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NOAA's Sea Grant Program on Trump's Chopping Block
By Mandy Sackett
As has been reported, the Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to the National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), budget. Included in those cuts is the complete elimination of the Sea Grant program.
As a former California Sea Grant fellow with the California Natural Resources Agency, I take personal offense to this assault. The fellowship program has been invaluable to me, giving me a vital role in the state's efforts to address marine litter and waste management issues, teaching me to critically evaluate and craft policy solutions, as well as how to interpret and translate science for policy and communications.
Sea Grant's state and federal fellowships provide recent graduates with an opportunity to participate in research and policy using a science-based approach. The program trains the next generation of decision makers and policy professionals to ensure balanced management of our marine resources.
California Sea Grant and University of Southern California Sea Grant programs are both highly successful beyond the state fellowship program. Check out some of their accomplishments here:
Indeed, the fellowship program is only a small fraction of the vital work that the Sea Grant program contributes nationwide each year.
For 50 years, Sea Grant has been at the forefront of creating economic opportunities, enhancing food and water security, and reducing risks from natural hazards and extreme events facing coastal communities through research and outreach efforts. Sea Grant's research has been critical to making smart decisions about how we manage, protect, and use the resources from our nation's coastal, marine, and Great Lakes environments.
In fiscal year 2015-16 alone, Sea Grant used its $67.3 million federal appropriation to generate an estimated $575 million in economic impacts around the country; created or sustained nearly 21,000 jobs and almost 3,000 businesses; helped 534 coastal communities implement sustainable development practices or policies so they are more resilient to hazards like flooding and hurricanes; and helped more than 40,000 fishermen adopt sustainable harvesting techniques.
Sea Grant is a key partner in:
- developing sufficient capabilities to sustain ocean-based economies;
- growing our marine food sector;
- diversifying our energy sources;
- protecting critical ocean and coastal infrastructure and related natural resources;
- and training the next generation of scientists, managers, and stakeholders.
Let's make our voices heard and make sure Sea Grant is here to stay! Here are four simple steps you can take to help save this important program:
1. Spread the word—share this blog with your friends and family on social media.
3. Volunteer at a local chapter and get involved!
4. Contact your representatives—a quick phone call is best! Find your representative's contact information here. Here are a few talking points you can use:
- I'm calling today to let (elected official) know that I oppose the president's proposed cuts to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), specifically the elimination of the Sea Grant program.
- Sea Grant directly contributes to job creation and economic development, the core functions of the Department of Commerce.
- Federal funding of Sea Grant goes a long way. Each dollar Sea Grant receives in federal funds is multiplied threefold through strategic partnerships with academic and grant funders.
- I personally value (name Sea Grant program or service that is important to you). (Click here for more information about Sea Grant's workshops, trainings and programs in your area.)
- Again, I urge (elected official) to maintain funding for Sea Grant in NOAA's 2017 and 2018 budgets. Thank you for your time.
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gmnicholas / E+ / Getty Images
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By Jake Johnson
As a growing number of states move to pass laws that would criminalize pipeline protests and hit demonstrators with years in prison, an audio recording obtained by The Intercept showed a representative of a powerful oil and gas lobbying group bragging about the industry's success in crafting anti-protest legislation behind closed doors.
Speaking during a conference in Washington, DC in June, Derrick Morgan, senior vice president for federal and regulatory affairs at the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM), touted "model legislation" that states across the nation have passed in recent months.
AFPM represents a number of major fossil fuel giants, including Chevron, Koch Industries and ExxonMobil.
"We've seen a lot of success at the state level, particularly starting with Oklahoma in 2017," said Morgan, citing Dakota Access Pipeline protests as the motivation behind the aggressive lobbying effort. "We're up to nine states that have passed laws that are substantially close to the model policy that you have in your packet."
Big Oil is now using its political power to try and criminalize protests of oil & gas infrastructure.— Friends of the Earth (@foe_us) August 19, 2019
"This legislation has potential to punish public participation and mischaracterize advocacy protected by the First Amendment."https://t.co/bmiHjONEhy
The audio recording comes just months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law legislation that would punish anti-pipeline demonstrators with up to 10 years in prison, a move environmentalists condemned as a flagrant attack on free expression.
"Big Oil is hijacking our legislative system," Dallas Goldtooth of the Indigenous Environmental Network said after the Texas Senate passed the bill in May.
As The Intercept's Lee Fang reported Monday, the model legislation Morgan cited in his remarks "has been introduced in various forms in 22 states and passed in ... Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa, South Dakota, and North Dakota."
"The AFPM lobbyist also boasted that the template legislation has enjoyed bipartisan support," according to Fang. "In Louisiana, Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards signed the version of the bill there, which is being challenged by the Center for Constitutional Rights. Even in Illinois, Morgan noted, 'We almost got that across the finish line in a very Democratic-dominated legislature.' The bill did not pass as it got pushed aside over time constraints at the end of the legislative session."
Many of the state bills restricting the right to protest have been "drafted by companies and passed through groups like ALEC, the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people." @greenpeaceusa https://t.co/ZxpTjWdrwT— Stand Up To ALEC (@StandUpToALEC) May 6, 2019
Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.