WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Walter B. Jones (NC-3) is leading the effort to oppose the Department of Commerce’s Fiscal Year 2015 budget request to close the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine lab in Beaufort, North Carolina. The lab is the sole government research center between New Jersey and Miami studying Atlantic fish populations and is uniquely situated at the intersection of the ranges of northern and southern fish species. This location has allowed the lab to contribute valuable research on an abundance of issues, including sustainable fisheries; conservation of sea turtles, dolphins, seagrass estuaries, and offshore reefs; algal blooms; invasive species; and changes in climate and sea levels. Furthermore, marine science provides a $58 million boost to the local economy, with the Beaufort lab specifically employing over 100 people.
NOAA has indicated that the closure was proposed because the lab “requires infrastructure repairs and improvements exceeding agency budget resources now and for the foreseeable future.” However, the agency has not provided any evidence to support this claim and has in fact acted to the contrary by investing $14 million in facilities upgrades in recent years.
Congressman Jones was joined by Congressman Mike McIntyre (NC-7) in penning a letter detailing each of these facts to House Appropriations Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice and Science Chairman Frank Wolf and Ranking Member Chaka Fattah, requesting that language forbidding the closure of the lab be included in the Fiscal Year 2015 Legislative Branch Appropriations Act.
“The Beaufort lab is an important provider of scientific research affecting not just the state of North Carolina but the entire East Coast,” said Congressman Jones. “I will continue to strongly oppose the closure of this invaluable resource – especially at a time when NOAA has provided no evidence in support of their claim that they lack the funding to maintain the lab and the United States continues to spend billions of dollars to improve the infrastructure of nations overseas while neglecting projects here at home.”
“The closure of this essential lab would remove over 100 jobs from Eastern North Carolina, and deprive our state of a critical tool for coastal management, research, and data collection,” said Congressman McIntyre. “This research lab has been a valuable state and federal resource since 1902, and it is imperative that we do all we can to maintain and improve this facility.”