Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) might well apply his vaunted cost-saving strategy to the rest of the country. In his rejoinder to Pres. Barack Obama's address to Congress earlier this year Jindal disdainfully suggested that "volcano monitoring" was a waste of the taxpayers' money.
This idea might have been rejected by the hundreds of people who were on their way to Anchorage and the thousands flying elsewhere over North America to other destinations at the time Mt. Redoubt erupted recently. Well before the eruption, flights were advised and diverted due to, well, volcano monitoring.
As at Mt. Rainier, Kilauea and numerous other sites around the country, government agencies monitor environmental hazards and attempt to provide warnings. This is rarely considered wasteful by those downslope or downstream.
As I write, flood waters in the Upper Mississippi Valley are being monitored as they are each spring, and continuous estimates of potential impact on the Lower Mississippi (as in Shreveport, Baton Rouge and New Orleans) are being sent ahead of the flood. The cost of this effort is many times the cost of volcano monitoring; we have many more rivers than we have volcanoes.
As one who has not seen the Mississippi from less than 30,000 feet in decades, I might question the wisdom of all that wasteful "river monitoring," but I don't. What affects my brothers and sisters in Louisiana affects me.
November 2012 is coming. I suggest we all commit a few bucks to "Jindal monitoring" no matter how inconsequential the rumblings might sound.