Barry Myers, the head of Accuweather, has been nominated by President Donald Trump to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Accuweather provides weather forecasts for TV stations, networks, web sites, newspapers and other media.
NOAA is an agency within the Department of Commerce that incorporates the National Weather Service and other atmospheric science and environmental efforts.
Myers has been CEO of AccuWeather since 2007.
The White House hailed Myers as "one of the world’s leading authorities on the use of weather information"
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), ranking member of the Senate Communications Subcommittee, called it a "questionable" choice.
"As the CEO of AccuWeather, Barry Myers views NOAA as a direct competitor that provides high-quality forecasts for free. He is in the vanguard of corporate business interests that seek to undermine the National Weather Service’s ability to do anything other than provide free data and weather models to private companies like his, which then turn around and sell their forecasts," he said.
He also said Myers would have to work hard to convince him he would run NOAA in the public interest.
The White House did lead its announcement with AccuWeather's business success, pointing out that since Myers’ arrival, AccuWeather "has experienced its highest grossing years, and its largest global web and mobile audience growth."
The President, himself a longtime businessman, has made a point of getting corporate execs with business experience into government posts.
“We’ve had ten hurricanes in ten weeks, I want to make absolutely sure any NOAA administrator will put the public first in delivering freely available weather forecasts,” Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, told B&C/Multichannel News in an e-mail. “We can’t afford to have someone in this position that might be tempted to feather their own nest by privatizing the National Weather Service.”
Nelson has some experience with the issue. Back in 2005 he helped block a bill from then-Senator Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) (http://www.foxnews.com/story/2005/05/27/storm-brews-over-santorum-pac-we... that critics said would have prohibited NWS meteorologists from providing a service that competied with private companies like AccuWeather.
Also concerning to some, including NWS, was AccuWeather's use of the url www.nationalweatherservice.org, which did, and still does, redirect to the AccuWeather home page.
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