Amo Highlights Rhode Island Jobs and Blue Economy Leadership in NOAA Budget Hearing

Congressman Amo discusses the recent National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Operations Center-Atlantic groundbreaking and other Rhode Island priorities

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Congressman Amo delivers remarks at subcommittee budget hearing featuring Dr. Rick Spinrad, the NOAA Administrator

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Gabe Amo (RI-01) spoke about the recent groundbreaking for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Marine Operations Center-Atlantic at Naval Station Newport, a critical initiative to solidify Rhode Island’s leadership in the blue economy, at a House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee on Environment budget hearing titled “An Overview of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year 2025” featuring the NOAA Administrator, Dr. Rick Spinrad. As part of President Joe Biden’s Investing in America agenda and thanks to the leadership of U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse, the design and construction of the facility is funded in part by the largest-ever investment in climate, the Inflation Reduction Act. In addition to discussing the new facility, Congressman Amo also questioned Dr. Spinrad on strengthening NOAA’s cooperation efforts to protect the North Atlantic right whale through the federal rulemaking process.

 

“Last month, we broke ground together in Newport for the future home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Operations Center-Atlantic,” said Congressman Gabe Amo during the hearing. “The facility will support good paying, union jobs in my district. This means economic growth from investments by the federal government… Supporting NOAA’s fleet of ships in the Atlantic as they collect data critical to understanding climate change, protect marine ecosystems, and keep mariners safe will further solidify Rhode Island’s leadership in the blue economy.”

 

Video of full hearing exchange HERE

 

BACKGROUND

On May 6, 2024, Congressman Amo joined U.S. Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse as well as Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, Governor Dan McKee, and NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad in breaking ground on a new facility on Naval Station Newport in Rhode Island that will serve as the future home of the NOAA Marine Operations Center-Atlantic. The facility will include a pier to accommodate four large vessels, a floating dock for smaller vessels, space for vessel repairs and parking, and a building to be used for shoreside support and as a warehouse. Construction is anticipated to be completed in 2027. This project will operate under a Project Labor Agreement, consistent with EO 14063, issued by President Biden.

 

NOAA’s fleet of 15 research and survey ships are operated, managed, and maintained by NOAA Marine and Aviation Operations. Ranging from large oceanographic research vessels capable of exploring the world’s deepest ocean, to smaller ships responsible for charting the shallow bays and inlets of the U.S., the fleet supports a wide range of marine activities, including fisheries surveys, nautical charting and ocean and climate studies. NOAA ships are operated by NOAA Corps officers and civilian professional mariners.

 

Richard (Rick) W. Spinrad, Ph.D., was sworn in on June 22, 2021 as the Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere and the 11th NOAA Administrator. Dr. Spinrad is responsible for the strategic direction and oversight of the agency and its over 12,000 employees, including developing NOAA’s portfolio of products and services to address the climate crisis, enhancing environmental sustainability and fostering economic development, and creating a more just, equitable, diverse and inclusive NOAA workforce.

 

NOAA’s core mission and activities include weather forecasting, climate prediction, and management of fisheries, coastal and ocean resources, as well as cross-cutting research to support and advance these operational areas. NOAA carries out this mission through six major line offices:

  • National Ocean Service (NOS), responsible for mapping and charting coastal areas and providing other navigation support services.
  • National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), responsible for stewardship of living marine resources through the conservation, management, and promotion of healthy ecosystems.
  • Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), responsible for research in support of most NOAA missions including atmospheric, coastal, and oceanic sciences; climate and air quality research; ecosystem research; and fisheries and marine mammal research.
  • National Weather Service (NWS), responsible for weather forecasts and warnings.
  • National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service (NESDIS), responsible for development and operation of satellites that monitor and transmit data for weather forecasting, climate prediction, space weather forecasting, and earth and ocean science research.
  • Office of Marine and Aviation Operations (OMAO), manages a variety of specialized ships and aircraft for collection of oceanographic, atmospheric, hydrographic, and fisheries data.

 

FULL HEARING REMARKS AS DELIVERED

Thank you so much, Mr. Chairman.

 

Dr. Spinrad, good to see you again. I know that we had the opportunity last month to break ground together in Newport, Rhode Island, for the future home of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Marine Operations Center-Atlantic.

 

And due to the efforts of my great colleagues in the congressional delegation, especially our leadership on the Senate side and Senator Jack Reed, we were able to make that happen. So I’m grateful for your continued support and I look forward to a ribbon cutting in our future.

 

This facility is really important to us. It will support good paying, union jobs in my district. And it’s going to mean economic growth that are a return on the investment of the federal government.

 

The facility will feature a pier fit for four large vessels, a floating dock for smaller vessels, a space for repairs, a building for shoreside support and a warehouse.

 

Supporting NOAA’s fleet of ships in the Atlantic as they collect data critical to understanding climate change, protecting marine ecosystems, and keeping mariners safe will further solidify Rhode Island’s leadership in the blue economy.

 

So Dr. Spinrad, if you could briefly, please expand on how the Marine Operations Center-Atlantic’s new location in Newport will support NOAA’s efforts to conduct climate and oceanic research.

 

Wonderful I’m glad that you mentioned the Navy. Of course, we’ve got long-standing historical ties there and I’m hopeful that that proximity will yield great collaboration across NOAA and the Navy, which will yield some growth in our innovation economy, our blue economy locally in Rhode Island.

 

I wanted to ask about another issue that’s important to my constituents. I’ve actually received letters from third graders on this topic. And this is the North Atlantic right whale, one of the most endangered whales in the world.

 

As you know it’s on the verge of extinction. With fewer than 340 remaining, vessel strikes have remained the most significant causes of human- driven mortality for the right whales. If the current rate of population decline continues, the species will, go extinct by 2037.

 

Dr. Spinrad, can you explain what NOAA is doing to, protect the endangered right whale? And I know we heard briefly about it, but could you talk about the relationship between saving the North Atlantic right whale and the vessel speed rule to expand mandatory speed restrictions?

 

Well, I appreciate your consideration in balancing the many interests and I look forward to working with you to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the whales. With that, I yield back.

 

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