June 24, 2018

NOAA Mission Statement Change Would Threaten Climate, Conservation Work

Statement by Andrew Rosenberg, Union of Concerned Scientists

WASHINGTON (June 24, 2018)—At a Department of Commerce summit last week, the acting head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Rear Admiral Timothy Gallaudet, proposed a new mission statement for the agency—one that would undermine the agency’s vital work on behalf of the American people, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). 

The mission of NOAA has been:

  • To understand and predict changes in climate, weather, oceans and coasts;
  • To share that knowledge and information with others; and
  • To conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.

In his presentation, Rear Admiral Gallaudet suggested the mission statement would change to:

  • To observe, understand and predict atmospheric and ocean conditions; 
  • To share that knowledge and information with others; and 
  • To protect lives and property, empower the economy, and support homeland and national security.

Below is a statement from Andrew Rosenberg, Director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS.

“This is a shocking change in the mission of one of the nation’s premier scientific agencies. 

“Axing its focus on climate change and resource conservation is foolhardy. 

“Understanding the changing climate is becoming more critical by the day, as the effects of global warming mount, and it’s essential to protecting our economy and security, as the work of NOAA has shown time and again.

“NOAA is continuously working to improve forecasts of extreme events, which are intensifying in a warming world. As we know from last year’s wildfires and hurricanes, these kind of forecasts are critical for protecting American lives and infrastructure.

“Removing ‘conservation’ from its mission statement is equally alarming. We have made outstanding progress in ocean conservation, from fisheries to whales and other endangered species over the past few decades. America’s ocean’s are a national treasure enjoyed by all, and coastal communities depend on the conservation of fisheries for their livelihood. But this doesn’t seem to matter to the administration. NOAA’s revised mission seems to be all about deregulation, which could have a big impact on fish stocks. 

“This is another unconscionable action taken by the administration under the guise of national security. 

“As a former NOAA scientist and senior executive, I fundamentally believe this is a step backward for a critical national program. It is misguided and harmful to our country. I hope the American people and their elected representatives say a resounding no – we care about scientific understanding and the conservation of our ocean resources.”

The Union of Concerned Scientists puts rigorous, independent science to work to solve our planet's most pressing problems. Joining with people across the country, we combine technical analysis and effective advocacy to create innovative, practical solutions for a healthy, safe, and sustainable future.