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NOAA’s IRA Spend Plan: $3.3 billion for Oceans and Coastal Communities

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced an implementation plan for its Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) funds. The ocean community has been eager for the release of this plan, which details how NOAA will allocate roughly $3.3 billion the agency received from the $740 billion IRA reconciliation package signed into law in August 2022.

This funding is organized into two main initiatives:

Climate-Ready Coasts and Communities

NOAA will invest $2.6 billion in climate resilience and support for coastal and Great Lakes communities, including:

  • $575 million for the Climate Resilience Regional Challenge: NOAA will fund a new competitive grant program that will invest in holistic, collaborative approaches to coastal resilience at regional scales

  • $390 million for Tribal Priorities: NOAA will provide funding specifically for tribes to support habitat restoration, fish passage, capacity building, science, fish hatcheries, and Pacific salmon

  • $30 million for the designation of new national marine sanctuaries

  • $349 million for climate-ready fisheries: NOAA will support projects to conserve fisheries and protected species in coastal regions around the country

  • $100 million for Ocean-Based Climate Resilience Accelerators: NOAA will fund a new competitive business accelerator program to support businesses with coastal and ocean-based resilience products and services related to NOAA’s mission

  • $60 million for climate-ready workforce: NOAA will provide training and support services that will help American workers advance their careers and implement climate resilience efforts

  • Non-competitive funding for the Integrated Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS)

  • Technical Assistance to states, localities, tribes, and other partners

Climate Data and Services

NOAA will invest $200 million in climate and data services, including through:

  • Creating industry proving grounds to research, develop, and test tailored climate data products and services for the private sector

  • Funding, improving, and expanding existing NOAA programs that advance climate information, services, and adaptation capacity and build equitable climate resilience, such as the National Integrated Heat Health Information System (NIHHIS), Climate Smart Communities Initiative (CSCI), Climate Adaptation Partnerships/Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CAP/RISA), National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), and others

  • Advancing forward-looking projections, data assimilation, numerical weather prediction skill, and models to improve prediction of climate and weather extremes on oceans and ecosystems

  • Expediting the assessment and development of next generation Phased Array Radar capabilities to make severe weather warnings more accurate

NOAA’s remaining IRA funding will be used to support infrastructure improvements for facilities deemed essential to the agency’s mission, including:

  • The Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Seattle, Washington

  • The Sandy Hook Lab in New Jersey

  • Piers in Newport, Rhode Island, and Charleston, South Carolina

  • Construction of two charting and mapping research vessels, as well as critical mid-life repairs for NOAA Fisheries survey vessels

  • High-performance computing capacity

  • Acquisition of a second G550 "Hurricane Hunter" aircraft

  • Facilities projects at multiple National Marine Sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay, Stellwagen Bank, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale, Greater Farallones, Mallows Bay, and Olympic Coast

According to NOAA Administrator Dr. Rick Spinrad, the agency hopes the collective investment will empower coastal communities with the information and tools needed to understand and respond to climate risk. “We look forward to engaging partners, building resilience, and supporting conservation with this funding,” he said in an agency press release.

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