Wednesday, June 6, 2007

The Clear Skies Initiative; the Early Days of George Bush's Love Affair with the Environment.

Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) once called global warming "the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people."

On the subject of hoaxes, maybe he should take a closer look at George Bush's 2002 proposal for limiting power plant emissions, a replacement of the Clean Air Act strategically titled the "Clear Skies Initiative."

Oh, wait. Inhofe sponsored this bill in the senate. Never mind, Jim. You already know what a scam it is.

Anyways, Bush has been making a lot of noise about global warming in recent weeks, an obvious attempt to appease European leaders in the days leading up to the G-8 Summit in Germany. Specifically, he has targeted China as a country where curbing carbon emissions is imperative. Indeed, China's rapid economic and concomitant industrial expansion will soon make it the world's largest producer of greenhouse gasses. This could potentially be catastrophic.

But for Bush's part, what has he done as the president of the world's current largest producer of airborn carbon? I've already mentioned in an earlier post his swift refusal to sign the Kyoto Protocol. Another dubious landmark was his refusal to sign the EPA's 2001 Clear Skies Act, which would have drastically reduced power plant emissions by the year 2012.

Instead the administration proposed an alternative plan, its own version of the Clear Skies Act, which a cursory examination reveals to be a complete and utter boondoggle.

Not only were the administration's proposed standards far looser than the EPA's, the Clear Skies Initiative, if enacted, would allow more toxic emissions than are allowed under the proper enforcement of existing laws. Seems pretty bizarre to me, too. I mean, how is it possible that the data presented by the administration showed significant reductions in the production of toxic air pollution? Were they lying? Of course they were! Their data was calculated under the assumption that the EPA does nothing to enforce existing laws. This is false.

In fact, the Clear Skies Initiative, which is fortunately stalled in congress, constitutes a drastic rollback of the Clean Air Act. If signed into law, it would send emissions standards back to pre-Nixon levels. That's a backward jump of more than forty years that our choking skies (and citizens) would not be able to withstand. Not convinced? Check out the National Resource Defence Council's David G. Hawkins' testimony to the senate. Hawkins dissects the Bush plan in far more detail than I possibly could. For lighter NRDC reading, click here. You can also see what the Sierra Club has to say. Hell, he even managed to piss off the Atlantic Salmon Federation! The more you dig into this thing, the more you realize that Bush's version of the Clear Skies Act is really just a blank cheque for the nation's worst polluters.

There is little question as to why Bush, who is beholden to the energy industry, would endorse such a plan. The question is: why should we believe that this man, who has done everything in his power to scuttle environmental reforms, has had a sudden change of heart? European leaders at the G-8 should be skeptical of this new green streak, and they would be right in asking Bush what he's looking for in return.

And when George Bush tells China it needs to enforce mandatory caps on toxic emissions, wouldn't China be justified in pointing at Bush's record and saying, up yours, pal? Sadly, at this critical time in human history, the Bush administration has little leverage as a leader in evironmentalism. Here's hoping the next administration takes a more honest and immediate stand.


PS: Read James Inhofe's touching farewell to bigot Jerry Falwell right here!

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