Trump budget proposal impacts New Orleans

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President Donald Trump released the summary of his proposed budget for the 2018 fiscal year on March 16, which would cut funding for many programs, affecting New Orleans residents in serious ways. Most concerning are his cuts to agencies and programs that protect residents from future natural disasters, repair properties after floods and hurricanes, and support research of methods to mitigate the effects of climate change and coastal erosion.

The Trump administration’s proposed budget would adversely affect Louisiana residents by cutting funding for programs crucial to their well-being, especially in regards to housing. The budget would eliminate funding for the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant Program, which has repeatedly provided disaster recovery assistance to Louisiana. Last year, $1.6 billion in grants went to flood victims, and another $13 million that went to helping Louisiana communities repair damaged sewer and waterlines. Trump also proposed eliminating the flood hazard mapping program under the National Flood Insurance Program, which is used to assess how vulnerable properties are to flooding and set insurance rates. Without these programs, residents of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana as a whole will have less support in dealing with natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, which have caused serious damage in the past.

Trump also proposed eliminating the flood hazard mapping program under the National Flood Insurance Program, which is used to assess how vulnerable properties are to flooding and set insurance rates. Without these programs, residents of New Orleans and the state of Louisiana as a whole will have less support in dealing with natural disasters such as floods and hurricanes, which have caused serious damage in the past.

The budget proposes cutting all funding for the nation’s Sea Grant programs. The Louisiana Sea Grant provides the research necessary to set oyster and shrimps seasons and build storm-safe dock locations that reduce debris during hurricanes. It also provides research funding to a number of universities, including Tulane, to investigate coastal erosion, climate change, sea level rise and other issues affecting coastal communities.

Most importantly, its researchers work with state officials in the development of Coastal Master Plan wetlands restoration projects. The Master Plan was created after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to coordinate local, state and federal effort to conserve and restore Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. The plan, which evaluates port projects, oil and gas development and groundwater management, among other issues, was already underfunded before the new budget was announced. While the Master Plan currently cannot fully fund all the projects needed to protect coastal communities, these projects would likely not survive the budget cuts at all.

As Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center, stated, “most people live near coastlines in our country and around the world, and need to be able to support their economy – and to try to prevent again the kind of devastation that we saw in Katrina and other storms.” By cutting federal funding to agencies and programs that support research and restoration projects, the Trump administration endangers not only the well-being of today’s citizens but also that of future Americans.

This is an opinion article and does not reflect the views of The Tulane Hullabaloo. Madeline is a freshman at Newcomb-Tulane College. She can be reached at [email protected]