Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) is trying to prevent the United States from being ready for the next Hurricane Katrina. Vitter, who denies the human influence on global warming, has submitted an amendment (S. Amdt. 2450) to the Interior appropriations bill (H.R. 2996) to block funding for centers that study and prepare for the impacts of climate change:
SEC. 423. PROHIBITION ON USE OF FUNDS TO DEVELOP REGIONAL CLIMATE CHANGE OFFICES.
No funds made available by this Act may be used to develop Regional Climate Change offices within the Department of the Interior.
On September 14, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced a comprehensive framework for his department’s response to climate change impacts, including the establishment of eight Regional Climate Change Response Centers under the U.S. Geological Survey. The USGS has already begun the development of these regional science centers, which will “synthesize and integrate climate change climate change impact data and tools that the Department’s managers and partners can use when managing the Department’s land, water, fish and wildlife, and cultural heritage resources.”
Vitter’s amendment would be a bizarre attempt to outlaw science for any U.S. senator. However, it is particularly immoral for a senator from Louisiana. The great Mississippi Delta is under extraordinary threat from global warming, as seas rise and storms intensify. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina devastated Vitter’s state, costing this nation $80 billion, killing thousands, and displacing a million people. Most of the devastation could have been avoided with the proper preparation and response. One major gap was a lack of understanding of climate change, which significantly intensified Hurricane Katrina. As hurricane scientist Kerry Emanuel has explained, “Probably if Hurricane Katrina had happened in 1980, the levees would have held.”