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requirements and the relative priority for weather modification, would result in increased effectiveness. To the contrary, we believe such a combination would put undue emphasis on a technology that is, as yet, mainly in the research (versus operations) stage. This emphasis could detract from adequate consideration of operational techniques for achieving goals and objectives.
The funding level for research applicable to weather modification is understated in your draft. Due to the lack of understanding as to why certain events occur in weather modification, a great deal of general research in atmospheric sciences is applicable to weather modification. For example, much of the research in physical meteorology contributes directly to enhancing knowledge in weather modification. Your draft, however, leaves the impression that a summation of the weather modification project budgets will indicate the level of Federal funding in this field. It has been estimated that this limited yiew understates applicable research by at least $50 M.1/
As to the specific size of project budgets, we conducted a review of Federal weather modification programs prior to formulation of the 1973 budget. Our conclusion was that we should recommend the continuation of research in this field, accelerating in some areas, decreasing in others.
17 Informal estimate from ICAS.
For example, we believe the hurricane modification research conducted by Commerce NOAA, may, if feasible, have significant benefits. Accordingly, we recommended an increase in funding in this area in 1974 for capital equipment preparatory to conducting research experiments in the Pacific.
Because of this need for additional knowledge, however, we consider any decision regarding the Federal role in weather modification operations especially in the suppression of severe storms to be very premature at this time. If suppression proves feasible, given today's thinking and technology, the application of this knowledge would appear to be enormously expensive. This underscores our earlier statement that weather modification should not be viewed as a panacea in problem solving but should be developed, through research, as an option.
To imply that the project budgets are subcritical or to support citations to that effect is a rather narrow view. Our belief is that the adequacy of weather modification budgets must be viewed in context of the agencies' other priorities. To meet President Nixon's FY 1973 expenditure ceiling, many agencies were forced to make difficult management and budgetary decisions. Where project budgets were reduced to accommodate other agency goals, one must assume that weather modification research was a relatively lesser priority. The actual size of the budgets, therefore, should not be judged out of context with other programs conducted by the agencies.
Public vs. Private Role in Weather Modification
Our position is that weather modification operations, as opposed to research, should be carried out by the private sector wherever possible. An exception to this may be hurricane or other severe storm modification. If such an activity proves feasible, the size of the investment required to modify these storms and their interstate impact seem to suggest Federal participation. In most other areas, however, the proper domain for operations seems to be the private sector responding to local needs. In these cases, the Federal Government's primary role has been and should be as an advisor to State and local municipalities.
State laws vary from regulation to prohibition of weather modification experiments and operations. It is noteworthy, however, that in a recent referendum in a farming community in southern Colorado on the question of weather modification the voters overwhelmingly rejected a proposal to modify the weather to benefit local barley growers. Because there is so much to be learned in weather modification research, one might conclude that widespread use and acceptance of operational weather modification may be more of a future rather than present concern.
There are, as mentioned earlier, in the private sector, entrepreneurs conducting rain-making operations principally in the western u. s. Their existence is proof of acceptance by certain segments of the population. These operations, however, should not be inferred as general societal acceptance of weather modification.
We appreciate the opportunity to comment on your draft report.
Dear Mr. Kelley:
1973, requesting the Department of Transportation's comments on the General Accounting Office's draft report on weather modification research programs.
(See GAO note, p. 39. )
The General Accounting Office concludes that a national program
William S. Heffelfinger
Title changed from Assistant Secretary, Rural Development and Co vation, in January 1973.
NOAA was formed in October 1970 pursuant to Reorganization Plan Number 4, consolidating Environmental Sciences Services Administration with programs and elements from other Federal organizations pertaining to marine sciences.