MARIN COUNTY'S NEWS
MONTHLY - FREE PRESS
(415)868-1600 - (415)868-0502(fax) - P.O. Box 31, Bolinas, CA, 94924
George Bush's Cynical Miscalculations Undermine Environmental Protection
By Will Muir
On Tuesday, February 21, the day after most people returned from a relaxing President's Day weekend, Colorado residents were treated to yet another linguistic fox-trot as Bush championed his commitment to alternative energy technologies and fuel efficiency. In his address, the president claimed that his administration "fully supports" alternative energy programs and is "proud of US inventiveness in weaning America from foreign suppliers of petroleum products." What he failed to mention to Coloradans is that his repeal of fuel efficiency standards for autos has seriously eroded the gains made in the 1990s and reduced incentives for auto manufacturers to wring more miles-per-gallon from their products. In fact, Bush completely dismantled California Automotive Fuel Efficiency standards that would have increased fleet efficiency requirements by over 15% in the next five years.
Other parts of his energy independence program include the highly controversial decision to begin oil exploration in the most sensitive wildlife habitat in North America, increased tax incentives for SUV's weighing in excess of 3 tons, off-shore drilling liberalization in several Gulf and Atlantic seaboard states, and plans to increase drilling and mining in national forests. Where is the commitment to alternative energy production?
There is a commitment, he says, to developing hydrogen powered cars, but most experts agree that a commercially viable product is at least 10 year away. He has promised tax incentives for the production of ethanol, but that would actually increase the cost of many food products such as corn and soybeans, if the incentives are successful at diverting basic vegetable farming to the huge ethanol producers such as Archer Daniels Midland. ADM is currently America's largest producer of ethanol, a mega million dollar windfall for an already profitable corporation.
In fact, Marin County currently has more cash incentives for solar retrofits ($500), and woodstove upgrades ($500) than any federal agency. Additionally, the recently announced Million Solar Roofs program in California provides generous subsidies that could cover as much as 30% of the cost of a typical solar-electricity system, and 15% of the cost of a hydronic (hot water) heating system to a typical homeowner.
When combined with Bush's dismantling of the Endangered Species Act, Roadless Areas in National Parks, increased logging in National Forests and even Sequoia National Park; this administration has been nothing less than an Ecocatastrophe.
Luckily, Coloradans are fiercely devoted to their National Parks and the beauty of the Rocky Mountains and surrounding National Forests. Let us hope they are as skeptical, as Bush is cynical when he reminded them of his commitment. If he really believed that, he would be a candidate for commitment to a facility that could provide the treatment he so richly deserves. Perhaps he would even take up Quayle hunting with Dick Cheney!
Nature never did betray the heart that loved her. -Nathaniel Hawthorne
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