UCAR statement on President Trump's budget proposal

Continued science funding should be national priority

Feb 12, 2018 - by Staff

Antonio Busalacchi, the president of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), issued the following statement about the administration's budget proposal for fiscal year 2019:

Today's budget proposal marks the formal starting point of a months-long process by the Trump administration and Congress to determine spending for the 2019 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. UCAR will work with its member universities and other partners in the Earth system science community to ensure that the government continues to invest in crucial research that saves lives and property, fosters economic growth, and strengthens our national security.

Although Congress agreed last week to increase spending levels for this fiscal year and next, today's budget proposal from the administration contains significantly lower spending levels in some areas. While it is not yet clear what the government’s investment in science will be, UCAR’s message will not change. We believe it is essential that cuts do not occur in important research areas that could put U.S. scientific leadership at risk. The budget should also support the goals of the Weather Research and Forecasting Improvement Act, which the president signed into law last year to improve forecasts for business and public safety officials as well as the general public. 

As we saw last year, improved understanding of the atmosphere is crucial for our nation's resilience. The United States endured 16 weather and climate disasters in 2017 that each cost $1 billion or more in damages, including Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria, as well as devastating California wildfires, major tornado outbreaks, and floods. These events, which left hundreds dead, cost a combined total of more than $300 billion — setting a grim new annual record for the nation. 

Even routine weather events have an annual economic impact of hundreds of billions of dollars, affecting food production, transportation, supply chain management, consumer purchasing, and virtually every other economic sector. High in our atmosphere, space weather disturbances pose an ongoing threat to GPS systems, communications networks, power grids, and other technologies that are essential for U.S. military readiness and the everyday functioning of our society.

Responding to these risks, scientists at government agencies, universities, and the multibillion-dollar private weather industry are successfully developing a new generation of observing instruments and computer models. We are gaining the ability to predict major atmospheric and related hazards weeks, months, or even more than a year in advance, providing needed intelligence to public safety, business, and military leaders. As rival nations make major investments into better understanding the Earth system, it is more imperative than ever to focus on this work and maintain U.S. preeminence.

UCAR is extremely grateful to the bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate who voted for the Weather Research and Forecasting Improvement Act and who continue to support investments into research funding. We look forward to working with Congress and the administration over the coming months as they negotiate the details of next year’s budget.

 

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