Far, far away, past the gently swaying palm trees, over the kelp forests and the sea otters, past the oil rigs that light up like Christmas trees every night, lies my homeland, a wonderful place that goes by the name of the United Kingdom. In far too many ways to go into right now, that name is very misleading. There is however one thing that does unite most people in my great nation: We Don’t Like George W. Bush.
Having been in California for just over a month now, I have come to reassess this narrow-minded condemnation; in fact I’d go as far as to say that I think Bush is a really great guy. Please allow me to explain.
I have a great interest in the environment. After Bush pulled out of the Kyoto Protocol in March 2001, thus virtually destroying the first real chance the world had to combat global warming, I was somewhat devastated. Two months later, when he first unveiled plans to drill for oil in the Alaskan wilderness, I couldn’t quite believe it. By last June, when his administration blocked an international agreement to save millions of lives through providing sanitation and clean water to the two-fifths of the population that currently lack it, I was starting to get quite pissed off. So imagine my surprise when I learned that Bush is going to clean up the skies and save the forests.
The Healthy Forests Initiative is a truly innovative approach to preserving the U.S.’s forests: cutting them down. Now, I was initially wary of this proposal until I read the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture website, where I was reliably informed that this was intended to save them from “environmentally destructive wildfires.” I had always been taught in my ecology classes that wildfires are essential to maintain forest habitats, but I bow down to the renowned and unbiased knowledge of Bush’s scientific advisers. I now understand why opening 20 million acres of forests, including protected wilderness areas, to logging is definitely the best way to make forests healthier.
The Clear Skies Initiative is another hidden gem in Bush’s constant drive toward environmental improvements. The Washington Post clearly had no idea what it was talking about when it called the proposal “the most sweeping move in decades to loosen air pollution rules.” The plan will remove the tiresome red tape of the current Clean Air Act that prevents the country’s biggest energy producers from doing their job efficiently.
The central premise of the current Clean Air Act is that the 17,000 or so old industrial facilities with antiquated air pollution control are not allowed to expand or modernize without adopting new pollution controls. They should therefore, in theory at least, gradually be replaced by new, cleaner facilities. The only legal review with the power to sue power plants if they don’t comply is known as the New Source Review. This nasty provision is what the Clear Skies Initiative will thankfully do away with, giving Californian industries complete freedom to continue releasing 40 million tons of pollution every year.
In addition, the Clear Skies Initiative will protect the health of power plant managers by extending deadlines for scheduled reduction of major pollutants, such as sulfur dioxide, and containing no measures to reduce carbon dioxide, thus lowering their intolerably high stress levels.
I don’t quite understand why Bush feels that he has to debate these proposals on Fridays and public holidays, when media attention is at its lowest. I think he should be proud of all he has done to help the environment of this magnificent country. I only wish I were allowed to vote for him. However if for some peculiar reason you don’t agree with me then feel free to call your senators Barbara Boxer at (202) 224-3553 or Dianne Feinstein at (202) 224-3821 and tell them to lead the charge against the accurately-titled Clear Skies and Healthy Forests Initiatives. You are living in a democracy after all. And if you feel strongly about these issues you may want to join CalPIRG’s Environmental Alert campaign and learn more about the wonders of sarcasm.
Lucy Hellier is an EAP student at UCSB and is a junior environmental studies major.