Democrats & Liberals Archives

The Bait And Switch Continues

Just as the Bush administration used 9/11 fears to whip up support for attacking Iraq, and the 2003 California wildfires as an excuse to cut down healthy forests far from populated areas (homeowners still suffer from massive wildfires every year), they’re now using gasoline price spikes caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to roll back regulations that keep our air clean and our country beautiful and livable.

Republicans want to open up, not just the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, but our beautiful coastlines to oil drilling. The new legislation would also "prevent local officials from having a say in refinery siting and would clear the way for the Bush administration to allow not only refineries, but also coal-burning power plants, to expand without having to install new air pollution controls."

Here's the big problem: None of these measures is going to solve our energy problems. They're not going to bring down the price of gas, and they're not going to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. The age of cheap gasoline is over, and opening up the ANWR -- the last large oil field in the US -- will only reduce our dependence on foreign oil by 4% about ten years after the start of drilling.

In the mean time, Americans have a lifestyle to maintain and we'll burn anything to keep our refrigerators and cars running as long as it's cheap. We will slide backwards to maintain our way of life -- rolling back all the gains we've made on clean air and clean water -- because it's the easy path. Every step will seem reasonable and justified, until one day we wake up to our kids hacking their lungs out and unable to find our coal-powered cars through the smog and we'll ask "How did it come to this?"

I'm not just throwing out a hypothetical slippery slope argument either. The retrograde move has already started. To bring down the price of gas, President Bush suspended gasoline regulations responsible for the clean air we enjoy today. Does anyone think Republicans will reinstate those clean air measures? And even if they wanted to, the public outcry against "raising" gasoline prices would make it politically difficult, if not impossible.

Becoming more reliant on oil is not the solution to our current and future energy needs. Rather than "temporarily" rolling back environmental regulations and subsidizing new refineries and drilling that won't make any significant difference, President Bush should wage a major two-pronged offensive to rapidly commercialize alternative energy sources and to make more efficient use of the energy we have.

Posted by American Pundit at October 3, 2005 11:18 AM