After The Storm

Jul 13, 2007 6:29pm

Late today the chairs of two House subcommittees let it be known that they’re getting into the mess over the ouster of Bill Proenza, the head of the National Hurricane Center.  According to their joint press release, "the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology and the Committee on Energy and Commerce took action to determine if the Center was indeed incapable of providing necessary forecasts during the hurricane season." In a letter to Conrad Lautenbacher, whose agency, NOAA, overseas the Hurricane Center, they write, "Our Committees are deeply concerned with the turmoil that has engulfed the Center and about several of your actions which may have partially created this volatile situation."  They mention, among other things, "an all-hands NHC staff meeting during official hours in which it is alleged that staff was pressured to sign on to what became a well-publicized letter of complaint about Dr. Proenza…."  The full text of the letter is HERE. As you’ll recall, about half the hurricane center’s staff signed a letter last week urging that Proenza resign.  He declined, and on Monday he was "reassigned" by NOAA.  The principal signers of the letter, Reps. Nick Lampson of Texas and Bart Stupak of Michigan, are, of course, Democrats, and Adm. Lautenbacher is, of course, an appointee of a Republican administration.  So some of this, undoubtedly, is the routine back-and-forth of Washington politics.  In the meantime, one nagging question: how are the hurricane forecasts going?
(AP photo: Bill Proenza at the Hurricane Center on July 6.)

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