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FY25 President's Budget Request: Drastic Cuts to NOAA Ocean Programs

Updated: Mar 12

President Biden officially released his Fiscal Year 2025 (FY25) President’s Budget. And spoiler alert: there are winners and losers from the ocean and science worlds. 



The request comes just four days after Biden signed half of the previous year’s funding bills into law. If you subscribe to our Ocean Policy Insights newsletter, you already saw our summary of what’s in the FY24 spending bills for oceans. We’ve made that post publicly available for anyone who is interested in learning more.


What the Heck is a President's Budget?

It’s important to remember that Congress, not the president, decides how taxpayer dollars are spent. A president’s budget is simply a request to Congress. While it doesn’t reflect actual spending, it does give helpful insight into an administration’s priorities. It’s the first official step in the appropriations process. Congress will use it—or not, depending on politics—to inform the spending bills that actually provide and direct federal dollars. 


Budget Highlights

Compared to the amount of money Congress just allocated for fiscal year 2024, this year’s request includes a 20% increase for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), an almost 15% increase for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), a 17% decrease for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, an over 13% increase for the National Science Foundation (NSF), a 1.5% increase for the Department of Energy (DOE), and a 2.4% decrease for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


These represent some pretty wild swings for a lot of agencies that deal with ocean, coastal, and environmental issues. And within those topline numbers, many programs dedicated to these topics are proposed to see even bigger increases, decreases, and even terminations. In a limited fiscal environment, any proposed increase in spending corresponds with a cut somewhere else.


Taking a look at which programs received proposed increases can give us clues about what's important to the administration. Here are some highlights:

  • Over $1 billion to support environmental review and permitting processes, including expediting Endangered Species Act consultations

  • $4.5 billion for climate research across NASA, NOAA, NSF, and other agencies, including: 

  • $600 million in research grants for NASA to enhance understanding of earth systems

  • $275 million at the Department of the Interior (DOI) to better understand the impacts of climate change

  • $407 million at DOE to support research including predictability of climate trends that influence next generation energy systems

  • $23 billion in climate adaptation and resilience across the Department of Commerce (including NOAA), DOI, Homeland Security, USDA, Army Corps of Engineers, EPA, and the Department of Defense (DoD)

  • $312 to modernize research facilities at the National Institute of Science and Technology (NIST)

  • Clear indications of priorities at NOAA, including:

    • $53 million to expand offshore wind permitting 

    • $16 million for NOAA’s Climate Adaptation Partnerships to support collaborative efforts that help communities build equitable climate resilience

    • $2.1 billion for weather satellites, a significant increase over current funding

    • Almost 23% increase in the National Marine Sanctuaries and Marine Protected Areas budget line

NOAA’s Budget Request: Tough on Oceans and Research

Leaders at NOAA and the White House clearly had to make some tough calls with this request. The National Ocean Service and NOAA Research see the major proposed cuts while satellites and marine and aviation operations see huge proposed increases. 


For the budget wonks: the budget requests a 2.4% overall decrease from the levels Congress provided in FY24 for NOAA, which is almost 4% less than the FY24 president’s budget request (we’re adding ORF and PAC lines together here). Here’s a breakdown by line office:

President’s Budget Request for NOAA

Difference From FY24 Enacted

NOAA Overall

-2%

National Ocean Service (NOS)

-14%

NOAA Fisheries (NMFS)

+5%

NOAA Research (OAR)

-11%

National Weather Service (NWS)

+1%

NOAA Satellites (NESDIS)

+19%

Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO)

+26%

Here are some additional showstoppers:

  • Terminating community project funding / NOAA special projects

  • 76% proposed decrease for the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS)

  • Almost 61% decrease for the National Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP)

  • 45% decrease in Ocean Exploration and Research

  • Over 42% decrease in the coral reef program

  • 10.3% decrease in the National Sea Grant College Program and a proposed termination of the Sea Grant Aquaculture Research budget line


Some of these proposed funding levels are the lowest seen in decades (or ever) for these programs. Slashes like this can make it tougher to advocate for the programs on Capitol Hill. That said, when it comes to the wonky world of federal funding, the president’s budget is just one step. We’ll be keeping you posted as it all plays out.


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