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Free NOAA weather radio could go the way of the eight-track tape player if Sen. Rick Santorum
(R-PA) has his way.

Legislation introduced by Santorum, S.786, would restrict NOAA's broadcasting to emergency weather, like hurricanes and tornados and permit private companies like AccuWeather and The Weather Channel to get all of its daily weather information from NOAA for free. These companies would then turn around and sell the continuous weather updates to the public that NOAA used to provide free of charge.

Such a drastic change in the public's access to critical weather information could endanger the safety of boat owners who routinely rely on this information to make basic decisions about when to head out of port or when to return.

S. 786 would only allow NOAA to issue severe weather warnings to the public when conditions were life threatening. The will would save no money for the government because in order to issue such warnings, all the routine data collection and monitoring work must go on regardless. In addition, the "non-critical" data for boaters, such as tides, wind direction, speed and movement of fronts, can be just as important as storm warnings.

Concerned individuals are urged to contact their senators in opposition to S. 786, especially now that hurricane season is here.
 
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