EYE IN THE SKY: NOAA satellites provide early warning of extreme weather but are growing more expensive to launch. Image: U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
The spiraling cost of satellite programs at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has lawmakers from both parties sniffing around for a strategy to trim the agency's budget.
But there are no easy options to cut satellite spending and ensure the quality of weather forecasts and warnings to which Americans are accustomed, Obama administration officials said yesterday.
The White House's fiscal 2013 budget request seeks $5.1 billion for NOAA -- a request that amounts to a slight increase over current spending, but one that balances growing satellite costs with cuts to weather, oceans, fisheries and research programs.
It's a necessary evil, Commerce Secretary John Bryson told members of the House Appropriations subcommittee that handles NOAA's budget.