Thursday, April 21, 2005

Everyone Talks About the Weather, and this Senator is Going to Do Something About It

Right now, you can get all the weather info you need for free -- from the National Weather Service. Your tax dollars pay for it.

But Sen Rick Santorum (R-PA) wants to get rid of the freebies.

He's introduced a bill to bar the National Weather Service from competing with outfits like The Weather Channel or that Puxatawney-Phil-loving AccuWeather bunch.

The bill could ban certain information from the NWS website. Critics say that could include tornado and hurricane warnings. It would leave it up to the Commerce Secretary to decide what to pull off the site.

Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) says it'd take the country's weather prediction services to a "pre-Internet era."

Sen Santorum and the bill's supporters say it would let the Weather Service continue issuing warnings, just not providing the same info commercial providers put out there -- like daily forecasts.

But the Weather Service's Ed Johnson says you can't issue those warnings unless you constantly update forecasts to see the danger approaching. He says, "You don't just plug in your clock when you want to know what time it is."

Right now, you can get hourly updates on temperature, humidity, and the chance of rain from the Weather Service. Same with a seven day forecast or weather data sent straight to your cell phone. All for free.

Sen Santorum's bill would have you paying to run the Weather Service -- but having to pay for those services from commercial providers.

But then what do you expect from a Senator who's state relishes Groundhog Day so much they fought to keep $100,000 in pork for the rodent's museum? (Palm Beach Post)

[Crossposted at]

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