FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Dick Cheney and the Environment

Vice President Dick Cheney is a dinosaur living in the age of mammals. Imagine a public official uttering the following:

“Conservation may be a sign of personal virtue, but it is not a sufficient basis for a sound, comprehensive energy policy.

“We … safeguard the environment by making greater use of the cleanest methods of power generation we know…. that is nuclear power.

“The notion that somehow developing the resources in ANWR [Arctic National Wildlife Reserve] requires a vast despoiling of the environment is provably false.”

It is time for the American people to insist Mr. Cheney stop talking nonsense and to tell Mr. Cheney and his fellow “oil man” President Bush that they have to wean themselves from the economically and environmentally costly energy policies that keep taxpayers, consumers and environmentalists hooked on oil coal and nuclear power.

Federal policy over the past century has largely failed to promote an energy system based on safe, secure, economically affordable, and environmentally benign energy sources. The tax code, budget appropriations, and regulatory processes overwhelmingly have been used to subsidize dependence on fossil fuels and nuclear power. The result: increased sickness and premature deaths, depleted family budgets, acid rain destruction of lakes, forests, and crops, oil spill contamination, polluted rivers and loss of aquatic species and the long-term peril of climate change and radioactive waste dumpsonot to mention a dependency on external energy supplies.

There is an alternative. Three decades of detailed assessments, on-the-ground results, and research and development innovations in the energy-consuming devices used in our buildings, vehicles and industries undeniably show that energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies are superior energy options for society. They offer a present and future path that is economically attractive, safe and secure from large-scale or long-term risks or threats to public health, future generations, and the environment.

But embarking on that path requires overcoming the power of the oil, nuclear and other conventional fuel industries to which both the Republicans and Democrats are indentured. Under the thumb of the dirty fuel industries, Congress and the Executive branch have refused to adopt even the most modest, common sense measures. For example, when the President’s Committee of Advisors on Science and Technology concluded in a 1997 report that doubling the Department of Energy’s efficiency R&D funding would produce a 40 to 1 return on the investment for the nation, Congress responded by proposing deep cuts in the efficiency and renewables R&D budgets.

The Clinton/Gore Administration nod to increased energy efficiency relied largely on corporate welfare. Rather than push for an increase in auto fuel-efficiency standards, the Administration established the Partnership for a New Generation of Vehicles (PNGV). PNGV is a $1.5 billion subsidy program for the Big Three auto companies that has done nothing to improve auto fuel efficiency but has served as a convenient smokescreen behind which the industry has been able to fend off new regulatory requirements for more efficient cars.

Energy Innovations: A Prosperous Path to a Clean Environment, a joint study prepared by half a dozen of the nation’s prominent energy and environmental research and advocacy groups, shows that a handful of simple and straightforward measures could produce a significant reduction in sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions (prime cause of acid rain) by 2010, compared to 1990 levels and nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions (a key precursor of ground-level ozone, smog) as well as deep cuts in emissions of other damaging pollutants, including fine particles, toxic metals like mercury and hydrocarbons, and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.

President Bush could establish the United States as the model for other countries by adopting a sustainable energy policy that includes:

Ending fossil fuel and nuclear corporate welfare supports, including numerous special tax preferences. Launching a robust federal research and development program in sustainable renewable energy sources, so that the energy-independence promises of wind, solar and other forms of renewable energy are finally realized. Increasing auto fuel efficiency standards (at least to 45 miles per gallon for cars and 35 miles per gallon for light trucks, to be phased in over five years) during a transition period to zero-emissions cars. Adopting stronger efficiency standards for appliances and mandatory energy performance building codes. Ensuring electricity policies which promote efficient use of electricity through a range of measures including “net metering” requirements that companies pay market prices for electricity generated by consumers and passed back to the utility and elimination of clean air exemptions for “grandfathered” fossil fuel facilities. Establishing a well-funded employee transition assistance fund and job-retraining program for displaced coal miners’ easily affordable with the savings from greater energy efficiency. Our country has more problems than it deserves and more solutions than it uses. It is time for the United States to stop letting Exxon-Mobil, Peabody Coal and Westinghouse shape our energy policy and for our misguided elected officials to adopt an energy strategy based on clean renewable energy and conservation. Future generations will thank us for curbing our fossil fuel appetite.

 

 

More articles by:

Ralph Nader is a consumer advocate, lawyer and author of Only the Super-Rich Can Save Us! 

Weekend Edition
July 20, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Paul Atwood
Peace or Armageddon: Take Your Pick
Paul Street
No Liberal Rallies Yet for the Children of Yemen
Nick Pemberton
The Bipartisan War on Central and South American Women
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Are You Putin Me On?
Andrew Levine
Sovereignty: What Is It Good For? 
Brian Cloughley
The Trump/NATO Debacle and the Profit Motive
David Rosen
Trump’s Supreme Pick Escalates America’s War on Sex 
Melvin Goodman
Montenegro and the “Manchurian Candidate”
Salvador Rangel
“These Are Not Our Kids”: The Racial Capitalism of Caging Children at the Border
Matthew Stevenson
Going Home Again to Trump’s America
Louis Proyect
Jeremy Corbyn, Bernie Sanders and the Dilemmas of the Left
Patrick Cockburn
Iraqi Protests: “Bad Government, Bad Roads, Bad Weather, Bad People”
Robert Fantina
Has It Really Come to This?
Russell Mokhiber
Kristin Lawless on the Corporate Takeover of the American Kitchen
John W. Whitehead
It’s All Fake: Reality TV That Masquerades as American Politics
Patrick Bobilin
In Your Period Piece, I Would be the Help
Ramzy Baroud
The Massacre of Inn Din: How Rohingya Are Lynched and Held Responsible
Robert Fisk
How Weapons Made in Bosnia Fueled Syria’s Bleak Civil War
Gary Leupp
Trump’s Helsinki Press Conference and Public Disgrace
Josh Hoxie
Our Missing $10 Trillion
Martha Rosenberg
Pharma “Screening” Is a Ploy to Seize More Patients
Basav Sen
Brett Kavanaugh Would be a Disaster for the Climate
David Lau
The Origins of Local AFT 4400: a Profile of Julie Olsen Edwards
Rohullah Naderi
The Elusive Pursuit of Peace by Afghanistan
Binoy Kampmark
Shaking Establishments: The Ocasio-Cortez Effect
John Laforge
18 Protesters Cut Into German Air Base to Protest US Nuclear Weapons Deployment
Christopher Brauchli
Trump and the Swedish Question
Chia-Chia Wang
Local Police Shouldn’t Collaborate With ICE
Paul Lyons
YouTube’s Content ID – A Case Study
Jill Richardson
Soon You Won’t be Able to Use Food Stamps at Farmers’ Markets, But That’s Not the Half of It
Kevin MacKay
Climate Change is Proving Worse Than We Imagined, So Why Aren’t We Confronting its Root Cause?
Thomas Knapp
Elections: More than Half of Americans Believe Fairy Tales are Real
Ralph Nader
Warner Slack—Doctor for the People Forever
Lee Ballinger
Soccer, Baseball and Immigration
Louis Yako
Celebrating the Wounds of Exile with Poetry
Ron Jacobs
Working Class Fiction—Not Just Surplus Value
Perry Hoberman
You Can’t Vote Out Fascism… You Have to Drive It From Power!
Robert Koehler
Guns and Racism, on the Rocks
Nyla Ali Khan
Kashmir: Implementation with Integrity and Will to Resolve
Justin Anderson
Elon Musk vs. the Media
Graham Peebles
A Time of Hope for Ethiopia
Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
Homophobia in the Service of Anti-Trumpism is Still Homophobic (Even When it’s the New York Times)
Martin Billheimer
Childhood, Ferocious Sleep
David Yearsley
The Glories of the Grammophone
Tom Clark
Gameplanning the Patriotic Retributive Attack on Montenegro
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail