by John Byrne Barry
It’s a new year, time
to take stock of your relationship with your president.
What’s ahead? A ring—or couples’ counseling? How did it
feel seeing him over the holidays? What do your friends think?
Check out our seven warning signs and see how your relationship stacks
1. He says one thing, does another.
He tells you he is going to reduce air pollution, but his administration
allows old, dirty power plants and refineries to expand without installing
pollution-control technology. He tells you he is going to protect communities
from forest fires,
but it’s actually a ruse to open up national forests to logging. He warns
you about high mercury levels in fish, but won’t recommend tighter
controls on mercury emissions.
2. He won’t introduce you to his friends.
Actually, he won’t even tell you who his friends are. His energy task force,chaired
by Vice President Cheney, drafted a national energy plan in secret in 2001. Lobbyists
from the fossil fuel industry participated in these meetings, but consumer and
environmental groups were shut out. And two years later, despite lawsuits filed
by the Sierra Club and others, we still don’t know who the
task force members were.
3. He lets his friends make a mess and not clean up after themselves.
He allows polluters to break the law and go unpunished. For example,
in November, in what was essentially a presidential pardon for
polluters, the administration
announced it would drop cases involving 50 plants and refineries
violated the Clean Air Act. The administration also refused to
reauthorize the "polluter-pays" provision
of the Superfund toxic-waste cleanup, forcing taxpayers to pay
cleanup costs. He is the first president in history not to put
in the budget.
4. He spends your nest egg and plunges you into debt.
And of course, this means cuts in natural resource spending, cuts in enforcement
of environmental laws, and so on. One small example: The EPA cut by one-third
the operating budget of Energy Star, its highly touted energy conservation
program, that gives a federal government seal of approval for energy-efficient
and other appliances. And he gives no incentives for existing technologies
that would clean up power plants or make cars more fuel efficient.
5. He tells you everything is fine when it isn’t.
After 9/11, the White House instructed the EPA to hide potential health
risks in Lower Manhattan from the World Trade Center collapse.
The EPA said the air
at ground zero was safe to breathe, despite the presence of high
levels of benzene, lead, mercury, PCBs, and asbestos.
6. He doesn’t believe in using birth control.
Domestically, he’s pledged to increase funding for abstinence-only sex
education programs, where contraception is only discussed in
terms of failure rates. On the international level, the administration rescinded
$34 million for
family planning programs abroad. It also brought back the Reagan-era "global
gag rule," which bars international family planning organizations
that receive U.S. funds from using their own money to provide
abortions or even
abortions with their patients.
7. You want a hybrid; he wants a Hummer.
Not only that, his administration gave a $100,000 tax deduction
to small-business owners who purchase sport-utility vehicles,
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