Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Parting gifts

While President-elect Obama is busy putting together an administration, George W. Bush is on his way out, and you can almost hear a game show host directing his sidekick to "tell them what they won, Bob."

As parting gifts, President Bush is leaving us with his determination to deregulate everything he possibly can in his closing days in the White House. The Eagles once wrote a song called "The Last Resort" which prophetically laid out those policies which Bush is espousing: "Some rich men came and raped the land. Nobody caught 'em."
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party has worshipped at the altar of big business. Bush's only consideration in enacting these measures to deregulate anything and everything is the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar to pad the corporate bottom line. This is a blatant attempt to further line the pockets of corporate cronies at the expense of public safety.

How would you like uranium mining, just 5 miles from the Grand Canyon?

The Bush administration is rushing forward with plans to mine the Grand Canyon for uranium, ignoring a command from Congress to cease such operations. Since 2003, mining interests have staked out over 800 uranium claims within five miles of Grand Canyon National Park. As Mineweb reports, "The Bureau of Land Management has published a proposed rule which rejects the House Natural Resources Emergency Resolution enacted in June that bans uranium mining and exploration near the Grand Canyon National Park."


The proposed BLM rule would not only reject the House's emergency withdrawal of over 1 million acres of federal land near Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining, but also eliminate the provisions that allow Congress to make such withdrawals in the future. The proposed rule, published on Friday, has a remarkably short comment period, closing in less than two weeks on October 27.

Not only would the scenic beauty of the area be compromised by mining, but the Colorado River is a huge water source for Western states. Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles all use the Colorado River as a source for drinking water. How about some radioactive toxins in your water? And that's not to mention the effect the mining will have on Native Americans or the wildlife that live in and around the Grand Canyon. Does this sound like good public policy to you?

Following Sarah Palin's call to "drill, baby, drill", President Bush is also proposing to open up protected areas of Utah wilderness to oil and gas companies.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development, according to a notice posted this week on the agency's Web site.

The proposed sale, which includes famous areas in the Nine Mile Canyon region, would take place Dec. 19, a month before President Bush leaves office. The targeted areas include parts of Desolation Canyon, White River, Diamond Mountain and Bourdette Draw.

The bureau has sought to open these public lands to energy exploration since 2003, though it had earlier classified them as having "wilderness character." But the agency has been repeatedly blocked by federal court and administrative rulings. [emphasis mine]

Since when has a court or administrative ruling (or some piece of paper called the Constitution, for that matter) stopped Bush and company from trying to implement one of its corporatist or warmongering policies? Laws, they don't need no stinking laws.

In both cases, that of mining in the Grand Canyon and of opening up Utah Wilderness to oil and gas exploration and drilling, you'd think Westerners would have an ally in Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the former governor of Idaho which also has some pristine areas and people who care about their quality of life. But in the case of Kempthorne, you'd be wrong.

Seeing the writing on the wall, with regard to the Bush administration's impending finality, Kempthorne is giving Bush an assist and serving his corporate masters, ensuring that he'll find gainful employment when his stint as Secretary of the Interior is over.

Apparently, it hasn't been enough to tank the economy by deregulating the energy industy (think Enron) or the financial services industry (Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers). Bush and the corporate fat cats are trying to finish the job and finish you off in the process.


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