the Petroleum, Stupid!
May 3, 2002
In what will hopefully prove to be the final two years of
President Bush's term occupying the White House, we will undoubtedly
witness him being accused of many things. In all likelihood,
being an environmentalist is not one of them.
We watched him parade around the Adirondaks in khaki pants
and a flannel shirt, hiking trail repair kit in tow, and it
provided the ultimate photo-op. Earth Day supplied the time
and place for poetic sound bites from the President who said,
"We have a duty to make sure that our land is preserved, our
air is clean, our water is pure and our parks are open and
His feeble attempt at tree hugging was merely a comical component
of the unveiling of "Clear Skies" legislation. Please, don't
be fooled by the name. It was purposely designed as a euphamism
to sedate and confuse people. Rather than actually keeping
the skies clear by altering the poisonous habits of certain
industries, it allows the heaviest industrial polluters to
trade toxic emission points with factories and businesses
that have actually reformed their own polluting practices.
This way, the toxic proclivities of big business don't have
to change, the air stays just as dirty as it was, and everyone
thinks that the President did this really great thing for
the environment. Everybody's happy right?
Wrong. What we observed on Earth Day was the President elevating
hypocrisy to an art form.
President Bush holds a dismal record when it comes to environmental
issues; there are no two ways around it. In the perennial
competition between industry and ecology, toxic polluters
win every time hands down. If we look back, it becomes painfully
obvious that putting nature last when industrial regulation
is at stake is something of a knee jerk reaction for Bush.
This guy loathes corporate and industrial regulation almost
as much as he hates missing an afternoon nap with his wooby.
Upon his ascension to the Texas governor's mansion, he immediately
removed virtually every monitoring entity over drinking water
quality. (He figured that everyone with a brain in their head
had one of those fancy-schmancy Brita filter gizmos in the
fridge anyway.) Simultaneously, he allowed all manufacturing
plants that were in operation before 1971 to be granted exemption
from all state pollution controls. (G.W. would get so steamed
when one of his friends in the chemical world would bellyache
to him about getting strong-armed by some whale saver down
at the Environmental Defense Fund) As a result, Texan children
and taxpayers got to experience tap water as tasty and clean
as the stuff you find down by the lead mine.
And incidentally, those pre-Clean Air Act factories (all
850 of them), ended up producing nearly 40% of the states
total air pollution. While under Governor Bush's tutelage,
Texas ranked number one in myriad categories of pollution
expertise. Some of these are, but not limited to, number one
in the emission of carbon monoxide, in overall toxic releases,
and number one for carcinogens in the air. A study conducted
by the City of Houston concluded that air pollution in the
city itself causes over 400 deaths per year. According to
the North American Comission on Environmental Cooperation,
while Bush was governor, Texas polluted both the air and water
more than any other state or Canadian province. I'm so glad
he's our president; aren't you?
Fast forward to the present and we see an administration
that is so concerned with the needs of multi-national corporations
and oil and chemical manufacturers that our environmental
policies are literally being designed by them. We have witnessed
the White House unapologetically refuse to inform the public
about topics discussed at meetings between cabinet officials
and various muckety-mucks at Enron while they were surreptitiously
engineering our national energy plan. Clearly, the debate
is not that private meetings between cabinet members should
be compromised, but rather, when industry lobbyists are brought
in to confer on issues of public policy I think that we all
have an undeniable right to know what was said. (I wonder
what the Republican reaction would be to a Clinton White House
refusing to turn over the minutes from one of his meetings?
Ken Starr do you hear your phone ringing?)
Drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge was only
the beginning; it's actually such small potatoes for these
guys that it takes on the characterization of a decoy. There
are over a dozen other sites throughout the western United
States slated for oil exploration. Among these are the Lewis
and Clark National Forest in Montana, the Rocky Mountain front
range, Padre Island National Seashore, and most recently,
seismic equipment was actively probing for oil between Arches
National and Canyonlands National Parks in Utah.
This is all under the auspices of "oil independence" for
our country, and, over the next year, with the administration
absolutely gushing with hawkish prowess by picking a fight
with Sadaam, I guarantee you will hear this mantra repeatedly.
The dogma of the right is to eschew all ties with conservation
or funding the exploration of alternative methods of energy
production. Their answer to our unquenchable thirst for petroleum
is to construct oil rigs in our national parks. So much for
our parks being "...open and well preserved." (Yosemite and
Yellowstone were overrated anyway, and besides, we've got
Ansel Adams pictures on the wall just in case we can't remember
what it looked like.)
We recently celebrated a conclusive victory in the Senate
regarding drilling in ANWR. This was the product of ferocious
lobbying by environmental groups and was hopefully a sign
of future hard ball that the left is willing to play, because
this is most definitely not last time this administration
will put Mother Nature way behind the wants and needs of industry.
The success of Democrats regarding ANWR was quite possibly
pay back for the harsh Congressional refusal to elevate fuel
efficiency standards for automobiles.
Had these new CAFE standards been adopted (a long shot due
to the bottomless millions that auto makers have spent trying
to kill it) roughly one million barrels of oil would have
been saved each and every day. This just happends to be the
exact amount of oil that we import from Iraq and Kuwait. So
much for self-sufficiency.
Regarding actual oil collection from drilling in ANWR; the
figures that everyone seems to be going on is that there is
an estimated 6-12 billion gallons of oil to be had from the
ground in Alaska. As a nation, we use about 7 billion gallons
per year with 2/3's (62%) of that being imported. Even if
we were to keep all of that oil for ourselves, (which no one
has guaranteed that we wouldn't sell it to the highest bidder
overseas) it would only alter our import figure down to 60%.
We all know where President Bush's loyalty lies. It's like
Molly Ivins says, "You gotta dance with those that brung you,"
and for G.W. Bush the line of handsome and well dressed suitors
waiting for the next waltz is long indeed.
politicsgrl is a nice, middle-class mother who lives in