Alaska's disasters, natural and man-made, are front and center today. First, today is the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez disaster. Who can forget?
An estimated 11 million gallons of oil eventually spilled into the water. Attempts to contain the massive spill were unsuccessful, and wind and currents spread the oil more than 100 miles from its source, eventually polluting more than 700 miles of coastline. Hundreds of thousands of birds and animals were adversely affected by the environmental disaster.
Today, however, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal's mockery of volcano monitoring last month has taken an annoying turn for his Alaska counterpart Sarah Palin:
As a slew of observers -- from local officials to geologists to bloggers to Paul Krugman ("the intellectual incohernence is stunning") -- pointed out at the time, volcano monitoring is crucial work. At the risk of stating the obvious, using advanced technology to predict when a volcano might erupt, at the most basic level, allows local officials to, um, save people's lives by evacuating them. It's hard to think of a better use of government money.
Why is Jindal's line looking even worse now? Because, as you've likely heard, Alaska's Mount Redoubt, 100 miles southwest of Anchorage, erupted [Monday] night. And a USGS geologist confirmed to TPMmuckraker that a portion of the stimulus spending for volcano monitoring that Jindal lampooned has been slated to go to USGS monitoring Redoubt.
Simple economics might suggest that the expense of double-hulled tankers and of volcano monitoring equipment might be lower than the expense of cleaning up Alaska. But that's for us in the reality-based community, I guess; the GOP didn't get it in the 1980s, and doesn't get it now.