Senator Rick Santorum introduced the National Weather Services Duties Act of 2005 earlier this year. The bill would have several troubling effects. These impacts may mark the first time the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association have had occasion to be allied on an issue.
The bill, which Santourm says was crafted with the "jobs of Pennsylvanians in mind," would limit the National Weather Service's ability to provide information to the public. Instead the agency would use its tax-payer funding to create "a set of data portals designed for volume access by commercial providers of products or services." These services, such as Santorum campaign donor AccuWeather, would then provided to consumers through commercial services.
Limiting access to commercial providers would eliminate the provision of data for so much of rural America. Everybody from search and rescue teams to farmers and small town fire-fighters would be at the mercy of these commercial providers for critical, sometimes life-or-death, situations. With the recent fires in Southern Nevada for example, the large weather services didn't have information available. Residents of the farms and rural residences would have had no information to make decisions. In truth we need more information not less.