The two senators from the U.S. state of Virginia have suddenly made the
welfare of whales, and other sea creatures off the coast of Florida (far to the
south) a major personal cause of theirs. How can this be? It's all about
defense spending, and where the money goes.
spending has always been a political football. Controlling defense spending
means controlling the votes of people who benefit from the money. One of the
more contentious defense spending issues is where military bases are located.
In the case of Virginian politicians and whale welfare, it's all about a U.S.
Navy plan to move one nuclear aircraft carrier (and its escorts) from a
Virginia naval base, to one in Florida. The navy wants to move one of two
carriers, based in Virginia, to a new base in Florida. This will make the
Virginia base less crowded, and less of a target in wartime. The new Florida
base facilities will cost nearly $600 million. But the major concern of the
Virginia politicians is the 11,000 jobs and $650 million a year that goes south
with the carrier task force.
Where do the
whales come in? Well, the Virginia politicians have found (or one of their
overworked staffers found) that the larger amount of critters in the coastal
waters of Florida are obviously in greater danger of being hit by these
additional warships. Thus it would be good, from an animal welfare point of
view, if the navy kept those ships in Virginia (where the fish have apparently
learned to duck). The Virginia politicians are serious. Lawyers may get
involved. There might even be tears.