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Public Statements

Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2008

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


COMMERCE, JUSTICE, SCIENCE, AND RELATED AGENCIES APPROPRIATIONS ACT, 2008 -- (House of Representatives - July 25, 2007)

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Mr. JINDAL. Mr. Chairman, I offer an amendment.

The Clerk read as follows:

Amendment offered by Mr. Jindal:

Page 11, line 19, after the dollar amount insert ``(increased by $2,000,000)''.

Page 21, line 7, after the dollar amount insert ``(reduced by $2,000,000)''.

Mr. JINDAL. Mr. Chairman, the 2005 hurricane season featured 14 hurricanes, including Hurricane Katrina, which devastated the gulf coast and became the most costly natural disaster in U.S. history. The season's hurricanes were responsible for over $100 billion in damage and over 1,800 deaths. Both Hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated my home State of Louisiana.

On August 23, 2005, Hurricane Katrina was nothing more than a mass of organized clouds over the Bahamas, but later that day, the storm quickly intensified and headed toward the U.S. coastline. Late on August 25, the storm made the first landfall just south of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, as a category 1 hurricane. By early in the morning of August 28, Hurricane Katrina's winds reached a remarkable 175 miles per hour, a category 5 storm. Hurricane Katrina seemingly intensified overnight from category 3 to a category 5 hurricane.

Just before Hurricane Katrina made landfall on August 29, NASA's QuikSCAT satellite mapped the storm's wind speeds. The data from the satellite helped forecasters describe Katrina's dangers in public information bulletins issued just before the storm slamming into New Orleans. Unfortunately, forecasting efforts may be crippled as data from the QuikSCAT satellite will become unavailable as the satellite's lifespan expires.

Measuring a storm's intensity and tracking its direction are critical to determining appropriate level of emergency preparedness efforts. Forecasters need alternate methods to measure intensity in order to convey potential storm damage. In addition to space-based monitoring platforms on which hurricane research and forecasting scientists rely, new research is now being conducted by NOAA that will allow forecasters to recognize rapid changes in intensity much more quickly.

[Time: 15:15]

The National Hurricane Research Initiative has been estimated to have an annual cost of as much as $300 million, but will accelerate and improve measurement of hurricane wind structure. The President's 2008 budget request calls for just $2 million in additional studies aimed at improving hurricane intensity forecasts, an area that the NOAA Administrator claims is one of the agency's key concerns.

[Page: H8443]

The amendment that I offer to the appropriations bill would double the President's increase for NOAA's hurricane intensity research. The amendment adds an additional $2 million to improve NOAA's ability to forecast hurricane intensity and to provide better and more usable information for emergency managers and the public. The activities will aid NOAA's operational hurricane forecasters and improve understanding of hurricane intensity and changes in storm structure, especially on the gulf coast where residents are so sensitive about potential evacuations, it would be extremely helpful to have better and more accurate information about intensity as well as the direction of a storm.

The offset comes out of salaries and expenses in the General Administration for the Department of Justice. This account received $104.7 million, which is $6.9 million more than last year's funding levels.

My amendment will reduce errors in the 48-hour hurricane intensity forecasting. I urge my colleagues to support my amendment.

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