Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Against it before she was for it

Alaska senator Lisa Murkowski took to the floor of the Senate yesterday to defend the value of volcano monitoring and request regular funding for the USGS early warning system in Alaska.
I think we’re all aware that there have been some recent comments made about federal spending for volcano monitoring and the suggestion perhaps that this might be wasteful money — that we don’t have any need to be monitoring volcanoes. And I can assure you, Mr. President, that monitoring volcanoes is critically important to the nation, to the world, and particularly to Alaska right now where, as I say, we are being held hostage by a volcano.

Volcano monitoring is a good cause. Early warning can prevent millions of dollars of damage to aircraft and other machinery and even save lives. It's good that Murkowski is making the case for it. However, Murkowski would have a lot more credibility if she wasn't such a partisan hack on the issue. Notice how she avoids criticizing a fellow Republican by resorting to the uber passive "there have been some recent comments made." We all know who made the comments. It wasn't some amorphous "they." It was Bobby Jindal, the Republican governor of Louisiana, one of the up and coming stars of her party and a possible candidate for her party's presidential nomination in 2012. More importantly, Murkowski voted against the stimulus bill that included $140 million to upgrade USGS facilities including the Alaska Volcano Observatory, the office that performs the volcano monitoring in her state.

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