The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fiscal Year 2008 Budget Proposal
Opening Statement By Chairman Nick Lampson
Good afternoon. I want to welcome everyone to today’s Subcommittee hearing on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration FY 2008 budget request.
This important agency provides warnings to our citizens of severe weather; charts our seas and skies; guides the management of our ocean and coastal resources; and conducts research to improve our understanding of the environment.
NOAA is a diverse agency with many important missions and responsibilities. However, issuing watches and warnings of severe storms may be the role for which NOAA is the most famous.
In Texas we experience severe storms every year in the form of tornadoes and hurricanes. In 2005, the Gulf Coast experienced one of the worst natural disasters in American history when Hurricanes Katrina and Rita slammed into our coastline back-to-back.
Texas was hit especially hard by Rita, causing billions of dollars in damage. Fortunately, many lives were saved as a result of the forecasting done by NOAA’s National Hurricane Center and the local forecasting offices of the National Weather Service.
Accurate prediction of hurricanes and other severe storms and sound management of our ocean and coastal resources can only be achieved through sound investments in the personnel, equipment, and research at NOAA.
While there are some encouraging features of this year’s budget request for NOAA, the Administration has once again requested less funding for NOAA in 2008 than Congress appropriated in past years. The Administration’s budget provides few opportunities to expand NOAA’s capacity to fulfill its diverse missions.
If NOAA is to advance its capabilities to forecast the weather, if we are to restore our fisheries and coastal ecosystems to a productive and healthy state, if we are to advance our understanding of the oceans and the atmosphere, we must invest additional funds in this agency.
We continue to be concerned about the procurements for the new polar and geostationary weather satellite systems. It is essential that we have these new systems completed and delivered in time to avoid any gaps in coverage of weather data. I am also concerned about the long-term implications of the cost-overruns in the polar satellite program – NPOESS – for NOAA’s budget in the future. The Committee will continue to follow both of these procurements closely.
On the positive side, the Administration included funding for an integrated ocean observing system, funding for the National Integrated Drought Information System, NOAA’s wind profilers, and funding to complete the Tsunami Warning Network. I also support the provision of funds to cover the cost of the pay raise for NOAA employees.
The work NOAA does everyday impacts our everyday lives and supports our economy. I look forward to hearing your testimony, your views on the Administration’s budget proposal, and your recommendations for improving NOAA’s capabilities in the atmospheric and ocean sciences.
At this time, I would like to recognize our distinguished Ranking Member, Mr. Inglis of South Carolina for his opening statement.
1 - Vice Admiral Conrad C. Lautenbacher
Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmosphere Administrator National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Administrator National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra
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2 - Dr. Len Pietrafesa
Associate Dean, Office of External Affairs Professor of Ocean & Atmospheric Sciences, College of Physical & Mathematical Sciences North Carolina State Universit
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Vice Admiral Lautenbacher
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