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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4 replies on “Republicans continue assault on emergency preparedness, even after Tohoku megaquake”

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

  3. 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.

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