Of all the charges levied during the debate over the economic stimulus package, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) offered one of the most foolish. In a widely-panned national address, Jindal complained bitterly about "wasteful spending," and to prove his point, highlighted "$140 million for something called 'volcano monitoring.'"
Even at the time, it was an unusually foolish thing to say. A month later, Jindal's complaints look even worse.
An erupting Mount Redoubt exploded again at 4:31 this morning -- its fifth and strongest discharge yet -- sending an ash cloud to new heights, the Alaska Volcano Observatory reported.
Ash has now been detected at 60,000 feet above sea level, the National Weather Service reported.
The AP added, "Ash from Alaska's volcanoes is like a rock fragment with jagged edges and has been used as an industrial abrasive. It can injure skin, eyes and breathing passages. The young, the elderly and people with respiratory problems are especially susceptible to ash-related health problems. Ash can also cause damage engines in planes, cars and other vehicles."
A USGS geologist confirmed to Zachary Roth that "a portion of the stimulus spending for volcano monitoring that Jindal lampooned has been slated to go to USGS monitoring Redoubt."
Chris Waythomas, a geologist with the Alaska Volcano Observatory, a branch of the USGS, said that part of the money from the stimulus that Jindal was referring to would have been used to "shore up" monitoring of Redoubt, by adding new monitoring technology like real-time GPS. Redoubt, he said, was "very high on our list" of volcanoes that needed increased scrutiny.
In fact, it's so important that the presumably ash-covered Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, has hedged her bets and indicated that she would be open to saying "No thanks, but THANKS" to federal stimulus money.
Dave N.: I suggest we rename it Mount Jindal. Just so it can stand as a permanent, smoking reminder of the consequences of Republican governance.