Climate, coastal resilience, and environmental justice stand out in President’s Budget

Hurricanes, wildfires, sea level rise, extreme flooding and extreme drought – whether you live near the coasts or in America’s heartland, climate change is a threat to our collective economic and ecological well being as a nation. Every day, we are inching closer to surpassing the 1.5 degrees Celsius tipping point and the longer we wait, the more costly these investments will become.

Today, however, the President gave some hope when he released his full budget proposal for FY22.

Included in the proposed budget are significant increases in funding for critical agencies and programs tasked with solving the climate crisis and building resilient communities.

“We need bold action to secure a healthy future for not just our coasts, but for our country” said Daniel Hayden, CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Just because you may not live in a coastal state doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be worried about threats to our estuaries and bays. Forty percent of America’s economy, including many ports for importing and exporting goods, is located on the coasts and ongoing disruption due to climate change can spell disaster for everyone.”

Leading the charge in this request is a $7 billion funding ask for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); a $1.5 billion increase over FY21 and even $100 million more than the President laid out in his initial budget request last month. We need to continue investing in science and this money would go a long way to improve and expand research in the coastal and ocean sectors while funding critical infrastructure improvements, including $250 million for coastal resilience projects such as living shorelines, blue carbon and other green infrastructure.

In total, more than $4 billion would be directed toward climate science and research across all government agencies. Additionally, the budget sends a clear message that we need to prioritize investing in resilience and transition to clean energy.

In addition to the $7 billion mentioned above, the President has asked for more than $800 million in pre-disaster planning and mitigation. According to research from the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on preparedness saves $6 on post-disaster relief, not to mention countless lives.  

Specific investments in environmental justice, another key focus of RAE, would receive a $1.4 billion, including over $900 million for the new Accelerating Environmental and Economic Justice Initiative at EPA under newly appointed Administrator Michael Regan. In fact, the plan itself mentions Environmental Justice more than 30 times in its 70+ pages.

Beyond coastal-specific issues, there is $3.6 billion in proposed funding for drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure improvements. Clean water starts at the source, and the most cost-efficient and reliable way to improve the health of estuaries is to stop pollution before it enters our coastal regions. Additionally, clean water is a human right.

Overall, RAE is encouraged by this proposal and excited about these necessary investments. We look forward to working with our elected officials and our partner organizations to see these necessary investments across the finish line.