Jewish World Review August 22, 2001 / 3 Elul, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- PRESIDENT BUSH showed spirited common sense on environmental policies -- before he got elected. "I don't believe in command and control out of Washington, D.C.," Bush said during the second presidential debate last fall. "Not all wisdom is in Washington, D.C., on this issue," the Texas governor reminded eco-know-it-all Al Gore.
Bush could use that reminder himself. After campaigning to restore sound science, reason, and responsiveness to the regulatory process, the "Reformer with Results" is now standing by one of the dumbest, top-down environmental edicts on the books. It's enough to give the country a really unhealthy and expensive case of gas.
In 1990, Congress passed amendments to the federal Clean Air Act requiring certain highly-populated cities to mix oxygen-boosting additives to their gasoline. These oxygenates, either in the form of petroleum-based methyl tertiary butyl ether ( MTBE ) or corn-based ethanol, were supposed to make the reformulated gas burn cleaner. But the law -- signed by Bush's father to appease environmentalists -- failed to produce its promised results. Instead, it increased pollution, raised gas prices, and hampered states from experimenting with more cost-effective alternatives.
When California asked earlier this summer to be freed from the federal oxygenate requirement, arguing that it could make cleaner gas without using either MTBE or ethanol, the Bush administration denied the request. Who cares about devolution when the Iowa caucus is just three and half years away? A bipartisan effort in Congress to grant the waiver to California and other states also failed. So California filed suit last week.
It's a delicious irony to see California liberals decrying Big Government. But for once, they're right. Sound science didn't fuel this costly mandate. Political science -- in the form of heavy lobbying from Midwest corn growers and the deep-pocketed ethanol lobby -- did. The two federally-legislated additives have been a disaster:
Nevertheless, President Bush claims that ethanol is "good for our air."
he's fighting in court to force-feed it to the states and shove it down
tanks. The command-and-control culture in Washington lives on. Al Gore