But clear skies are good, aren't they?
December 17, 2003 8:31 PM   Subscribe

The Bush administration's conservation policy: 'protecting the nation's environment', or you know, 'not'? [more inside]
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken (35 comments total)
While, according to some polls, a significant portion of the public believes the current American government to be doing enough to protect the environment, some, for reasons political or otherwise, would question the environmental good faith of an administration heavily funded by and seeded with oil company people and actually headed by a failed oil-industry businessman and governor of a state under whose tenure environmental conditions worsened dramatically. Others blame a kind of leaderless media slander campaign[pdf], and claim that the administration's policies are misunderstood, and that criticisms are being leveled for mere political advantage. Some argue that with the damage that has allegedly come as a result of the policies Bush's administration has implemented, he's the best thing to happen to the enviro-movement in ages, a conclusion that seems to lose the forest for the trees a bit, in my opinion.

Still, raw facts cannot really be argued. It has been suggested that were Al Gore to have been gifted with the presidency, nothing would be very different, and this, though deeply discouraging, may well be true. If it is true that voting for presidential candidates who are the rentboys of corporate-polluter interests is akin to very very slowly choking your children to death, what can be done? Or should we just give up and start building the biodomes now?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 8:32 PM on December 17, 2003

[this is good]
posted by Seth at 8:50 PM on December 17, 2003

[this is really good]
posted by Seth at 8:52 PM on December 17, 2003

Ok, one more thing.
Stav, after reading all the links, I like what you have done with this post. It is obvious how you feel about this issue, and that isn't a problem.
You put forth the effort to provide conflicting viewpoints and kept yourself from editorializing, for the most part, thus permitting a fruitful discussion.

I really hope people can see the difference between this post and the typical policy-post. Here you have collected a group of sources, which indepedent of each other may not be *the best* individually, but together they present a cross-section of information which makes it very useful to anyone who is interested in the issue. In short, it becomes the best of the web by its completeness.
posted by Seth at 8:59 PM on December 17, 2003

"Still, raw facts cannot really be argued."

Not to mention the appointment of Mike Leavitt as head of the EPA. You think Christie Todd Whitman was bad, well, you ain't seen nothin' yet.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:04 PM on December 17, 2003

goddamn u stav fucker. great post. the details are inside dammit.

Jeb has got a better enviromental record than his older brother. then again, we're talking about Florida and the Everglades. Funny how constituents can make all the difference. Being a president is almost like a season pass.
posted by poopy at 10:12 PM on December 17, 2003

Stavros - That's a piece of work....23 links. An avalanche. I bare teeth and snap respectfully in your direction.

*snap! snap snap!!*

Humans (me too) may be too dumb - My biodome plans are on the table. But here's a prayer -

posted by troutfishing at 10:40 PM on December 17, 2003

It is obvious how you feel about this issue, and that isn't a problem.

Today's news:

Seth says opinions are allowed.
posted by milovoo at 8:23 AM on December 18, 2003

Ummm... So is this what we need to do now to make a post worthy - post 30 links that noone is possibly going to read all of, and therefore not feel qualified to comment on? (All the comments in this thread are metacomments about the post, not comments on the content.) I nominate one more qualification for a balanced political post - poignant contrast. Do all your research, but then distill it down to the two or three major viewpoints that define the issue. Or post a really good Scandinavian Flash animation with clip art related to the issue.

Sorry, I just wanted to bitch so I can be like the cool kids. Nice work Stavros, you wonderful chicken, you ! Next time I have an afternoon off to read through it all, I will definitely check it out.
posted by badstone at 10:03 AM on December 18, 2003

I hate Bush. Don't you?
posted by cbrody at 12:13 PM on December 18, 2003

More here.
posted by hama7 at 12:22 PM on December 18, 2003

And here.
posted by hama7 at 12:27 PM on December 18, 2003

great post stavros. thank you.~~!

i was speaking with a rabid bush supporter (and unrepentant FOX watcher) last week who admitted his strong concern about AWOLs wholesale attack on our environment ... which is giving him pause about supporting the man next fall.
posted by specialk420 at 12:57 PM on December 18, 2003

I read an article today that speculated that liberal democrats are verging on paranoid schizophrenia, en masse. They are embracing odder and odder conspiracy theories--and not just the rank and file, but some of the big names.

What is the bottom line here, speaking from the viewpoint of *rational* environmentalism? Is it that Bush is rolling back a lot of extremist eco decisions done in the eight years of the Clinton administration? Is it not signing that silly Kyoto treaty?

In other words, there is a LOT of garment-rending, ashes on foreheads wailing going on; but when it comes down to specifics, I'm not seeing a lot of science, just agonizing.

Convince me that someone is doing something more horrific than opening up .00001% of Alaska to oil drilling.

I'm asking.
posted by kablam at 3:05 PM on December 18, 2003

Clear Skies Initiative = allow massive new amounts of air pollution by cash friendly corporations.

Healthy Forests Bill = Cut 'em all down and let God sort 'em out. A live tree is a dangerous tree.

Ask Houston about pollution.

Gale Norton = James Watt on steroids

Gee kablam where did you get those rose colored glasses? I am long past thinking a defender-of-all-things-dubya such as yourself can be convinced of anything except perhaps aWol's divine appointment by God Almighty.
posted by nofundy at 3:23 PM on December 18, 2003

I've read a lot of articles that speculated that conservative republicans achieved a state of paranoid schizophrenia, en masse, a few months after the beginning of the Clinton Administration. They have embraced odder and more dangerous worldviews, resulting in a total inability to govern fairly or competently--and not just the big names, but some of the rank and file.
posted by wendell at 5:52 PM on December 18, 2003

So is this what we need to do now to make a post worthy - post 30 links that noone is possibly going to read all of, and therefore not feel qualified to comment on?


Ah, well, you see, since this thread seems to be dead in the water, I might as well say that I never, ever read posts like this; that is, ones with a large number of links. So, even without hama7's typically witless (if indirect) commentary, there's no news to me that the style is an annoying one to many, including me.

I was in small part trying to make a metapoint (while still hoping that the thread would be useful to some) that the 'balanced rewrite' idea that many seem to like so much is wishful thinking in a forum, that despite lip service to the contrary, has turned into a discussion site first and foremost. That in fact as a proposal it directly addresses the fact that Metafilter is now a discussion forum, by pretending 'it's about the links', when in fact such a rewrite takes the focus off the value of the link or links and places it squarely on a concern about the 'quality' of the resultant discussion. Ironic that those who would trumpet in lockstep with Matt about 'quality links' so quickly fall in with an idea that is in fact focussed on discussion. Or, if not ironic, at least indicative that, as in most aspects of society today, what is being discussed is the phrasing used to describe something, rather than the thing itself. Which is a staggering debasement of debate, of course.

Plus, it was fun to research, and hopefully does actually present a relatively unassailable set of evidence that Bush's administration really are Pure Evil of the Blackest Babykilling Hue on this issue, amongst many others. If I don't lose interest, expect a Serialâ„¢.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:58 PM on December 18, 2003 [1 favorite]

(Also, if you didn't like my 'Pure Evil of the Blackest Babykilling Hue' crack, you can go stick your head in a pig, my humourless friend. Thanks for playing.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:59 PM on December 18, 2003

('friend' not directed at anyone in particular. And sorry for the metatalking.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:01 PM on December 18, 2003

nofundy: you realize that you just said nothing? I mean, really, what does that characterization of legislation mean, other than to a political hack?

What I'm driving at is less to piss you off then to suggest that actual data persuades a heck of a lot more people than hyperbole. The Alaska example is a good one. Thousands of people who have never been to Alaska getting terribly upset about oil drilling there. What utter nonsense!

While them may have sat through an IMAX movie about the beauty of the place, they don't grasp that it is enormous. Huge. Immense. Even if the oil companies just pumped the crude oil onto the bare ground, the damage would be tiny, compared to the vastness of the place.

Another example is "pure water." While groundwater may have unacceptable regional contaminants, like arsenic, a very small amount of arsenic is in almost all groundwater.
To require that a few regions reduce their arsenic is logical, but to insist that ALL water purification plants reduce arsenic to levels far below natural is ridiculous.

Granted, if there is a strong correlation between minute amounts of arsenic and some disease, it is one thing, but just because "people shouldn't drink any arsenic, because arsenic is bad!" is just asinine.

A similar problem exists with "background radiation", that many ignorant bureaucrats in past have demanded be reduced to "zero" radiation. Almost a physical impossibility.

So start from the beginning. Tell us exactly *why* the Clean Skies Initiative is so awful. Be specific. Quote examples. Give context and background.

Are you able?
posted by kablam at 6:19 PM on December 18, 2003

Tell us exactly *why* the Clean Skies Initiative is so awful.

are you able


here you go kablam. i hope your kids don't end up with ephesyma ... if it was left to you and your leader they probably would.
posted by specialk420 at 7:02 PM on December 18, 2003

Have you ever read articles from the national center for policy analysis? If our new ideal is to have both sides perhaps we should look there for a model. Here is the environment section.

The Clear Skies initiative is discussed by Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Pro) and Sen. Paul Wellstone (Con). Personally I find Senator Wellstone's argument to be much stronger, as Senator Lugar relies on future programs which will (like other Bush programs) be forgotten about or underfunded.

Also, many of the other people who argue against green issues are of the opinion that we know all we need to know to make these decisions, that we couldn't possibly be making mistakes and do things like bring about extinctions without expecting to. I believe the current administration has a problem with arrogance on many issues.
posted by milovoo at 7:13 PM on December 18, 2003

Actually I think I am going to expand that last post into a FPP,
I hope no one minds. It seems pretty useful to me.
posted by milovoo at 7:41 PM on December 18, 2003

milovoo - you should.
posted by troutfishing at 8:11 PM on December 18, 2003

just because "people shouldn't drink any arsenic, because arsenic is bad!" is just asinine.

Why? Why shouldn't we improve the quality of people's lives if at all possible? What's asinine about trying to make America, or the earth, a better place to live? What's asinine about improving the quality of the drinking water?
posted by nath at 1:48 AM on December 19, 2003


Here's an idea.

Try reading the links already provided and then you come back and tell me why you would rather support psuedoscience and polemic politics rather than hard science.

If Stavros didn't provide enough links to back my assertions then you truly are a hopeless defender-of-all-things-dubya.

That's the great thing about MeFi, so many intelligent persons scanning the web and providing such excellent supporting material that I only have to meta-surf right here in my spider web/hole home. Just me and my adopted posse.
posted by nofundy at 6:54 AM on December 19, 2003

err...pseudoscience...stupid fingers..
posted by nofundy at 6:55 AM on December 19, 2003

... kablam is subsequently hopelessly overwhelmed with the task of coming up with some sort of rebuttal to the moutain of fact with which he is confronted.
posted by specialk420 at 10:34 AM on December 19, 2003

'friend' not directed at anyone in particular. And sorry for the metatalking.

MetaTalking or MetaPosting?

We vehemently disagree on several topics, friend, but let's dial down the unneccessaries, shall we?

Thousands of people who have never been to Alaska getting terribly upset about oil drilling there. What utter nonsense!

Agreed, and well said. I actually have been there, and if the proposed drilling is anywhere as neat and tidy as the bobbing wells of Texas and other places in the west, there is really nothing to worry about. Who would be sloppy about such a valuable commodity as oil? Nature herself blurts great billowing fountains of "pollution" into the atmosphere in the form of volcanoes, to name but one.

I support investigation into the possibility of fossil fuel reserves, and also welcome technology that would eventually diminish our dependence on oil, like solar, if that ever, ever becomes financially feasable. At the moment, it's too expensive, comparatively speaking.

[/end participation in cynical, experimental MetaPost]
posted by hama7 at 5:41 PM on December 19, 2003

specialk420: not particularly. Tons of hyperbole. Very little facts. Take your Rolling Stone article for example. "Over 200 rollbacks". This reminds me of the Reagan budget "cuts" that didn't actually cut anything, they just reduced the rate of growth. And were still met with agonized howls.

One example: blowing the tops of mountains in WVA to get at the coal beneath. A federal judge decided you shouldn't do that because in mountainous WVA there was no place to dump your tailings other than between mountains. Unfortunately for those who like mountain tops and the spaces between mountains, that is where the coal *is*, and that is where the tailings have to go. In other words, MINING ISN'T PRETTY. But that doesn't mean that you can just ban it because it makes you feel bad.
You MUST mine where the ore or mineral is. And tough if you just don't like the idea of mining. The country needs coal.

nath: have you ever heard of the law of diminishing returns? In this case, if it "only" costs a penny every 1000 gallons of water to reduce its arsenic level from 50ppBILLION to 10ppBILLION (the recently lowered EPA standard); why isn't it worth it to spend another DOLLAR per 10 gallons of water to reduce the arsenic to 4ppBILLION?
All well and good if you have unlimited money. But the bottom line is "how much arsenic in water is too much?" If it is 100ppBILLION, or even 500ppBILLION, haven't you just wasted a hell of a lot of money?

Oh, and BTW, around the world, the average quantity of arsenic in drinking water is 40ppBILLION. So if people have been drinking it for a couple of thousand years will little noticeable health effects, has the EPA wasted BILLIONS OF DOLLARS forcing municipalities all over the US to lower their levels by an unneccessary 30ppBILLION?
posted by kablam at 5:52 PM on December 19, 2003

All 10.3 billion barrels of recoverable ANWAR petroleum would be enough to cover somewhat more than 4% of Alaska in an inch deep puddle of oil, fwiw. For a sense of scale, that's also more than enough to cover all of New Jersey with a 3 inch deep puddle of crude.

That doesn't really matter, though. An example of what matters are the pipelines that will transport this oil across the wilderness, possibly having the same effect on wildlife that the Cross-Bronx Expressway had on human life in New York: dividing ecosystems into dangerously small and isolated cal-de-sacs.

Here's my question to you: what are the tangible benifits of ANWR oil? If Iraqi oil starts coming in fast and cheap (as it hopefully will, after > $150 billion in unrecoverable American investment) ANWR will no longer be profitable. Of course, with the expensive, high-maintainence infrastructure in place, that will mean government subsidies to keep the oil companies from shutting off the pumps and leaving the pipes to rust. If Iraq improves (and I know you believe it will), is there really any chance that ANWR won't become another bailout-funded industry, like the airlines? If so, I'd love to hear about it -- the prospects I've outlined get me down every time I think about them.
posted by Ptrin at 7:31 PM on December 19, 2003

ANWR could provide the US with oil for how long? - a week? a month?
posted by troutfishing at 8:05 PM on December 19, 2003

Not too long ago I heard the argument advanced here that oil consumption had passed the production curve by so much that oil shortage was inevitable...

But your argument about ANWR is reasonable beyond Iraq. For example, the vast oil reserves of Central Asia, for which several pipeline projects are slated, even through Afghanistan.
But this would be in a perfect world. For years the US has been in a precarious supply/demand situation with oil. A moderate crisis occured at the onset of the current Iraq situation when Venezuela had an unforseen oil strike.
Drilling and transporting oil halfway across the planet is bound to have a logistical breakdown at some point.

The two largest producers are Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of whom are precariously unpredictable right now. For either of them to be disrupted before Iraq could quadruple its current 2-3M BBL/Day output could be disastrous.

In any event, the US is just plain tired of having a sword over its head, and though we are spending huge amounts of money on fuel cell technology, that strategic weakness forces itself to be our priority far too often.

ANWR would be a marginal oil producer, at best, but it is not the vast supply of oil that controls oil markets, it is the "marginal" increases or decreases that mean the difference between $24 BBL and $40 BBL.

For years now, OPEC has been forced to keep oil below a certain threshold, for fear that the US would ramp up production and undercut their sales. In 1976 we did so, at some expense, with wells that instantly became unprofitable when the price dropped back down.
posted by kablam at 8:08 PM on December 19, 2003

Not too long ago I heard the argument advanced here that oil consumption had passed the production curve by so much that oil shortage was inevitable...

And you could have heard it from me. This is an issue on which I really am torn -- I'm not arguing in bad faith, it's just that I can't chose a side. Some days I could pass you on the right, and others on the left. Probably a blood sugar thing (twinkie defense! :)

What really gets me about ANWR is that some people (not you, thank God) play it up as a free market thing. It isn't -- it's about nationalism and it's about national security. But given that that's what it's really about, it seems to me that the plan is all wrong. If ANWR opens, and starts producing X number of barrels per day, that doesn't do any good. As soon as the market adjusts to that number, any large fluctuation is still disastrous to the economy. If you're going to open ANWR, why not open it under government contract to supply solely the Strategic Petroleum Reserve? If US taxpayers are going to be buying the oil twice anyway (once at the pump, once on April 15th), why not put it the place it can do them the most good? Adding a few more drops to the torrent is marginal indeed; improving our ability to respond effectively to unforeseen events (or malevolent intentions) gives us the margin of error we need to pursue an aggressive energy policy.
posted by Ptrin at 8:52 PM on December 19, 2003

Ptrin: Unfortunately, the strategic reserve is like any other reservoir of resources left to the control of fickle government. What goes into the reserve can be drained out (and has been) as a quick fix--as bad an idea as that is.

There is a rather odd upside to all of this. A few years ago, an ex-Saudi Oil Minister commented that he feared a combination of technologies, primarily fuel cells, will crash the world petroleum market in the near future, and what will become of Saudi Arabia then?

And, it was just a few days ago that some OPEC members were furtively hoping for subsidies in the event of an oil price crash (met with sneers.)

The bottom line is that the whole market is terribly complex, and not prone to quick fixes or lasting solutions. And as with other markets, adjustments are countered before the day is done.
posted by kablam at 8:48 AM on December 20, 2003

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