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! 

January 15, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
Refugees Are in the English Channel Because of Western Interventions in the Middle East
Howard Lisnoff
The Faux Political System by the Numbers
Lawrence Davidson
Amos Oz and the Real Israel
John W. Whitehead
Beware the Emergency State
John Laforge
Loudmouths against Nuclear Lawlessness
Myles Hoenig
Labor in the Age of Trump
Jeff Cohen
Mainstream Media Bias on 2020 Democratic Race Already in High Gear
Dean Baker
Will Paying for Kidneys Reduce the Transplant Wait List?
George Ochenski
Trump’s Wall and the Montana Senate’s Theater of the Absurd
Binoy Kampmark
Dances of Disinformation: the Partisan Politics of the Integrity Initiative
Glenn Sacks
On the Picket Lines: Los Angeles Teachers Go On Strike for First Time in 30 Years
Jonah Raskin
Love in a Cold War Climate
Andrew Stewart
The Green New Deal Must be Centered on African American and Indigenous Workers to Differentiate Itself From the Democratic Party
January 14, 2019
Kenn Orphan
The Tears of Justin Trudeau
Julia Stein
California Needs a 10-Year Green New Deal
Dean Baker
Declining Birth Rates: Is the US in Danger of Running Out of People?
Robert Fisk
The US Media has Lost One of Its Sanest Voices on Military Matters
Vijay Prashad
5.5 Million Women Build Their Wall
Nicky Reid
Lessons From Rojava
Ted Rall
Here is the Progressive Agenda
Robert Koehler
A Green Future is One Without War
Gary Leupp
The Chickens Come Home to Roost….in Northern Syria
Glenn Sacks
LA Teachers’ Strike: “The Country Is Watching”
Sam Gordon
Who Are Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionists?
Weekend Edition
January 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Richard Moser
Neoliberalism: Free Market Fundamentalism or Corporate Power?
Paul Street
Bordering on Fascism: Scholars Reflect on Dangerous Times
Joseph Majerle III – Matthew Stevenson
Who or What Brought Down Dag Hammarskjöld?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Joshua Frank
How Tre Arrow Became America’s Most Wanted Environmental “Terrorist”
Andrew Levine
Dealbreakers: The Democrats, Trump and His Wall
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Que Syria, Syria
Dave Lindorff
A Potentially Tectonic Event Shakes up the Mumia Abu-Jamal Case
Nick Pemberton
There Are More Important Things Than The Truth
Brian Cloughley
How Trump’s Insults and Lies are Harming America
David Rosen
Sexual Predators in the Era of Trump
Tamara Pearson
Everything the Western Mainstream Media Outlets Get Wrong When Covering Poor Countries
Richard E. Rubenstein
Trump vs. the Anti-Trumps: It’s the System That Needs Changing Not Just the Personnel
Christopher Ketcham
A Walk in the Woods, Away from the Screens
Basav Sen
Democrats Failed Their First Big Test on Climate
Lauren Smith
Nicaragua – The Irony of the NICA Act Being Signed into Law by Trump
Joseph Natoli
Will Trumpism Outlive Trump?
Olivia Alperstein
The EPA Rule Change That Could Kill Thousands
Medea Benjamin – Alice Slater
The New Congress Needs to Create a Green Planet at Peace
Caoimhghin Ó Croidheáin
Cuba: Trump Turns the Vise
Ramzy Baroud
When Bolsonaro and Netanyahu Are ‘Brothers’: Why Brazil Should Shun the Israeli Model
Mitchell Zimmerman
Government by Extortion
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail