As part of her nationwide listening tour, Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker yesterday visited the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Western Regional Center in Seattle, Washington, the largest NOAA facility outside of Washington, D.C. She thanked NOAA employees for their hard work, which she said was critical to Commerce’s mission. The Secretary also toured parts of NOAA’s Office of Response and Restoration and NOAA Fisheries Service.
On the tour of the Western Regional Center, Secretary Pritzker learned specifically about two different kinds of tsunami detection buoys that NOAA has developed and has now been commercialized by private industry. The buoys are now built commercially and sold to many different countries, thus providing a standardized tsunami detection and warning system for the world as well as creating U.S. jobs and increasing U.S. exports. A partnership between the National Weather Service and Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory has made tsunami forecasting and warning more accurate than ever before, while helping to promote the development of tsunami forecasting capabilities in other countries.
Secretary Pritzker also visited the Office of Response and Restoration where Secretary Pritzker learned about the tools they build and maintain that emergency responders depend on nationwide. These tools provide the best available science data to federal, state, and local responders when they need it most, predicting chemical reactions, oil spill and marine debris trajectories, and oil weathering during emergencies. From preparedness and response through recovery, the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration protects the United States’ coastal and marine environment from threats including marine debris, releases from hazardous waste sites, and oil and chemical spills.
The Secretary’s last stop on the tour was of the net warehouse, part of the National Marine Fisheries Service. NOAA employees at this location manage sustainable growth of Pacific fisheries industries and ensure seafood is adequately inspected to enhance its marketability, sustainability, and ensure it is safe for consumers to eat.
NOAA is a vital part of the U.S. Department of Commerce. From daily weather forecasts, severe storm warnings and climate monitoring to fisheries management, coastal restoration and supporting marine commerce, NOAA’s products and services support economic vitality and affect more than one-third of America’s gross domestic product. The work done at the Western Regional Center is a key element to the overall contribution of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to our nation’s economic well-being.