merger

The European Union approved Bayer's takeover of Monsanto, a major hurdle in the $66 billion merger that would create the world's largest integrated seed and pesticide conglomerate.

The European Commission said the German chemical-maker's takeover of the St. Louis-based agribusiness giant is "conditional on an extensive remedy package, which addresses the parties' overlaps in seeds, pesticides and digital agriculture."

Keep reading... Show less
Todd Porter & Diane Cu

How Much Daily Activity You Need to Burn off 9 Healthy (But High-Calorie) Foods

By Luke Doyle

A healthy lifestyle is fueled by nutrient-rich foods that give your body the energy it needs. But some of these foods come with high calorie counts and the "healthy" label doesn't mean it's okay to consume unlimited amounts of them.

Keep reading... Show less
Marine debris laden beach in Hawaii. NOAA Marine Debris Program / Flickr

Ocean Plastic Projected to Triple Within Seven Years

If we don't act now, plastic pollution in the world's oceans is projected to increase three-fold within seven years, according to a startling new report.

The Future of the Sea report, released Wednesday for the UK government, found that human beings across the globe produce more than 300 million metric tons of plastic per year. Unfortunately, a lot of that material ends up in our waters, with the total amount of plastic debris in the sea predicted to increase from 50 million metric tons in 2015 to 150 million metric tons by 2025.

Keep reading... Show less


The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!