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.