Monday, May 21, 2007

Absent Courage

Sorry that posts have been so scarce lately. My road trip will be over in a week and significant entries will follow shortly thereafter.

I'm still keeping up with the news while on the road, and I found an article that I wanted to promote while I have a moment of internet access.

If you've spent any time at all reading this blog, then you know that climate change is a topic that I hit fairly often. Just when I think I don't have anything more to say, something new comes up that I feel compelled to comment on.

The latest is today's op-ed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Continued remarks on the President's questionable skepticism of the science and/or the need for further research seem almost futile at this point, and this is not why I am writing. Though Gov. Schwarzenegger expresses this frustration quite directly in his essay, he raises a new problem with the President's policies that I was not previously aware of: the EPA's decision to block progressive legislation by the states.

Specifically, California and 10 other states have decided to enact tougher tailpipe emission standards. Schwarzenegger's justifies this action with the following words:

Since transportation accounts for one-third of America's greenhouse gas
emissions, enacting these standards would be a huge step forward in our efforts
to clean the environment and would show the rest of the world that our nation is
serious about fighting global warming.

He then outlines the reason I am writing:

...for the past 16 months, the Environmental Protection Agency has refused to
give us permission to do so. Even after the Supreme Court ruled in our favor last month, the federal government continues to stand in our way.

This could not be more unacceptable. Apparently, President Bush has given the EPA until the end of 2008 "to continue studying the threat of greenhouse gas emissions and determine what can be done about them".

It's one thing for President Bush to avoid tough action on global warming (how convenient that "studies" will not be complete until he leaves office). It would have difficult political implications and, if done meaningfully, would not be well received by the oil companies to which he and many in his Administration have numerous personal connections.

But it is entirely another for him to block states taking action on their own. This is simply unjustifiable and I applaud Schwarzenegger for publicly calling him out on it.

I am still willing and able to give President Bush credit when he deserves it and I think that he has demonstrated some substantial political courage on occasion as President. For example, he genuinely tried to financially secure social security. He is sustaining increasing scorn for his refusal to abandon Iraq and he has rejected the ultra-conservatives in his party that refuse to consider a humane immigration reform policy. While one could argue the merits of any of these examples, it is difficult to fairly say that they did not take political courage.

But this courage is no where to be found on climate change... and its absence is jeopardizing our future.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

History will not be kind to this President. We're getting the tip of the iceberg now. Decades hence, we're going to find out about all sorts of things that are going to make Nixon look like Gandhi.

It's nice to see the Republican Party coming back from total brain death, though.