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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Nov 27 - Dec 3, 2002

Opinion Columns

Trifling with global warming

Commentary by PAT MURPHY

A sorry collection of corporate scoundrels created personal fortunes by cooking their company books. Now, oil refineries and electric utilities have the White House nod to legally cook the environment, in a manner of speaking, to increase their profits.

With congressional elections out of the way, President Bush is risk-free to uncork his plan for relaxing environmental rules.

How cynical is this policy? The White House arranged for a low level Environmental Protection Agency official to make the announcement while headlines concentrated on the president’s NATO meeting in Europe; EPA administrator Christie Whitman ducked the session to avoid answering questions, and cameras weren’t allowed.

In classic Bush doublespeak, the EPA insists that looser controls eventually will encourage improved air quality. Americans with memories know better: only after industry was dragged into complying with stiff new laws did air and water quality improve.

President Bush’s callousness about the environment is notorious. He abandoned the Kyoto treaty on global warming, insisting he wants "sound science" to prove global warming (although he rejected EPA research about global warming as the suspect work of "bureaucrats").

The truth is, Bush is repaying political benefactors in industry by sparing them the inconvenience of protecting the environment.

Now, as EPA relaxes air quality for utilities and refineries, a new two-year study by researchers at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the U.S. Geological Survey, the University of Washington and the U.S. Department of Energy predicts dark days in western states for the next 25 to 50 years because of global warming.

It predicts reduced snow packs; shrinking reservoir levels in the Colorado, Sacramento and Columbia river basins, and 40 percent less hydropower—all while exploding populations use more water. Note to Idaho: the study forecasts not enough water available for more people and salmon at the same time.

This sounds like the "sound science" Bush demands. It’ll be published in the journal, Climatic Change.

But just as Bill Clinton quibbled over the meaning of "is" when questioned under oath about his Monica Lewinsky peccadillo, Bush and his advisers—all archenemies of environmental laws and willing to shade the truth about industrial damage to air and water—have their own convenient idea of "sound science."

Even as Bush denies the existence of global warming, some corporate sharpies anticipate water shortages due to warming: companies are leaping into the hot new growth industry of privatizing water supplies.

They’re buying private water rights against the day that demand for drinking and cooking water will be so intense that one of humankind’s basic commodities will generate new fortunes for those who control the spigots.

What a mid-21st century spectacle: families at the mercy of corporations doling out dwindling water supplies at profits that keep Wall Street beaming.

By then, of course, President Bush and his cronies will be gone and won’t care whether they were right or wrong when they belittled global warming.

Their grandchildren will be left to write the history of how America’s 43rd president gambled on global warming and whether the country won or lost.

Tom Daschle once again proves he should be dumped as Democratic leader of the U.S. Senate.

On the eve of returning the Senate to Republican control, what’s Daschle’s important parting thought? Whining that mouthy radio talker and GOP shill Rush Limbaugh’s party line rants lead to threats against Democrats.

That’s not the message that Democrats complained they want to deliver to recapture public support. Daschle’s whimpering simply fueled Limbaugh’s appetite for more belittling tirades.

Daschle has become the Democratic equivalent of Republican Newt Gingrich, whose downfall as House Speaker began after he whined like a spoiled brat that President Clinton made him sit in the rear of Air Force One.



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