Friday, September 17, 2004

Former Republican Head of EPA Thrashes Bush On Environment

We all probably suspect by now that Bush will have the worst environmental record of any modern president. From Day One, he has set out to dismantle and undermine our environmental laws - endangering our children, and their children, and their children, and so on.

As an elite, super rich, out of touch, fortunate son, Bush probably doesn't think his children and their children will be effected. No, they'll build an ivory tower and a moat around Crawford and everything will be just dandy for the Bushies.

For the rest of us, however, the guy is a menace. Environmental consciousness is sanity, not lunacy or irrationality. We live in a complex ecology, built up for millenia. We have every reason to want to tread gently in our world - at least as gently as we can. Bush is like a drunken cowboy stomping through the tulips, when what we need is a persuasive leader who can lead the nation in the right direction, even if we're all not educated in the nuances of the particular policies.

With that in mind, this is a cogent statement, from a former head of the EPA and a Republican, who is shocked and appalled by Bush's (lack of) leadership and performance in regards to our environment.

One of the earliest heads of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and a lifelong Republican joined a group of Minnesota Republicans on Tuesday in a blistering attack against President Bush's environmental policies.

Russell Train, who headed the EPA under Presidents Nixon and Ford, called the Bush administration's environmental record over the past four years appalling and filled with paybacks to special interests.

In an interview and at a news conference at the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Train accused Bush of systematically weakening environmental laws, promoting reckless development on public lands and appointing people with conflicts of interests to key posts.

"He represents a turning back of the clock, environmentally,'' said Train, who, as national chairman of Conservationists for Bush in 1988, supported the environmental policies of Bush's father.

A turning back of the clock indeed. Like we're in a disturbing episode of the Twilight Zone. Kerry is right about Bush - our president lives in a fantasy world based upon John Wayne movies and Big Trouble In Little China, and meanwhile all our delicate ecological china is getting busted up.

We can't tolerate 4 more years of Bush, if only due to the lack of action that will take place on our environmental crises and challenges, not to mention the other global challenges we face, in regards to the global commons, that require urgent and cooperative action amongst individual, civil, state, and global actors.

Noone is less qualified to lead such an effort, or less likely to, than Bush.

"REP Minnesota exists to remind our party that if we are ever to find our way clear of a path toward further environmental degradation, Republicans must return our party to the conservative, conservationist tradition of Teddy Roosevelt and the bipartisan spirit of the 1960s and 1970s, which produced the majority of our modern environmental legislation,'' he said.

As the second EPA administrator, Train witnessed the creation of many of those laws. What he said he never witnessed was the widespread interference in regulatory decision-making that he said is being undertaken by the Bush administration.

"In my time, I do not ever recall ever having an instance of the White House telling me how to make a regulatory decision,'' said Train, who contends the public should be infuriated by the administration's willingness to use political muscle to make those scientific decisions.

The article ends with Train (who plans to vote for Kerry) puzzling over why the environment hasn't been a bigger issue and factor in the election so far, and why Kerry hasn't been highlighting "that to a greater advantage".

I'm wondering the same thing.


We don't necessarily need a big environmental agenda, per se, as its own issue. We just need to honor our environmental challenges, and integrate our ecological insights, into the other issues - embedded, interdependent, and synergistic - true to ecological form.

For instance, proposals for greatly stepping up public and private investment in alternative energy and renewables will strengthen the economy, by encouraging greater efficiency and productivity in energy and materials, not to mention being a big job growth engine.

Our security will be enhanced over the long run if we become more independent of energy imports from any particular world region, and better utilize the energy we do import in areas where local production is not feasible or economically viable.

Our health will be improved, and health care costs go down, if we assure ourselves cleaner air and water, protecting ourselves and our children from modern diseases like asthma, not to mention cancers, ADHD, and depression, among other ailments likely caused by the rampant and disregulated dumping of chemicals into our environment.

All of these operating together, in a positive synergy, aren't stifling our economy and vibrance as a society, they're making us fitter and more innovative. This isn't old-school "tree-hugging" we're talking about, but new school economics and natural capitalism. We need to be able to step up and compete in the global economy while at the same time being able to participate and cooperate in the challenges and crises of the global commons.

This is how we go forward and do that. By integrating ecological and scientific insights into our way of life, day to day and over the long term, instead of stifling and distorting science and information for ideological and political purposes, and in favor of special interests, like the Bush Administration.