Politico is taking a look at Republican Presidential nominee Rick Santorum’s past push to restrict the National Weather Service’s ability to get its data to the public.
Weather doesn’t show up as a top issue on Santorum’s presidential campaign website, and AccuWeather doesn’t appear in his 2012 campaign donations. But some of his opponents, such as the liberal website Daily Kos, have tried to revive memories of the 2005 legislation this week — including with headlines claiming inaccurately that Santorum had tried to “abolish” the weather service.
In fact, Santorum’s failed legislation would have left the weather service intact, although with significantly reduced ability to distribute its information directly to the public.
Critics of the bill say the legislation reflects an outdated worldview — one that says government data should flow through profit-making middlemen, rather than being released freely to one and all.
I used to work at a commercial weather forecasting company, so I’m aware of the commercial value of weather data. That said, I thought in 2005 that it was stupid to make the public buy data that it’s already paid for through its taxes and I still feel that way today. Santorum’s bill was about as dumb as they come, and the fact that he didn’t see any harm in hobbling one of the most valuable government services speaks volumes about him and the type of leader he is.