Conservation vs. deceit about ‘energy crisis’
Commentary by PAT MURPHY
Is it naive to ask why is it that given the chance, the
Bush-Cheney White House will scoff at the environment and find ways to
roll back protections of Mother Earth?
Look at the record of just 100 days.
President Bush broke his campaign promise to impose
tougher carbon dioxide emission controls.
Had it not been for furor among Republicans, President
Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney would’ve abrogated testing for
salmonella in school lunches and tougher standards for arsenic in drinking
Bush and Cheney abandoned the Kyoto Treaty on global
warming, saying it was impractical. Impractical? The outer space missile
defense shield has been called impractical, too, but Bush-Cheney forge
briskly ahead with that scheme.
Bush and Cheney are crippling the Endangered Species Act
by stripping the Interior Department of funds to enforce court rulings.
And to legitimatize air and water pollution, Bush and
Cheney declared a national "energy crisis" and called for
waiving pollution standards to allow speedy construction of some 1,300
more power plants, digging up more coal and drilling for more oil.
And as a further rebuke, Bush and Cheney have essentially
pooh-poohed energy conservation as a sensible and profitable goal.
(I ascribe all this to "Bush and Cheney" since
credible evidence suggests that Bush, known for light thinking, merely
follows policies crafted by Cheney.)
Cynics can be excused for suspecting that Bush and Cheney,
both onetime oil men, are concocting ways for handing corporate cronies in
energy new riches in the guise of serving America’s energy needs.
Yet, because of overwhelming public support of
environmental concerns, conservation is a U.S. ethic ¾ among other
accomplishments, autos now average 20 mpg; urban air and water quality has
been improved dramatically; household appliances require less energy; use
of recycled newsprint for newspapers is soaring.
A study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
concludes that the federal government, the country’s largest energy user
with 500,000 buildings, could save $1 billion a year in energy costs by
investing $5.2 billion up front on energy-saving programs.
At Fort Polk, La., as an example, electricity during peak
hours reportedly fell 43 percent after new fluorescent lights and low-flow
showerheads were installed and geothermal heat pumps took over heating and
An example Bush and Cheney should understand: the huge
petroleum firm, Chevron, estimates savings of $100 million in energy costs
by unplugging from a Texas electricity grid and recycling waste heat from
its refinery into a generator.
Studies by several laboratories also conclude that energy
demand could be cut between 20 percent and 47 percent through government
research and incentives to use new technologies, thereby reducing by up to
half the Bush and Cheney demand for 1,300 new power plants.
As a final rebuke to their disdain of conservation, The
New York Times reports that President Bush has installed an
energy-saving heat pump system at his new Texas ranch and Vice President
Cheney’s official residence, the Naval Observatory, also uses heat
But neither has mentioned the energy conservation devices
in their homes as models of what can be done. Acknowledging the importance
of conservation might expose Bush and Cheney deceit about the "energy