Monday, August 17, 2009

Melancon, Penguins, and Climate Change in Louisiana

Not sure how many people noticed or paid attention to the following story, but I found it very newsworthy.

Louisiana's only Democratic congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the Democratic Party's best shot at defeating Republican Senator David Vitter, recently went on a very expensive taxpayer funded jaunt to Australia and the South Pole:

Last year, U.S. Rep. Charles Melancon, D-Napoleonville, took part in a trip to study climate change that cost taxpayers more than $150,000 and included a cable car ride through the Australian rain forest, a tour of a penguin breeding ground and a visit to the South Pole.
Asked to comment on the relevance of this trip and to justify such a hefty expense to the taxpayer, all Melancon could come up with was this:
Melancon said in a statement Thursday statement that the trip was important to study climate change and its impact on Louisiana.

"Louisiana is losing a football field of land every half-hour due to coastal erosion and rising sea levels," Melancon said. "Our very survival depends on reversing this trend."
Ummm... I guess there's some relevance to penguins and polar ice caps to the climate change issues that are affecting Louisiana's coastal erosion problems, but I'm pretty sure that one doesn't need to have taxpayers pay for a $150,000 field trip in order for Melancon to "study" the issue and to understand the relationship between the South Pole and Louisiana. I'd bet there are a number of reports, books, and videos that could have done the same thing just as well and for a fraction of the cost. Personally, I would much rather have seen that $150,000 be put towards more immediate coastal restoration projects or shoring up the levee systems surrounding New Orleans even more.

But, here's the kicker ... at least Melancon didn't go scuba diving and snorkling off the Great Barrier Reef like two of the other public officials who went on this junket. Heh. Yeah, that makes it all much better. As long as Melancon didn't do anything that anyone could consider "fun" on this trip, it must be a serious outing and worthy of such enormous expense, right? NOT.

What's my verdict on this Blue Dog Democrat's polar expedition? Epic Fail.

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