NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

Republicans continue assault on emergency preparedness, even after Tohoku megaquake

Read­ers may recall our ire was raised dur­ing the Repub­li­can response to Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s 2009 State of the Union Address, when Louisiana Gov­er­nor Bob­by Jin­dal dis­missed fund­ing for vol­cano mon­i­tor­ing as a triv­i­al­i­ty. As res­i­dents of the Pacif­ic North­west, we are all too aware of the pres­ence of vol­ca­noes in our region and the destruc­tion they can bring. And while Louisiana may not need vol­cano mon­i­tor­ing, it is invalu­able for sci­en­tists and res­i­dents in our region.

Leave it to Con­gress­man Steve King (R‑IA), a Tea Par­ty favorite, to fol­low Gov­er­nor Jin­dal’s path down the road to igno­rance.

The tar­get this time: fund­ing for the Nation­al Ocean­ic and Atmos­pher­ic Admin­is­tra­tion (NOAA) for tsuna­mi warn­ing centers.

KING: The tsuna­mi warn­ing cen­ters, it’s real­ly — the tim­ing of that real­ly puts atten­tion on the sub­ject mat­ter. I don’t know that I would go back and look at that. I would ask peo­ple to come for­ward with the facts on this — how bad­ly do we need them and do the trag­ic events in Japan give us a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. I would look at it from a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. I don’t know I would at this point know say that I’d be will­ing to make that change. I think we often over-react to emer­gen­cies, espe­cial­ly nat­ur­al disasters…

Per­haps if Con­gress­man King were a res­i­dent of West­port, Ocean Shores or anoth­er coastal com­mu­ni­ty, he might have a dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive. Since King is a res­i­dent of Iowa and tsunamis aren’t a prob­lem for his con­stituents, he appar­ent­ly could­n’t care less if the coastal areas of our nation suf­fer the same dev­as­ta­tion as Japan. But as for overblown nat­ur­al dis­as­ters, I can assure you that if flood­ing affects the Mid­west and dev­as­tates the corn crops in Iowa, you can be assured that Steve King will be right there advo­cat­ing for fed­er­al fund­ing to assist the farm­ers of his district.

Fund­ing for vol­cano mon­i­tor­ing and tsuna­mi warn­ing cen­ters are essen­tial for our region. The erup­tion of Mt. St. Helens in May 1980 and the dev­as­ta­tion of the sur­round­ing area should give crit­ics pause when con­sid­er­ing the elim­i­na­tion of funds for to mon­i­tor vol­canic activity.

Equal­ly as impor­tant, tsuna­mi warn­ing cen­ters can also mean the dif­fer­ence between life and death. We may not have had a sig­nif­i­cant tsuna­mi in our coastal areas, but the tsuna­mi in Japan and the one on Decem­ber 26, 2004 in the Indi­an Ocean should have been enough to con­vince Con­gress­man King and his cohorts that they’re not a threat we can afford to ignore.

You’ll find no mem­ber of Con­gress who would argue that nec­es­sary and vital equip­ment should be denied to fire­fight­ers, police, the mil­i­tary and oth­er first-respon­ders. And Con­gress­man King and his cohorts should not dis­miss the life­sav­ing work of sci­en­tists as a triv­ial mat­ter either. There is noth­ing incon­se­quen­tial about the destruc­tive pow­er of nature.

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  1. Please… we just had a num­ber of Earth­quakes and tsunamis in the last few years. Are the repub­li­cans igno­rant, or suicidal??

    # by Dan L :: March 17th, 2011 at 9:50 PM
  2. Tsunamis hit our coast infre­quent­ly, but with an unimag­in­able ven­gance. Sum­mer of ’58, Alas­ka was struck with a 1700 ft wave. That’s One Thou­sand, Sev­en Hun­dred feet tall. Think of build­ings in Seat­tle made of water, crash­ing down on the town and it’s peo­ple. Tsuna­mi warn­ings, vol­cano warn­ings, lahar warn­ings, all ben­e­fit the peo­ple of the NW as well as the peo­ple of the rest of the coun­try. Japan’s cat­a­stro­phe will affect the world econ­o­my for years to come. A dis­as­ter of equal or greater mag­ni­tude in the Pac NW will do the same. Iowa can’t hide from it.

    # by Jim Meusey :: March 20th, 2011 at 10:15 AM

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