Chairman Rockefeller Remarks on NOAA's FY 2011 Budget Request and Fisheries Enforcement Programs and Operations

March 3, 2010

JDR Head ShotWASHINGTON, D.C.—Putting science to work for America is at the heart of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s mission—from forecasting weather and monitoring the climate to supporting safe navigation for trade and maintaining our fisheries. 

Powerful investments in atmospheric and ocean science, education, and technology are enormously important to keeping this country competitive. They grow new industries, spark innovation, and provide products that support our economy.

The President’s fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget request for NOAA is $5.55 billion, a 17 percent increase over the FY 2010 budget. At first glance, it seems this would be reason to celebrate. But this number does not tell the whole story.

NOAA is dedicating more than 80 percent of the proposed increase to fix the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) while providing only a three percent increase for the rest of the agency. NPOESS is a national priority and it is vital that we fix it. But, that effort cannot continue to come at the expense of the rest of NOAA’s science and management programs. NOAA is one of the nation’s premiere science agencies and we must put it on track to double its budget.

The Committee will carefully review the Administration’s efforts to restructure NPOESS. Failure is not an option: our nation is relying on this system to improve weather and climate forecasting, reduce the loss of life and property, and improve disaster preparedness while also providing data and information for weather and climate sensitive industries such as aviation, agriculture, and the maritime sector. 

A third of our nation’s GDP relies in part on weather and climate information. Accurate forecasts and warnings are vital to both the public and private sectors.

In February, NOAA proposed establishing a Climate Service to integrate the agency’s climate science, data, information and services. The Service’s mission would be to provide a single, reliable and authoritative source for climate data, information, and other tools to individuals, businesses, communities and governments. It’s about keeping our economy competitive.

Look at the energy industry, for example. Every power plant, from clean coal to natural gas to solar, needs long-term climate information to determine how much energy it will need to heat and cool its customers’ homes. For every dollar we invest in climate services, our energy companies can save up to $495 in efficiencies and good planning. That’s an incredibly healthy return on a very small investment.

The Committee has long supported a NOAA Climate Service and I look forward to working with NOAA and the Department of Commerce as they bring their proposal before the Committee.

This work is a foundation we are building for our future. We need this information as a nation to protect public health by predicting the spread of infectious diseases; to anticipate droughts and reduce their economic and environmental impact; and to adjust our building codes to withstand increased storm intensity and flooding.

Dr. Lubchenco, thank you for your testimony before the Committee. I look forward to continuing our work to strengthen NOAA and to build the Blue Economy.