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Letter To Noaa Administrator Jane Lubchenco Regarding Her Inaccurate And Unconstructive Public Comments On The House Appropriations Legislation

Rep. Frank R. Wolf

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Mr. Speaker, I submit a letter that I have sent to National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration administrator Jane Lubchenco in response to inaccurate and unconstructive remarks about the House Commerce-Justice-Science Appropriations Subcommittee recommended funding for the Joint Polar Satellite System.

Dear Dr. Lubchenco: I was disappointed by your recent remarks to the Guardian newspaper accusing congressional Repub1icans of endangering the Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS). I want you to know that your reported accusations were neither accurate nor constructive. According to the article, ``Republican budget-cutting measures would knock out that critical capacity by delaying the launch of the next generation polar-orbiting satellites, said Jane Lubchenco.'' You are also quoted as saying, ``It is a disaster in the making. It's an expression of the dysfunction in our system.'' Your remarks mirror similar comments made by deputy administrator Kathryn Sullivan to the Washington Post earlier this summer. Perhaps you are unaware that the Republican-authored House FY 2011 bill recommended a higher level of funding for NOAA's satellite acquisition account than the Democrat-authored Senate bill despite the House having a lower allocation than the Senate. Further, for FY 2012, the House Commerce-Justice- Science Appropriations subcommittee recommended $901 million, a nearly $430 million increase--91%--above the FY 2011 level for JPSS. Despite having an allocation $2.5 billion higher than the House, the Senate recommended an amount only slightly above the House recommendation, $920 million. To my knowledge, you have never criticized Senate funding levels for JPSS. While the House did not provide the full $1 billion requested, the House level is a significant amount of funding given these austere budget times when other programs in the Commerce-Justice-Science bill were significantly reduced or eliminated altogether. Finally, I would call your attention to the fact that any gap in satellite data is not due to lack of funding, ``Republican budget-cutting measures'' or ``the dysfunction in our system,'' but rather years of poor interagency management that resulted in the cancellation of the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) satellite program after being more than five years behind schedule, twice as expensive with fewer satellites and less capability. The caution shown by the Congress with regard to funding the successor program, JPSS, is fully justified in light of this record of waste and mismanagement. I have noted below portions of September, 2011 GAO testimony