Friday, March 28, 2008

White House policies threaten planet?s health

Wolves in six Western states today leave federal protection and are consigned to the guardianship of the states, including Idaho, where packs were re-established.

Score one for a species that had disappeared from the West. But wolf reintroduction may turn out to be a singularly hollow success story.

Like the drip, drip, drip of Chinese water torture, the Bush administration seems to cook up new ways every year to threaten life on the planet as we know it.

Immediately after Vice President Cheney held closed-door meetings with energy industry leaders after Bush's inauguration, Americans saw abrupt steps backward in protecting air and water. Smokestack industries were relieved of cutting back on carbon dioxide and given waivers on installing expensive technologies to purify polluting emissions.

Lumber and mining industries were given access to public lands to extract minerals and whack down forests.

In addition, despite horrifying evidence of the deleterious effects on the planet's protective environmental cocoon by climate change, President Bush and Cheney continue to pooh-pooh the existence of global warming and resist remedies.

Now, the Bush administration has been called to task in lawsuits for deliberate efforts to eliminate new listings of endangered species and foot dragging in classifying new species threatened by extinction.

Deplorable is the only way to describe the White House's attitude toward protecting species.

Bush the younger has placed 59 species in seven years on the endangered list, whereas his father, President George H.W. Bush, and President Clinton averaged 58 and 62 species additions respectively in each of their years in office. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne has not listed a single species since taking office two years ago.

Stalling has resulted in extinction of several species during the Bush-Cheney years—including the Lake Sammamish kokanee, an inland lake sockeye salmon, and the Columbia Basin pygmy rabbit—after Interior officials declined to protect their habitat.

Interior officials admit that some 280 species should be added to the list, but The Washington Post quotes them as saying the delay is because they have more pressing priorities.

More pressing priorities? Is anything more pressing than stopping the advance toward an environmental doomsday for earth?

A flourishing wildlife kingdom is utterly essential for humankind's prosperity and survival. Allowing the extinction of species whose ancestors have inhabited the earth for eons because bureaucrats claim they're too busy is an affront to the intelligence of Americans and further testimony to this president's hardened indifference to the plight of the environment.

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