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News ::
Just Relax... (english)
02 Jan 2003
Executive orders from the Oval Office that could upset the balance between the economy and the environment? Sounds like something Bill Clinton would have done.
President Bush has let loose the war machine. The engines are fired up; the iron is hot for the striking. He has waited a long time for this, and so have the industries that grind out this sort of ugliness. The men who have their meaty fists wrapped around the controls of their devastating arsenals have spent many impatient months, sweating out the details, until Dubya finally decided that he doesn’t care what the people of this country think. He began the assault with an executive order on the last day of the year 2002. Let the battle, then, begin.

No, not in Iraq… Take off those blinders, sir or ma’am. Pay attention to what goes on in your own state, your own town and your own neighborhood. Particularly, be sure to assert some vigilance where your air quality is concerned, because the White House has directed the Environmental Protection Agency to ease pollution controls on a wide range of industries, such as coal-fired power plants, oil refineries and automobile factories. There is no doubt that this directive is in violation of the Clean Air Act, which was signed into law with a flourish in 1970 by a proud Richard Nixon.

Some will take a circuitous route when defending the indefensible. Bush’s people don’t even bother with such dancing. They simply come out and say exactly the opposite of the truth, and they tell the media to print it. Joe Martyak, some flunky from the EPA who had to step up because former Republican New Jersey governor Christie Todd Wittman dares not show her face as director in charge of America’s environment, said that the changes implemented by Bush “will be positive for the environment.” Okay. Next thing you know, they’ll be telling you the sky is brown and the grass is gone.

But nine state Attorney Generals have filed a lawsuit to block the President’s ruling, as it restricts the states’ rights to implement pollution reduction of their own, which could cause them to run afoul of other federal clean-air regulations. They contend that unleashing these industries (who just happen to be among the most generous of donors to the Republican Party) will increase the presence of smog and acid rain, and will aggravate or contribute to respiratory diseases, like asthma. But then, the Attorneys General of those states are all either elected or appointed Democrats, so of course their concern over the environment is some sort of political ploy. And out of the nine states, all fell to Gore on the 2000 election board, except for New Hampshire, which Bush won by just over 7,000 votes, capturing those four very important electoral college points. Being in the Northeast, those states are also in the path of the drifting winds as they bring all sorts of nice smog over from the steel mills and factories of the Ohio River Valley, states that generally supported Bush in 2000.

“There are those who would reach the conclusion that this appears to be more of a political step than based on other reasons,” said Martyak. And I am sure he’s quite right about that. He was talking about the filing of the lawsuit, though, which everyone should have seen coming. If they wanted to avoid charges of partisanship, why didn’t they do the right thing, and allow the Congress to review, and potentially make changes, to the Clean Air Act? Why this sudden, classic exhibition of what conservatives call Clintonian behavior by the President?

For their part, EPA and White House officials maintain – somehow – that the existing rules have actually prevented the industries from reducing their emissions, and that just relaxing things will really allow them to make a bunch of good changes, on their own, that will clean up the air and make them all better corporate citizens. Why, we have seen example after example in post-Industrial Revolutionary history of how that has worked in the past. It happened in… ah… well I guess we don’t know that it won’t happen that way unless we just try it out. What harm can there be in that?

Let’s explore that for a moment. The American Lung Association blames smog and microscopic soot for thousands of premature deaths annually, as well as for a significantly higher number of respiratory illnesses (the American Lung Association… God only knows what their underlying agenda might be). So, if Bush is wrong, and the erasing of a few lines from the Clean Air Act results in more pollution, killing a few hundred folks and reducing the quality of life for a few thousand others, those on the Right will have to say that those lives were sacrificed on the altar of the economy. But if “a terrorist” were to carry out a plan that caused that kind of human damage, there would sure as Hell be a death penalty handed down in the end.

War comes in many forms. George W. Bush is waging a personal war, a lifelong struggle some might say, with common sense, and with the American way. We will have now way of knowing, until it is too late, whether he wins or loses that war.
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