Termite research in New Orleans, a honeybee factory in Texas, a sustainable Las Vegas: To John McCain, they're equally ridiculous.
Continuing his long-running crusade against earmarks, Sen. McCain, R-Ariz., included a $951,000 grant for sustainability research in Las Vegas in a list of federal spending in the recently passed omnibus spending bill that he found questionable.
"We are going to spend $951,500 for a sustainable Las Vegas," McCain said in a speech on the Senate floor Monday. "What does that mean? What does sustainable Las Vegas mean?"
The grant goes to the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, for research on a variety of topics related to the region's future prospects, according to the university.
University spokesman David Tonelli said in an e-mail that the money "will be used to support research at UNLV related to various aspects of or urban sustainability and of regional significance. This includes energy, water, health, transportation, natural resources, and land use studies that are important to achieving solutions that integrate economic, social, and environmental sustainability."
Some of the funds also could be used to bring in speakers and host conferences to foster a community discussion on these issues, he said.
McCain also pointed to funds Nevada is getting in the bill for an online encyclopedia as an example of money that is inappropriately directed to a single state.
"We are going to spend $143,000 for Nevada Humanities to develop and expand an online encyclopedia," he said. "Is there no place besides Nevada that they need to expand an online encyclopedia?"