While perusing the ADN Newsreader, it struck me that two governors had some pretty bad timing when it came to spending they opposed. First, the "uproar" one, Gov. Jindal of Louisiana. He opposes the $140 million in the stimulus bill for volcano monitoring, and was pretty derisive in his address about it.
Although, hopefully, Alaskans would have been as taken aback anyways, a little over half the state has had an impending eruption looming over us for over a month now. There are dust masks everywhere, car filters are being sold out, and anyone planning a trip lately has been all about praying it waits to blow until they are in their warmer destination, or blows now, so all can settle before.
Although we tend to ignore, or not know about, the successes of frivolous things like volcano monitoring, we DO know it could have helped with the Boeing both Begich and Murkowski reference (link below.) And does anyone remember a year, maybe two ago, (was it Augustine?)when the ash plume was such that airlines were diverted, or stopped from flying south (i.e. the rest of the world)? I heard a lot of annoyances, but I don't know of anyone who was REALLY saying, "Ah, I'll take my chances flying through that ash cloud."
It's not like it's infrequent, this volcano stuff. Recent Alaskan volcano activity (steam, ash plumes, etc.) include Fourpeaked Mountain. And Cleveland volcano. And Pavlov volcano. And Mt. Spurr. And Augustine.
Okay, I'm stopping now. My mind is starting to picture all these erupting at once...
Some of those volcanoes were real threats, some of the activity was shown to be pretty benign. But I really LIKE that those volcano monitors were able to tell me which was which.
Sen. Begich and Sen. Murkowski sent letters to Jindal addressing his remarks - Begich emphasizes the need a bit more, Murkowksi the kind of, "We need monitoring, but I do understand where you're coming from." There is a video of Jindal on the bottom, and the volcano monitoring "that we do not need" comes about halfway through. There's quite a bit of reaction about the volcano monitoring, but I'll just include the science-y one in case the reasons are foreign to you as well. Although I'm not up on the science of how they do it - you can be darn sure I'm going to rely on some reassurance from that wasteful volcano monitoring before I get on a plane!
Alaska has wasted its fair share of money before, but this is certainly not one of those times. Besides the immediate benefit for Alaskans, being one of the very few monitoring stations in the country (much less the world,) the information collected and distributed benefits everyone else. But why don't we bemoan the wasteful hurricane and weather monitoring spending, and see just what kind of reaction that gets from the Louisiana governor? He should know better.
The other bit of poor timing was Gov. Palin slashing the budget for vessel tracking. The whole state budget for this particular nonprofit organization. Although it is not a state-run operation, it is nowhere near "not the governments job" for vessel tracking to be happening. The story linked above gives a great example of just how this is used. The wierd timing is that this announcement comes the same day constant "news alerts" were coming in about a rescue going on for a vessel based out of Kodiak.
Fishing is one of the top industries in Alaska, and my grandfather fished every year since he was 13 years old. He went out of his way to help boats in distress, because, as one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, fisherman need all the help they can get. Fishing, even as poor as teh prices are now, brings major revenue into the state. Surely we can decide to tighten the belt on it - but not say the state has no business funding this sort of thing!