Bush's 'different kind' of environmentalism
By Steve Farrell
The lesser of two evils. That's the closest thing to a legitimate excuse for why rationale, conservative minded people are planning on voting for George W. Bush for President, and why they will not just walk away from a Republican Party which looks more like its rival, and less like a home for Americanists, each and every day.
Admitted, for a Republican, the thought of Al Gore inspires nightmares of an America without cars, and of a White House which resembles the Kremlin. But then if Wednesday's speech by George W. Bush is the genuine article, they ought to be wondering, how is it that George W. Bush won't inspire some of the same nightmares?
It was up in the sacred salmon spawning grounds of the State of Washington where surrounded by majestic pines and clear water ponds that George W. repeated that disturbing self-caricature "I'm a different kind of Republican."
He's different, he's been telling America. He is charitable; Republicans are not. He is tolerant; Republicans are not. He believes in government; Republicans do not. And, this time around, he loves the environment; Republicans do not. The man sure knows how to insult his own. But worse then the insult itself, is the fact that he really means it!
His stand on the environment is a case in point. Republicans have been hollering for eight years about the current administrations environmental fear mongering, about its stroke of the pen law of the land Clean Air Act, and above all else, about its land grabbing. But Republicans ought to know. George W. Bush says the Democrats have not done enough, and he promises to do more. He, not Al Gore, he promises, will be the next environmental President.
Some of his propositions:
A vow to push Congress to appropriate an additional 4. 9 billion dollars over five years to pay for a backlog of projects to fix deteriorating highways, repair leaky roofs at tourist attractions, and purify polluted streams in national parks.
A vow to double the current budget for the Natural Resource Challenge, to spur the protection and management of natural resources, including animals and plants.
A vow to spend 100 million dollars over five years to hire scientists for the National Park Service.
A vow to hand 20 million dollars to the people of the State of Washington to finance watershed projects to improve the waters critical to spawning salmon.
But he doesn't stop there, subsequent press releases, and issue statements posted at his campaign website reveal some other vows.
A vow to establish "a $50 million Landowner Incentive Program for states to help private landowners protect rare species while engaging in traditional land management practices."
A vow to establish "a $10 million Private Stewardship Grant Program to provide federal funding for private conservation initiatives."
A vow to establish "the President's Awards for Private Stewardship to recognize and honor the best examples of private conservation."
A vow to establish "a tax incentive to provide 50 percent capital gains tax relief for private landowners who voluntarily sell their land for conservation purposes."
Can you hear it now? Ka-ching! Ka-ching! Ka-ching!
But there's more. He wants folks to know, that as a "different type of Republican" he believes in global warming, he believes in a moratorium on new leases for off-shore oil and gas drilling, he believes in the "stroke of the pen, law of the land" new Clean Air Act, and he believes in the governments right and need to grab land.
But let's be fair, he does have his selling points on the environment. For instance:
He opposes the Kyoto Protocol. That's comforting. Except for this, he calls it "inadequate."
He wants the federal government to be forced to obey its own environmental standards. That's comforting. Except for this, Ka-ching!
He is opposed to confiscating land for-in-behalf of the federal government without first consulting with others, that is, the states and private property owners. Except for this; he's still going to take the land.
Bush reflected: "America's first environmental president, Theodore Roosevelt, talked of the value of 'silent places, unworn by man.' These places inspired him -- and he inspired our government to protect them. I view protecting America's 'silent places' as an ongoing responsibility, a shared commitment of the American people and our government."
And while he's "a different kind of Republican," he also claims to be "different from Democrats" on the environment, at least in this respect: He wants more local involvement, more local administration of environmental programs, more government incentives to reward landowners to cough up the land, and more "private" initiatives to creatively manage our resources under a high-tech paradigm. That's comforting too; except that he wants stricter federal guidelines, significantly more federal money, and he refuses to address one very simple question:
What do you call a conservative private conservation group, or a local government entity which becomes dependent upon federal money via partnerships and grants? Answer: An agent of the federal government.
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