Proposed federal budget includes cuts to coastal research

HAMPTON ROADS, Va. (WAVY) — Funding for sea level rise research faces possible cuts through President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal budget.

According to the plan released earlier this week, Trump is proposing $1.5 billion cuts to the Department of Commerce. That would include cuts to programs and grants for coastal and marine management, research and education.

Local officials react to Trump’s budget, impacts on Hampton Roads

Ray Toll, the Director of Coastal Resilience Research at Old Dominion University, says sea level rise mitigation programs already receive little funding.

“The money we get, we get decimal dust. The grants we win are small,” he said.

Toll says former President Barack Obama’s administration focused on science, modeling and date collecting that helped provide researchers locally with the information needed to plan for future infrastructure.

Toll believes that Trump’s push for building up infrastructure and the area’s large military presence could instead get Hampton Roads the help it needs. He also says the efforts of most Tidewater cities working together to stop this threat could attract federal dollars no longer given through other programs.

“The idea that if the government echelons can rally around the needs of the region, it will make the tax dollars go forward. That’s what the Trump Administration is looking for, is to make the tax dollars go further,” he said.

The proposed budget will be approved later this year.

Toll says he’s hopeful no matter the outcome because of Hampton Road’s significance to our country and the effort to make changes here.

“I’m a glass half full guy and I’m looking forward to the future.”