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BAD WEATHER?
Senator aiming to nix federal weather forecasts enjoyed AccuWeather money

Some worry that bill is bad idea in wake of hurricanes

By John Byrne | RAW STORY Editor

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A conservative Republican senator who proposed that federal meteorologists be forbidden from competing with companies such as AccuWeather and the Weather Channel, has received nearly $4,000 from AccuWeather's founder and executive vice president since 2000, RAW STORY has discovered.

Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) introduced the bill last week. The senator's supporters (among them the founder and executive vice president of AccuWeather) note the bill provides an exemption that would allow organizations the National Hurricane Center from alerting the public to hazards.

"The National Weather Service has not focused on what its core mission should be, which is protecting other people's lives and property," said Barry Myers, the Executive Vice President of AccuWeather told the Palm Beach Post Thursday. "It spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year, every day, producing forecasts of 'warm and sunny.'"

Myers gave $1,000 to Santorum in the last election cycle. Santorum was the only senator Myers financially supported.

AccuWeather's 15,000 clients include Post, which utilizes the firm's hurricane forecast maps on PalmBeachPost.com. The Post failed to include mention of Myers contributions.

Myers' brother, Joel, founder, CEO and president of AccuWeather, has also given generously to Santorum over the years—more than $2,000 in the last election cycle alone.

A spokesman for Florida's Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson was taken aback by Santorum's bill, questioning the intelligence of a bill that the senator believes might be dangerous in the wake of several hurricanes.

"The weather service proved so instrumental and popular and helpful in the wake of the hurricanes," Nelson spokesman Dan McLaughlin told the Post. "How can you make an argument that we should pull it off the Net now? What are you going to do, charge hurricane victims to go online, or give them a pop-up ad?"

In a release Apr. 14, Santorum said the bill was sorely needed.

“With the support of my colleagues, we can pass this legislation to modernize the description of the National Weather Service’s roles within the national weather enterprise, so that it reflects today’s reality in which the National Weather Service and the commercial weather industry both play important parts in providing weather products and services to the nation,” Santorum said.

Read the full Palm Beach Post story here.

Article originally published Apr. 21, 2005.

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