The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration submitted to Congress today its proposed Recovery plan to create jobs, strengthen the economy, and restore our environment. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, NOAA was provided $830 million.
NOAA estimates its planned expenditures will create a significant number of new jobs and strengthen the economy, spurring the creation of additional jobs. NOAA’s investments in weather forecasting and research, fisheries, ocean and coastal management are aimed at safeguarding lives and putting Americans to work.
"These proposed funds will put thousands of Americans to work while restoring our coasts and combating climate change,” Commerce Department Secretary Gary Locke said. “It reflects our investment in sound science and commitment to help strengthen local economies.”
“We plan to invest the $230 million provided by the Recovery Act for NOAA operations and research in habitat restoration work in coastal areas around the country, as well as to support consultations required under the Endangered Species Act, which can have a marked economic impact,” said Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D., NOAA administrator and Commerce Under Secretary for oceans and atmosphere. “The operations and research funds will also support vessel maintenance and reducing the backlog of hydrographic surveys, which support navigational charts, addressing national priority areas in environmental stewardship and commerce.”
Under the proposed plan, NOAA plans to invest $600 million in construction and repair of NOAA facilities, ships and equipment, to improve weather forecasting and to support satellite development. This funding includes $170 million to strengthen NOAA's supercomputing capability and climate data record development — critical to improving climate modeling and to continuing research into ways to mitigate climate change.
NOAA has established a special accountability board to manage the funding implementation, as well as provide oversight of these projects. Programs which receive funding from the Recovery Act will be required to establish and report on performance measures for success, as well as on schedule and cost progress. Expenditures will be uniquely tracked, and special audits will be conducted to ensure that taxpayer dollars are protected.
Some NOAA Recovery Plan highlights below:
Proposed activities supported by $230 million in the NOAA Operations, Research, and Facilities account include:
Hydrographic Survey Backlog ($40 million): $40 million to reduce the critical hydrographic survey backlog by approximately 1,700 square nautical miles. This funding will also support improved ingestion of significant increases of data so that nautical charts can be updated faster. Funds are expected to be awarded in 60 days.
Marine and Coastal Habitat Restoration ($167 million): $167 million for mid- and large-scale restoration projects addressing coral reef conservation, restoring fish habitats and helping endangered species such as salmon and sea turtles. The projects will also contribute to the improvement of coastal resiliency in response to sea level rise and natural hazards. Funds are expected to be awarded in 60 days.
ESA Section 7 Consultations ($3 million): $3 million to conduct any required environmental consultations associated with projects funded by the Recovery Act and to address the current backlog of Endangered Species Act consultations whereby other federal agencies ensure their actions will not jeopardize a listed species or destroy critical habitat. More than 800 additional consultations are expected to be conducted, which should in turn enable other economic activities and investments to move forward.
NOAA Research Vessel Maintenance and Repair ($20 million): $20 million for critical repairs and replacements to NOAA’s fleet of research and exploration vessels, specifically major repairs for Rainier and Oregon II, as well as accelerating the replacement of hydrographic survey launches on Rainier and Fairweather. Funding will make the ships more available for critical science and ensure crew and scientist safety and welfare. These funds will be distributed via competitively awarded contracts to the shipbuilding and repair industries.
Proposed activities supported by $600 million in the NOAA Procurement, Acquisition, and Construction account include:
NOAA Climate Computing and Modeling ($170 million): $170 million to accelerate and enhance NOAA’s High Performance Computing capabilities to directly improve capabilities for weather and climate modeling and climate change research. NOAA will start two computing systems in separate locations that will improve the accuracy of seasonal climate and global climate change assessments. The two HPC sites will be selected by a competitive process and create jobs in manufacturing, construction, and software engineering.
NEXRAD Dual Polarization Radar ($7.4 million): $7.4 million to accelerate the Dual Polarization effort of the next generation (NEXRAD) Doppler weather radar system that will allow signals to be transmitted and received in two dimensions, resulting in a significant improvement in precipitation estimation; improved ability to discriminate rain, snow, and hail; and a general improvement in data quality. The new system will improve flash flood warnings, improve precipitation estimates and severe weather detection, including snow storms and icing conditions for air and ground transportation.
Weather Forecast Office Construction ($9 million): $9 million to upgrade the NOAA Weather Forecast Offices in Barrow and Nome, Alaska, as well as repair a number of other such local weather offices around the country.
Accelerate Satellite Observations ($74 million): $74 million to accelerate development of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) and climate sensors for these satellites. Funding will allow critical development activities and mitigate both cost and schedule risk for this joint Department of Commerce/Department of Defense program. Funding will also be spent on developing instruments that monitor the sun’s energy incident on the Earth and the Earth’s radiation budget, both crucial measurements for monitoring factors that affect climate change.
Pacific Regional Center ($142 million): $142 million to complete construction of NOAA’s consolidated Pacific Regional Center on Ford Island in Honolulu. This facility consolidates 12 locations in poor shape into one that will improve operations and mission performance, and provide longer-term operational savings and opportunities for greater program collaboration.
Southwest Fisheries Science Center ($102 million): $102 million to complete the design, construction, and occupancy of the replacement NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center in La Jolla, Calif. For employee safety, NOAA was forced to abandon two of its four buildings due to cliff erosion and move into temporary off-site leased facilities. The new facility will be on the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) campus, enabling NOAA to sustain its strategic and functional relationships with UCSD and the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.
Fairbanks Satellite Facility Construction ($9 million): $9 million to continue the replacement of the at-risk Fairbanks Operations Building in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is one of two NOAA Satellite operations centers that control NOAA’s polar orbiting environmental satellites and acquire their data. The current building has been identified as at-risk by the Army Corps of Engineers due to extreme temperatures and seismic activity in the area. Construction of the new facility will allow NOAA to support the NOAA polar-orbiting satellites program through de-orbit of the last polar satellite in 2022, as well as support other ongoing satellite missions through 2026.
Facility Maintenance and Repair ($8.6 million): $8.6 million to fund necessary facility maintenance and repairs. NOAA will use this funding to address critical facility repair issues in order to ensure the health and safety of its employees and to protect its facility investments. This funding will support asbestos abatement at the NOAA Geophysical Fluid Dynamic Laboratory in Princeton, N.J., and repairs to the NOAA Fisheries Galveston Laboratory in Texas, as well as priority repairs at other NOAA facilities.
Fishery Survey Vessel Construction ($78 million): $78 million to complete the construction of the sixth Fisheries Survey Vessel that will replace the aged David Starr Jordan and support fisheries surveys and related research along the West Coast and Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean. These surveys support commercial fishery management as well as scientific research into the region's living marine resources and habitat. Replacement will improve performance measures by 19 to 31percent, which will improve the ability to more accurately manage fisheries stocks, thereby enhancing the economic and social well-being fishing communities.
For the latest information on Recovery Act activities by NOAA and the Commerce Department, visit www.commerce.gov/Recovery.
NOAA understands and predicts changes in the Earth’s environment, from the depths of the ocean to the surface of the sun, and conserves and manages our coastal and marine resources.