ALERT: Oppose Limitations on NOAA
This update was originally sent out as an e-mail message to AGI's member societies.
In A Nutshell: A bill, entitled "National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005" (S.786) introduced by Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on April 14, 2005 would limit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from providing weather data, particularly through the National Weather Service. The bill would expressly prohibit federal weather forecasters from competing with commercial weather forecasters such as AccuWeather and the Weather Channel. Critics say the wording of the bill is so vague that it is not clear what data could or could not be provided by NOAA. The bill might force the National Weather Service website to be removed or to have much of its data removed. The National Weather Service would only be allowed to "provide severe weather forecasts and warnings designed for the protection of life and property of the general public."
According to a report
in the Palm Beach Post, Barry Myers, the executive vice president
of AccuWeather, which is based in State College PA, stated that "The
National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission
should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property,
It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing
forecasts of 'warm and sunny'." Santorum made similar arguments
when introducing his bill. He also said expanded federal services
threaten the livelihoods of private weather companies. "It is
not an easy prospect for a business to attract advertisers, subscribers
or investors when the government is providing similar products and
services for free," Santorum said.
1. Call your Senator's Washington, DC office.
You may obtain the phone number from their official website (www.senate.gov) or you may call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) and ask to be connected to Senator [name] office. NOTE: You must know the name of your Senator prior to calling the switchboard; they will not be able to tell you who your member of Congress is.
Ask to speak to the legislative assistant responsible for NOAA. When connected: Encourage the staffer to have Senator [name] oppose Senate Bill S.786, the "National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005". Be prepared to mention how important the National Weather Service website and data are to your research, academic department/institution, as educational tools and/or to your community. Legislative staff are busy, so you may be asked if you would like to leave a voice mail - you do. Simply convey the same information you would have if you spoke to the staffer in person, but be sure to leave your contact information.
2. E-Mail or Fax your Senator
Your Senator's e-mail addresses and fax numbers are available on their website at www.senate.gov.
Tips for an effective e-mail or fax message:
-Be sure that the subject line in your e-mail is clear: Please oppose Senate Bill S.786, the "National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005".
-Be sure that you include your contact information at the top of the e-mail/letter; this must include your name, mailing address, phone number and e-mail address. NOTE: many offices will discard correspondence that does not include contact information, or that comes from outside of their district.
-In the opening paragraph of your message, clearly state that you
are writing to ask that your Senator to oppose Senate Bill S.786,
the "National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005". Tell
them that the bill would restrict access to useful data and may unintentionally
hinder severe weather warnings.
Alert prepared by Linda Rowan, AGI Director of Government Affairs
Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program.
Posted April 25, 2005