Congress Takes Exotic, Costly Global Warming Trip

GlobalWarmingGlobeTrottersMap.gifSource of map: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited below.

(p. A1) WASHINGTON — When 10 members of Congress wanted to study climate change, they did more than just dip their toes into the subject: They went diving and snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. They also rode a cable car through the Australian rain forest, visited a penguin rookery and flew to the South Pole.

The 11-day trip — with six spouses traveling along as well — took place over New Year’s 2008. Details are only now coming to light as part of a Wall Street Journal analysis piecing together the specifics of the excursion.
It’s tough to calculate the travel bills racked up by members of Congress, but one thing’s for sure: They use a lot of airplanes. In recent days, House of Representatives members allocated $550 million to upgrade the fleet of luxury Air Force jets used for trips like these — even though the Defense Department says it doesn’t need all the planes. . . .
The South Pole trip, led by Rep. Brian Baird (D., Wash.), ranks among the priciest. The lawmakers reported a cost to taxpayers of $103,000.
That figure, however, doesn’t include the actual flying, because the trip used the Air Force planes, not commercial carriers. Flight costs would lift the total tab to more than $500,000, based on Defense Department figures for aircraft per-hour operating costs.

For the full story, see:
BRODY MULLINS and T.W. FARNAM. “Lawmakers’ Global-Warming Trip Hit Tourist Hot Spots; Penguins, a Rocket-Propelled Airplane (and Tax Dollars) Also Involved.” The Wall Street Journal (Weds., June 10, 2009): A1 & A4.
(Note: ellipsis added.)

RocketAssistedSiEquippedPlane.jpg “The type of rocket-assisted, ski-equipped plane that took the lawmakers to the South Pole.” Source of photo and caption: online version of the WSJ article quoted and cited above.

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