Proposed sequestration cuts would be a threat to important weather forecasting

BY MARION C. BLAKEY Published: August 3, 2012
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Just think about it. Under the guise of getting our fiscal house in order in the short term, our leaders in Washington would increase the long-term cost and delay (perhaps beyond two years) the introduction of badly needed satellite systems. This would happen with the knowledge that in 2011, economic damages throughout America from accurately forecasted severe storms amounted to an estimated $46.5 billion. Imagine the damages we will suffer in the future if weather forecasting capabilities are degraded and communities aren't given timely and accurate warnings of major storms.

We can't afford to let severe budget cuts take weather forecasting back to the dark ages. NOAA satellites save lives and money at a time when our weather is becoming more and more volatile. In Oklahoma, which was hit by eight major winter storms and 39 severe weather incidents in the past decade, this is particularly true. Congress and the president should strive to avoid these and $1.2 trillion in other scheduled draconian budget cuts to defense and nondefense programs, and work to ensure that citizens and communities continue to receive the accurate weather forecasts they've come to count on.

Blakey is president and CEO of the Aerospace Industries Association.

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