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August 20, 2012

Brown urges Senate to keep NOAA in Gloucester

Gloucester is the right and most economical place for NOAA’s Northeast Regional Office, says U.S. Sen. Scott Brown.

“NOAA’s lack of engagement with our fishing industry will not be solved by moving dedicated front line staff off the docks and closer to Washington,” Brown said in a letter sent Friday to Sens. Barbara Mikulski and Kay Bailey Hutchinson.

Mikulski, a Maryland Democrat, chairs the Senate Subcommittee on Commerce, Justice, Science and Related Agencies.

She authored an amendment to the pending budget for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that would move the Gloucester office of the National Marine Fisheries Service to Silver Spring, Md. where NMFS is headquartered. Hutchinson of Texas is the ranking Republican on the subcommittee

Brown was writing with reference to a NOAA report, required by the Senate subcommittee, that explores the proposed move. The report was released last Thursday, but concluded the agency’s Northeast Regional Office, which governs federal waters from Maine to North Carolina, should remain in Gloucester for operational and fiscal reasons. About 200 NOAA employees work in the agency’s current office building, built in Gloucester’s Blackburn Industrial Park. “In dollars and cents, NOAA’s chief financial officer, Scott Quehl, provides compelling evidence that tens of millions of scarce taxpayer dollars would be wasted on a counterproductive move to the Washington, D.C. Area,” Brown wrote. “The government has a longterm commitment to its landlord in Gloucester, running through 2023. The lease has no buyout clause -- raising the specter of the government paying for another 11 years for the Gloucester office while simultaneously paying rent for a new office.”

He added that NOAA estimates the 30 year cost of operating in the D.C. area instead of Gloucester would rise from $36 million to $94 million.

A spokeswoman in Mikulski office said, “We have received the report and are in the process of reviewing it.”

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