Thursday, February 26, 2009

Under the Volcano

Gov. Bobby Jindal mocked funding for monitoring volcanoes in the stimulus bill.

The governor, a rising Republican star, questioned why “something called ‘volcano monitoring’ ” was included in the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus bill Obama signed earlier this month.

“Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington,” Jindal said.

That may sound exotic to someone from Louisiana, but tell that to the folks in Portland, Oregon, or Seattle, who live in the shadow of Mount St. Helens, which was in the news in 1980, or Mount Rainier, which is an active volcano. Those little earthquakes they get every so often in Seattle are the things scientists are monitoring.

The GOP may think it’s a waste of money, but there are currently 150 volcanoes in the U.S. under observation from Hawaii to Wyoming, including Mt. Redoubt in Alaska (which might be of interest to Gov. Sarah Palin), and about half of those are active. There may not be a lot of volcanoes within striking distance of a lot of major American cities, but it only takes one eruption to make the point that it’s worth doing.

But if Gov. Jindal insists on saving money, we could always cut back on funds for monitoring hurricanes, too. Who needs that?