Jewish World Review April 26, 2001 / 4 Iyar, 5761
Dan K. Thomasson
Just how close he is to being accurate is clear from the hysterical pummeling the Bush administration has received for even suggesting that government regulations should balance the needs of the environment with those of humans, who after all, occupy it along with the trees and rocks and plants and lower animals.
Bill Clinton, wherever he is these days, must be holding his sides with glee at the mischief he has inflicted on his successor with a series of eleventh hour actions that shut off half of America to development.
Even George Bush's decision to officially declare that the notorious Kyoto Treaty on global warming was being abandoned brought howls of protest from Democrats and environmentalists. Apparently forgotten was the fact that the U.S. Senate, in a 95 to 0 vote, had passed a resolution condemning it as unacceptable long before Bush ever moved into the Oval office. Some of the loudest protesters to the president's announcement had voted for the resolution.
Adding to the firestorm has been the decision to review a last-minute Clinton regulation that considerably lowered the level of arsenic in drinking water, a desirable goal. Democrats and their allies immediately accused the administration of callously disregarding the health of Americans for business interests despite the fact that Environmental Protection Agency chief Christine Todd Whitman said the delay was necessary to assess the overall impact of the regulation from a variety of standpoints, including costs which could be hundreds of millions of dollars in some areas where entire new water systems would have to be developed. Her pledges that the administration is dedicated to lowering the levels largely have been ignored.
But then so has the fact that the regulations wouldn't even go into effect for a number of years.
It is this constant twisting of the facts and disregard for any balanced discourse that is most disturbing about the environmental movement, which lives and dies on pure emotion. Bush's refusal to rule out energy development of huge reserves in Alaska and elsewhere is a case in point. The careful, controlled exploitation of our resources below the ground - while making sure we protect those above it - may be the only true way of reducing our dependence on foreign sources. Opponents of this policy are unconvincing in their arguments for alternatives. Like what? Ethanol, perhaps? Anyone unaware of that boondoggle has had his head stuck in tar sand or oil shale.
A crisis in electricity generation has breathed new life into the country's almost moribund nuclear power industry. But one can only wonder what happens when the anti-nuclear anything forces, who helped stifle it with a morass of often unreasonable environmental red tape, take over again.
Democrats, needing an issue, have seized on early Bush actions to paint the new president as the pawn of special interest capitalists whose sole aim is to rape the environment for profit, interpreting every indication to the contrary as insincere and politically motivated.
For instance the president this month endorsed two Clinton regulations that were bitterly opposed by his supposed allies in business. One extended EPA authority over constructions and excavation in or near wetlands that might result in harmful discharges. The other greatly expanded the number of businesses that must report toxic lead emissions from their operations.
The response of environmentalists was to call it a welcome surprise, but then to immediately question how vigorously the Bush administration actually would enforce the regulations. Those same questions, however, never seem to be raised about Clinton's motives. For seven and one half years of his tenure, Clinton did little or nothing to forward these causes. During the last six months with Congress and the nation preoccupied with a presidential election, he salted the countryside with regulatory land mines. How many still is being determined.
It would do those who really care about the overall needs of this planet
and not just their own small area of interest to reduce the hysterical,
inflammatory rhetoric and realize they too, like the environment, can be
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