Report: Sequestration Would Create Weather Coverage Gap

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Looming federal spending cuts would leave the United States without coverage from civilian polar orbiting weather satellites for a two- to four-year period, according to an Oct. 9 report from the Democrats on the U.S. House Appropriations Committee.

Sequestration, the massive, across-the-board budget cuts that would be triggered by a failure of Congress and the White House to agree on a deficit-reduction plan before the end of the year, would trim the 8.2 percent from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in 2013, the report said. That would delay work on the Joint Polar Satellite System and leave Americans more vulnerable to tornadoes and other major weather events, the report said.

The cuts also would eliminate 10 percent of staffing and other resources for local weather forecasts, according to the report.

Sequestration would also slow NASA’s effort to restore independent U.S. crew access to the international space station via commercial transportation services, the report said. As a result, the United States would remain dependent on Russian Soyuz vehicles, which, at $63 million per astronaut seat, would cost more money in the long run than the sequestration cuts would save, the report said.

Meanwhile, sequestration would force cuts to U.S. Air Force’s Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, possibly disrupting military launch schedules, according to the report.