Why investment in science pays

While students across the country are nervously awaiting end-of-school-year report cards, the Chesapeake Bay has recently received its grade from scientists — it got a C overall, which is a modest but noteworthy improvement from the C- it got last year.

More encouraging, it got an A for the state of its fish populations. This is great news for the economy of the region, as well as the environment. After years marked by the twin declines of water quality and the health of fish populations, we are finally making progress in cleaning up the Bay, thanks to decades of investment in science to diagnose the problems and find solutions.

Of course, a grade of C means that there is still a lot of room for improvement and that there is more work to do. Sadly, that progress may be halted if the Trump administration’s proposed cuts laid out in his proposed FY18 budget become law.

 

The Chesapeake Bay Program, funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Sea Grant Program, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), are slated for elimination. Together, these agencies have supported research and guided outreach to farmers, fishermen, and policy makers at local, state, and national levels. As the grades show, those investments have paid off.

The budget impacts are nationwide. A similar program has made progress coordinating efforts to clean up the Great Lakes, where that freshwater resource is also important for drinking water. But the Great Lakes program is also zeroed out in the President’s budget.

The Sea Grant program is akin to the system of Land Grant universities that have so successfully advanced agricultural research and outreach to farmers with support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which also has been targeted for large budget cuts for research.

Sea Grant universities focus on research and outreach that help communities up and down the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, across the Gulf coast, across the Great…

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