Who Cares about Volcanoes?

Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal probably didn’t win any new fans in Hawaii last night. During a televised speech rebutting President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress, he called the new stimulus package “larded with wasteful spending,” and cited as an example, “$140 million for something called volcano monitoring.”

Volcanoes might be a distant, exotic concept to Gov. Jindal, but for Hawaii residents who live in the shadow of smoldering Kilauea, the idea of keeping an eye on things on the Big Island probably doesn’t seem so wasteful.

Looking at the text of the legislation, that $140 million actually covers a range of functions carried out by the United States Geological Survey, including “repair, construction and restoration of facilities; equipment replacement and upgrades including stream gages, and seismic and volcano monitoring systems; national map activities; and other critical deferred maintenance and improvement projects.”

Hard to classify that as lard.

Jindal concluded that section of his speech by saying, “Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington, DC.”

What’s wrong with monitoring both?