Florida reps are pushing a bill to boost spending on hurricane research, but the Bush administration says the price tag may be too high.
The National Hurricane Research Initiative Act, sponsored by Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Miramar, has gained bi-partisan co-sponsorship in the form of Miami Republicans Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Mario Diaz-Balart.
But John Hayes, the director of the National Weather Service, said the requested amount -- $4 billion over the next 10 years - is "significantly higher than current funding levels and are therefore inconsistent with the administration's priorities."
Hastings said the legislation was prompted by recommendations from a 2007 National Science Foundation report that found "relative to the tremendous damage future hurricanes will inflict, the current federal investment in hurricane science and engineering is entirely insufficient.
"Our government's current investment in hurricane preparation is relegated to providing water bottles and setting up storm shelters for at-risk populations," Hastings said. "In my view, such short-sighted preparation is wholly inadequate and unacceptable."
The legislation calls for improving the ability to predict hurricanes and their intensity. Among those testifying to its need: Shuyi Chen, a professor of meteorology and physical oceanography at the University of Miami.
There is "no doubt that improving the hurricane forecast and response to save lives and reduce economic loss should a national priority," she said in written remarks to two House subcommittees that took up the bill. "There is no reason for further delay of full-scale support for such development, which is long over due."