Carper, Coons Join Bipartisan Group of Senators Demanding Robust Funding for National Sea Grant College Program
Sea Grant is a joint federal-state investment that supports the health and resilience of the nation’s coastal communities, including those in Delaware. Federal funding is provided to local Sea Grant programs through a competitive process to support research and problem solving. The Delaware Sea Grant program leverages a 2-to-1 return on investment for every federal dollar received. In April, Senator Carper joined Delaware Sea Grant researchers at the University of Delaware’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment in Lewes and called on President Trump to reconsider his proposed elimination of the Sea Grant program.
In a letter to Chairman Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) and Ranking Member Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies, the senators wrote:
“We urge you to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program… [and] continue to support at least the current funding level of $63 million,” wrote the bipartisan group of senators. “As senators from some of the 33 states with Sea Grant Programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students. Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program.”
This 50-year-old program is designed to develop capabilities to sustain ocean-based economies, grow our marine food sector, diversify energy sources, protect critical coastal infrastructure and natural resources, and train the next generation of scientists.
Nationally, in FY 2016, Sea Grant provided:
- $575 million in economic development
- 20,700 jobs created or retained
- 265,602 volunteer hours
- 860 undergraduate students supported
- 1,105 graduate students supported
- 1,300 industry and local partners assisted
- 534 communities implemented new sustainable practices
- 127,348 acres of ecosystems restored
Delaware Sea Grant is involved in many local projects including:
- Collaborated with the non-profit Laurel Redevelopment Corporation to engage the community in a visioning process to revitalize their downtown. This process has leveraged nearly $750,000 in investments to improve the downtown and its economy.
- Partnered with the Delaware Emergency Management Agency to produce the Homeowners Handbook to Prepare for Natural Hazards, a guide to planning for hazards in coastal communities. More than 10,000 copies have been distributed.
- Trained more than 150 seafood processors/retail businesses/wholesalers to meet FDA seafood Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points regulations.
- Leads a team of “citizen scientists” who have provided critical water quality data to state officials since 1990.
- In partnership with Beebe Healthcare’s emergency department, Sea Grant has been researching and tracking surf zone injuries, leading to improved beach warnings, guarding and outreach to the beach-going public.
- Led Lewes and Delaware City in adopting Hazard Mitigation and Climate Adaptation Action Plans. Sea Grant provides assistance in developing best practice recommendations and model ordinances to help community resiliency.
- Provide intense training to 180 pre K – 12 teachers to incorporate climate, coastal and ocean science in their curricula.
Senators Carper and Coons were joined by Senators Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), (Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Angus King (I-Maine), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) in signing the letter.
Full text of the letter is available online and below:
The Honorable Richard Shelby The Honorable Jeanne Shaheen
Chairman Ranking Member
Commerce, Justice, Science and Commerce, Justice, Science and
Related Agencies Subcommittee Related Agencies Subcommittee
Senate Appropriations Committee Senate Appropriations Committee
Washington, DC 20510 Washington, DC 20510
Dear Chairman Shelby and Ranking Member Shaheen:
As you work to draft the Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, we urge you to reject the administration’s proposed elimination of the National Sea Grant College Program. We continue to support at least the current funding level of $63 million.
As senators from some of the 33 states with Sea Grant Programs, we see firsthand how this federal investment is leveraged locally to bring immense returns to coastal communities, fishermen, universities, and students. Any cuts to this funding would have a devastating impact and we strongly urge you to reject any proposals to reduce this program.
The National Sea Grant College Program is a federal-local partnership that funds 33 university-based research, extension, and education centers. The federal investment of $67.3 million in FY 2015 in these centers yielded $575 million in economic benefit, an 854 percent return on federal investment. This economic impact includes creating and sustaining nearly 3,000 local businesses and more than 20,000 jobs. Marine businesses and fishermen in coastal communities rely on the knowledge and skills of Sea Grant staff and outreach materials. This is evidenced by the 40,243 fishermen that Sea Grant helped to adopt sustainable harvesting techniques. Sea Grant has also helped train 1,956 professionals working in the seafood processing industry in hazard analysis and critical control points.
In addition to supporting businesses and jobs in local communities across the country, Sea Grant programs provide innovative research and technologies to help local communities meet new challenges such as coastal resiliency and address long-term goals like habitat restoration or water quality monitoring. In the past year alone, Sea Grant programs conducted 896 trainings to help communities improve resiliency, restored 127,348 acres of degraded ecosystems, and developed 582 ecosystem-based management tools used by 4,033 resource managers.
Finally, Sea Grant programs across the country are helping educate the next generation of marine scientists by supporting 1,108 graduate fellows and 860 undergraduate students. Sea Grant programs also engage the public in science through a volunteer program. As a part of this program, local volunteers completed 265,602 volunteer hours with Sea Grant programs in 2015.
Sea Grant Programs are vital to local businesses, a source of good jobs, and an important part of preserving our coastal communities for generations to come. We believe zeroing out or reducing funding for the Sea Grant program would be a mistake and urge you to provide robust support for the program in the Fiscal Year 2018 bill.
Christopher S. Murphy Bill Cassidy M.D.
Jeffery A. Merkley Susan M. Collins
Cory A. Booker Tom Carper
Edward J. Markey Angus S. King Jr.
Elizabeth Warren Ron Wyden
Sherrod Brown Sheldon Whitehouse
Richard Blumenthal Amy Klobuchar
Maria Cantwell Margaret Wood Hassan
Dianne Feinstein Tim Kaine
Al Franken Gary C. Peters
Chris Van Hollen Debbie Stabenow
Christopher A. Coons Bernard Sanders
Benjamin L. Cardin Tammy Baldwin